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The Echo Chamber that is Dexter Van Zile

by on March 29, 2014

A guest post by Burkhardt


CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) is a non-partisan organization that according to their website is “devoted to promoting accurate and balanced coverage of Israel and the Middle East” and “CAMERA takes no position with regard to American or Israeli political issues”. Although CAMERA says they promote “Accuracy in Middle East Reporting”, the truth is they are a hotbed of Israeli propagandists in the media.

Dexter Van Zile, the Christian Media Analyst for CAMERA is known for his propensity for picking out a detail and running it into the ground as a falsehood, while ignoring the context in which it should be presented. Not seeing the forest for the trees defines Van Zile’s work.

A recent example of this can be found in his reporting from the “Christ at the Checkpoint Conference” which took place in Bethlehem in March 2014. Van Zile’s first article from his fact-finding mission was entitled “Stop Lying About Israel and Bethlehem”. In this article, Van Zile highlights 3 examples from the conference where local Palestinians or conference speakers referred to the Israeli Separation Barrier as “surrounding Bethlehem”. This seems like a crusade that Van Zile can’t let go of. He spent months trying to get CBS’s 60 Minutes to “correct” a segment they did on Christians in Palestine, when one of their interviewees said that Bethlehem was surrounded by the wall. Van Zile’s reaction was nothing less than obsessive including writing to 60 minutes’ Bob Simon, stalking CBS President Jeff Fagor and challenging him to a $5,000 bet to a charity if he could prove Bethlehem was ‘completely surrounded’. As is so often the case when challenged by hacks, Van Zile was ignored. He insists that the wall does not literally enclose Bethlehem so therefore it is a lie to say a wall ‘surrounds Bethlehem’. This is classic Van Zile, throwing context out the window. The term “surrounded by” is used in a variety of ways in everyday life. When someone says “I am surrounded by a group of friends”, do they mean literally that they have friends on all sides in a circle around them? Is this a lie? But let’s go to the Bible since Van Zile is the “Christian Media Analyst”. In Psalm 125:2 it reads: “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.” As anyone who has been to Jerusalem knows, it is not covered on all sides by mountains. It is not literally surrounded. I am wondering if CAMERA will tweet out a ‘correction needed’ to King David or claim “that is a LIE”! History shows that armies who attacked Jerusalem, attacked the city from the North, where it was most vulnerable and did not have a steep valley.

Many who visit Bethlehem and more so, those who live there, rightly describe the wall as “surrounding Bethlehem”. But what this type of dishonest reporting from Van Zile does, is take away from the fact that the Israeli Occupation surrounds Bethlehem. Bethlehem, as a designated “Area A” is in fact, an island in the West Bank, which can be isolated at anytime by the Israelis. The Wall, Checkpoints, Roads, Settlements, Travel Restrictions create a ‘Matrix of Control’ which Van Zile ignores. CAMERA’s hope is that the America public will remain ignorant of the bigger issues surrounding the Israeli Occupation, and that those who speak about the realities on the ground cannot be trusted. To ask questions could mean you say the wrong thing and be accused of “lying”.

Most recently, Van Zile accused the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference Director, Munther Isaac of telling an “anti-Semitic” joke during his lecture. Isaac, the man whose entire talk was about not dividing into ‘us and them’ and loving our enemies, referring to the parable of the Good Samaritan. When referring to the two religious leaders who passed by the man who had been robbed, Isaac told a story of a Sunday school boy who said the two religious figures did not stop because the man who had been robbed did not have any money left. Well, Van Zile, who does not take context into account and has an agenda, promoted this as an “anti-Semitic” joke from Munther Isaac (associating Jews with greed and money). This is a new low for Van Zile, who makes a serious public accusation against Isaac, knowing full well that this is not what he meant. The joke in context is about religious people, not Jews. It was a joke about “US”. If he did think it was about Jews, he did not listen to the whole lecture, as Isaac’s point was that a person’s identity should not be an issue when asking the question, “who is my neighbor?” Van Zile represents it as being the exact opposite, by isolating every comment as being “against” Jews for political and propaganda purposes. It is shameful that Van Zile uses the pain and suffering of Jewish people in such ways. Here again, context is not important to CAMERA’s Van Zile, nor is the truth.

After the previous Christ at the Checkpoint Conference in 2012 Van Zile went on another similar, but much more personal crusade against the Awad family. The Awad family, in Van Zile’s words are considered “pillars” of the Evangelical Christian community in Palestine. Van Zile took issue with differing accounts of the death of Elias Awad, the father of Bishara and Alex Awad, and grandfather of Sami Awad. Elias Awad was shot and killed in the 1948 war. The family has repeatedly said that it is not clear who he was shot by. There are differing accounts, some highlighting the possibility that the shots came from the Zionist army side, others being less certain. Van Zile, as a hired propagandist for Israel, does not allow the possibility that Elias Awad’s death could be blamed on the Israelis. While the idea that it may have come from the Arab armies will not be placed under scrutiny from CAMERA, any suggestion of it coming from the Israels is. The bigger picture of the Awad family story of reconciliation, pain through loss in war, and understanding the “other” is lost on Van Zile. Again, CAMERA and Van Zile are not promoting accuracy in Middle East reporting, they are being paid to circulate propaganda to promote the Israeli narrative. If questioning the story of a family in pain and suffering from the loss of a loved one will help promote the cause of CAMERA, then “let the baby go with the bathwater”. We could go back to the Bible for an example that just because a story may have different perspectives and details, it does not mean the story is not true, or that people are lying. Van Zile looks to discredit and demonize peoples’ motivations. Whether or not Elias Awad was shot by an Israeli or an Arab, the Awad family remembers the story to promote reconciliation and understanding of the pain on both sides, by telling their story. What is Van Zile afraid of?

Van Zile lives in an echo chamber of hate and bitterness. His frustration is that deep down, he knows he is not keeping people to account, but rather, he is using the media as a propaganda tool to advance the nationalist aspirations of the Zionist State. He is not the first person to do so.


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  1. Jewish American Princess permalink

    Dexter Van Zile and CAMERA have been parading around as some kind of self appointed watchdog for some time now. “Accuracy and fairness” in their credo is a joke to most of us, whether we’re Jewish or not. Clearly a propaganda apparatus, CAMERA needs to reconsider their tack since the evidence is mounting that the Israeli government is losing the war of facts. Mounting credible evidence coming out of Israel and the Occupied Territories indicates that the hasbara machine can’t continue this kind of shoddy journalism for much longer. The American public is waking up to Israel’s deceptions and crimes against humanity. I, for one, am glad to see Dexter and CAMERA exposed for what they are. The land of my people will never know true oneness with G-d until the blinders of hasbara come off, and the Israeli government decides to join the human race instead of promoting the Jewish race. A land of equal rights would ensure that Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike have the right to practice whatever religion they choose. This notion of a Jewish homeland is racist from the get go. While other nations in the ME might be theocracies, Israel pretending to be a democracy while advocating Jewish “specialness” doesn’t float in the real world of modern democracies and freedom from racial discrimination. What Israel needs to have happen is a good old fashioned Martin Luther King style protest by the entire body of inhabitants of Palestine to show the Israeli government their true will for the area. Israel needs to shit or get off the pot and either declare itself a Jewish theocracy, or provide for the equal rights of all its citizens by separating race and religion from its governmental policies.

    I am appalled at what this piece shows as Dexter’s journalistic treatment of the Awad family. So many of us have lost loved ones in this conflict, and to exploit that pain for propaganda gain is disgusting.

    Here in America, jokes like the one told by Isaac, happen every day. I happen to be a big fan of JAP jokes and am not the least bit offended. To try to spin what was said into some kind of racial incident perpetuated by a man of Isaac’s status, is unconscionable and Dexter has over-reached on this one. I say he can clean the coffee pot at CAMERA from now on. Maybe CAMERA needs to clean out more than just the coffee pot?

  2. richardarmbach permalink

    Thanks Burkhardt. Good to see you again JAP, reminds me of the good old Jewish chronicle blogs days o:))

    Dexxy travels halfway around the world, spending a whole half of his annual CAMERA subsistance allowance and comes back with some quibble about the land grab wall and a whinge and whine about a joke at the expense of religious establishments. Dexxy, Gilead and Adam for all the world come over as the three CAMERA muppeteers.

  3. Watchful Iris permalink

    Has Dexter been a naughty boy again?

  4. Stan permalink

    Glad to see this. CAMERA is a bully organization and it’s tiring to see them play the anti-semitism card to try to silence others. The idea that they or Dexter Van Zile are promoting “accurate and balanced” information is a farce.

  5. Jew Hatred is Jew Hatred. Those who do it either know they are doing it or are ignorant. There is no inbetween. You probably know which one you are.

  6. Harriet's Place permalink

    Dear Israel Exists,

    The only Jew hatred is the hatred you brought in the door for your fellow human beings, to borrow from JAP, based on your own victimhood and pathology. We here at Harriet’s Place, hope you and all people whose victimhood defines them and their beliefs, politics, and values, hope you get the help you need to someday join the human race of seekers of equality, compassion, and justice.

  7. Hannah Simonson permalink

    “……reminds me of the good old Jewish chronicle blogs days o:))…….”

    Until you destroyed them.

    • richardarmbach2 permalink

      I am always striving to make the world a better place Hannah o:))

  8. Jewish American Princess permalink

    Hi Richard and keep up the good work.

  9. Jeb S. permalink

    Didn’t CAMERA get caught tampering with Wiki entries?

    • richardarmbach permalink

      I have heard it suggested that they do tamper with wiki entries but have never come across anything that conclusively confirms this. But nothing turns on this. What is indisputable is that CAMERA is a well funded, albeit incompetent, and wholly amoral arm of the hasbarafia. What reputable and serious organisation would allow itself to be be fronted by the likes of Dexter Van Zile,Gilead Ini, and the juvenile delinquent Adam Levick ?

      There is absolutely no reason why anyone should be intimidated by, or even trouble themselves to engage with, such an outfit. They are full of misconceived self importance that there is no need to feed. My advice to anyone targeted by them would be to remember that you don’t have to answer people you are not answerable to, and to not engage with them in any way. Just let them huff and puff to their hearts content.

    • CAMERA sucks permalink

      Hahahaha CAMERA’s own Wiki entry:

      In 2008 CAMERA launched a campaign to alter Wikipedia articles to support the Israeli side of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The campaign suggested that pro-Israeli editors should pretend to be interested in other topics until elected as administrators. Once administrators they were to misuse their administrative powers to suppress pro-Palestinian editors and support pro-Israel editors.[17] Some members of this conspiracy were banned by Wikipedia administrators.[10]

      • Just John Steneruud permalink

        I hope anybody can comment here so here’s mine. If you read the whole wicki thing on CAMERA, it says their pro-Israel. How can they say they are all about accuracy if their pro-Israel? They say their a media monitor well, who’s monitoring them? Their no judge….their biased as hell.

  10. Concerned permalink

    If you read Dexter’s earlier writings, you can see how he has progressively gotten worse over time to the point where now, what he writes barely resembles reality. Either something has happened to his cognitive ability or he’s just writing his garbage because he can, unfettered. I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he doesn’t realise how much he’s declined. On the other hand, if it is deliberate, it’s just plain evil.

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