Portrait of a Hasbara Troll

Etan Schwartz, hasbara troll

Etan Schwartz appears to be "E," the most annoying hasbara troll to visit my blog

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 ejs255@nyu.edu, which matches his initials and alma mater. And his IP address, 174.252.125.242, 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 typical comment by "E", who appears to be Etan Schwartz, is filled with insults and innuendo

A typical comment by "E", who appears to be Etan Schwartz, is filled with insults and innuendo

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).

Is someone paying Etan Schwartz to troll, or is he just a sociopathic loser?

Is someone paying Etan Schwartz to troll, or is he just a sociopathic loser?

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!

8 thoughts on “Portrait of a Hasbara Troll

  1. AdamAW

    I agree with this new policy. There are plenty of other outlets for those who want to promote unthinking support for Israeli foreign and domestic policy. This is a precious resource that allows us a more balanced perspective based upon the best of human ideals and values.

  2. AdamAW

    I agree with this new policy. There are plenty enough places out there for those who wish to promote unthinking support of Israeli foreign and domestic policy.

  3. Max Post author

    I won’t block those who promote support for Israeli policy. But trolling — using innuendo and personal/ethnic insults, and doing so obsessively — will be banned here.

  4. poyani

    I don’t know about this new policy. Given that google is the primary means used to find websites, even bad publicity can be considered good, as it adds to the number of links to the site which effectively google-bombs the site.

    That’s not even considering the serious ethical considerations. To us it may be obvious that Kovaks was a troll, but he probably genuinely thought he was posting legitimate arguments (he wasn’t the sharpest knife in the shed).

    Also this seriously decreases the entertainment value of the site. Clips of Glenn Beck are popular on YouTube not because they are insightful, but because it is entertaining to watch a grown man make a complete fool of himself. Kovaks was our Glenn Beck. Without him this site will not be the same.

    There is also tactical considerations. An uninformed person inquiring about the topic may from time to time wonder into sites like this. Without nutters like E and Kovaks, it may not be entirely obvious that this is in fact a one-sided issue!

  5. gd

    @ poyani
    If you were the only one personally attacked by those entertaining fools on your own blog, then you could choose to monitor or not. I never found being personally attacked fun, especially when seeking to help others in need. I found attacks on Max and commenters degrading the elevated caliber of the work and most commenters. The offensive harmful comments had kept me from checking and commenting, not wanting to get caught in the cycle of cynicism. If I fail to keep my comments civil, often I have, I would not object if my comments were removed. I find the comedization of death and destruction one of the reasons we keep finding ourselves in never ending nightmares. If we keep laughing our way through difficult discussions we cannot create a seriously safer world.

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