Iranian government funding anti-Israel protests in U.S., says top intelligence official

‘We have observed actors tied to Iran’s government posing as activists online, seeking to encourage protests, and even providing financial support to protesters,’ the statement said.

The Iranian government has funded anti-Israel protests in the U.S., according to a recent statement from a top U.S. national security official.

The Tuesday statement from the Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, comes after a long wave of anti-Israel protests that have broken out on American college and university campuses. 

“Iran is becoming increasingly aggressive in their foreign influence efforts, seeking to stoke discord and undermine confidence in our democratic institutions, as we have seen them do in the past, including in prior election cycles,” Haines explained.

One way in which Iran is attempting to influence American politics is by funding anti-Israel protests, Haines clarified.

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“In recent weeks, Iranian government actors have sought to opportunistically take advantage of ongoing protests regarding the war in Gaza, using a playbook we’ve seen other actors use over the years,” Haines wrote. “We have observed actors tied to Iran’s government posing as activists online, seeking to encourage protests, and even providing financial support to protesters.”

“Furthermore, Americans who are being targeted by this Iranian campaign may not be aware that they are interacting with or receiving support from a foreign government,” the statement concludes. “We urge all Americans to remain vigilant as they engage online with accounts and actors they do not personally know.”

Haines’s report came the same day as Facebook’s announcement that it will crack down on certain usages of the word “Zionist” when it is weaponized to target or harass Jewish individuals.

Iran is not the first Middle Eastern entity to endorse the recent wave of anti-Israel protests.

Mohammad Raad, a leader in the Lebanese terrorist group and political party Hezbollah, expressed his approval of anti-Israel student protesters, reportedly saying in a June interview: “[W]e should rely on the ability of the Arabs and Muslims to invest in the changes we are witnessing, specifically the involvement of Western students in the demonstrations in the West.” 

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“There are Arab students who are demonstrating in the West, and this is something that we can understand, but the Western students who are demonstrating in support of Palestine . . . we rely on our ability to invest in this positive activity by these students in the future,” he continued.

The terrorist group Hamas, which is responsible for the Oct. 7 massacre against the Jewish State, has also endorsed the student protests, thanking the anti-Israel demonstrators on May 18. 

“We thank the great student flood which emerged from the American, European, and Western universities,” Hamas leader Khaled Mashal said. “We have an opportunity to defeat Israel, Allah willing. We have an opportunity to dismantle the Zionist enterprise. We have an opportunity to change the world.”

Campus Reform has contacted Columbia University and Harvard University, which have been the scenes of prominent anti-Israel protests, for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.