An ARI video clarifying Israel’s moral status in the Middle East has skyrocketed past one million views in its first week on YouTube. Published on October 26, “Did Israel Steal Palestinian Land?” amassed 286,000 views within 24 hours, eclipsing the one million mark on November 1.
The 35-minute video features Elan Journo and Nikos Sotirakopoulos challenging the misleading narrative of shrinking Palestinian lands and the claim that Israel stole them. The discussion explores the history of how the Israeli territories were lawfully acquired, the Palestinians’ repeated failures to form an enduring, peaceful state, and the broader philosophic question of what moral premises are necessary to validate any claim to statehood.
The presenters explicitly apply Objectivism as a philosophic framework for unpacking this controversial issue, referring early on to the fallacy of context-dropping identified by Ayn Rand. “This video’s success furthers ARI’s mission of bringing Ayn Rand’s ideas to large audiences, by applying Objectivism to highly consequential issues,” said Journo, ARI’s vice president of content.
“Did Israel Steal Palestinian Land?” is now the second most-watched video in the 16-year history of ARI’s channel. The most-viewed video is a Mike Wallace television interview with Ayn Rand, which stands at 1.7 million views.
Viral viewership translates to more subscribers. “Did Israel Steal Palestinian Land?” brought in more than 7,300 new subscribers to ARI’s channel in less than a week — more than the number of new subscribers attracted by all videos in the entire 2022 calendar year. (The channel passed the 100,000-subscribers mark on October 24, and a week later it stands at 114,700.)
YouTube displayed the video’s thumbnail on users’ screens more than 11 million times in that first week. Of course, only a fraction of those users actually tapped on the thumbnail to view the video. But without the assistance of YouTube’s algorithms, which rate videos’ attractiveness to certain audiences, ARI could never have reached those millions of viewers without expending large amounts of money for promotion.
“This stellar performance is not only a tribute to the timeliness and quality of the hard-hitting commentary,” said Ben Bayer, ARI’s director of content, “but it also reflects 16 years of carefully curating ARI’s YouTube presence, respecting intellectual property rights and publishing videos that are challenging yet rational, civil, and respectful of viewer’s intellects. It also reflects years of study and intellectual preparation by our experts, especially Elan Journo. We’re now seeing the payoff for all that long-term effort, having built a channel that YouTube recognizes as worthy of serious promotion.”