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A farewell of sorts

Earlier this month, at the conclusion of a long-planned transition, I ended my role as executive director (and prior to that – editor-in-chief) of +972 Magazine and Local Call. I am succeeded by Sawsan Khalife’, a journalist and activist from Haifa.

I began working in journalism in 1998, right before the Internet came and changed everything. My first decade in media was marked by cuts, layoffs and journalists’ growing fear of their readers.

+972 Magazine was born in 2010 as an aggregate of seven blogs that approached Israeli politics and news from a progressive perspective. A year later we formed a non-profit to provide the organizational backing to the project. Our Hebrew site, Local Call, was launched in 2014 under a similar model of blogger-based writing and non-profit journalism.

Both sites, and the non-profit that operates them, have been the heart of my professional life for the past five years. During this time, we have grown from a modest group blog into a project that brings together dozens of volunteers, six employees and has hundreds of thousands of people reading it every month, worldwide.

For me, +972 Magazine and Local Call were an opportunity to return to a time of growth, innovation, and absolute independence in writing and editing. I have enjoyed writing and working on this project more than anywhere else in the past 17 years.

Things didn’t come without a price, of course. In its first years, +972 was a volunteer project, and even when we started raising money for editing, ensuring the necessary resources was a constant struggle: none of us made the kind of salaries we could have at more established news organizations. But I got to take part in a different kind of journalism, one that is run from the bottom up — from the writers to the editors — and not the other way around.

It is through the work of my fellow bloggers that I participated in the most important and gratifying stories: the battle of narratives regarding the killing of Jawahr Abu-Rahme in Bil’in; Lisa Goldman’s reportage from post-revolution Egypt (our first crowd-sourcing project!); the first interview Haggai Amir gave after his release from prison; the socially driven activism of Local Call writers; working with Samer Badawi, who reported for +972 from bombarded Gaza City last summer; Local Call’s exposé on the companies monitoring Israelis’ social media use for the IDF; Yuval Ben-Ami’s unique style of travel writing, and more. Much more.

Most of my writing in the past decade or so has been driven by the occupation, which was and remains at the heart of +972’s coverage. Local Call added other fields of progressive politics that draw from different sources – history, ideology, identity politics – but also tries to bring them to the next level, to re-examine itself, and create something new out of it all. It is crucial work, considering the fundamental crisis the Israeli Left – all sectors included – is going through.

It feels like a good time for me to go back to writing, both at +972 and elsewhere. Writing is the reason I joined the project in the first place, before I was drawn to fundraising, managing, and web design, etc.

I’d like to thank all the editors, writers, photographers, artists, designers, coders, grant-makers and advisers I have worked with. Thanks also to Just Vision, which partnered with us in launching and running Local Call.

Good luck to Sawsan, who I am confident will lead this project to the kinds of places I could never reach. And a warm and special thanks to all the readers who have, and continue to donate to both sites. Without you, this project could never have happened.

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
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    COMMENTS

      • Jason Kidd

        For being forced out of his cushy job?

        Reply to Comment
    1. Jason Kidd

      Not a surprise. Noam was not doing good enough for his overlords so they put one of their own in his,place.
      Check out her resume. This site will be like the Electronic Intifada in no time.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Ben

      Best of luck with your future endeavors, Noam Sheizaf. I’m glad to read that that future includes writing for +972. You and your fellow writers started something really special here and you’ve led it with an extraordinary presence. I marvel at the confidence, the moral courage and energy the +972 writers demonstrate, going against the grain, against so many, with such clarity and integrity. +972 is an absolute gem. It’s independence, its consistency, the quality and consistency of the writing, its engaged journalism, its ability to dispel misinformation and complacent assumptions and get to the “real deal,” its unique on the ground perspective, its ability to turn the English speaking world’s attention to what is really going on in the territories and inform–all of this is a quite extraordinary achievement. I don’t know that there’s anything in the world quite like it. It’s a unique window on an extraordinary situation.

      How unique? How special? I turn to your own words which, fortunately, somebody took the trouble to transcribe:

      http://mondoweiss.net/2013/03/rational-political-sheizaf

      “Those of you who’ve been in mainstream journalism know that it’s not that the reporters are out there in the field – the stories come from above and they go down, and we try to do something that is the exact opposite, and through this reflect the thoughts of our community of peers. Most of them would be what in the Israeli political conversation is what is called the radical left. Some of them would be on what they call the Zionist left, but I don’t like those definitions, I think in the Israeli context they serve a political purpose which is troubling for me. But the group is certainly from the left, and very early on we agreed that we’re not interested in conversation just for the sake of conversation – we’re a project of change, and we believe if the motto of the New York Times is that they are unbiased and they represent always the two sides. A lot of the critical theory has shown that this is the biggest bias. We do the opposite approach: we are engaged journalists, we state our opinions before we even begin reporting. If you look at the About page, the first paragraph states that we as a collective we oppose the occupation, we believe in human rights and democracy, and we believe in freedom of information and opposition to censorship, which is becoming an issue not just in Israel but in the Internet and social media as a whole. So the practical term of this, the definition is broad enough to have two-staters and one-staters, Zionists and non-Zionists, under the same collective, but not broad enough to have a settler just for the sake of the conversation.. We do not seek to represent the variety of opinions in the Israeli society nor in the Palestinian society.”

      I’d like to honor the achievement that is +972 by pointing to another statement you made which to my mind and many others was an extraordinary exercise in plain speaking:

      http://972mag.com/watch-noam-sheizaf-at-j-street-nobody-is-talking-about-gaza/104768/

      I look forward to reading what you will write here and elsewhere and I will continue lending a hand financially to sustaining the extraordinary project in journalism that is +972. I wish your successor, Sawsan Khalife’, tremendous success.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Panama

      Poindexter doesn’t strike me as someone who would do well in private enterprise.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Ben

      Best of luck with your future endeavors, Noam Sheizaf. I’m glad to read that that future includes writing for +972. You and your fellow writers started something really special here and you’ve led it with an extraordinary presence. I marvel at the confidence, the moral courage and energy the +972 writers demonstrate, going against the grain, against so many, with such clarity and integrity. +972 is an absolute gem. It’s independence, its consistency, the quality and consistency of the writing, its engaged journalism, its ability to dispel misinformation and complacent assumptions and get to the “real deal,” its unique on the ground perspective, its ability to turn the English speaking world’s attention to what is really going on in the territories and inform–all of this is a quite extraordinary achievement. I don’t know that there’s anything in the world quite like it. It’s a unique window on an extraordinary situation.

      How unique? How special? I turn to your own words which, fortunately, somebody took the trouble to transcribe:

      http://mondoweiss.net/2013/03/rational-political-sheizaf
      “Those of you who’ve been in mainstream journalism know that it’s not that the reporters are out there in the field – the stories come from above and they go down, and we try to do something that is the exact opposite, and through this reflect the thoughts of our community of peers. Most of them would be what in the Israeli political conversation is what is called the radical left. Some of them would be on what they call the Zionist left, but I don’t like those definitions, I think in the Israeli context they serve a political purpose which is troubling for me. But the group is certainly from the left, and very early on we agreed that we’re not interested in conversation just for the sake of conversation – we’re a project of change, and we believe if the motto of the New York Times is that they are unbiased and they represent always the two sides. A lot of the critical theory has shown that this is the biggest bias. We do the opposite approach: we are engaged journalists, we state our opinions before we even begin reporting. If you look at the About page, the first paragraph states that we as a collective we oppose the occupation, we believe in human rights and democracy, and we believe in freedom of information and opposition to censorship, which is becoming an issue not just in Israel but in the Internet and social media as a whole. So the practical term of this, the definition is broad enough to have two-staters and one-staters, Zionists and non-Zionists, under the same collective, but not broad enough to have a settler just for the sake of the conversation.. We do not seek to represent the variety of opinions in the Israeli society nor in the Palestinian society.”

      I’d like to honor the achievement that is +972 by pointing to another statement you made which to my mind and many others was an extraordinary exercise in plain speaking:

      http://972mag.com/watch-noam-sheizaf-at-j-street-nobody-is-talking-about-gaza/104768/

      I look forward to reading what you will write here and elsewhere and I will continue lending a hand financially to sustaining the extraordinary project in journalism that is +972. I wish your successor, Sawsan Khalife’, tremendous success.

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        “Unbiased and always represent two sides”

        Is that what this publication has been doing Benny?

        Ok. That says a lot about your mental jaundice.

        Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        “I wish your successor, Sawsan Khalife’, tremendous success.”

        You wish her well eh Benny? Here, this is what she stands for. These are her own words…

        “SK: I think we can’t as Palestinians bid for statehood unless all Palestine is reunited. Maybe Palestinians can benefit from the bid. But the West Bank is not Palestine. I see the Galilee, al-Quds [Jerusalem], Haifa and Acre also as part of Palestine. We can ask for independence when we have reunited our land. After we have gained control over the air, the sea, the borders, we can be independent. I see the statehood bid as a bit of an illusion. Abu Mazen’s [Mahmoud Abbas’s] approach is not at the right time.”

        That’s your idea of the two state solution, Benny? Ya gonna have a good time with your new heroine at the helm.

        Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        The transcript of Noam’s talk is not clearly punctuated at one point and thus open to misinterpretation. I think one section above is more accurately rendered as:

        “But the group is certainly from the left, and very early on we agreed that we’re not interested in conversation just for the sake of conversation – we’re a project of change, and we believe [that,] if the motto of the New York Times is that they are unbiased and they represent always the two sides, a lot of the critical theory has shown that this [approach of the New York Times] is the biggest bias. We do the opposite approach: we are engaged journalists, we state our opinions before we even begin reporting.”

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          This is another bit from an interview with
          Sawsan Khalife. This is what she said…

          “The majority of the Palestinian students that study at Israeli universities are involved in political activism. It follows from the discrimination that we encounter on a daily basis, the approach of the Zionist regime. When I was 19 years old, I moved to Jerusalem to the dormitories of Hebrew University. My Hebrew was limited; I read it but did not speak it. One day I was in a bus on my way to the Old City to do my shopping. I was talking with my mother on my phone. In our village there are no Jews. I never encountered racism face to face. I spoke in Arabic to my mother. A woman in the bus responded, shouting at me not to talk so loud, and that I should be ashamed to speak this language. She attacked me.”

          Anyone who is not half witted (Benny you can tune out now) can gain a bit of insight about this conflict and the actors in it…

          First: this woman, Sawsan Khalife, and other Palestinian students have been educated in Hebrew university. Does that sound like there is an apartheid SYSTEM in place?

          Second: the woman encountered racism from an Israeli woman. No denying that. Individual racism exists on both sides. It exists in all countries even in peaceful times, let alone in a country where the two parties have been fighting a 100 year war with each other.

          Third: and this is the most important point. Notice the direction of Palestinian Arab activists like Sawsan Khalife. They are activists on behalf of the Arab cause and not just a small cause. They want an Arab Palestine from the river to the sea. That to some extent is natural. I mean why wouldn’t they want what they consider to be best for their own people?

          Contrast that to the Israeli Jewish activists (thank goodness they are not many). What cause do they fight for? They too fight for the Arab cause. What was I saying about Jews being best even when it comes to stupidity? Yes folks, you can call me a Jewish supremacist because I claim that we Jews excel even in the field of stupidity!

          Reply to Comment