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‘Elder of Ziyon’ doesn’t want readers to say, ‘I knew that already’

The anonymous, pro-Israel blogger spoke with JNS several months before his influential site turns 20.

The Washington think tank Jewish Policy Center has called him an “essential” read half a dozen times, and the watchdog CAMERA UK said he is “indefatigable” and “one of the best pro-Israel bloggers out there.”

“Elder of Ziyon” is the pen name of a man who works in high tech and, for the past 20 years, has authored some 40,000 posts on a reader-supported, pro-Israel blog that goes by the same pseudonym. The site has received between 30,000 and 500,000 daily views, “Elder” told JNS.

The anonymous poster’s first entry was dated Aug. 15, 2004, and it ran five words, linking to an article in the Israeli press. Since then, “Elder”—whose identity is unknown to JNS—has reported longer-form material, including an investigation that led McGraw-Hill Education to pull the publication of a textbook he accused of anti-Israel propaganda.

In 2022, “Elder” self-published Protocols: Exposing Modern Antisemitism, which Gerald Steinberg, founder of NGO Monitor, called “the essential reference handbook” in “exposing the lies behind the modern embodiment of the infamous ‘Protocols.’”

“In tackling the broad range of hate campaigns, from manipulating the slogans of international law and human rights in the United Nations, to the fake media experts and the NGO anti-Zionist jihad, the new Protocols is a concise and fact-filled response,” Steinberg added.

“Elder” spoke with JNS some four-and-a-half months before the 20th anniversary of his blog, which remains on the platform Blogger, which launched in 1999 and which Google acquired in 2003.

“Maybe people are overwhelmed with the anti-Israel arguments. They’re overwhelmed with the sheer volume of hate that’s out there,” he told JNS. “I hope to be a place that they can go to get informed.”

Getting information out

“The assumptions that you see about Israel in the mainstream media are wrong,” the blogger told JNS. “Being counter that, I think, is very important.”

He cites the example of the Israeli army’s combat protocol, which he said contains “layers of oversight, layers of lawyers, layers of decision making.”

“You just can’t say, ‘Oh, they’re just deciding to just blow this up for no good reason.’ It doesn’t work that way, and people don’t understand that,” he said. “I do have military experts and legal experts and other people that I can ask questions of. I can rely on these people when there’s something that goes way beyond my depth.”

“That’s really important to be able to get that sort of information out, and let people know,” added “Elder.”

Elder of Ziyon typing
The anonymous blogger who goes by “Elder of Ziyon” types on his nearly 20-year-old website on March 31, 2024. Credit: Courtesy.

One way that he gets the information out is through what the blog calls “link dumps,” or lists of timely links to news stories that an Australian reader named Ian edits and posts. “He started doing it in my comments section many years ago and I decided to put them on the blog,” said “Elder.”

A recent such “dump” analyzed faulty casualty numbers from the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, Washington’s interference in Israeli military campaigns and the efforts of a quarter of British parliamentarians to halt arms to Israel.

“The history is so important because right now, a lot of the analyses you’ll see, they don’t look at anything past two years,” according to “Elder.” “You really have to look at stuff in context with further history.”

The blog also includes “history,” “columnists” and “NGOs” features.

“Columnists” and “NGOs” probe Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem and other critics of Israel and the Jewish people. “Elder” culls these items from Arabic and Israeli media, as well as tips from readers.

“I try to keep it as eclectic and wide-ranging as possible, and also to keep it as educational as possible,” he told JNS. “I don’t want people to read my stuff and say, ‘I knew that already,’ or ‘I’ve seen that or a very similar analysis.’ My goal is that everybody should learn something that they have not known before.”

People have told “Elder” that his blog has “opened up their eyes and changed their minds.”

“It strengthens the people that are already pro-Israel, but it gives them ammunition,” he told JNS. “I think that’s very important.”

‘Elder gets results’

Among the blog’s greatest hits over the years are some cheeky items, including the backdoor nomination of “Elder” for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.

“Is it that difficult to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize? Not really. The Nobel committee has criteria for who can nominate others for the prize, and tens of thousands of people—parliamentarians and university professors in certain fields among them—are qualified,” he wrote on Oct. 3, 2018.

“A friend of mine, who happens to be one of those people, has officially nominated my blog persona, the Elder of Ziyon, for the Nobel Peace Prize of 2019,” he added.

The blog also offers an “intersectionality victimhood” calculator—an attempt to calculate “who is the perceived underdog, and therefore, the more righteous of each side in any conflict.”

The blog is also quite serious at times.

An “Elder gets results” section details some of the site’s impact, from an antisemitic article removed from an Arab news site to Israel and its flag added to U.S. online via applications, and Washington boycotting the Durban IV conference to an amended National Geographic article that displayed anti-Israel bias.

Looking ahead, “Elder” would like to see human-rights nonprofits answer whether Gazan refugees who want to go to Egypt or Jordan ought to be allowed to do so.

“That’s the only question I want to know because they’re so pro-refugee,” he told JNS.

“Elder” noted that Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International complained that Egypt created unnecessary impediments for refugees entering from Sudan. The organizations also supported Iraqi, Somali and Syrian refugees. “So why not Palestinians?” he asked.

As his blog turns 20, “Elder” told JNS: “Everybody’s starving for information after Oct. 7. Obviously, everybody’s in shock.”

“Everybody wants to know what’s going on,” he said. “Let’s use truth as our best weapon.”

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