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Taking a Look at the Mysterious Wikipedia Editors Who Supported the Hobson Antisemitism Smear

Michael East, Red Revolution

Now encompassing more falsehoods and fake news than the combined forces of Russiagate, the David Icke Forum and Alex Jones, the “antisemitism” propaganda campaign has long been debunked and exposed for the unfounded conspiracy theory that it is.

While the role of the far-right Israeli state and anti-Corbyn activists is well documented, one aspect that has been overlooked is the role of Wikipedia in perpetuating this false narrative, or to be more exact the role of a handful of mysterious editors who seem particularly intent on ensuring that these falsehoods enter the internet’s most popular encyclopedia as the “truth”.

As news stories began to circulate yesterday surrounding Jeremy Corbyn writing a forward to John A. Hobson’s Imperialism, some very interesting changes were made to the Wikipedia biography of Hobson and of the book itself. As we can see in our first image, there was no mention of antisemitism on JA Hobson’s biography prior to May 1st, a fact that changed only after the allegations in the press appeared. This action gave the effect that these allegations had been public knowledge at large.

So who was responsible for editing Hobson’s biography to ensure that the allegations of antisemitism were the first thing people read when looked up the author as a reaction to the news? This is where things get incredibly interesting as both names have previous form.

Edited by “Icewhiz” and “Philip Cross”, the duo have previously been identified as promoting a right-wing and pro-Israel agenda on Wikipedia. Haaretz identifies Icewhiz as being Israeli and particularly keen to edit articles on the subjects of “Israel, Turkey, Jerusalem and even ‘Israel and the apartheid analogy.'”

Philip Cross meanwhile is possibly one of the most notorious editors on Wikipedia, so notorious that he has made the BBC News, Metro and a string of other media outlets. His involvement in malicious edits to left-wing political accounts and issues being of such controversy that he received a ban from political edits on the site, a ban that he has flagrantly ignored.

He breached the ban just days ago to post a false claim about Julian Assange meeting Paul Manafort, a claim now widely believed to be false. This edit came prior to his edits to Hobson’s biography in a supporting effort for the antisemitism propaganda campaign.

Last year Philip Cross drew the attention of Craig Murray who published some startling revelations about the individual, including the amount he actually uses Wikipedia. Revealing that Cross had edited Wikipedia on every single day between August 29, 2013, and May 14, 2018, including Christmas Day. Cross has made an absolutely staggering 133,612 edits to Wikipedia in 14 years, an average of 30 a day, largely editing between 8am and 8pm. The level and determination of the editing could potentially be suggestive of professional rather than amateur interest.

“There are three options here. ‘Philip Cross’ is either a very strange person indeed, or is a false persona disguising a paid operation to control Wikipedia content, or is a real front person for such an operation in his name.”

Craig Murray

Edits made by Cross include a cross-section of the political spectrum, all be it with similar things in common, primarily opposition to imperialism, opposition to neo-Conservatism and opposition to the state of Israel. His edited biographies include the likes of The Canary, Media Lens, John Pilger, Owen Jones, Max Blumenthal, Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott, Seamus Milne, Neil Clark and Vanessa Beeley. Staunch Israel critic George Galloway is his number one target, Cross making a potentially psychotic 1800 edits to his biography.

But is there a method to the madness? Biographies that have received positive edits include Labour Friends of Israel’s Ruth Smeeth who had references to her being an informant for U.S. embassy removed. Melanie Phillips, who writes for The TimesThe Jerusalem Post, and The Jewish Chronicle had references to her climate change denialism removed.

“Some have even gone as far as claiming that Cross is not a real person, but rather a front for either the British defense establishment or a disgruntled journalist from the ‘mainstream media” with an ax to grind.”

Haaretz

Other journalists receiving favourable edits by Cross include Guardian editor Katherine Viner, Nick Cohen, Jonathon Freedland, David Aaronovitch and Oliver Kamm. Freedland yesterday published an article in The Guardian under the title “Jeremy Corbyn is either blind to antisemitism – or he just doesn’t care”, yet Oliver Kamm of The Times perhaps had the most interesting Tweet, stating that “antisemitism in Hobson’s work may not be in his Wikipedia entry [!]”.

The edits to the Wikipedia biography of Hobson had been started by Icewhiz at 5.05am, Philip Cross had begun to edit the biography at 7:55am.

Kamm himself has allegedly been accused of being the mysterious Philip Cross, with Craig Murray stating that “There is no doubt that Kamm, leader writer of Murdoch’s Times, is close to the ‘Philip Cross’ operation. Many people believe that Kamm and Cross are the same person, or that Kamm is part of a multiple persona.”

“Six times I have personally had hostile edits to my Wikipedia page by ‘Philip Cross’ made in precise conjunction with attacks on me by Kamm, either on Twitter, in a Times editorial or in Prospect magazine.”

Craig Murray

George Galloway would hashtag Kamm in a call for information surrounding Cross. Galloway’s bounty would be the focus of much of the coverage of Cross and his activities, the former MP later saying that it had been claimed and he knew the identity of who was behind the account.

Kamm has commented on the issue, Tweeting last month that two anonymous inquirers wished to “expose” his role in the affair.

Kamm denies all knowledge of Cross, saying that he is “hostile to Wikipedia almost since its inception & am incredulous at conspiracy theorists’ obsession with it”. For the record, Kamm is a vocal supporter of Tony Blair and his foreign policy, supporting the war in Iraq. He has written for The Jewish Chronicle, Prospect magazine and The Guardian, it might be understandable why eyes are drawn to him as being involved in the matter considering the very similar Wikipedia interest of Philip Cross.

Despite Kamm’s denials, Craig Murray contends that he does, in fact, know Philip Cross, saying “I have in the past exchanged messages with ‘Philip Cross’. He says he is a person, and that he edits in conjunction with Oliver Kamm tweets because he follows Kamm and his tweets inspire him to edit. He says he has met Kamm and admits to being in electronic communication with him.”

If Philip Cross is not Oliver Kamm, then who? Murray again offers insight.

“My view is that Philip Cross probably is a real person, but that he fronts for a group acting under his name. It is undeniably true, in fact the government has boasted, that both the MOD and GCHQ have ‘cyber-war’ ops aiming to defend the ‘official’ narrative against alternative news media, and that is precisely the purpose of the ‘Philip Cross’ operation on Wikipedia. The extreme regularity of output argues against ‘Philip Cross’ being either a one man or volunteer operation. I do not rule out however the possibility he genuinely is just a single extremely obsessed right wing fanatic.”

Craig Murray

Murray’s reference to “MOD and GCHQ ‘cyber-war’ ops” is a reference to organisations along the lines of the shadowy Integrity Initiative, the government-funded group that were revealed to have made several highly critical comments about Jeremy Corbyn on Twitter by The Sunday Mail, including accusations regarding Russia.

The Integrity Initiative is officially both a registered charity and publicly funded by the government as a subsidiary of the Institute for Statecraft (IFS). Alan Duncan MP stated in December of 2018 that their role is “working to counter disinformation overseas by bringing together groups of experts to analyse and discuss the problem posed by Russian disinformation.” Documents leaked by Anonymous, however, paint a very different picture, with the true purpose of the Integrity Initiative said to be to counter Russia’s growing influence on the world stage, promoting increasing militarization​, the return of Cold War “threat culture” and promoting both a “crisis of governance” narrative and feelings of Russiaphobia amongst the civilian population. The Integrity Initiative is however not the only organisation working for these aims either officially or unofficially.

When seeking to identify who is behind a Twitter account, one of the first things to do is check who they followed in the first days of joining Twitter but more importantly, who followed them.

Philip Cross can count amongst his followers a who’s who of the media establishment including the aforementioned Oliver Kamm of The Times, Nick Cohen of The Guardian, Leslie Felperin of The Guardian, Kate Connolly of The Guardian, Lisa O’Carroll of The Guardian, Joan Smith of The Independent, James Bloodorth of The Independent, Cristina Criddle of BBC Radio 4, Sarah Baxter of The Sunday Times, Iain Watson of The BBC, Caroline Wheeler of The Sunday Times, Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah Brown, Tristram Hunt and James LeMesurier, the ex-spook founder of the White Helmets.

Cross has continually served to positively edit entries from a range of journalists, many however centring around The Times and Guardian. Followers outside of journalism also include a range of accounts which promote the Corbyn antisemitism conspiracy theory. An impressive collection of followers for a seasoned journalist, let alone some random bloke who seemingly edits Wikipedia pages for a living. However, the first follower of “Philip Cross” on Twitter was an individual by the name of Padraig Reidy. Reidy is the Editorial Director for communications and PR agency 89up.

89up “run campaigns to make the world a more open, pluralistic, and democratic place” and are most famous at large for their work to implicate Russia in the UK Brexit referendum. The research was apparently “self-funded”.

The group is also apparently the “sole communications agency for Best for Britain”, the civil society campaign to fight Brexit founded by Gina Miller and chaired by Lord Malloch-Brown, former Minister of State for Africa, Asia and the United Nations under Gordon Brown. Miller left the group in 2017, stating that it had become “a room full of white males deciding what’s going to happen to the country” and “undemocratic”.

The founder of 89up is Michael Harris, who by coincidence was a Labour Councillor in Lewisham between 2010 and 14. Harris Tweets negatively about Corbyn’s Brexit position, supports the antisemitism claims, believes Julian Assange is “an agent of the Kremlin” and is seemingly pro-Israel. What’s interesting is the fact that Michael Harris has commented twice on the Philip Cross affair, in Tweets by Oliver Kamm no less.

However, Tweets and what could be explained away as coincidence don’t make a case and there is no concrete suggestion any of the individuals listed are involved in the Cross Affair. Is Philip Cross a single individual under an assumed name? Is he a combined collective of individuals seeking to anonymously smear the anti-war and anti-imperialist left? is he the activity of a governmental organisation? Questions sadly left unanswered.

Wikipedia editors raised the alarm about Cross as far back as 2006, one editor recommending a topic ban, saying “tentatively endorse a topic ban on the basis of the talk page comment, and more especially on the apparent inability to see that comments like this will be seen as problematic.” While in 2015 another editor stated that “I have noticed myself an inappropriate pattern of editing by Philip Cross relating to left-wing British organisations and individuals. That needs to stop.”

Despite these very legitimate questions, suggestions of conflicting interest, and even red flags from its own editors, you would believe that Wikipedia would be particularly interested in the activities of Cross. Yet Jimmy Wales has been unsupportive of criticism against either Philip Cross or Wikipedia.

While Wikipedia has promoted an image of public-led democratic information gathering, we cannot dismiss Wales’ own political views in the direction and policies of Wikipedia. A public critic of Jeremy Corbyn and supporter of Israel, Wales both married Tony Blair’s secretary and sits on the board of The Guardian. While The Guardian may have once been a bastion of left-wing views, today after assaults both on the freedom of Venezuela and Jeremy Corbyn, its status as the nicer face of neoliberalism is undeniable, nor the links to the Philip Cross affair.

The Philip Cross affair, Icewhiz edits and promotion of the antisemitic conspiracy theory through Wikipedia serves to add reinforcement to the fake news that is being peddled from various outlets. In featuring this falsehood as part of what many in the public believe to be an authoritative encyclopedia, they serve to effectively change the “official” written history and narrative, a profoundly dangerous concept for those seeking the truth. Wikipedia has become another front in the global assault on truth and, like the media, it has a responsibility to disengage from sources with deviant agendas and restore the public confidence in its objectivity.



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Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-semitism and the Abuse of History

By Norman Finkelstein

In this long-awaited sequel to Norman Finkelstein’s bestselling “The Holocaust Industry” – Finkelstein lays into the human rights record of Israel and attacks Alan Dershowitz for poor scholarship. In “Beyond Chutzpah”, Norman Finkelstein moves from an iconoclastic interrogation of the new anti-Semitism to a meticulously researched expose of the corruption of scholarship on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Pointing to a consensus among historians and human rights organizations on the factual record, Finkelstein argues that so much controversy continues to swirl around the conflict because apologists for Israel contrive it. Examining the spread of distortions masquerading as history, Finkelstein scrutinizes the most recent addition to this genre, Alan Dershowitz’s “The Case for Israel” and, setting Dershowitz’s assertions on Israel’s human rights record against the findings of the mainstream human rights community, finds that Dershowitz has systematically misrepresented the facts. Thoroughly researched and tightly argued, “Beyond Chutzpah” lifts the veil of contrived controversy shrouding the Israel-Palestine conflict, enabling readers in search of a just and lasting peace to act on the basis of truth.


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