Tuesday, November 01, 2016

  • Tuesday, November 01, 2016
  • Elder of Ziyon
Last May, Zman magazine did a feature article on media watchdogs, featuring Honest Reporting, CAMERA and me. I mentioned it at the time.

Here is the full article as a PDF, courtesy of the magazine.  You probably have to make it full screen to read it.



Here is the full text of just the section of the article that talks about EoZ:
Unlike HonestReporting and CAMERA, the next watchdog, Elder of Ziyon (EoZ), is basically a one-man show. And he works anonymously; he did not even divulge his real name for our phone interview.
When we asked him via email what he could tell us about his true identity, he responded, “I live in the New York area, I have at least two married kids, ‘Mrs. Elder’ has been contributing to my [news summary] videos lately and we are shomer Shabbos.”
Why the anonymity? “I prefer to stay anonymous mostly for career reasons. I have a full-time job in a high-tech field, so I don’t want potential employers to see my thousands of articles about the Middle East.”
Given the fact that he has published a staggering 23,000 articles in 11 years on his website, it boggles the mind to think he has a full-time job and only works on watchdogging part-time.
The name “Elder of Ziyon” is meant to be ironic, he explains, cynically poking fun at rabid anti-Semites who have long used the term as a reference to the canard that a small cabal of Jews controls the world. Indeed, one of the ways he combats the bias and hatred is with his very sharp wit and wry sense of humor. For instance, when Arabs, Islamists and ultra-leftists began calling Gaza a “concentration camp,” EoZ posted a series of photographs and videos showing a Gazan luxury mall, an exclusive nightclub, markets teeming with food, throngs of Gazans relaxing on beaches, etc. -- and described the photos with captions such as:

  • On Saturday night, the starving people of Gaza opened up a luxury mall.
  • Thousands of Gazans were forced to search desperately for sales and specials.
  • “We are forced to squirt Zionist ketchup onto our French fries, showing that we are still under colonial occupation.”
  • “Our children suffer the most. Here they are playing video games that are over three years old!”
  • Hamas dignitaries and other Gazans suffering at the Roots Club in the heart of the Gaza “concentration camp.”
  • Caution: Viewer discretion is advised due to graphic scenes of indulgence in gourmet food and similar types of exotic experiences and ambiance.

Along with his own writings and graphics, he posts articles authored by selected columnists. In addition, twice a day he excerpts and links dozens of articles about Israel published in media outlets around the globe. The rigorous job of finding all those articles and posting them is done by someone he identifies only as “Ian from Australia.”
How does he choose the topics of his own articles? “I try to be as original as possible. Either I try to dig up stories in English that most people would have missed, or I find stories in Arabic that everybody would have missed.”
Arabic?! Do you know Arabic? “No, but I use Google Translate and verify it with experts if there is something I’m not sure about.”
When asked why he goes to Arabic sources, he explains that Arab leaders typically have two faces: that which they show the Western press in their official statements and that which they show their own people. For instance, at the same time the media was claiming that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas was condemning the recent wave of violence, the organization he heads was bragging on its Arabic Facebook page that he was inspiring the murders of Jews. Translating these sources exposes the truth of their intentions, something the Western press avoids. (There is an entire media watchdog, The Middle East Media Research Institute [MEMRI], which devotes its resources to monitoring and translating Arabic media, schoolbooks and religious sermons.)
Elder of Ziyon elaborates for us:

One of my pet peeves is not so much media bias, that they say things which are biased (which they do); but what kills me and drives me nuts is what they don’t report on. The crimes of omission of the media…. That’s where the bias is….
Quotes from Palestinian leaders that would generate world headlines had an Israeli politician said something similar are completely ignored. The official pronouncements on the Facebook page of Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas’ party, are so much worse by any objective measure. Yet, they are never reported. These crimes of omission are widespread, and the clearest indication that the media is hugely biased against Israel.

The irony is that these omissions take place even though the number of Western journalists in Israel is absurdly disproportionate to the number of those covering events in other parts of the Middle East, and even the world. As Matti Friedman, former editor for the Associated Press’ Jerusalem bureau, said: “The agency had more than 40 staffers covering Israel and the Palestinian territories. That was significantly more news staff than the AP had in China, Russia, or India, or in all of the 50 countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined! It was higher than the total number of news-gathering employees in all the countries where the uprisings of the “Arab Spring” eventually erupted!” EoZ commented:

All of the reporters who are over there -- and there are more reporters per square kilometer in Israel than there are anywhere else -- act like sheep. They just follow the leader, which is usually The New York Times, sometimes Reuters, and file almost identical stories with identical pictures. They travel around in packs and cover the same stories and take the same pictures. But they don’t go anywhere beyond the standard politically correct stories that they want to say, and they all have to adhere to the same meme that Likud is an extremist, rightist party; Israel isn’t interested in peace; the “occupation” and “settlements” are the main obstacle to peace; Fatah is a moderate party and Abbas is a moderate leader….
That’s what drives me nuts about how the media covers Israel. They’re not trying to be objective. This is provable by what they are not saying. There is so much intensive obsession and analysis of every word and every letter that comes out from any Israeli official, but there is nothing on what comes out from Abbas and the like….
There are terror groups literally operating under the Fatah party -- the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and a few offshoots -- and the media doesn’t even mention that they exist. And they’re not only in Gaza. They’re also in the West Bank. And they will sometimes parade around with their guns. They are Fatah. They are part of Abbas’ party. He claimed that he had dismantled them, but he lied. Yet, nobody in the press asks, “Hey, what’s going on here? Why is moderate Abbas allowing this?”

Among the many articles EoZ has linked to his site are some authored by journalists who testify to the truth that the foreign press is “ignorant, lazy, and fearful,” and that journalists risk “professional ostracism” if they veer from the accepted Palestinian-slanted narrative. (See accompanying article.)
We asked EoZ to comment on the fact that some of the worst reporting originates from Jewish journalists:

I do think that Jewish reporters try to bend over backwards to prove that they are as evenhanded as possible. It’s not true of everyone… I don’t think you can make a blanket statement. But there’s no doubt.... Jodi Rudoren, when she was in Israel, was trying clearly to be evenhanded. But evenhandedness is still bias, because you are still making the assumption that both sides are equally guilty when they are clearly not….
[But it’s not only a Jewish complex; it’s a Western complex.] It’s something the West doesn’t want to understand because they want to make it look like everyone is the same. “Everybody loves their kids, and everybody wants to be alive.” They don’t want to report how [Palestinian-Arab-Muslim] parents are proud they are that their children are suicide bombers or want to be…. They [the Western media] don’t want to report that, on any given day, there are multiple statements made by public officials discussing the glories of committing murder against Jews.
That would make it seem as if there is a difference [in the mindset and values]. And if there’s a difference, the whole narrative falls apart. [So the Western media intentionally ignores the constant stream of rabid incitement.]

What about the contention these days in so much of the media that Palestinian violence is justified because of the Israeli “occupation” and “the settlements”?

Was there peace before 1967? The [Arab] threats were worse then. With the establishment of the PLO in 1964, there were no “settlements” -- so what exactly were the Palestinians planning to “liberate”?
It has nothing to do with settlements, nothing to do with occupation. Now, you can have an argument over whether it’s smart to keep them -- I don’t think it’s automatically anti-Israel to say that you think Israel should withdraw from part or all; reasonable people will have that opinion. But the settlements are not the real issue….
And, if you look carefully at all the statements from Mahmoud Abbas, or whoever else, the settlements are only one of their issues. Jerusalem is another of their issues, even more important to them.
And yet another [of their issues], which they mention every time in every forum they have, is the so-called “right of return.” And that is the destruction of Israel; everybody understands that it is meant to be the destruction of Israel. The whole reason there is still a refugee problem is in order to keep that issue alive, in order to put pressure on Israel.

To supply a little historical perspective on his point: In 1948, after the Arabs lost the war they started hoping to annihilate about 600,000 Jews in Eretz Yisrael, there were many refugees. The United Nations established UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) as a humanitarian effort to relieve the plight of the refugees. At the time, this included both Jewish and Arab displaced persons living within the Armistice lines in the State of Israel.
By 1952, all of those Jews and Arabs had been moved to permanent homes and were taken off the UNRWA list of refugees. However, all of those Arabs living in territories occupied by Arab states continued to be defined as refugees. This included the two largest groups, the refugees in Gaza, who were living under Egyptian occupation, and those in the West Bank, under Jordanian occupation. Even after Jordan extended citizenship to the refugees there, thereby ending their refugee status according to international law, UNRWA continued classifying them as refugees! In effect, the UN bestowed upon them the status of permanent refugees -- something unprecedented! (Note: After 1948, more than 800,000 Jews had to flee Arab lands due to incitement and expulsion, yet they soon resettled elsewhere, ending their refugee status.)
Put another way, at some point in the 1950s, UNRWA changed from a humanitarian organization seeking to solve a refugee problem into a propaganda arm of the Arab cause, using Arab refugees (originally they were called “Arab refugees”; now they are called “Palestinian refugees”) as a political weapon against the State of Israel.
This is the background to the “right of return” issue. Elder of Ziyon continues:
>>> 
He [Abbas] doesn’t emphasize it so much when he speaks to the West, but in virtually every speech he makes elsewhere he says that they have to have the right to return to these homes -- homes that don’t exist anymore!
The basic question of why “refugee” camps exist in the territory under Palestinian rule is not mentioned…. The unspoken truth is that the “refugee” camps exist for only one reason -- to blame Israel for not allowing them to “return” to homes that no longer exist….
The entire idea of the right of return is baseless. Yet, it is being used as a political football…. And just as today you see all this rhetoric about occupation and settlements -- that’s the endless mantra -- if for any reason a future Israeli government decides to compromise and gives up some or all the settlements, the next battlefield is going to be this “right of return.”
<<< 
If the settlements are not the true issue, what really motivates the media to constantly demonize Israel? Is it anti-Semitism?
>>> 
Not all anti-Israel criticism stems from anti-Semitism (or Jewish self-hatred). But certainly some of it does. When it comes to the Arab-Muslim media, such as PA-TV and the official PA media outlets, the majority of it is [anti-Semitic]. The focus on Israel as evil is certainly motivated mostly by anti-Semitism. The canard of Israel controlling the US, as well as the recycled anti-Semitic ideas of control of the media and banks, is as prevalent today [in the Middle East] as it was before World War Two.
However, European and US criticism of Israel is not as clear-cut. Their anti-Israel bias may have some subtle relationship with anti-Semitism, but it is also a result of a fear of Arab terror. During the 1970s, we saw a remarkable transformation from Arab-Palestinians as terrorists to Arafat being invited to address the UN in a very short time period -- thanks to the Arab terrorist airline hijackings and the oil embargo [see Zman 8]. The West, in fear of terror and blackmail, chose to start to take the Arab side to avoid being a victim; they then justified their caving in to terror after the fact by pretending that the terrorists had a valid point. [Note: This may be something akin to the Stockholm Syndrome, the psychological tendency of a victim/hostage to bond with, identify with, or sympathize with his or her persecutor/captor. See Zman 12.]
That mentality exists today: Reporters in Israel know that Israel won’t throw them into jail for writing critical stories. But the reporters in Gaza or the West Bank have to toe the line in order to keep their sources and their jobs. Fear is a very big motivator.
<<< 

War of the Words

During the interview, we discussed the “war of the words” going on. For instance, the fact that “Palestinian” in today’s press refers to non-Jewish Arabs is particularly painful for anyone familiar with Jewish history, since it originates from the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s campaign to annihilate the Jews about 1,900 years ago.
Hadrian was the closest thing in history to Hitler, committing the greatest genocide against Jews until the Holocaust. Not content merely murdering Jews, he sought to eliminate the Jewish religion (e.g., it was his decree outlawing the public teaching of Torah that led to Rabbi Akiva’s martyrdom). As part of his campaign to wipe out the memory of the Jewish people he renamed Judea, the Jewish homeland, “Palestine.”
Even though the name “Palestine” is not mentioned even once in Tanach -- neither is it mentioned in the Christian writings or the Quran -- the name was revived in the modern era by the British… but they used it to describe the territory intended to be the Jewish homeland! That’s right -- the Jews were the original “Palestinians” of the modern era. It wasn’t until the 1960s that Yasser Arafat -- the “father of modern terrorism” -- absconded the term for political purposes. Those who use the term “Palestinian” today to refer to the Arabs pay homage to Arafat and his spin on reality. 
We asked Elder of Ziyon his opinion:

Using the word “Palestinians” to refer to Arabs in British Mandate Palestine pre-1948 is almost always wrong. Jews were the ones who referred to themselves that way. The mainstream media did not refer to Arabs as “Palestinians” until roughly 1967 (with a few exceptions). I dislike using the word “Palestinian” to refer to Arabs in the region, but unfortunately I have to use it if I want my writings to be read outside the pro-Israel echo chamber.

We asked him what other terms can serve as examples.

The term “West Bank” is also a relatively new term, starting after the 1948 war. Up until then, and even in UN documents, the area was always referred to as “Judea and Samaria.”
“Illegal settlements” and “illegal occupation” are other false phrases…. There are lots of other terms that have gained currency: “apartheid,” which is absurd; “genocide” in Gaza, which is even more absurd. The New York Times recently used the word “resistance” without scare quotes to refer to Palestinian Arab terror, fully accepting the terminology of the terrorists.
“Refugee” means something completely different when the subject is Palestinian Arab than any other kind of refugee [see above]. Calling the Har HaBayit the “Al Aqsa Mosque” is another absurd misuse of language that too many editors allow.
Indeed, there is a huge war of language going on, and the Arab side is winning….

We asked him why.

Of course we’re losing. There’s no way we can win. There are just so many more of them….
You have to understand, for example, with The New York Times, they get 10 times as many complaints from the Arab side as they do from the Jewish side…. I’ve spoken to a person who worked on the editorial page of The New York Times… and he said that the op-ed page is unquestionably, clearly anti-Israel. People have done studies on this. It depends on the month, but it’s something like 8-to-1 op-eds are anti-Israel rather than pro, a ridiculous ratio. He also told me, explicitly, that the number of complaints -- and of submissions -- from the Arab side to The New York Times far outstrips the number that come from the pro-Israel side….
He told me how he pushed through a few pro-Israel op-eds, how much of a battle it was just to get them in… how many hoops he had to jump through just to publish one pro op-ed, all the fact-checking he had to do -- things that aren’t done on the other side. The game they sometimes play is that they will allow some of the pro-Israel op-eds in only if they are from such an extremist right-wing side that people can dismiss them….
As far as pure numbers are concerned, there’s no hope of winning. You do what you can, you plug away, and you hope what you’re doing bubbles up to the mainstream consciousness. But it’s very difficult.

It’s difficult but you do it anyway?

Yes. I believe it’s still possible to achieve small victories, so to speak, in the public opinion/public relations point of view…. I’ve seen over the years that things like suicide bombings used to be very popular and the Arabs were very proud of it. But as the Western media showed revulsion at that tactic, it changed how the Arabs thought about it. They were shamed by it. They want to think that a Quranic-based mindset is morally superior to any Western, Judeo-Christian mindset. If the West shows enough revulsion to something they thought was good, they are embarrassed.
That’s the reason you rarely if ever see Hamas openly bragging about suicide bombings nowadays. They saw they were not gaining any respect from the Western press anymore. They were losing the moral high ground by doing so. They don’t want to be looked upon as being less moral than the West….
All these people [in the Western press] who are supposedly the moral arbiters of society should be going out of their way to show revulsion at these terror attacks, but it is something they are not doing these days….
But that’s what I try to do. If Elder of Ziyon writes something that trickles up to the mainstream media, they [the Arab world] will be embarrassed. They won’t necessarily change immediately, and deep down their opinions probably will never change, but embarrassment over the immorality of their cause can sometimes make a difference.

He would know. His scoops have been quoted in CNN, The New York Times, Fox News, Jewish Press, Jerusalem Post, Arutz-7, Algemeiner, Times of Israel and many more. His reporting often ends up making a real difference.
Indeed, as we were gathering information for this article, a posting by Elder of Ziyon in March 2016 about an Arab propaganda map (see Sidebar: “Other Forms of Anti-Israel Bias”) that somehow made it into a 2013 McGraw-Hill textbook triggered a slew of emails to the publisher (including one from Zman), and shortly thereafter the company said that they had stopped selling the book and that all existing inventory would be destroyed, noting that “the map did not meet our academic standards.” It shows that an individual can make a difference.
Given his incredible output, it is even more remarkable to think that “Elder of Ziyon” is a regular working guy with a full-time job and a family. One Jewish newspaper said it very well when it described him as “indefatigable one-man operation, armed only with a computer, chutzpah and stamina.”
He is, indeed, an unbelievable one-man army conducting a mostly solitary but heroic battle in this ongoing war of words -- a war that the media perpetuates in many ways through its ignorance and/or deeply entrenched biases. 




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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

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