Anti-Israel PLO Ally Hosted for Meeting At White House

One of several anti-Israel activists who met with admin

White House
April 22, 2015

An anti-Israel activist who served as an expert witness on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in a recent terrorism trial was hosted for a meeting with senior White House officials, according to visitor logs released by the Obama administration and media reports.

Michael Sfard, an anti-Israel activist who has reportedly been paid by the PLO to serve as an expert witness in terrorism trials against it, met in December 2014 with a senior White House National Security Council (NSC) member for a meeting about the Middle East, according to the logs and reports.

Sfard, a lawyer, serves as the legal council for the left-wing Israeli group Yesh Din, which advocates lawfare, or the practice of trying Israeli officials for so-called war crimes when they travel abroad. Critics have dubbed the lawfare movement anti-Israel in nature.

Sfard is the latest in a string of officials and voices openly hostile to the Israeli government, including pro-Iranian ones, who have recently been hosted at the White House.

The Obama administration found itself embroiled in an international controversy earlier this year after the Washington Free Beacon reported that staffers linked to team Obama were behind a massive effort to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israeli in that country’s March election.

Meanwhile, the administration’s domestic efforts to garner support for its deal with Iran have included the mobilization of a vast network of progressive and anti-Israel groups.

Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), which has been accused of lobbying on the regime’s behalf, has met a handful of times with the White House between 2013 and 2014, according to visitor logs.

Parsi and NIAC have been key advocates for the administration’s diplomacy with Iran and have been present during various rounds of negotiations.

Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund—a group that has been at the center of attempts to try to sell a deal with Iran—is also listed on White House visitor logs.

Cirincione’s organization has been a key funder of organizations such as NIAC and J Street as they seek to promote a final nuclear deal with Iran and the administration’s efforts.

Ploughshares has been identified in reports as working on a "behind the scenes strategy" with senior White House officials such as Ben Rhodes to help promote the deal.

Plougshares has spent more than $7 million funding organizations and experts that have publicly defended the administration’s concessions to Iran in talks, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"The Ploughshares coalition includes a former Iranian government spokesman, the liberal Jewish organization J Street, and a group of former American diplomats who have held private talks with Iranian government officials," the Journal reported in March.

In the case of Sfard, a White House NSC official declined to provide further details about his meeting or comment when contacted by the Free Beacon.

In addition to the PLO, Sfard also has worked with Breaking the Silence, a far-left group that seeks to launch war crimes charges against Israelis and those in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), according to a dossier published by NGO Monitor, which tracks anti-Israel groups and actors.

Gerald Steinberg, NGO Monitor’s founder and president, said that Sfard’s December meeting at the White House provides further evidence of the Obama administration’s disdain for the Israeli government.

"In bringing Michael Sfard in for consultation, the Obama White House is again showing its disdain for the intelligence of the Israeli public," Steinberg told the Free Beacon. "As someone who advises the PLO in its lawfare campaigns, Sfard promotes the demonization that Obama claims to oppose. Sfard is on the fringe of Israeli politics—far from [Israel’s] Zionist left and the Labor party."

Sfard was reported to have met with Yael Lempert, the NSC’s senior director for the Levant, Israel and Egypt, according to Haaretz, which recently investigated meetings between Israelis and White House officials.

Danny Zeidman, an official with the left-wing Israeli group Ir Amim—which accuses Israel of attempting to "Judaize" Jerusalem—was at the White House in December 2014 for a meeting with Phillip Gordon, an adviser to President Obama, according to visitor logs and the Haaretz report.

Ir Amim has received funding from a handful of left-leaning foundations, including billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Institute, according to NGO Monitor.