Biden's 'TikTok Army' Uses Hamas-Affiliated Propaganda Outlet To Accuse Israel of 'Genocide'

Citing data from Quds News Network, Gen-Z for Change's Elise Joshi calls for 'Palestinian liberation'

(Photos by Dan Kitwood and Samuel Korum/Getty Images)
October 21, 2023

The leader of a group once known as TikTok for Biden is signal boosting a report from a Hamas-affiliated Palestinian propaganda outlet to accuse Israel of "genocide" and call for a "Palestinian liberation."

Elise Joshi, who serves as executive director of the group now known as Gen-Z for Change—which has been dubbed the left's "TikTok army"—cited casualty figures from Palestinian rag Quds News Network to argue that Israel is committing "genocide." Those figures, Joshi argued, stress the need for young activists to "push the Biden administration … to stand for Palestinian liberation."

The Biden campaign during the 2020 election reached out to Joshi's group to form a partnership, which continued after President Joe Biden's inauguration. The Biden administration went on to tap Gen-Z for Change to host a YouTube town hall on the coronavirus vaccine alongside Anthony Fauci. Last year, meanwhile, Biden employed Gen-Z for Change to organize briefings between senior officials and social media "influencers" on the war in Ukraine and Biden's economic policies. Joshi, who has vowed to push "any progressive change, by any means," includes on her Instagram feed photos from the White House with Vice President Kamala Harris's husband, Doug Emhoff, and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D., Texas).

"I'm feeling hopeless, but we must do everything we can to push the Biden administration," Joshi said last week. "Call. Write. March. Our tax dollars are funding genocide. We have an obligation to stand for Palestinian liberation."

The link between the young TikTok influencer and the Biden administration reflects the octogenarian president's attempts to shore up support with young activists. While those attempts helped Biden defeat former president Donald Trump in 2020, they have also prompted political headaches as young progressives work to push Biden to the left. In addition to her amplification of Quds News Network—a Hamas-affiliated propaganda outlet that was removed from Facebook over its coverage of the terror group's assault on Israel—Joshi in July used her White House access to confront press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre over Biden's decision to approve an oil project in Alaska.

Neither the White House nor Gen-Z for Change returned requests for comment.

In addition to her use of Quds News Network stats to rally support for a "Palestinian liberation," Joshi has called Israel a "widely recognized apartheid state," expressed her support for "Palestine and all anti-colonial movements," and labeled Gaza an "open air prison." Joshi on Tuesday, meanwhile, shared a post from Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) that falsely claimed Israel bombed a Gaza hospital, killing "doctors" and "children." That post is no longer active on Joshi's account.

Joshi is not the only Gen-Z for Change leader to spew anti-Israel rhetoric following Hamas's terror attack on the Jewish state, which left more than 1,300 Israelis dead, including women and children.

The group's founder, Aidan Kohn-Murphy, shortly after the attack argued that those who support Israel's right to respond to Hamas terrorism are "calling for murder of innocent people." Kohn-Murphy on Sunday also accused Israel's supporters of "dehumanizing Palestinians, showing blatant disregard for Palestinian lives, and making excuses for the murder of Palestinian children." Gen-Z for Change's own Twitter account shared a video post condemning the "bombing of al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza" and calling for an "immediate ceasefire." That video did not mention that a failed Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket caused the blast.

It's unclear how Joshi, who has written for Teen Vogue and boasts more than 160,000 TikTok followers, landed on Quds News Network as a trustworthy source of information on the war in Israel. The outlet, which the Australian Jewish Association has called a "notorious anti-Israel anti-Semitic propaganda platform affiliated with Hamas," does not hide the fact that it opposes Israel's right to exist and supports what it calls the "resistance."

"Our message is twofold," Quds News Network editor Ahmed Yousef said in a 2015 interview with the Associated Press. "Number one is to support the resistance. Second, expose the aggressive acts of the Israeli occupation."

"During this uprising we have to match the mood of the people," Yousef continued, referencing the wave of Palestinian terrorism seen at that time.

Since Hamas's attack, Quds News Network has defended the terror group from accusations that its terrorists raped women and beheaded babies. It has also promoted statements from Hamas in which the terror group called itself "a national liberation movement fighting on our occupied land against a hideous Zionist occupation" and stressed its goal to achieve "an independent state with full sovereignty and with Jerusalem as its capital."

When Meta, Facebook's parent company, removed Quds News Network, the rag accused the company of expressing a "standing alongside the Israeli occupation."

"We reject the persecution of Palestinian content, the prevailing bias, and standing alongside the Israeli occupation," Quds News Network said in a statement. "We call for a broad Arab and international campaign of solidarity with the Palestinian people to convey the Palestinian narrative amidst the human rights abuses carried out by the Israeli occupation."