New evidence about Amina, the “Gay Girl in Damascus” hoax


A new post on the Gay Girl in Damascus blog includes a confession from Tom MacMaster. Andy Carvin offers independent confirmation of the confession with statements from Tom MacMaster and Britta Froelicher.

MacMaster has also separately confirmed he is behind the hoax in response to an email from The Electronic Intifada asking for confirmation. MacMaster wrote:

Yes. We will be doing a first interview with a journalist of our choice in 12-24 hours. After that, we may consider other media.


Original post

Ali Abunimah and Benjamin Doherty write:

We have gathered compelling new evidence regarding the “Gay Girl in Damascus” blogger hoax.

Those responsible for this hoax have caused a great deal of concern and anguish by posting information alleging that “Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari” the supposed “Gay Girl” blogger had been kidnapped from the streets of Damascus, possibly by Syrian authorities, and was likely in grave danger.

A measure of the concern that this story has caused is the formation of a Facebook group calling to “Free Amina Arraf” with more than 15,000 members, as well as numerous action alerts and stories in international media.

We believe the story of Amina to be totally baseless and the doubts expressed by other observers, such as Liz Henry and Andy Carvin, to be entirely founded.

We also believe that whoever is responsible for the hoax is attempting to conceal their responsibility and continues to disseminate false information. They have previously engaged in such behavior as taking photographs from the Facebook page of a totally uninvolved individual and deceptively presenting them as being images of Amina and members of her family.

We believe that the person or persons responsible should end this deception which has been harmful to individuals who trusted and believed in “Amina” and more broadly has sown confusion, distraction and absorbed energy and attention at a time when real people are in danger in Syria and in other countries in the region.

We are sharing the information we have gathered here not in order to level accusations, but so that others might pursue these leads to conclusive ends. The best outcome would be if the person or persons behind the hoax would take responsibility themselves to bring the matter to a close and provide all doubters with reassurance that “Amina” is not in danger because she is a fictitious character.

While we believe that the information gathered here is compelling in its own right, we have managed to corroborate additional information from several independent sources that we are not publishing and that significantly increases our confidence in the information we have. We do not know the motives of the person or persons behind this hoax.

The information presented below connects the “Amina” blogger to two people in real life: Thomas (Tom) J MacMaster and Britta Froelicher who are married to each other.


The Electronic Intifada wrote to MacMaster requesting to speak to him about “Amina,” to which he responded, “Thanks, but as I have stated before, it is neither my wife nor me.”

A follow up email from The Electronic Intifada to MacMaster asking to speak to him so that we could present the information we have met with the following response:

Unfortunately, we’re on vacation so I wouldn’t be able to do so. We have already been ‘confronted’ by the Washington post with these and have denied them and will continue to do so.”

We do not know what information The Washington Post may have confronted MacMaster with and whether it is the same information presented here. In a final response to The Electronic Intifada, MacMaster wrote:

I am not the blogger in question. Whomever that person ‘really’ is, I have doubtless interacted with her at some point. I do not know further than that about her. When I first read the news story, I momentarily thought I had an idea who she was. As time has progressed that seems much less likely. I understand there are a number of unusual coincidences regarding the blogger and either me or my wife. Those are, as far as I am aware, simply unusual. I am not going to make more of that.

MacMaster has acknowledged certain “coincidences” but as mentioned refused to grant us an opportunity to go through them in detail in an attempt to explain or debunk them. We present below the information we wanted to discuss with MacMaster.

“Amina’s” home address is the same as MacMaster’s address

On a private Yahoo discussion group named “thecrescentland” that was run and operated by “Amina” and has since been closed down, the following name and physical address information was displayed, according to a person who was a member of that group:

Amina Arraf & Ian Lazarus
c/o Mr & Mrs Abdallah Arraf-Omari
5646 Crestwood Dr, SW
Stone Mountain, GA 30087

There is, however, no evidence of an Amina Arraf, Ian Lazarus or Mr & Mrs Abdallah Arraf-Omari ever owning or occupying this address.

According to State of Georgia property records, the house at that address has been owned by Thomas MacMaster for many years. On 29 November 2007, MacMaster quit-claimed a share of ownership in the property to Britta Froelicher. MacMaster and Froelicher are the current owners of the property according to State property records.

MacMaster has not only owned the property but occupied it until September 2010 when he moved to Scotland. Evidence of his occupation of the property prior to that date includes invitations to barbecues he issued to friends via Facebook.

The possibility that MacMaster could have rented or lent his home to the “real” Amina is excluded by the fact that MacMaster claims not to know Amina.

Photograph of Assad billboard in Syria

In Amina’s 11 May 2011 blog post “Irony” there appears a photograph of a billboard taken in Syria.

The same photo but with a tighter crop appears on Britta Froelicher’s Picasa account.

The photo in the Picasa account also appears to have been sharpened and adjusted. It is clear, from details in the two images, including the person wearing a helmet in the foreground that the images were taken at the same time and place.

However, the fact that the image on the Amina blog has a wider field of view suggests it could not simply have been stolen from Froelicher’s Picasa account. It would appear that the Amina blogger had access to the original image.

Many other images in Froelicher’s account show her and MacMaster in Damascus.

Wikipedia edits from Edinburgh IP addresses

The Lez Get Real (LGR) web site published 19 articles purporting to be authored by an Amina Abdallah. On 10 June 2011, LGR issued An Apology To Our Readers About Amina Abdallah.

The apology claimed that LGR had been deceived by Amina and published her posts in good faith, believing her to be who she presented herself as. It also acknowledged that LGR had assisted Amina in establishing her “Gay Girl in Damascus” blog.

In a comment on that post, Paula Brooks, executive editor of LGR, gave two IP addresses which she said had been used by Amina to access LGR’s servers. The whois records for these IP addreses both have descriptions that indicate they are allocated to UoE or The University of Edinburgh.

One of these IP addresses was the source of a number of edits to various articles on Wikipedia. These edits from begin in October 2010. The edited pages all involve Middle East, Arab, Islamic and historical topics.

MacMaster posted Facebook updates between 4 September 2010 and 8 September 2010 documenting his move from Stone Mountain, Georgia to Edinburgh, UK, including 47 photographs added to a gallery named “First Days in Edinburgh” on 8 September.

Topics of Wikipedia articles edited from the Edinburgh IP address overlap with many topics and subject areas in which MacMaster and Froelicher have documented interests and experiences according to online records.

MacMaster has been active in the University of Edinburgh’s Students for Justice in Palestine.

A note of caution about the source of the information on the IP addresses: Paula Brooks, Executive Editor of LGR claims to work at the Smithsonian Institution and to hold a Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College and three Masters degrees from Gallaudet University, University of North Carolina, and University of Dayton.

However, Paula Brooks is the sole source of information on Paula Brooks; extensive Internet, dissertation abstract, media, and Lexis-Nexis searches reveal no evidence of the real life existence of such a person beyond the persona on LGR, Facebook and LinkedIn.

“Paula Brooks” may be an avatar for a real person who fits the same description but uses a different name in real life, or it could be a fabricated persona. The IP address information appears circumstantially to match MacMaster’s movements and interests, but, given the uncertainties about its provenance, needs to be treated with extra caution unless Paula Brooks’ identity can be confirmed.


The information we have collected here is not intended as either an accusation or final, conclusive proof of who may be behind the Amina hoax. However taken together we felt it was compelling enough that we had to publish it as soon as possible. This is primarily because we believe, and have observed, that the hoaxer(s) is both attempting to hide information that could lead to discovery and furthering the hoax with other false personas. By sharing this information we want to provide the best chance that this story can be brought to closure and people’s attention directed back toward real world events.


For more analysis, read Chasing Amina by Liz Henry, an author, web developer and expert on sockpuppetry.




The source you site for verifying MacMaster's address is for a facebook page for a group called ESL Instruction in Atlanta, Ga.

Interestingly, "Amina" also listed herself as working for this same organization on her linkedin page. Could this be one more connection for you to follow up on?

Alternatively, if "Amina" (or whoever wrote her persona) once worked for MacMaster, is it possible that she would have gotten his home address this way?


This is getting weirder and weirder, it sounds like you're really on to something here. I'll be watching with great interest. Thank you for all your research.


Thank you for this, it seems to me that before news outlets like NPR widely reported on this Amina persona which is obviously a hoax, that (with all their financial resources and "expertise"), they could have found out the same information. Instead it was reported in a way that presented Amina as more real than hoax!
This makes me question the credibility of NPR, and other news sources. I'm subscribing to media outlets that base stories on proven facts, like the Electronic Intifada!


With all due respect, news outlets like the Wall Street Journal and the BBC have been questioning the "Aminah" story for awhile. While initially the story had been reported as though a real person were missing, when evidence of a possible hoax began to emerge, these same news outlets whose credibility you question also began to investigate further. While I can't comment in any concrete manner, I can assume that they were reporting the story in good faith. This type of disappearance would not have been unheard of in Syria and given the volatility of the situation, in some cases it's better to report first and figure it out later. To assume that this was a hoax from the beginning is a rather pessimistic take and could have resulted in rather unfortunate outcomes if it were in fact real. Nonetheless, the investigative work done here is rather impressive.


You've got it the other way around. NPR didn't report on Amina until we began digging around and started doubting the story. As far as I know we were the first news org to raise suspicions about her being real, early last week. Even the New York Times cites us for being at the start of the investigation:



May I say I'm very impressed by the thoroughness of your investigation. I hope we get to the bottom of this quickly, or the person responsible makes themself known because, as you said, there is precious time and energy being wasted when we could direct our efforts to help those actually in need in this precarious time.


Wow! Great work. A search for Britta Froelicher reveals that she's an Associate Fellow at the Centre for Syrian Studies at the University of St. Andrews, and that she's been interested and involved in Middle Eastern issues for a long time. She would have the knowledge to perpetrate the hoax. I'm not sure they've broken any laws, but I hope this information is publicized. Misleading and manipulating the public, not to mention stealing someone's identity, are serious ethical violations and I hope there are consequences for the people involved.


They have broken a law by stealing photos of a person and diffusing them as of Amina's...


It wasn't clearly stated in the article, but the blog photo (P1000868) and the Picasa photot (P1000869) are definitely two distinct photos. This is hinted by the name, and if you zoom in on the policeman, you will see his position relative to the background has changed slightly. Also, the Picasa page is not a comprehensive set of all the photos taken during the period, as the photo names are not consecutive. If one knew who had access to the original set of photos, it could narrow down the possibilities.

The Picasa gallery has links to other friends or family. One of them appears to be a relative (Margarete Froelicher), whose gallery possibly contains photos of the Atlanta house.


P1000868 and P1000869, this implicates that both pics are part of the same series, shot by the same photographer at the same time. So, it's rather improbable that MacMaster/Froehlicher met "Amina" in Syria and that both parties photographed the same object during that visit. If "Amina" had met them there, why should she use their photo and not make one of her own? Even more evidence that the "gay girl in Damascus" isn't there at all, imho.


One more link to Stone Mountain. If you do a search for her user name 'threefoldamina' you will find that there is a link to an online directory site to a person named 'bunny carruthers' (but with her handle) who just happens to live in Stone Mountain G.


We are both very real. But there is a reason neither of us gets terribly "traceable" in our on-line personas. We have family members who work for the government. We have jobs that would be in jeopardy if our blogging were ever linked to those jobs. More importantly, Paula has encountered the same situations that my daughter has - physical threats because she is gay. Being deaf, Paula is more vulnerable than most people under any circumstances. She is afraid of something happening to herself or to her children. Just in case you hadn't noticed, it's open season on gays, Hispanics, Jews and Muslims in some parts of this country. Paula lives in one of them. Do you really want to push this until you read on-line that a single, gay mother of three was attacked in the parking lot of her job? We take very liberal positions in our blog, positions that don't exactly endear us to the rightwingnuts in the world. Just how seriously would you take the open forum threats that are posted everyday if they were aimed at whatever or whoever you are? We take that rhetoric seriously because we have known too many victims.

I told the absolute truth about our involvement with "Amina" - we believed it all. I was the one who recruited her to write for our site. Where she went with her own site, I had no control over. My purpose was to try to offset some of the hatred in America for practitioners of Islam. A very, very small number of the 1.3 billion Muslims in the world are terrorists. We were duped. I apologized for that. Most of all, I apologize to the Muslim community if the discovery that Amina was not who she said she was bolsters some bigot's idea that all Muslims are not to be trusted. That is for later today.

We do not know MacMaster or Froelicher - whoever the hell they may be. Yes, I lived in Georgia for over 10 years - 250 miles from Stone Mountain. My daughter and son-in-law don't know these people either. They would have to be naturalists for them to have ever met them. I would do just about anything to find out who Amina really is, but I simply do not have the resources to do so.

LezGetReal is a voice for lesbians, women, union members, the poor, immigrants and the disenfranchised in this country. We link to the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, dozens of other sites and publications. We are not responsible for their content and they are not responsible for ours. Your accusations about Paula are unfounded and unnecessary. We have a couple of other writers who blur their identities because of where they live and the danger they could be in. We live in the real world - we know the dangers of being gay and transgendered in far too many places in America. You are being downright irresponsible to demand any of us expose ourselves to that danger just so you can make a headline or three.

Please, back off Paula, for the safety of her kids.


It’s not our goal or intention to out Paula. When dealing with the Amina “hoax” it was hard work to try to untangle fact from fiction and to encounter one “fictional” persona providing information about another was a remarkable fact we would have been remiss not to mention. By saying that Paula’s identity should be “confirmed,” we were not saying that it needs necessarily to be made public. It could be confirmed by Paula speaking in person to a trusted journalist, for example. In any case it was not and is not our goal to pursue Paula, but to pursue the truth. If we have indeed uncovered the truth, and Paula played a part in that we thank her. Neither she nor anyone else needs to be harassed in any way.


I've been a communist in America for almost 30 years (and an African American communist at that) so forgive me if I doubt your claim that right wingers would attack "Paula's" children if her identity was known.

This isn't Syria, or Colombia, or the Congo, so dial down the paranoia notch a little bit.

Also, FWIW, I notice in your laundry list of people at risk of violent attack in this country ("gays, Hispanics, Jews and Muslims") you very pointedly did NOT mention African Americans (funny, because the SPLC and FBI say that we're more likely to suffer bias crime attacks than any of the groups you did bother to mention)

In any case, I'm starting to wonder, is "Paula Brooks" a sockpuppet too?

Like "Amina" she's the total package - a woman, deaf, a lesbian and a parent of 3 kids. Both "Amina" and "Paula" are perfect cardboard cutouts for a certain type of American liberal to feel sympathetic towards.

In "Paula's" case, her deafness is a perfect excuse for "her" to dodge media interviews!

Look, I've been a far left political activist for 29 years and I always worked with the age, race, gender, occupational background and life history that I was born with.

I could have reinvented myself too to fit into a more acceptable package, but that would have been LYING and I happen to not believe in that.

How about you - and "Paula"?


In the FB page for Paula Brooks, the place of residence listed is Washington DC. Since when is it open season on any minority in DC? Just asking.


Paula Brooks and others who write for that blog may be pseudonyms. And they may be a bit paranoid. But there is no reason to target them. They probably provided "Amina" a forum in good faith.


And the degress? Are they real? The doctorate and the masters?


I do find it quite disturbing that the individual at LGR, Paula Brooks, that handed out the information on the IP adresses seems to have a somewhat 'weak' presence IRL.


Britta is no longer with the American Friends Service Committee, she was let go several years ago. I'm a program director for AFSC and this news is extremely disturbing.


I've sent the link to this page to several journalists covering this story, if you can, please do the same. This information needs to get out there.


I am grateful to you for your research and for sharing what you have found in such a cohesive and well-structured way.

Super work coming from a great place / motivation.

Here's to the Truth and freedom for all.

Namaste ~


Have you looked into the identity of "Amina's" "cousin", Rania Ismail? I discovered a real person with multiple aliases that has lived in various cities in GA including Lilburn.

Perhaps she should be looked into...there seems to be a connection to the community in the Atlanta area and the creation of "Amina Arraf".


Nice work. Also - nice work on the part of the hoaxers. Drew attention to things that need attending, imo.


Well done with this plot-thickening & intriguing investigation.
I see that Britta Froelicher has had a leading role in US Quaker activities related to the Middle East, through the American Friends Service Committee. She discusses its role in this video interview:
she explains: "our slogan is Quaker values in action".
To seriously mislead people is not exactly a Quaker truth! In fact truth telling is valued by true Quakers very highly. At one point the interviewer asks her "what do you do?" and she laughs and says "good question!" Too true.
All very strange.
Further to the comment above stating that she's an associate fellow at the Syrian Studies Centre at St Andrews, FWIW the centre has been controversially in the news recently because of its alleged regime-connected funding:
The article is subjected to a legal complaint, a note near its top states.
St Andrews is a small place and there must be people there who know her.

Is there a faint (v v faint) possibility that this couple could have been working with a genuine gay Damascene, posting information she provided them with on the blog as an extra layer of security to protect her identity?


One the one hand it's very sad that it's possible to pull hoaxes like that. On the other hand - the potential of the internet to dismantle deceivements, hoaxes and hidden PR has been once more proven itself as astoundingly effective. My trust in the net has even grown, despite the anger about having believed in this 'Amina' at first.


One of those edits on Wiki is for the al Omari clan.

Notice "Amina"'s full name?


He was active with Palestine Solidarity in Atlanta while it was functioning, but withdrew for I believe personal reasons, although there may have been political reasons as well. He always seemed to be in the middle of an internal squabble and was sometimes undisciplined at demostrations. Britta who I did not know was laid off from AFSC in 2008, but her support for the Palestinian struggle from what I heard was typically that of a liberal.



I believe the Palestinian movements have a history of being infiltrated by people who use the cause to further their own goals, Carlos is a famous example. Tom and Britta are of this sort. In a way this is because the Palestinian cause has a quasi universal legitimacy for individuals in many countries, groups, people...but absolute legitimacy among Arabs. And by posing as pro-Palestine, Tom and Britta are probably hoping to present themselves in a way that can avoid them scrutiny from fellow Arabs.


Britta is well connnected and something of a "player" in the sense of helping arrange contacts and discussions. In 2008 she jointly organised a discussion panel on "whether peace was going to break out" between Syria and Israel, and the possible Turkish role. Speakers included the Syrian ambassador in Washington. It was to be followed by a similar event featuring the Israeli Consult-General. She wrote the event up at length for Joshua Landis's widely-read blog Syria Comment:



Tom is covering for his wife who is covering for the academics she worked with who are now dismissing the story as 'juicy distraction'.

Britta was recently granted a leave of absence from the Center of Syrian Studies at Edinburgh University:

Two days ago, her name on the web page of people at the center was there but now it is relegated to a special category. What is interesting is that the people who are with her in this special category (associate fellows) have their name on the main page but not her. Compare the two links.

Name not there

Name in a special category

But people in this specail category are all on the other page

It is obvious why they would do this, they don't want her name to appear with other more famous names known for their Syria expertise on the site.


Ms Froelicher was a first year student conducting research towards a PhD and as such was an Associate Fellow of the University of St Andrews Centre for Syrian Studies. She was researching Syria’s textile industry. On May 19, 2011 Ms Froelicher was granted leave of absence for the forthcoming academic year. We know of no links between the University and Mr MacMaster.



I'd be more likely to believe Suzie's suggestion, rather than "Amina" being Thomas or Britta's fictitious creation. For people that live an activist life...they have absolutely no motive that I can think of. I think that the ESL company should be looked into..."Amina" claims to have worked as an english instructor there. The owner of the company should be able to shed some light into those claims. I'd also look more into Raneia Ibrahim/Ismail. She went to the university that "Amina" claims she did (GSU), and Raneia Ibrahim/Ismail is can be verified as being a real person.


She went to the university that “Amina” claims she did (GSU), and Raneia Ibrahim/Ismail is can be verified as being a real person.

This statement is vague, so I want to remind you that, to my knowledge, there has been no independent verification or confirmation of Rania Ismail (Amina’s cousin).


'Amina' has just nuked all comments from her fake blog


"By sharing this information we want to provide the best chance that this story can be brought to closure and people’s attention directed back toward real world events."
It has been done. "Amina" has posted an apology.


McMaster has acknowledged sole authorship of all blog entries (and has deleted all comments and disabled new ones - probably wisely in the latter case). He calls it an apology but it is one of the least apologetic apologies I have heard. Thank you for getting to the bottom of this. I do believe he has done harm, but at least now this is resolved the issues that he was allegedly trying to highlight can become the focus once again.


One investigator on Facebook pulled up a post under Tom MacMaster's name offering "advice" to a new generation of Atlanta Palestine activists. Among the other "Advice" was the following:
4) Related to this was allowing a number of aggressively anti-Islamic people (primarily people of Christian Arab origin) to set a tone of open hostility to modest dress and people who didn’t drink while attempting to hijack the organization for their own feminist, gay rights, and anti-Islamic agendas. These actions further drove off many."

First, for a white activist, in the name of supporting Muslims, to openly attack Christian Arabs and Palestinians working on Palestine is....odd. (Even if a person holds this opinion, they would be much more likely to express it by focusing on anarchists or white students, not Christian Arabs.)

Also, the Amina character is feminist, supports gay rights, etc. Why is Tom McMaster attacking the identity (except for religion) of what would become the Amina character?? Does this speak to a personal/psychological motivation or something else?


Catherine, you're absolutely right, not apologetic at all - except for the title he gave the post, containing the word 'apology'. He is interested in blaming others and claiming he did no harm.

I know that he and his wife have real political beliefs and sympathies, but how much of the motivation for this was tangled up with desire to chat with (presumed) lesbian and bisexual women - the "Amina on dating sites" aspect, which went on for years! before the political attention?

Sad. I am sorry for those who have lost a 'friend' and feel betrayed.


He hasn't apologized. He blames everyone else for his conduct, and deleted comments to prevent everyone from pointing out his total lunacy.


"MacMaster has also separately confirmed he is behind the hoax in response to an email from The Electronic Intifada asking for confirmation. MacMaster wrote:

Yes. We will be doing a first interview with a journalist of our choice in 12-24 hours. After that, we may consider other media.


The arrogance is staggering. I bet he'll milk this now for all he can. The only person guilty of orientalism here is him.


5 years backstory behind this "character", including online relationships and dating profiles?

I think there's a sickness behind this that goes beyond just fantasy myself, grooming perhaps? I think the authorities should be looking at this guy/couple and feel sick to my stomach over the implications of the whole affair.


1) Good job on finding out who did this, but let's not forget that in the initial days of the Amina-Hoax-Scandal you were the first to point the finger at Israel. If I remember correctly, @avinunu tweeted out several notes about the Hebrew language profile on netblog, which turned out to be totally irrelevant.

Now we know that the guy behind the Amina-Hoax was actually an American, Pro-Palestine activist, and not, you know, the mossad or whatever. So, you might want to apologize for fueling conspiracy theories and randomly pointing the finger to Israel, once again.

2) According to a tweet from one of the WashPo reporters (@LizFlock) covering this story, Paula Brooks is not only real, but was also very helpful in digging everything up. So, I kinda of think you also her an apology. But, again, whatever.


Whoever this Tom MacMasters guy is and I could care less about the hoax unless all the drama surrounding it discounts the fact that RIGHT NOW there are Syrians -men/women/children-gay straight whatever who are being tortured and murdered by the regime and THAT is not a hoax…
I followed the blog and yeah -I thought it seemed a little odd at times but of course the comments section very quickly descended into its very own Middle East conflict -in fact I posted a comment just after the news that 13 year old child Hamza Al Khateeb body had been returned to his parents having been tortured,castrated and murdered by the regime telling them to get a grip and they should be focused on that….
None of us should forget that-its not about gay rights here-its about human rights of the most fundamental kind….


What? Because her kids get bashed for being gay in a liberal democracy? WHAT ABOUT THE LESBIANS THAT AMINA CLAIMED TO LOVE IN THE MIDDLE EAST? Oh, wait, right. It doesn't matter if THEY'RE in danger. Of course not! Sounds like condescending racist talk to me


paula's obviously erred in not including african-americans in her list of targeted groups of people. regardless, it is hard to imagine how ANY activist with years in the movement, could not understanding how activism makes activist and their families vulnerable. the statement: "Like "Amina" she's the total package - a woman, deaf, a lesbian and a parent of 3 kids. Both "Amina" and "Paula" are perfect cardboard cutouts for a certain type of American liberal to feel sympathetic towards."

implies that anyone with this list of identities should not be trusted. (would she be even more untrustworthy, were she african-american?")

her accuser goes on to state:

"In "Paula's" case, her deafness is a perfect excuse for "her" to dodge media interviews!"

how? deaf people can be interviewed. there's no use of deafness to dodge anything. instead, it would appear that paula is a deaf woman attempting to access the larger political activist arena, which is hostile and indifferent to people with non-conforming bodies, including deafness and dis-ability, assuming paula to represent the ideas of a very real person, albeit with a pseudonym (a frequent enough practice, samuel clemens!)

there is no evidence that she is part of this hoax. many activists use cover to continue their work while also struggling to take care of families and keep jobs, that might very well come under attack.

i know of at least 4 activists, myself included in los angeles alone, who have lost jobs and positions for supporting palestinian human rights. for the record, one is anglo, two are jewish, one is palestinian. three of us are women. to my knowledge, none is gay.

activists who support palestinian rights have been subjected to police and fbi investigations (again, myself included), private and public surveillance, blacklisting, cointelpro, character assassination, loss and damage to property in the siege, trauma, isolation, financial hardship.

let's not confuse the issue of this hoax, with the legitimate use of pseudonyms by activists who don't have the social capital to be outspoken and still support their families.