- Ozy is a startup news organization that panders to centrists to a fault
- Its stories are wide-ranging, but they have a tendency to profile extremists
- In doing so, Ozy either glosses over the extreme parts of the ideology, or ignores it entirely
- By trying to uphold an obsolete view on democratic discourse, Ozy is empowering anti-democratic voices
By Ty Joplin
Donald Trump’s victory was Earth-shaking in its political magnitude and came thanks to a national wave of skepticism towards diversity and the economics of neoliberalism that Hillary Clinton championed. Voters in battleground states decided that Trump, with his bully ideology and rigidly protectionist platform, ought to determine the future of the U.S.
But as major liberal outlets and politicians continue to reel from the shock, one outlet seems to be pretending none of it ever happened and that Hillary Clinton won.
Ozy, brands itself as “News for the Insatiable,” and its editorial premise appears to be writing mind numbingly tedious ‘think pieces,’ on cultural milieu and platforming Islamophobes in the name of ‘reaching across the aisle,’ and promoting ‘engagement with the other side,’ no matter who is on ‘the other side.’
Ozy describes Candace Owens, who believes that Europe is becoming an Islamic Caliphate, as ‘acerbic’ and witty. Ozy also profiled Ernst Roets, a little known South African Afrikaner nationalist who seems nostalgic for Apartheid, framing him as a cool-headed visionary.
Styled as a flashy in-flight magazine for people who voted for Hillary but are skeptical about Muslims, Ozy seems to be concerned with reaching into the depths of the right to pull out morally compromised individuals and viewpoints, highlighting their virtues and humanity while being careful to describe their conspiratorial viewpoints as “controversial,” or “not without its critics.”
Some of its strangest reporting is on issues surrounding the Middle East and the Muslim community.
Ozy Thinks Exploitation is a Lucrative Business Opportunity!
Ozy thinks the West Bank’s best bet to escape poverty is by building as many Jewish settlements as possible.
One article titled, “How One Palestinian Territory Outpaces Another—With a Booming Economy,” Ozy wants to show the world that life in the West Bank is improving fast thanks to Israeli construction firms violating international law and the rights of Palestinians.
Written as a think piece seeking to get to the bottom of the West Bank’s economic growth, the piece ignores the myriad chokeholds Israel maintains on the West Bank and instead thinks the West Bank is undergoing a kind of economic miracle. Nevermind that the article’s headline image highlighting a multi-story mall, is actually a photograph from a mall in Malaysia and not Palestine.
The article highlights the fact that there’s now a hyper-luxurious shopping and living space called Rawabi, outside Ramallah, as a sign that life in the West Bank is on the up. The article fails to mention that Rawabi is a ghost town, visited infrequently only by the West Bank’s few wealthy people. But the thrust of the article focuses on how Palestine can build its own future, by literally constructing its own demise.
The author of the article suggests a blueprint for the West Bank’s future is by having more Israeli construction firms hire more young, Palestinian labor as workers: “The gains so far have helped create a blueprint for what a hub with a financial future might look like: in many ways, an economy based on supporting growth with tense neighbors. Israeli companies are increasingly needing more workers, creating a potential opening for better cooperation. Some 131,000 Palestinians now work in Israel, mostly in construction, supporting 650,000 people in the West Bank. The Palestinian population is young, meaning that so long as jobs are created, there will be a willing workforce ready to fill them.”
It sounds simple, even attractive: economic cooperation is the best way forward for the West Bank and its young population. But the article does not mention exactly what Palestinians are being hired to construct. Over 35,000 of them are being used as cheap, unregulated labor to build Jewish Settlements in the West Bank. Settlements are considered illegal under international law, and are physical spoilers to any potential Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
Ozy makes sure to pre-empt critiques of this recommendation, saying “sure, the system has flaws: The permits can be costly, and the work is dangerous and exhausting with long commutes owing to the border crossing.” According to the Human Rights Watch’s report on Israeli construction firms’ hiring of Palestinians, there are far greater reasons to be worried about this economic relationship.
“It is Human Rights Watch's view that by virtue of doing business in or with settlements or settlement businesses, companies contribute to one or more of these violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses,” HRW’s report, entitled “Occupation Inc.,” says.
“The lack of clear labor protections for Palestinians working in settlements creates a high risk of discriminatory treatment and other abuses,” it adds, going further to argue “the virtually complete lack of government oversight, as well as Palestinian workers’ dependency on Israeli-issued work permits, creates an enabling environment for settler employers to pay Palestinian workers below Israel’s minimum wage and deny them the benefits they provide to Israeli employees.”
Ozy’s journalist did not appear to read HRW’s report, which specifically lays out that expanding this exploitative relationship would entrench Palestinian poverty rather than lift them out of it.
When Al Bawaba reached out to the author of the article for comment as to why Ozy thinks this is the best way forward for Palestine, the journalist said “I don't recommend anything: I was simply reporting that that's what Israeli companies were doing, according to the economic reports I was citing.”
Glossing over Islamophobia
Ozy’s greatest talent appears to be profiling people with extremist views as ‘subjects of intrigue,’ producing pieces of writing that gloss over Islamophobia in the quest to depict certain members of the right as game-changing political entrepreneurs that are nimble, witty and interesting.
When Trump tapped former CIA director Mike Pompeo to lead the state department, Ozy saw it fit to profile the man as a kind of new political entrepreneur ready to disrupt ‘DC’s stale political sphere.’ Ozy tells the world to “get ready,” for this man who has a “rabble-rousing mindset,” and who wants to stir things up and get aggressive when need-be on behalf of America.
Oh yeah, and he’s flagrantly prejudiced against Muslims.
“After the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013,” Ozy writes, “Pompeo said on the House floor that American Muslims were ‘potentially complicit’ and falsely accused Muslim groups of not condemning terrorism.”
But fear not, Muslims who may rightly feel targeted by a man who believes you are a terrorist, because Ozy makes sure to clear things up in the next paragraph: “But former Georgia Republican Rep. Jack Kingston found Pompeo to be uncommonly smart and knowledgeable on issues, rather than reliant on staff, and willing to show flexibility when necessary.” The article suggests that although Pompeo may not be perfect and is privy to spreading fake news against Muslims, at least he is “uncommonly smart and knowledgeable on issues.”
As for his record on flexibility, Pompeo has had the courage to overlook his virulent Islamophobia to back the terrorist cult, People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), a group onced designated a terror group by the U.S. until they paid enough D.C. influencers to convince the federal government they were an useful proxy group to destabilize Iran.
Rather than reconcile the mind-bending paradox of claiming to be both uncommonly smart and unapologetically Islamophobic, Ozy chalks it up a ‘win’ for Pompeo’s brains and wishes him well.
Ozy also gave Candace Owens the in-flight magazine profile treatment, despite her outspoken belief that Muslims are taking over Europe and Islam is a religion of violence. Owens used to be one of the most public voices in the conservative organization, Talking Points USA. Candace Owens is now, according to Ozy, dishing out ‘Red Pills’ online.
This article focuses on Owen’s shift from self-identifying as a liberal to labeling herself a conservative. Ozy calls her “a brimstone-raining headliner for Republican rallies;” wording that would excite any political wonk. Owens is depicted a kind of maverick leading the start-up of her own political identity; showing how she has evolved and perfected her politics and marketing strategies.
“Armed with undeniable charisma and a well-sculpted persona, her online popularity has led to appearances on,” national media outlets like Fox News and meeting of great minds like Sebastian Gorka, a former Trump advisor who has unabashed ties to Nazi sympathizers in Hungary (these ties are swept under the rug as Ozy describes Gorka to be a “bombastic,” former Trump aide who is now a Fox News pundit).
For all her ‘undeniable charisma’ and political showmanship, Owens is remarkably straightforward about how dangerous she thinks Islam is; an issue Ozy decides is best not to bring up at all.
On July 7, 2018, Owens tweeted a quotation from former Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi, furthering an ethno-nationalist conspiracy theory that Muslims are trying to establish Europe as a Caliphate. “'We have 50 million Muslims in Europe. There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe— without swords, without guns, without conquest—will turn it into a Muslim continent within decades’ -Muammar Gaddafi, 1975. A Trump balloon won’t save the UK,” Owens tweets “charismatically,” hinting that the real problem facing Europe is its Muslims.
In December 2017, right after an explosion in New York City, Owens wasted no time blaming Islam. “I'm pressed for time,” she writes. “Let's skip to the part where you tell us it’s a religion of peace.”
Tone deaf to this, Ozy describes Owens as a ‘rising conservative with an “acerbic wit reminiscent of Tomi Lahren’s star-making ‘final thoughts’ segments on TheBlaze — except more clever.”
Ozy Platforms Another White Nationalist
One of the more bizarre, cushy profile pieces Ozy has released is of a South African lawyer named Ernst Roets. The article uses painfully neutralizing language to platform his actual white nationalism.
The piece was inspired by a tweet from Donald Trump, who echoed a white nationalist conspiracy theory that white farmers in South Africa are being subject to heightened attacks, despite crime statistics showing a slow decline in overall crime against them.
Roets is one of the leaders of Afriforum, an organization dedicated to pushing for the white Afrikaner agenda in South Africa, veiling a nostalgia for Apartheid under the rhetoric of minority rights.
“The 31-year-old is on a mission to defend his people’s culture and land rights, which Roets believes are under attack from an oppressive, Black-majority government,” Ozy writes of Roets. “His ideas may seem fringe, but AfriForum has 200,000 paying members, and its influence is growing by the day, mostly thanks to Roets’ willingness to debate anyone, anywhere.”
Ozy portrays Roets as a cool-headed intellectual, genuinely concerned with his country and patriotic at his core, trying to enlightening black South Africans that whites have a right to South African land because historically, black people didn’t claim it well enough:
“Today, he is at a land rights summit in Johannesburg, trying to explain to a roomful of indigenous South Africans that much of their country was actually ‘vacant; when the colonists first arrived,” the author writes. During the summit, Roets says “If land was stolen, it must be given back, but we must acknowledge the historic fact that much of the land was acquired legally.”
Rather than detail his strange relationship to the Apartheid regime, which he does not condemn but rather calls ‘woolly,’ Ozy sees it fit to faithfully re-publish fake news regarding a non-existent white genocide that Roets and his group, Afriforum, insists is happening.
“Stopping such murders has been Roets’ ‘calling’ from a young age,” the article says, portraying Roets’ militaristic Afrikaner ideology as a kind of harmless passion project. “Yet Roets prides himself in being an intellectual rather than a soldier,” Ozy is quick to add. ‘I am a very analytical person, and I actually enjoy being cross-examined,' he explains in his characteristically calm, almost dispassionate tone.”
Throughout the profiles of Roets, Owens, Pompeo and the West Bank’s so-called ‘economic boom,’ a particular language is deployed that simultaneously sells these people and processes as heroic or exciting while suppressing their harmfulness.
Ozy’s articles read like they are talking about startups looking to evolve civilization in some way; their subjects are given the benefit of the doubt as game changers even if they are contributing to a slow moral rot eating up the U.S. and the Middle East. That the empowerment of these ideas may cause real world harm does not seem to bother Ozy.
Islamophobia is de facto branded as ‘controversial,’ rather than unacceptable, white nationalism is ‘contentious’ rather than horrific.
Ozy doesn’t only release complimentary articles that sanitize anti-democratic and Islamophobic ideologies to make them look cutting edge and entrepreneurial, but its editorial philosophy appears to allow for the bending of seemingly universal moral codes, allowing characters like Roets and Owens to slip in unnoticed.
Engaging these ideas is important, especially as they reflect a resentment that is gaining power in Europe and the U.S., but Ozy is not engaging these ideas; it is unwittingly lionizing its vanguards.
Ozy claims all over its website to have a readership of 40 million people. If it actually does, then it would have to acknowledge its role in normalizing undemocratic and even white nationalist voices under the flag of maintaining the decorum of ‘civil discourse.'
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Al Bawaba News.
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