The Arabs themselves admit that Edy Cohen, our very own Israel Today correspondent in the Arab world, “influences us and public opinion more than other Arab pundits.”
When Cohen saw that he was listed as the second most influential voice in the Arab world by the Saudi-based news agency Arab News, he wondered, “How is this possible? How does a pro-Israeli Jew gain such a following in the Arab world?” His answer surprised us.
“It isn’t at all obvious that a person like me, a Jew, an Israeli and a Zionist would be crowned by a Saudi Arabian newspaper as the second most influential commentator in the world on Middle East and North Africa (MENA). No Jew has ever been selected in this category,” Edy told us.
— Arab News (@arabnews) December 2, 2021
“I have often spoken of my influence in the Arab world, not for any self-interest, but that others might join in working together to promote positive public opinion towards Israel in the Arab world. Now we have clear conformation. The Arabs themselves admit that I, Edy Cohen, influence them more than any other Arab journalist (except one).
“To be clear, my influence in the Arab world revolves around exposing Israel’s enemies, including Hezbollah, Iran, Hamas and other organizations, and exposing antisemitism and demonization of the State of Israel in the world.
“In all my pro-Israel activities, my intention is always to protect the dignity of the state, our citizens and our national symbols which are always before my eyes. Delusional as it sounds, the Arabs love and appreciate patriots” (even when they are Israelis).
How do the Israeli authorities and media here at home react to your influence in the Arab world?
“Unfortunately, and ironically, those who oppose my reporting do not come from outside, but from right here at home. There are many examples of this, like when delegations from Arab countries who come to Israel and want to meet with me, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs prevents them. This is what the Arabs themselves are telling me.
“One of the best-known Israeli journalists slanders my activities among Arabs and wonders out loud ’Why are you Arabs following Edy Cohen???’
“All of my outreach activities in the Arab world I do voluntarily and out of a strong sense of mission and love of the homeland. The Arab people very much understand and appreciate this. But the Israeli establishment is fighting me. Why and for what?
“Not a single Israeli official has cooperated with me in these efforts, nor have they approached me for any assistance and cooperation. All the Israeli media channels, except Channel 14, and most of the newspapers in Israel do not give me a platform or divulge my activities to the Israeli public. (ED. except Israel Today, where Edy features as a regular reporter on Arab affairs).
“Despite this, I will continue to advocate for the State of Israel privately and out of pure ideology.
“For these efforts I am not asking for any return; my activity speaks for itself. The recognition I receive from the audience in Israel (devoted followers), from Jews around the world, from my readers in the Arab world and from leaders in the Arab world is my daily bread.”
I asked Edy why he thinks Israeli officials refuse to cooperate with his important pro-Israel work in the Arab world. “I don’t want to elaborate. Let’s leave our dirty laundry here at home,” he said. He did point out, however, that there are disagreements on issues like his support of the Kurds, while the Foreign Ministry is careful to maintain relations with Iraq and ignore the Kurdish people’s dilemma.
Dr. Edy Cohen is a historian, media commentator and journalist holding an official Israeli press pass specializing in inter-Arab relations, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Islamist terrorism, and the history of Jewish communities in the Arab world. He earned his doctorate at Bar-Ilan University and currently serves as a researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.
Dr. Cohen grew up as a Jew in Lebanon (!), completing his early years of education in Christian schools. In 1991, like so many other 20th-century Jews struggling to preserve their rich heritage within hostile Arab societies, Edy Cohen and his family were forced to flee lethal Arab antisemitism. Once resettled in Israel, he was able to manifest his love for Israel and commitment to Zionism openly and freely, and today Dr. Cohen is well known for his willingness to both call out antisemitism wherever it lurks and challenge any and all signs of retreat from Zionism’s fundamental tenets.
As a native speaker and writer of Arabic, Dr. Cohen regularly crosses media divides, communicating directly with Arab audiences and providing them with perspectives on Israel that they would otherwise never receive.