A montage of the various Israel-Gaza Spaces on X

Five days have elapsed since Hamas’s terrorists breached Israeli borders, perpetrating a litany of appalling acts such as rape, torture, and kidnapping. Further shocking revelations emerged yesterday, detailing the live immolation of individuals and the beheading of infants. In what constitutes Israel's first major conflict since the Yom Kippur War of 1973, social media personalities are offering extensive coverage. Engaging in live YouTube debates, Instagram interviews, and conversations on X (formerly Twitter) Spaces, a range of commentators—both amateur and professional—are weighing in. While perspectives naturally vary between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine stances, a sizable portion of these voices claims to aim for unbiased reporting.

Claiming to maintain an unbiased stance, Mario Nawfal ranks among the most popular and listened-to hosts of social media discussions on Elon Musk's platform, X. Typically, his daily Space delves into finance, cryptocurrency markets, and technology. Musk himself has joined the forum on multiple occasions, covering a broad spectrum of topics ranging from SpaceX and cryptocurrency to his dispute with the Anti-Defamation League. Alongside a roster of co-hosts and speakers, some prominent and others less so, Mario invests hours each day dissecting granular news, market rumors, and speculative trends, as well as political strategies—essentially keeping the dialogue vibrant and engaging. These marathon Spaces sessions can span five to seven hours, drawing the attention of hundreds of thousands of listeners.

When Israel declared war on Hamas in response to the heinous terror attack last Saturday, Mario Nawfal opted to shift his focus to Middle Eastern affairs, initiating daily Spaces discussions centered around Israel and Gaza. While Mario and his team initially claimed that the Space would maintain a factual, unbiased, and non-political stance, my experience as a panelist suggests otherwise. The forum exhibits discernible bias, disseminates misinformation, and holds a skewed understanding of what constitutes the "political." It's worth noting that the signs were there from the outset that Mario's Space could devolve into a platform for anti-Israel sentiment. Among his regular co-hosts is Sulaiman Ahmed, a disciple of the controversial Andrew Tate, who was charged with rape and human trafficking earlier this year. Sulaiman is also a defender of notorious anti-Semites like Nick Fuentes, who has denied the Holocaust and propagated 9/11 conspiracy theories implicating Jews.

Alongside Sulaiman, who frequently publishes anti-Semitic content such as claiming, "The ADL and Zionism are the same, and they aim to control and censor you," Mario assembles a unique panel of speakers. This includes an Iranian woman who defends the ruling mullahs in Iran while negating their abuses against Iranian citizens. Another panelist, a woman who espouses that Syrian President Bashar Assad is virtuous and views Hezbollah leader Nasrallah as a messianic figure, also contributes. Further adding to the disconcerting mix is a woman with a nasal, Cockney-accented voice who goes by the pseudonym Khalisee, named after the "Mother of Dragons" from Game of Thrones. She has tweeted allegations that Israel planted weapons on Palestinian bodies after killing them, effectively negating the brutal assault that resulted in the deaths and kidnappings of over a thousand Israelis of all ages.

As a former panelist on Mario Nawfal's Spaces, I've witnessed firsthand how his supporters disparage credible experts, such as Hussain Abdul Hussain from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Sebastian Gorka, a former Deputy Assistant to the U.S. President, especially when these experts counter the forum's anti-Israel narrative. I've also been targeted for harassment and ridicule, most recently this past Sunday for using the term "terror attack" to describe Saturday morning's events in Israel. According to “Mario and Friends”, labeling the assault as terrorism is considered political, whereas accusing Israel of indiscriminate killings in Gaza without context is not. The space essentially serves as a platform for misinformation and even outright falsehoods. A case in point: Sulaiman claimed that Israel had destroyed an Orthodox church in Gaza, a statement later refuted by the church itself. Although he eventually included the church's statement, it was buried deep within the post, likely escaping the notice of most who read the initial claim.

Following the unsettling experience on Sunday on Mario’s Space, I've chosen not to return. Instead, I've aligned myself with a community of like-minded individuals who share similar reservations about Mario's forum. Spearheading their nearly round-the-clock Space are two individuals: one is a leading expert on the COVID-19 vaccine controversy who prefers to go by the pseudonym "Stealth Virologist" for safety reasons, and the other is Chet Long, who has experience serving at the United States' Strategic Command. The team they compiled has been committed to offering vetted, real-time updates and news. In a welcome departure from other forums, the hosts rigorously challenge participants to substantiate their claims with credible sources. More than just a news outlet, this Space has become a therapeutic platform where people can openly discuss their personal experiences, fears, and frustrations, particularly concerning recent events. Over these past three days, I've been moved by the gamut of emotions displayed—crying, laughing, shouting, and even contemplative silence. Throughout it all, there's been a palpable sense of compassion, solidarity, and mutual support. It's an exceptionally comforting and reliable source of information and emotional sustenance during these trying times, especially concerning matters related to Israel.

To be sure, this Space does not try to deceive as to what it stands for. Hamas committed a terrorist attack that dwarfs some of the most heinous crimes we saw from ISIS and Boko Haram, and there is no question about it. The world agrees with this sentiment as is evidenced by the volumes of public statements from world leaders and legislators. People who join the Space will find themselves surrounded by people from Israel, the United States, United Kingdom, Scotland, Ireland, Iran among many others. They will hear personal stories of loss, and thankfully triumph. The Space is pro-Israel, but its intent is not to force that narrative, rather its function is to inform, and dispel disinformation that is being disseminated and regurgitated by Spaces like Mario’s and those who support, justify and even encourage terror.

At the age of 51, I find the world of social media both fascinating and treacherous, but this particular Space demonstrates its potential for good. People are hungry for various things: information, comfort, truth, or simply an understanding of what's unfolding in Israel. This Space caters to all those needs, as evidenced by the engagement levels and attendee count. I find it a more credible source than traditional media outlets like Fox News or CNN, because the information here comes directly from experts and individuals on the ground, rather than career 'analysts' who claim to know it all but offer little of substance. If you're seeking an alternative to mainstream news, I encourage you to spend some time on X (formerly Twitter) and tune into this Space. The title may change depending on the topics under discussion but searching for Chet or Stealth will guide you to this invaluable forum.

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