In the immediate aftermath of the Israeli Navy’s massacre of 9 activists on the Mavi Marmara, I began a journalistic process of discrediting wild and fabricated claims by the Israeli Army Spokesman’s Unit about the incident. Around this time, when my blog began receiving unprecedented traffic, several hasbara trolls suddenly occupied my comments section. They have maintained a constant presence ever since, dragging the discussion into the gutter with propagandistic arguments and absurd personal attacks on me and other commenters — there isn’t much else to do when you are defending a country that behaves like Israel does. While I enjoy receiving legitimate criticism, I can no longer allow trolls to treat my blog like Moshe Katsav treated his female staffers. So I have decided to ban them all and institute a new “no trolling” policy.
I have also taken successful steps to unmask one of the shrillest, most annoying, and consequently, most pathetic, hasbara trolls; an obsessive character who writes under the handle of “E,” and who has also trolled at 972mag.com as “F.” “E” and “F” appear to be Etan J Schwartz of Englewood, New Jersey — all the evidence I have compiled points to him. Indeed, “E” has registered to comment on my blog through the email address firstname.lastname@example.org, which matches his initials and alma mater. And his IP address, 18.104.22.168, indicates that he is in or around Livingston, New Jersey, which is basically down the road from Englewood. So I am 99.99 percent certain that Etan J. Schwartz is “E.”
Schwartz has carried out a long campaign of harassment and demonization against me and others through his personal Facebook page and with letters to my editors written under his real name. In both his Facebook rants and in what appear to be his anonymous diatribes in my comments section, his rhetoric is distinguished by resentful remarks against Ashkenazi Jews. Schwartz’s anti-Ashkenazi tendencies are strange considering that he labors as a chai walla for the Ashkenazi country club known as the neoconservative movement and that he appears devoted to promoting the cause of a country controlled by an Ashkenazi elite that has historically exploited and oppressed Mizrahim. But who ever said that hasbara trolls were not conflicted, deeply damaged people?
A graduate of New York University who has pursued his master’s degree in International Affairs at George Washington University’s Elliott School, Schwartz has set his sights on a career as an errand boy for the Israel lobby and neocon groups. Given all the career opportunities that are seemingly available to this young man, I find it remarkable that he seems to spend so much of his energy scrutinizing my work and polluting the comments section of my blog. Is he really that much of a loser? Doesn’t he have anything better to do? Or is he paid by the Israeli Foreign Ministry or a pro-Israel oufit to troll? (Professional hasbara trolls are some our society’s biggest losers, so both scenarios are possible and equally tragic).
According to his bio, Schwartz was a researcher for WINEP, which is AIPAC’s de facto policy arm. He also did some work for the Islamophobic huckster Steve Emerson at the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Vincent Cannistrano, a former CIA counter-terrorism operative, has alleged that Emerson’s closest allies are “Israeli funded.” Now Schwartz claims to now be a staff assistant for the Kurdistan Regional Government, an entity that neocon Cliff May recently hailed as, “The Other Israel” (May appeared to have some sort of arrangement with the KRG to produce favorable publicity).
The question is, given Schwartz’s connections to the neocon cabal, do his employers know about his apparent ongoing campaign of harassment against me and possibly other bloggers? Perhaps trolling is part of Schwartz’s job description and his obsession with me and everything I write is rooted in some rational motivation. Or perhaps he is a pure sociopath who presents a clear hazard to anyone who hires him and everyone who works in his vicinity. In this case, Schwartz’s employers should know his about his apparent hobby.
Though trolls will never be heard from at my blog again, I will continue my efforts to unmask those who have frequented this site for the sole purpose of trolling.
Etan, may the Schwartz be with you!