Israeli Intelligence Firm Spied on U.S. Activist Linda Sarsour for Sheldon Adelson–Linked Organization, Report Reveals

An Israeli company spied on Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour and compiled a dossier about her for a U.S. organization funded by pro-Israeli billionaire Sheldon Adelson, according to an investigation by the Israeli media.

Sarsour is an activist from New York who has won numerous awards for her advocacy on behalf of Muslim Americans and as a co-chair of the Women's March. She is also a vocal advocate of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, known as BDS, which aims to put economic pressure on Israel so it changes its policies toward Palestinians. Many supporters of Israel say that BDS is anti-Semitic.

A secretive Israeli firm called Israel Cyber Shield (ICS) collected information on Sarsour and members of her family, the Israeli center-left newspaper Ha’aretz revealed Thursday. The company then compiled the information into a dossier that it handed over to the Adelson-funded organization Act.il, which used the information to run a campaign to discourage American universities from allowing activists who support BDS to speak on their campuses.

Sarsour told Newsweek that she first heard about the dossier on Thursday when the Israeli paper published the story, but that the news didn’t come as a surprise. Nevertheless, she said she’s concerned that the spies would target members of her family.

"I am a Palestinian-American Muslim political activist, so I was not shocked. It wasn't news to me. I worked at an organization that was targeted by the New York police department,” Sarsour said, referencing a secretive New York police program known to spy on Muslim Americans. “My parents are the typical hardworking immigrants; my dad has an 800 credit score; these are hardworking homeowners. The thing that hurts me is when it starts affecting my family. I chose this life, and I accept that there will be attacks, but there should be boundaries for families.”

Nevertheless, Sarsour said the espionage has not impacted her ability to speak on college campuses or to travel around the country giving lectures.

“There is always a student or two who will write an op-ed in the college paper when I come. But I haven't gotten disinvited. I'm hardly ever home, my mother yesterday was like, 'You better come home for dinner, it feels like you don’t even live in New York,'” Sarsour described.

The company ICS is owned by a former member of the Israeli police force and employs former members of the Israeli military’s intelligence units. 

The news comes less than a month after it was revealed that aides to President Donald Trump hired private Israeli investigators to collect compromising information on former members of the Obama administration who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal.