Seth J. Frantzman, PhD was born in Maine, where he grew up at a sporting camp called Little Lyford Pond Lodge without electricity. He was home schooled and learned many skills such as orienteering and canoeing in the backwoods of Maine. After making it through elementary school and attending Verde Valley School in Arizona, where he founded a literary magazine named Terra Incognita, and the Orme School; he received his BA from the University of Arizona where he served in the Student Senate (ASUA) and as president of the local chapter of fraternity Phi Kappa Psi. He was briefly active in politics as president of College Republicans and as an intern in Congressman Jim Kolbe’s office, he participated in his community and served as president of his HOA in Cases de Kino in Tucson. He worked for a short time with Washington Mutual and in real estate. while contributing to the Tucson Weekly.
He received his MA and Ph.D from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2010 and was for many years a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies. His PhD examines the history of rural settlement in Ottoman and Mandate Palestine. Frantzman has conducted research and worked for the JDC, The Shalem Center, Aish Ha Torah and as a Post-Doc at Hebrew University. He has been a guest lecturer at The Hebrew University, Bar-Ilan University, and has lectured for five years at Al-Quds University in American studies as an Assistant Professor. He wrote about that experience in a paper at MERIA. He has spoken to numerous groups, including visitors from Brandeis, Middle East Forum, Hebrew Union College, the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies, Limmud (South Africa), Spring of Hope foundation and Moshe Dayan Center and TAU’s Kurdish studies unit. He has been a Research Associate at the Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs at the IDC Herzliya.
A book reviewer at Amazon.com (top 100), and the Jewish Book Council, he is a prolific writer and journalist, with works appearing at The Jerusalem Post, The Spectator, The Forward, Al-Jazeera, Jüdische Allgemeine, The National Interest, The Moscow Times, The National Review, The Region, The Tower, The Tucson Weekly, the National Post, the Bangor Daily and the Korea Times as well as online magazines and portals like Mida, Algemeiner, He has been interviewed by international media, including Israel’s Russian language channel, al-Hurra, Al-Jazeera, BBC Persian, BBC, Rudaw, and appeared on radio shows from Canada, New Zealand to Australia, the UK, and the Voice of Israel. These include LBC Radio, Sputnik, WEBY and others. His articles have been translated into French, Russian, Serbian, Polish, German and Hebrew. Frantzman’s academic work has appeared in numerous journals such as Middle Eastern Studies, Levant and Israel studies.
A frequent contributor to the Digest of Middle East Studies, and a dozen other academic publications, he also lectures on American Culture, Geography, history and racism. His current interests include the history of the Holy Land, the Beduin, land laws, Jerusalem, Kurds and Arab Christians.
As a commentator on current affairs and politics he attempts to provide new views on old canards, hence his column’s name, Terra Incognita. He is currently The Jerusalem Post’s op-ed editor. He has covered three wars in Gaza, travelled to the Kurdistan region and other parts of Iraq where he visited the front lines numerous times with Kurdish peshmerga, the US-led coalition and Iraqi Security Forces between 2015 and 2017. A partial list of his conflict reporting on the battle for Mosul appears here.
He has written about travels to Ukraine, South Africa, Barbados, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Senegal and the United Arab Emirates. He has interviewed politicians from the PUK to the AKP, Kurdish leader Kemal Kirkuki, former Turkish foreign minister Yasar Yakis, Condoleezza Rice and Alan Dershowitz; Nadia Murad, two Ukrainian prime ministers, the Ukrainian foreign minister, the KRG’s Falah Mustafa, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Matthew B. Schrier, the chief rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar and five former heads of Israel’s security service; former Senegalese Prime Minister Aminata Toure, Israel’s Lebanon war commander Gal Hirsch as well as held meetings with Jabril Rajoub and attended events hosted by the Geneva Initiative and spoken to Kol v’Oz and the Israel Government Fellows program at the Begin Center.
As feature writer he covered Israel’s elections in 2015, social protests, anti-racism demonstrations, the Laylat al-Khadr events of 2014 and 2015, Ramadan, Christmas, Samaritan high sacrifices and the Bedouin rights protest led by Ayman Odeh. He has written on the EUPOL COPPS, AFAD in Turkey, and travelled for days with refugees during the 2015 crisis. He covered the Kurdistan Independence Referendum in September 2015.
He has covered three Gaza wars in 2009, 2012 (see here) and 2014 and has been to Gaza before Israel’s Disengagement. He was there the night Disengagement began. In Kilis he covered Turkey and the complex conflict in Syria. In Irbid, Jordan he met Syrian refugees and weighed how Jordan will cope. In Eastern Europe he followed Syrian refugees to Hungary until they closed the border in 2015. He has written for National Interest extensively on Kurdish issues and the war on ISIS by the peshmerga. For Al-Jazeera he has also covered refugees, Kurds and Iran. He was one of the first reporters to cover the newly liberated mass graves of Yazidis murdered by ISIS in December 2015 and has actively sought to classify the crimes as genocide. He has also covered security and culture in West Africa as well as written on Ukraine, Dubai and many other countries. Most recently he covered the Mosul Offensive and made a short documentary.
My mother and father’s families (left) and photo from Verde Valley School (right)