April 30, 2014 / Brooklyn news / Downtown / Checkin’ in with...

Tal Barzilai visits The Brooklyn Paper office

Tal of the town! We check in with serial commentator

The Brooklyn Paper
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The comments section is coming alive in the first installation of The Brooklyn Paper’s “Get to know a commentator” series.

Tal Barzilai, a prolific commentator who lives more than 40 miles outside of the borough, dropped by this paper’s MetroTech Center office for a chat after we spotted him at a recent road-safety hearing.

“I just wanted to have my voice heard,” said Tal Barzilai, the sometimes controversial, always vocal comments section habitue.

The Israel-born Pleasentville, New York resident explained his outsize interest in our humble borough. As a New York State taxpayer, he has a stake in state-funded projects like the Atlantic Yards redevelopment, even though he lives more than an hour’s drive away, he said.

“Understand­ing certain ideas or projects I don’t feel takes a special insider,” he said. “Sometimes boondoggles are boondoggles, no matter where you come from.”

Reading about the project’s public review process brought him to the Brooklyn Paper’s hard-hitting coverage of the ongoing Atlantic Yards saga in the first place, he said.

Now, with pressure mounting around reducing traffic fatalities borough-wide, Barzilai has re-focused his ire on the city’s bicycle- and pedestrian-safety lobby, charging that cyclists and strollers contribute to traffic crashes as much as motorists do.

Barzilai’s position has garnered significant blow-back from other readers, many of whom he believes are part of a concerted effort from the car-critic website Streetsblog, he said.

The persistent citizen-pundit framed the ideological divide between Streetsblog’s contributors and his own viewpoint in stark terms.

“It’s like trying to get the Muslim Brotherhood to see Israel as a nation for the Jews,” he said, citing Streetsblog’s “fanatical nature.”

Barzilai said he has other issues on his radar, too.

He said he objects to new tolls on the city’s bridges, and opposing the so-called “Move NY” plan to reduce congestion by tolling East River Bridges may be the next banner he takes up. But the guy whose internet activism began 12 years ago with a campaign to re-build the World Trade Center towers after the Sept. 11 attacks — a push he has not given up, by the way — is keeping his options open, he said.

“Sometimes I’m just a person who goes with the wind,” he said.

Barzilai, 30, came to the United States as a toddler in the mid-1980s. His father worked as a tech guy for Lehman Brothers before the investment bank went belly up and now works for a different financial services firm, the younger Barzilai said. Barzilai has a degree in environmental science from a small college on Long Island and worked at a recycling plant in Westchester County for about four years before being laid off in 2013, he said. The field is narrow and new positions are scarce, Barzilai said. He explained that he isn’t too picky about what job he will take next, but would prefer “something that pays well.”

This is not the first time a prolific newspaper responder has wound up making headlines. Larry Penner of Great Neck, New York is the region’s most prolific author of letters to the editor and his work has made him the subject of a blog post on the gossip website Gawker and landed him a blog of his own over at the Queens Courier.

If you are a regular commentator interested in checking in with us, please contact reporter Max Jaeger, whose information is below.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

ty from pps says:
Now I feel sad...
April 30, 2014, 7:46 am
bkmanhatman from nubrucklyn says:
Tal is the Osama of anti-bikes. Two can play the jihadi language.
April 30, 2014, 7:51 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Muslim Brotherhood and Israel?

Well, my bike-loving comrades and I are on whatever side doesn't kill people constantly. And Tal is objectively pro-slaughter.
April 30, 2014, 8:15 am
ty from pps says:
When is it my turn?
April 30, 2014, 8:36 am
Northside Ned from Greenpoint says:
What a great piece. Tal is a natural behind the mic. He reminds me of a young Carson. Have you considered giving him a regular feature? Also, if RomComs have taught me anything, I suspect that Tal and Ty will soon be dating. Looking forward to it. Screech at you later.
April 30, 2014, 9:34 am
Brooklyner from Brooklyn says:
There's obviously something not quite right with Mr. Barzilai. Let him comment away to his heart's content, but shame on the Brooklyn Paper for exploiting him for page views.
April 30, 2014, 9:38 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Pardon me, but Tal is right: Nobody who has a job should have to commute to it, no matter where it is. I hate to be the one to point this out. What a boondoggle, if you don't mind my saying so.
April 30, 2014, 10:57 am
Max Jaeger from Brooklyn Paper says:
Ty from pps, give me a call or shoot me an e-mail — contact info is at the bottom of the story.
April 30, 2014, 1:07 pm
diehipster from Walloping Wassermans says:
I hate to be the one to say this, but if you really want to get down to the "nitty gritty" of things, then perhaps you should do a feature on "real" people, such as myself.

LLASOAG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (laughing like a son of a gun)

Look at meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pardon the eruption.
April 30, 2014, 5:16 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
The thing is that I don't spend all day just typing something from behind a computer screen like the rest of you do. I actually do tend to show up, and I'm not afraid to hide. To understand what a boondoggle is, it's basically something that costs a lot especially if it exceeds its original costs, and there are plenty of examples of such, but the list is pretty long for that. On a side note, to continue my activism for what I believe in, I did get a letter of mine printed on Sunday's NY Post calling for the Twin Towers to be rebuilt, but unfortunately, the website of that newspaper no longer shows letters to the editor on the online version or would have seen it there unless you have the print version from that day.
April 30, 2014, 6:12 pm
jay from nyc says:
so Tal comments on his own press so that he can plug his posts on other publications? Awesome, just awesome.
April 30, 2014, 6:34 pm
jay from nyc says:
and they want to interview TY next.???!!! ha too funny.
April 30, 2014, 6:35 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
For the record, I don't fight for my causes out of narcissism or because someone told me to, I do it because I actually care about what I believe in. It's sort of like voting in an election, because if you don't vote, you are nothing more than a fly on the wall, and voting shows how much you participate in an election, which is why I vote even in minor elections. If any of you want to show that you are more than just some armchair activist, then start writing to the media and attending events to show that you mean business.
April 30, 2014, 6:56 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Most people know the definition of the term "Boondoggle", Tal. It can easily be looked up. But, like the word "turd", most people try to avoid using it.
Pardon my saying so.
April 30, 2014, 7:41 pm
bkmahatma from nubrucklyn says:
yes Mullah Tal goes on his anti-bike jihadi because he believes a a short-shorts wearing girl on her fix gear is menace to his 4x4 truck Taliban gang.
April 30, 2014, 10:18 pm
T-Bone from DoBro says:
That was painful... I just can't.
May 1, 2014, 12:41 am
Jym from PLG says:
• Wingnut allusions to the Muslim Brotherhood simply underscore that he's got nothing of substance to contribute. But we already knew that.
May 1, 2014, 9:49 am
Ed from Bay Ridge says:
This guy seems a little off . . . no, a whole whole lot off.
May 1, 2014, 3:59 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I think that some of you are just commenting like this because you are jealous of the fact that I actually stand up to a fight while the rest of you just hide behind your computer screens saying things you would never say in real life. All of you have shown is that you are nothing but cowards, and are probably more afraid of me than I am of them, which is why you will be nothing more than an armchair activist. As for bicycles, I have nothing against them, I just want them to follow the traffic laws, and there were even letters on the Daily News both today and yesterday addressing that issue, so I'm not alone here. Overall, you guys are just like trees falling in the middle of the forest when nobody is around, which is why some may question if you ever make a sound.
May 1, 2014, 5:44 pm
jay from nyc says:
no Tal, I LAUGH at you because I have a real life outside of this, whereas you think that showing up at a meeting, in a place where you don't live, to say a few meaningless words and posting on umpteen billion other message boards is the same thing as having an actual real life outside of this board.
May 1, 2014, 7:09 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Jay, you can call me whatever you want, but I will still have the last laugh no matter what. By writing to the media and attending certain events is how I get myself heard, and many will remember that. This is very common for activists, so I'm not alone here. For the record, I'm not online 24-7 unlike others here, and I don't use message boards as my personal mouthpieces compared to some here I won't name. In other words, I do have a life, because there were days I wasn't even here, so just like the WNBA, you couldn't even make the claim that my statements are being forced on you when they aren't there. Again, it's like voting in an election, because only those who vote will be heard while the non-voters will be seen as just flies on the walls. On a side note, I did get two essays of mine printed in a book known as Debacle: Failing to Rebuild the Twin Towers, which many have read as well as even being in PBS's America's Rebuild. BTW, projects and issues involving the state or federal government with their agencies, they are my business, because I am paying taxes to them as well.
May 2, 2014, 3:58 pm
jay from nyc says:
TAL where EXACTLY did I call you a name in my previous post? Where? Where Tal? I didn't.
Tell me Tal, since we are on the subject of you inventing things, that reminds me, where is your evidence that BDS people are neo nazis and terrorist as you alleged?
I have asked you for it many times and you have never provided it, why?
Since you have never provided any evidence to backup your allegation, I am just wondering if they have they sued you for slander and libel and that is the reason you either won't offer up any proof to support your allegation or admit that you made it up or something else otherwise? Care to comment on that Tal?
May 2, 2014, 5:55 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Jay, a while ago, I gave links to where the head of the BDS posts on the Electronic Intifada, which encourages terrorist actions by Hamas. Knowing the way you think, you tried to be dismissive of that, and acted that it was nothing more than a message board that had nothing to do with an actual organization. I have called them anti-Semitic, because I have never heard them say anything about countries that do even worse than what Israel does, which gives hints to such hatred. If the BDS really cared about the Palestinians, they would have told them to stop all terrorist acts and sit down and talk for peace with Israel, which they never do. Ironically, a number of other anti-Israel activists have called them out rather than rush to their defense. Your BDS friends even lost more recent battles such as a failed academic boycott of Israel that I know you will be going stark raving mad on. I wouldn't even be surprised if they did support the Nazis especially when their favorite terrorists known as Hamas make Adolf Hitler's birthday a national holiday and try to live on his dream of killing all the remaining Jews.
May 2, 2014, 6:14 pm
jay from nyc says:
Tal what you provided was garbage and factually totally untrue and provably so, and I posted as such. Remember the part about the editor of the EI worked for the New York Times Tal? Reasoning with you is like trying to reason with Hamas about giving up their rockets.
May 2, 2014, 6:33 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Jay, I feel that you have described yourself more than you did me. I've looked up the BDS, and I've found nothing about them ever calling for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Also, they have never called for boycotts on countries such as Syria and Iran that have even more human rights violations, but I didn't hear any outcries from them on that. Getting back to understanding activism, there will always be two sides to every story, because there will always be one group that feels that side with the other group feeling the other side. You might see me as someone who is just being cynical to be heard, but there are others who see me as someone who actually understands what goes on hence the different interpretations. Of course, getting you to understand is sort of like trying to get the Muslim Brotherhood to accept Israel as a nation for the Jews.
May 2, 2014, 8:42 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Now, I don't want to start trouble on the air like this, but there is strictly no room for things such as personal attacks here. These personal attacks have gone on far to long and for what? In a personal attack-well-that's EXACTLY what it is: it's an attack, and it's most definitely personal (in most cases). Nobody wins. The ORCA will sink, if something isn't done about not attacking in a personal manner-such as an attack of a personal nature. Six chickens.
Pardon the interruption.
May 3, 2014, 10:27 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
^^^^*too* long (pardon my auto erect)
May 3, 2014, 10:28 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
My point is that if you want to be known, you got to make yourself be heard first. You can't hit a home run without taking a swing of the bat first. BTW, many watchdogs and whistle blowers are known for being very active, which is why we know them so much like Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, or even Edward Snowden. Of course there are a lot more, but I will stop there. By such logic, I guess Jane Jacobs must not have had a life if she was to go to a hearing to call out Robert Moses on the LOMEX. Going to such events to express how I feel does show how much I really care about it.
May 3, 2014, 3:36 pm
Mike says:
Ah yes, "Debacle: Failing to Rebuild the Twin Towers". Published by the extremely well known Klaatu Publishing Company. Which has no web presence other than a Facebook page liked by exactly 1 person. I'm sure that book was read by many, many, many people. Do you happen to have the sales numbers? Other than friends and family, can you count them on one hand or two?
May 7, 2014, 8:07 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Calling someone pathetic for fighting for what they believe in is very insulting and I insist that you invert what you said about that. As long as there are people like myself who still believe, then nothing is a lost cause. BTW, there are other pro-Towers advocates besides me are still fighting for having the Twins rebuilt, so I am not alone here, and I do insist that you listen to the radio interview that Magret Donnavon and Richard Hughes got recently before making any further judgements. Remember, Jane Jacobs was claimed to fight a loosing battel against the Lower Manhattan Expwy against Robert Moses with the odds against her, but she wound up winning in the end. The same thing can be with those who were against the West Side Stadium. Even the people at DDDB believe that there is still a reason to fight the Atlantic Yds complex by Bruce Ratner despite all the odds, and I support them to. By your logic, then maybe it is also a lost cause for the people who are fighting for the existance of Israel, b/c half the world doesn't want it to exist. Again cut with the personal attacks. As a native of Israel, I know what is like to loose someone in a terrosit attack, b/c it happens quite constantly over there. The terrorist attacks back in Israel predate what has happened in the US, especially with the late Shiek Amahad Yassin, who was the spiritual leader of Hamas. Also, terrorism is not defined by the number of those dead, but by how it is taken in the aftermath. By your logic, everything in Israel that was attacked by terrorists should be a memorial espeically when it occurrs in actual places. This is not playing the terrorist or Israel card or whatever you call it, this is speaking on the experience of terrorism. Before 9/11, people claimed that Israel was a paranoid nation in its response to terrorism. Also, Israel has been dealing with terrorism long before Osama Bin Laden made the headlines, and that is no lie. The only difference here is that skyscrapers can brought back from the dead b/c they are inorgant as oppossed to people who are organic. I do give my condolences to those who lost someone, and I am not trying to be selfish by wanting the Twins rebuilt. Half of your posts aimed at me are perosnal attacks. I have my views on issues like what should go on the WTC site, and you have yours. Learn to live with the opposition, b/c message boards allow for both sides of the issue whether you are pleased with them or not. If I want to view the FT as an ilegitimate replacement or a monunment to Osama Bin Laden, that is my view. If you wish to see the FT as a masterpiece, then that is your view. Despite my take, I am not saying that anyone is wrong for supporting the FT or calling them names like you and some others are. Also, I do not force my views on others by telling them what the can or cannot like. On a sidenote, if you don't like my threads, don't click on them, b/c nobody is forcing you to do so. I do NOT force anyone to agree with my statements. I have nothing people who disagree with me, but when they call me an idiot for having a different view, that is where the personal attacks are made. I will never forget the person who referred to me as the Grand Cyclops of Ground Zero, which is very insulting. Others have tooken my PBS's America Rebuilds Essay and mentioned it as if only someone misguided would write such a thing, and that really hurts my feelings b/c people around the world read that and were proud of what I wrote, which is why I use it as a way for people to know me at hearings. Someone even said that I have been be spurting me ilk, which sounds like a hit below the belt when it comes to stating an opinion. If you wish to like the FT, then I won't stop you, but you must still respect the fact that I would rather see the Twins rebuilt, which is my view. As for the politicians, if you read my letters they are compliants to them as well as the transcripts from public hearings. For the record, I have nothing against those that disagree with me, it's those that have attacked me personally that I am against, which happens to be a lot of you. I could never understand why a lot of you are so defensive and act so bent out of shape on this issue especially when you all had your say on this issue, so let me and those who disagree have our's. Better yet, just go back to such car hating websites such as Streetsblog where you get to hear your own voices all the time while censoring anyone who disagrees with you.
May 30, 2014, 11:51 am

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