Rep. Ritchie Torres Slams ‘Blithering Idiots’ Behind the Secret Israeli Influence Op That Targeted Him

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(JTA/By Luke Tress) – New York Rep. Ritchie Torres, one of Israel’s staunchest supporters in Congress, said a reported clandestine campaign by the Israeli government that aimed to influence him and other Black Democratic U.S. lawmakers was “embarrassing” and “racist.”

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The effort, according to a report this week in The New York Times, was orchestrated by Israel’s Diaspora Ministry and targeted members of Congress and the U.S. public with a pro-Israel social media campaign using hundreds of fake social media profiles.

The $2 million project in conjunction with Stoic, a Tel Aviv-based marketing firm, began in October and continued at least until this week, according to the Times. Involving multiple fake news sites and the artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT, the operation urged lawmakers to fund Israel’s military effort. (It also included some missteps, such as accounts supposedly of Black men posting as a “middle-aged Jewish woman.”)

The campaign focused on several members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Torres, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, and Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, the report said.

The campaign’s focus on Torres was notable because his social media presence is a quintessential example of unabashed and outspoken pro-Israel activism, and he is something of a star in Israel. Torres nodded to that in a statement on X on Friday.

“If you think I need to be ‘influenced’ to be pro-Israel, then please see a doctor because your brain might be rotting,” he wrote. He followed up with what was for him a rare criticism of an Israeli action.

“The blithering idiots behind this embarrassing operation should be fired for gross incompetence,” Torres wrote. “A foreign influence operation that singles out Black Congressional Democrats is racist. There’s no correlation at all between race and Israel in the United States Congress.”

The campaign drew criticism from other supporters of Israel, including Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, who said he was “appalled” by the report, which said the campaign was the first of its type to be attributed to the Israeli government.

“If the report is true, the campaign represents a flagrant violation of American law and an inappropriate interference in the internal politics of our most important ally,” Oren wrote on X, adding that the project caused “strategic damage” to Israel during the war.

Oren demanded the Israeli government investigate the report’s claims, “disassociate and denounce” the campaign and fire those involved.

In a nearly identical post in Hebrew, Oren added criticism of the campaign’s focus on Black lawmakers, and called out Diaspora Minister Amichai Chikli, a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.

Chikli hit back at Oren, writing on X that the former ambassador was “appalled for attention.” Chikli claimed that “there is no engagement with the company accused of influence in the New York Times article,” Stoic.

Chikli has caused previous headaches for the Israeli government’s U.S. relations since becoming Diaspora minister in 2022. Last year, before the start of the war, he accused President Joe Biden of colluding with the Israeli opposition, antagonized left-wing U.S. Jewish groups, and told off the U.S. ambassador to Israel. In April, bucking longstanding diplomatic protocol, he endorsed Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.


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Kedushaman
Kedushaman
8 days ago

How about this as no one takes this seriously, and it seems the ny times is the originator of this. The ny times in order to weaken the US israel relationship made up a story of israeli influence on american politics and you bought it like a fool. Actually that is more likely considering the times is supportive of hamas.

Congressional Black Caucus
Congressional Black Caucus
8 days ago

Is having that caucus racist against people not of color?

Charlie Hall
Charlie Hall
7 days ago

Why would Israel target Ritchie Torres? There is no stronger supporter in the House of Representatives!

Mmj
Mmj
8 days ago

Great job. Unless the while campaign was a plant…

which ones?
which ones?
8 days ago

What were the fake news sites?

Kedushaman
Kedushaman
8 days ago
Robert Goldman
Robert Goldman
8 days ago

NYT says it all..
As for this so called operation .. it is a fake..
As for Biden and his administration getting involved in Israeli politics and trying to force a regime change well that’s 100% true.

The democratic party base are Hamas supporters.
The democratic party base are Hamas supporters.
7 days ago

“There’s no correlation at all between race and Israel in the United States Congress.”
Yet the biggest anti Israel Jew haters in Congress are minority democrats.