Introducing the Israeli Onion, a Satire Site for the Middle East

The headlines are shocking.

Muslim women “Demand Criminalization of Fat White Men in Speedos.” The Islamic State announces “Activities for Kids in Heaven.” “Palestine to Legalize Weed, Become the ‘Occupied Holland of the Mideast.’”

And following each headline is a short story — delivered in cool newsroom deadpan.

Introducing Israel’s answer to the Onion, the American satire site — the Mideast Beast.

The Israeli website churns out satiric news stories daily — most of them bizarre or macabre spins on various Middle East wars or conflicts — has writers in Israel, North America and Europe.

The site is not only about Israel, the founder A.E. Stahl said in an interview with the Israeli Forever Foundation, but about the entire region, which is “most often viewed in a negative light, an area that is experiencing constant political instability.”

“We poke at those issues, at times to show how ridiculous the political behavior can be but also to show that we know how to laugh at ourselves, no matter how sensitive a topic may be,” said Stahl.

That much is clear.

“Four Horsemen Arrive in Jerusalem for Urgent Discussion,” one headline reads. Or take this one: “Conspiracy Books Led Bin Laden to Question His Own Involvement in 9/11.”

“The Mideast Beast, while a satire and comedy news site, also serves as an anti-extremism tool. The former two comprise the essence of what we do, whereas the latter remains one (of many) of our goals,” Stahl added.

For sure, the site also has a serious side — starting with its founder.

Stahl has a background in military strategy and counterterrorism. He also runs a number of publications on the subject of military strategy, including the Infinity Journal and the Journal of Military Operations. He is also a former fellow at Israel’s International Institute for Counter-Terrorism.

The Israel Forever Foundation, which is an Israel advocacy site aiming to “strengthen the personal connection to Israel” praised Stahl’s work, tagging their interview with the search terms “Celebrating Israel” and “Jewish Pride.”

In the wake of the attack of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, Stahl said he still felt like satire was still important.

“What happened in Paris was truly tragic but when I spoke to a few of our writers, it only served to solidify our resolve in what we do,” he said. “Like anything in life, there’s always a risk but it’s a risk worth taking.”

Email Sam Kestenbaum at kestenbaum@forward.com and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum

Author

Sam Kestenbaum

Sam Kestenbaum

Sam Kestenbaum is a staff writer for the Forward. Before this, he worked for The New York Times and newsrooms in Sana, Ramallah and Beijing. Contact him at kestenbaum@forward.com and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum and on Instagram at @skestenbaum.

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Introducing the Israeli Onion, a Satire Site for the Middle East

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