“PreOccupied Territory” Launches Satirical News Site From an Israeli Perspective

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A new satirical news site based on political attitudes and developments in Israel launched this week. Journalist David Swidler, who ghost writes the faux news blog “Mightier Than the Pen,” puts a new twist on current events from a Jewish perspective.

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Preoccupied Territory

Straight media has failed to invite people to understand some of the most important issues of our time, but humor always reaches through.

In the fast-growing genre of satirical news, newly launched “Preoccupied Territory” is already raising eyebrows among the most savvy, politically incorrect readers of heavy-hitters like “The Onion” and “Indecision Forever.” Writer David Swidler of “Mightier Than the Pen” fame manages to make the Israel-Palestinian conflict (and other hyper-sensitive global issues) understandable by making them funny.

What separates “Preoccupied Territory” from other faux news publications is its ability to poke fun at news that most people are too politically correct or unknowledgeable (or both) to touch—Israeli news. Swidler draws even the most squeamish readers in with articles titled “Israeli-Palestinian Talks At Impasse; Negotiators Watch The Princess Bride Instead,” and “After Rocket Fire, Israel Retaliates Harshly Against Trees, Rocks,” making tough subject matter readable and understandable, even if the methodology is a bit subversive.

“There’s very little to laugh about when it comes to the question of whether Arabs and Israeli states can peacefully co-exist, and whether this centuries-old conflict will ever end,” Swidler says. “But if you open a dialogue with readers that is funny, you can accomplish a lot when it comes to delivering relevant news analysis.

“Straight media has failed to invite people to understand some of the most important issues of our time, but humor always reaches through.”

From the ridiculous, (“US Academics Vote To Boycott Israel, Jupiter”) to the cringe-worthy (“Church to Phase Out Jesus: ‘Too Iconoclastic,’”) it’s only a matter of time before someone starts Tweeting “Preoccupied Territory” headlines believing them to be offensively written real news, according to Swidler.

Swidler, whose writes under the pseudonym Thag on the “Mightier than the Pen” blog, decided to separate his Israel-related material for “Preoccupied territory” as the niche has proved the most consistently popular set of topics among his readers.

“People compare the material to The Onion,” says Swidler, 38. “I mean, my friend Bob Woodward told me not to drop names, but that’s the idea!”

Mightier than the Pen has been active since April 2010, and has profited from its irreverent takes on the news since late 2011.

According to Swidler, about 15 percent of the “Mightier Than the Pen” content involves Jews and Israel in some capacity. It was the popularity of those items that lead Swidler to decide to take “Preoccupied Territory” solo.

New content will appear daily, and PreOccupiedTerritory.com also invites reader submissions, both to provide diversity of perspective and to give readers an opportunity to be heard.

“It’s a good way to have other people do some of the work for me, and look magnanimous at the same time,” says Swidler.

Readers are also invited to submit tag lines for the site’s header, which will rotate periodically. Currently it reads, “A Blight Unto The Nations,” which narrowly beat out “Blogging A Dead Horse” and “The Chosen Peephole” as the debut tag line. Readers can offer either articles or suggested tag lines through a link on the site.

For more information, visit PreOccupiedTerritory.com..


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David Swidler
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