On March 13, U.S. lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor of a bill forcing TikTok’s foreign owner, ByteDance, to sell up or face a stateside ban. Its advocates claim the popular video-sharing app is a Chinese Communist Party-controlled national security threat that could be weaponized as a tool of surveillance and manipulation if it isn’t already. Yet, despite the anti-Beijing hysteria running wild, many haven’t swallowed the bait, with even some typically pliant mainstream outlets alleging a far darker rationale.

For a start, the ominous vision of TikTok as a CPC Trojan Horse is demonstrably absurd. While parent company ByteDance is headquartered in Beijing and was founded by local internet entrepreneurs, court filings, financial returns, official submissions to Congress, and even Chinese government documents show the company is 60% owned by foreign investors, including many in the U.S., while a fifth is in the hands of its own employees, including thousands of Americans.

Despite this, the monolithic narrative of a CPC-run spying app maliciously taking over the phones of young Western citizens has long abounded. In January, during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, TikTok CEO Chew Shou Zi Chew was subject to relentless McCarthyite grilling by Republican Tom Cotton on his loyalties and relationship with the Chinese Communist Party. A visibly bemused Zi Chew repeatedly explained he was a patriotic Singaporean, married to a U.S. citizen. These inconvenient facts did not deter the Senator’s bullying, xenophobic interrogation.

Now that the anti-TikTok “Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act” has passed, much of the media is fraudulently claiming the app is confirmed to be Beijing-owned and controlled. One might argue this is a deliberate smokescreen designed to obscure the true rationale behind the app’s Congressional attack, the individuals and organizations behind it, and who precisely benefits from TikTok being run by U.S. government-approved figures and entities.

In every case, the answer lies in plain sight and is the same. TikTok has long been in the crosshairs of powerful pro-Israel lobbying organizations due to the speed and ease with which content critical of Israeli atrocities and apartheid spreads on its platform. The risk younger users might question the concertedly concealed, horrific reality of Israel’s occupation has become all the graver throughout the Gaza genocide. Now, those same groups have corralled U.S. lawmakers into launching a fatal attack on free speech online.



In November 2023, a leaked recording of Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), appeared online. In it, he despaired over how much sympathy for the Palestinian struggle was apparent online in the wake of October 7’s Al-Aqsa Flood and inevitably disproportionate Israeli response. Expressing shock at how terms such as “Zionist entity,” a delegitimizing characterization applied to Israel, had proliferated, he singled out a particular social media app and demographic as responsible:

We have a major, major, major generational problem…all the polling I’ve seen, ADL’s polling, ICC’s polling, independent polling, suggests the issue of US support for Israel is not left and right, it is young and old…We really have a TikTok problem, a Gen Z problem.”

It is indeed no coincidence that in the same month, several prominent Jewish celebrities and influencers sought to lobby TikTok behind closed doors to erase any “anti-Israel content” from its platform and generally “do more to address a surge of antisemitism and harassment” on the app following October 7. Among the assembled was Sasha Baron Cohen. As MintPress documented in January, his cinematic oeuvre is almost exclusively rabidly Islamophobic and rife with genocidal pro-Israel propaganda tropes.

Cohen is also a repeat ADL confederate, actively complicit in the organization’s online censorship connivances. In September 2020,  he temporarily suspended his Instagram account to protest purported antisemitic “hate speech” on the platform and Facebook. The League led this action, which saw over 1,000 businesses suspend their ads on the social network for a month. At the secret TikTok meeting, he told Adam Presser, the app’s head of operations, and himself Jewish, “Shame on you.”

Kit Klarenberg reveals how Sacha Baron Cohen, through films like Borat, helped manufacture hatred against Muslims in order to justify human rights abuses by Israel.


“What is happening at TikTok is it is [sic] creating the biggest antisemitic movement since the Nazis,” Cohen fulminated, telling Presser:

If you think back to October 7, the reason why Hamas were able to behead young people and rape women was they were fed images from when they were small kids that led them to hate,” he continued, accusing TikTok “of feeding similarly incendiary content to young people.”

Reported unquestioningly in the Western media, dubious claims that Hamas committed a wave of rapes and beheaded infants on October 7, as the group conducted an extremely dangerous lightning strike mission behind enemy lines to kidnap hostages, all along hunted by Israeli Occupation Force soldiers, helicopters, and tanks, have come apart in the weeks and months since. Likewise, no evidence has to date emerged that TikTok is indeed a hotbed of antisemitic hate, let alone uniquely so in the digital realm.



On March 6, Nikki Haley suspended her Republican Presidential candidacy. The Israel lobby was no doubt crestfallen. As U.S. Ambassador to the UN from January 2017 to December 2018, she distinguished herself as perhaps the most aggressive and ardent advocate for Israel ever to fill the post—a highly competitive category indeed. During her tenure, the Jerusalem Institute of Justice hailed Haley’s “Zionist spirit,” an accompanying cartoon bizarrely depicting her as Xena: Warrior Princess.

On the campaign trail, Haley was given to frequent Israeli propaganda outbursts. A common occurrence in U.S. politics, most of these utterances flew under the radar. Nonetheless, in December 2023, she elicited much ridicule for unbelievably declaring during a primary debate:

We really do need to ban TikTok once and for all and let me tell you why. For every 30 minutes that someone watches TikTok every day, they become 17% more antisemitic, more pro-Hamas based on doing that.”

It appears Haley was misrepresenting the results of a recent survey conducted by MarketWatch. Yet, her self-evidently ludicrous – and thoroughly discredited – claim was cited without irony in a statement published by the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), applauding the passing of the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act. The statement further charged:

TikTok’s parent company is beholden to the Chinese government, which has squarely positioned itself against Israel since October 7th. China has filled its state-controlled media and social media channels with antisemitic and anti-Israel rhetoric.”

That TikTok is antisemitic because it is controlled by the Chinese government is an entirely novel slander for both the app and Beijing. Yet, following Congressional ratification of the Act, JNFA would have every reason to talk a big game. As The Times of Israel reported in mid-March, the organization, along with the ADL, was at the forefront of public campaigning in support of the bill.

These efforts saw JNFA gather Jewish community leaders across the U.S. for “crucial” briefings on the pending legislation. Conspicuously, the organization’s New Jersey chapter explicitly referred to the Act as “aimed at antisemitism on TikTok,” with no reference to Chinese government influence at all. Meanwhile, Israeli media took aim at Jewish billionaires Arthur Dantchik and Jeffrey Yass over their 15% stake in ByteDance. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency lambasted Dantchik for failing to curb “anti-Israel content” on TikTok despite sitting on its board.

These attacks were likely intended to ensure neither investor – both of whom give generously to Jewish and Zionist foundations – voiced any criticism of the Act. While successful, the Jewish news website The Forward acknowledged that several Jewish TikTok creators vehemently opposed its U.S. government takeover, including several rabbis. One told the newspaper that the app was “a wonderful vehicle” for teaching the Torah and “educating young people about Judaism,” arguing that “the platform’s value outweighs concerns about antisemitism that led some Jewish organizations to push for its ban.”

Of course, their entreaties fell on deaf ears. So, too, did the condemnations of Elon Musk and Donald Trump, who both denounced the legislation as state censorship. Their broadsides were particularly notable, as neither could be plausibly accused of holding even vaguely pro-China or anti-Israel sympathies. In Musk’s case, he has even collaborated with the ADL to suppress anti-Israel posts and users on ‘X,’ his rebranded version of Twitter.



Despite its near-unanimous rapid passage through Congress, the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act could run into trouble in the Senate. Republican Rand Paul has pledged to block the legislation on free speech grounds. U.S. citizens “choose to use TikTok to express themselves,” Paul argues, believing the Act would “take away the First Amendment rights” of 170 million users. The Washington Post quoted the Act’s Congressional architect, Mike Gallagher, as retorting:

[The Act] is about foreign adversary control of a social media application…not about shutting down speech. As long as the ownership structure has changed, TikTok can continue, and Americans can say whatever the heck they want on the platform.”

The newspaper did not mention that on March 13, Gallagher let slip the true motivation behind his anti-TikTok push. Namely, it is “becoming the dominant news platform for Americans under 30.” This very much chimes with the concerns of ADL chief Jonathan Greenblatt.

Also unmentioned is that Gallagher’s biggest political donor is the infamous American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), accurately described by U.S. political scientist John Mearsheimer as “a de facto agent for a foreign government, [with] a stranglehold on Congress.”

Mike Gallagher Israel
The chief architect behind the TikTok bill is Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher, whose biggest donor is AIPAC

Since October 7, 2023, AIPAC has made no secret of its mission to rid Washington, DC, of any lawmaker even mildly opposed to or critical of Israel’s unrelenting war on Gaza, openly earmarking Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, among others, for defenestration. Chillingly, the organization’s 2022 report on “policy and political achievements” that year brags that it provided $17.5 million – the most of any U.S. PAC – to “pro-Israel candidates,” a staggering 98% of whom won their elections.



Meanwhile, despite JNFA’s brazen public victory lap following the Act’s Congressional assent and its own central involvement in shilling for TikTok’s censorship, the ADL had the audacity to publish an investigation into how “antisemitic conspiracy theories” spread online after the vote. It charged that “influencers and extremists from across the political spectrum” framed the bill as “a product of Jewish or Zionist influence…an effort to infringe on free speech by limiting the reach of pro-Palestinian content.”

An example of an antisemitic remark about the TikTok bill published by the ADL

The ADL has published a relentless deluge of reports, uncritically amplified by the mainstream media, alleging “antisemitic incidents” throughout the Western world have reached record levels since the Gaza genocide began. Yet, as MintPress has revealed, the League produces these mindboggling figures by categorizing anti-Israel and pro-Palestine rallies and corresponding chants and signage at both as individual “antisemitic incidents.”

A new report from the ADL claims that anti-Semitic incidents across the US have skyrocketed by more than 400%. But as Alan Macleod reveals, the numbers do not add up unless one equates opposition to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza with hatred of Jews.


The anti-TikTok Act’s untrammeled passage is an epic testament to “Zionist influence” in the U.S. That such far-reaching, disturbing legislation was rubberstamped with virtually zero public, political or media debate or scrutiny, despite intense civil society and American Jewish community opposition, sets a terrifying precedent for future aggressive action being taken against digital platforms allowing inconvenient, brutal truths about Israel to escape into the public domain.

If the Act becomes law, it will undoubtedly be used to target other social networks, apps, and websites on similarly spurious grounds. Indeed, the legislation is explicitly not intended to be restricted to TikTok. Its wording openly states that any tech company “determined by the President to present a significant threat to the national security of the U.S.” can be in the White House’s firing line. Joe Biden has already made it abundantly clear that he will sign the moment it reaches his desk.

In December 2023, MintPress investigated The 10/7 Project, a new Zionist lobby entity founded by AIPAC, ADL, AJC, JFNA, and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The outfit was initially intended to be a very public affair, promoting human interest stories and atrocity propaganda generated by Operation Al-Aqsa Flood in the media while elevating its eponymous date to 9/11 levels in the American public mind.

The 10/7 Project has, to say the least, failed in this mission not least because citizen activists and journalists have challenged Israeli propaganda and exposed the realities of the Gaza genocide, with such devastating effect, on platforms such as TikTok. As such, it is only to be expected that the same lobbying organizations behind this effort have redoubled their quest for narrative control. If the information war cannot be won fairly, the only option is to nobble all opposition via straight-up censorship.

From Israel’s perspective, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Since October 7, 2023, as Jonathan Grimblatt bemoaned in that leaked recording, poll after poll has shown U.S. public support for Israel is almost exclusively restricted to older generations of Americans. For example, on March 21, Pew Research published a survey showing 46% of 18- 29-year-olds viewed Tel Aviv’s actions in Gaza as “unacceptable,” while 35% of 30 – 49-year-olds – a majority – agreed.

As the entire Zionist project – and the unending, slow-motion genocide it necessarily executes – is wholly contingent on U.S. support to endure, in the face of nigh-universal condemnation from citizens of the world and governments throughout the Global South, such an attitudinal shift could spell the end of Israel as we, unfortunately, know it. That is quite some “generational problem” that needs urgent rectification.

Feature photo | Illustration by MintPress News

Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist and MintPress News contributor exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. His work has previously appeared in The Cradle, Declassified UK, and Grayzone. Follow him on Twitter @KitKlarenberg.

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