• Yitzhak Rabin's Daughter Says She Has Fingers Crossed For Middle East Peace November 5, 2013| Photo: U.S Department of State Wikimedia Commons

An “Arab” James Bond

Kay Wilson - 1 September 2021

In a divided world where journalists bravely (or stupidly) put themselves on the forefront of criticism, it is rare that a reporter would garnish respect from both sides of the political divide.  Such is the case with Zvi Yehezkeli. Aside from once being voted among Israel’s most handsome men, he is Israel’s most famous Arabist: a non-Arab who is an expert in Arab affairs.

“A son of parents who fled Iraq and thus with a background of spoken Arabic, Yehezkeli enlisted into the Shin Bet”

Zvi Yechezkeli | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A son of parents who fled Iraq and thus with a background of spoken Arabic, Yehezkeli enlisted into the Shin Bet, the Israeli Secret Service, and worked for them in security details all over the world. While he was abroad, he became interested in Islam. He was especially fascinated with the terrorist Yasser Arafat because he shook hands with the then Prime Minister, Itzhak Rabin at the Oslo Accords.

Most recently, Yehezkeli went undercover throughout Judea and Samaria to find out how local Arabs felt about the July 2020 plan to annex Jewish inhabited areas of the region. The tiny camera was hidden in his glasses. Those interviewed didn’t even know they were being filmed. For the release of the report, Yehezkeli distorted their faces and voices to protect them from the brutality of the Palestinian Authority. Unsurprisingly to Israelis, most of the interviewees stated their desire to live under Israeli sovereignty.

One time on his travels, the secular Yehezkeli stopped by for a Shabbat meal with a religious family. According to Yehezkeli, this chance visit was more important than any journalism he had done in his career. The occasion birthed within him a love and appreciation for his neglected Judaism and Jewish tradition, and so he decided to turn his life around. Yehezkeli became what is known as a “Baal Tehusva,” a Jewish person who returns to the traditions and observances of his or her forefathers.

“Yehezkeli became a “Baal Tehusva,” a Jewish person who returns to the traditions and observances of his forefathers”

With his flawless Arabic, his knowledge of Islam, his high ethical values enhanced by his religious journey and his ability to set aside any of his personal biases, Yehezkeli is daring too.

When he landed himself a job as a journalist for a major Israeli TV station he first reported on the Palestinian Authority. Later he even secured an interview with Yasser Arafat, who was under an IDF siege in Ramallah following his masterminding a wave of terror attacks. Arafat justified the latest wave terrorism, famously telling Yehezkeli that he refused Ehud Barak’s golden offer of peace which would have given Arafat 99% of his demands, because the “deal was closer to 0%.”

Back in 2012, he created his most famous and daring reports in a series about ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood and the growth of Islam in Europe. He visited Holland, Sweden, France, Belgium, England and the United States. Dressed as a Muslim, Yehezkeli again went undercover. He also went with an open mind. Again he reported on the worldview of the people he interviewed, letting them speak for themselves.

It revealed a threatening reality.

While a few foreign liberals charged him with racism (to which Yehezkeli retorted that he only asked the questions), in Israel people were gripped – and not just because of his dare. For Israelis it was personal: Israel had longed, and even begged the world to draw critical attention to Palestinian Islamic terrorism, yet Israel was always exclusively blamed. And now, (Israelis were saying to themselves) here is this Israeli Jew strutting down the streets of Europe reporting on Islamic terrorism which we tried to warn you about and which we said would come to you “Europe, we told you so,” is what Israelis were saying, with fingers crossed that now the world might see Palestinian terrorism for what it is.

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