Working as a journalist in Israel for the past decade has been a fruitful experience, but one filled with formidable challenges.
In the past ten years, I’ve produced hundreds of written articles and video reports for dozens of local, regional and international publications, reporting on struggles for justice and exposing horrifying crimes.
In addition to my online work, I’ve also given lectures – 90-minute TED-talk-style slideshows, really – in over a dozen countries, at dozens of universities, and in more than half a dozen European parliaments.
But despite this record of successes, I have also faced massive challenges that threaten my ability to continue doing this work.
The challenges are diverse, but they all stem from the same source: much of my reporting focuses on the widespread racism in Israeli society, racism that many people prefer to go unnoticed.
Sometimes the forces threatening me over my reporting are the very people that I report on, the individuals whose offenses I expose. As a result, I now publish my most scandalous pieces at major outlets with well-funded legal departments, outlets that are willing and able to defend me in Israeli court, if need be.
On occasion, the actors attacking me are not the subjects of my reporting, but rather, Israeli ultra-nationalists and wannabe warriors for Zion, smear merchants who moonlight as commentators for right-wing rags.
Their histrionic hit-pieces take aim at me because I’m the messenger. They hope to prevent people from reading my pieces by inverting reality, arguing that my reporting on Israeli racism makes me not an Israeli anti-racist, but rather, an anti-Israeli racist.
I haven’t yet figured out a way to inoculate myself from this type of attack. But still, it’s important to expose these underhanded efforts to silence reporting on Israeli racism, so that the racists can continue unimpeded.
And now, for the first time, I am facing a new type of attack: efforts to have my reports deleted from the internet altogether, even from social media platforms, so that there can be no record at all of the misdeeds I’ve documented.
A week ago, I received the first of these forays. YouTube informed me that it was deleting my video of a 2014 protest against the marriage of two Israeli citizens, a son of Muslims and a daughter of Jews.
I risked life and limb, infiltrating a crowd of more than a hundred Israeli racists decrying romantic relations between Jews and non-Jews, and calling to kill Palestinians. Now, five-and-a-half years later, YouTube has spiked the video, after determining that it contains “hate speech… glorifying or inciting violence”.
This is a very worrisome development. YouTube is opaque about how they come to the conclusion that a video has run afoul of their guidelines, so I can’t know if my 2014 video was randomly flagged by an algorithm gone wrong, or if the racist group I documented in the video submitted a complaint against it, in order to whitewash their public record.
What I do know is that if this can happen to one of my videos, it can potentially happen to almost any of my many films reporting on Israeli racism. And if a group trying to hide that rampant racism submits just a couple more complaints to YouTube, my entire channel could well be deleted in a matter of days.
This means that if we want my videos to be available indefinitely, part of the public record, I am going to have to migrate all my content to another platform, one that won’t delete all my hard work at the request of racists or misprogrammed computer code.
Thank you very kindly for your continued support, and I pledge to keep covering these important stories, so that at the very least, you can see what we locals who believe in equality for all, regardless of race or religion, are up against.