Guardian

Welcome to CiF Watch


Last year Matt Seaton, the then new editor of ‘Comment is Free’ stated “I can’t promise you that antisemitic comments and other instances of hate speech will disappear from the site overnight, but (from early June) I think you will notice a progressive improvement.”

In an article published a few months later highlighting hate speech in the mainstream media, Matt Seaton was quoted as saying “[w]e do not tolerate any hate speech, and our moderators will delete comments which are antisemitic or Islamophobic or otherwise racist , as soon as they are reported to us or when we see them ourselves. That happens in minutes rather than hours or days.”

While for a short period last year there was some improvement, antisemitism is again prevalent and thriving both “above the line” in the articles and “below the line” in the comment threads. We therefore decided to establish CiF Watch, which is dedicated to monitoring and exposing antisemitism on the Guardian newspaper’s ‘Comment is Free’ blog.

On the following pages of CiF Watch we have assembled a wealth of information that builds upon the report submitted to the UK Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism, on antisemitism, at ‘Comment is Free’ compiled by Jonathan Hoffman.

In the About Us section you can learn more about how antisemitism manifests itself on ‘Comment is Free’ and what our mission is. In How We Define Antisemitism you can learn about how we rely upon the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism as our metric for tracking antisemitism on ‘Comment is Free’.

In CiF Contributors, you can click on the name of your favorite ‘Comment is Free’ contributor and view examples of incendiary and antisemitic commentary “in their own words”. Similarly, in CiF Commenters, we have created a repository of comments posted by various commenters on ‘Comment is Free’ which, either individually or in the aggregate, are antisemitic, and most of which to this day have not been deleted!

In CiF in the Media, you can read what others are saying about ‘Comment is Free’ and in Resources we created a list of helpful links so that you can learn more about the issues. Finally, after all of this rather than muttering under your breath those Guardian 8@57@rds and moving on, please visit How to Get Involved and make your voice heard!!

Here at CiF Watch, we intend to regularly post articles exposing the bigoted and one-sided nature of the Guardian’s obsessive focus on Israel and, by extension, the Jewish people. We invite you to comment on our threads and send us copies of antisemitic articles and comments that you come across on ‘Comment is Free’ as well as “pro-Israel” comments that are deleted by the moderators. Most importantly, please tell your friends to visit CiF Watch.

In the meantime, feel free to check out the different areas of the blog and send us your feedback.

51 replies »

  1. This site is spot-on. Look at what Neve Gordon’s University in Israel is saying about him, following on from his CIF piece.

    But of course the Grauniad would never print it and it would be deleted from CIF:

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1109492.html

    “The Ben-Gurion University management in turn denounced Gordon’s views.

    “We are appalled by Dr. Neve Gordon’s irresponsible remarks, that morally deserve to be completely and utterly condemned,” Prof. Carmi said. “We disapprove of Gordon’s disastrous views and reject his cynical exploitation of the freedom of speech in Israel and the university.”

    “This vile and audacious criticism of the state of Israel damages the excellent academic work being done in Israel and its universities,” she also said. “Academics with such feelings about their country are welcome to look for another home, whether personal or professional.” “

  2. Well done you people! This is superb and long overdue. May you go from strength to strength in fighting CiF’s Jew-hating lies.

    And thanks Chris for posting the Ben Gurion University’s statement about Nebbish Gordon. I wonder why he still has tenure there given the door he has opened to the acceptability of Israel-hatred.

    Live long, you guys, and prosper.

  3. Welcome to you – and at last a way to adjust the balance! Let’s hope CiF will benefit from the mirror you hold up to it, and it will mend its ways, but I won’t be holding my breath.

    From strength to strength! Yesher Koach!!!

  4. I used to contribute to CiF until I got banned for arguing with some fool there who I am sure was drunk most of the time.

    Chris thannk you for quoting the university where Neve Gordon works and distances them from what he says.

    But with all respect that doesn’t matter if he still has a job there. He can influence young people and maybe fail anyone who disagrees with his mad ideas. I have read about a boycott of Israeli academics by the other countries in the world but in the case of this Gordon the boycott should come from Israeli universities I think.

    Israel is at war with people who want to wipe her out. This jerk is giving them support. In any other country there would be prison for anyone who helps the country’s enemies. Why is Israel so slow?

  5. Excellent, excellent, excellent.

    Well done you and about time they were held accounatble for their bias.

    You are certainly in my feeds from now on!

  6. Excellent site you’re starting.

    I used to read CiF regularly (I even used to occasionally post there, but was kicked off years ago – I still don’t know why!) and there are lunatics there who would turn literally EVERYTHING into an argument about “Israel and the Palestinians”.

    Say there was an article about the old Soviet Union… It would be followed with typical comments from the loons: “Sure it was bad, but NOT AS BAD AS ISRAEL!!!” etc etc… and ALL the Jew-haters (pretending to be ‘Anti-Zionists’ of course) would crawl out from under their stones and start the usual anti-Semitic bollocks. ANY excuse for a spot of Jew-hatred!

    CiF is a hideous site. I felt ‘dirty’ just reading some of the bile that was being poured out on a regular (and oh so monotonous) basis.

  7. Just looked at your CiF contributers page – you forgot one – Khaled Mishal – for the briefest of periods. I don’t know if you remember how he threatened the West for its support of Israel – and then the Guardian was “advised” not to let him write articles for them. I seem to remember however that he appeared in all his glory at the Hay on Wye Festival – am I right?

  8. marvin Freedman wants to damage the reputation of the IDF (perhaps they hurt his pride when he was a play about soldier with them) and Jews too and Israel which is his home.

    He is stupid and makes himself more and more foolish every time he writes and I think that he and Nebbish Gordon should be prosecuted for helping Israel’s enemies and making Jew-hating more acceptable. Arabs/Islamists use Jew and Zionist to mean both the same thing and an insulting thing. Freedman and Gordon and all the other anti-Israel stooges on CiF help them to think that this is OK.

    Many conspiracy theories haunt Hamas, like bubble gum given by Israelis which makes people sex mad and a comb given out by the IDF which is supposed to make the testicles drop off.

    Talking of what you missed out, did you think about including Shazlee on your list of commentators. He makes me creep out. I heard that he is keeping a list of the characteristics of pro-Israel and Jewish posters so that he can annoy them and accuse them of having many identities when the posts they make are good.

  9. This is an example of what those who want to see any sort of fairness on CiF are up against. From the thread by Benjamin Pogrund at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/aug/24/israel-boycotts-right-traumatised?showallcomments=true which argues that boycotts only harden Israel’s resolve. Note the too-ready conflation of Israel with Jew and the rabid antisemitism in the message as a whole and when she refers to “perfidious Israeli Jews”:

    This creature’s name suits her down to the ground, too:

    “ShamelessHussy

    “24 Aug 09, 8:26pm (23 minutes ago)

    “Moeran

    “We do not ask for Israelis to be treated with equal barbarity; only justice.

    “I’m all for equality. Indeed, let us treat some of these perfidious Israeli Jews and their supporters with as much barbarity as they do others.

    “Their constant vilification, isolation and scrutiny will change their behaviour over time – either that or they will just leave and go back where they have come from, as they have started to do. When the ‘land of milk and honey’ is an economic mess because of sanctions, they will all go. So the first thing to do is to call for your local EU representative to scrap EU trade agreements with Israel.

    “Goodness knows that all the please for justice and education have fallen on deaf ears for the last 60 years.”

    The comment will remain there because mods have gone home for the night.

    Now I need to take a shower.

  10. I’ve exchanged emails with CIF moderators just today but some of them seem about as logical as LaRitournelle and about as mainsteam as Shazlee. Does anyone know if Shaza is still keeping files on us all ? BTW, regarding a post on HP. Not to creep other women out, but Shaz-“keeper of files”-lee, is male.

  11. What I personally cannot understand is where you people actually find the time to read and contribute to CiF or any other internet blog. Even now I’m retired I am actually living a life away from a computer screen. Having said that, I can see that you are performing a valuable service and so congratulations for setting this up.

    As for the Guardian, I stopped reading it as an authoritative source of information in August 2005. The front page read [more or less] “A record number of over 250,000 students will receive their A level results today, in over 750,000 subjects.” Yer wot? Quality press??

  12. Thank you for taking up the fight from where I left off

    Many people will be supporting you – most of all, me: We Shall Overcome

  13. As a definition of anti-Semitism

    ‘Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor. ‘

    is a joke.

  14. Resistor,
    Do you consider any other nation-state to be intrinsically racist? If not, then why only Israel?

  15. Personally, I think a challenge to cif’s lack of balance has to be a good thing, something rotten surely emmenates from cif. However I have a few misgivings. The commentators section is worrying – for instance, why is stevejones123’s comment as logged at 25 Jul 09, 11:38 anti-Semitic rather than, as it most certainly was, uninformed ?

    I have severe misgivings with the EUMC definition of anti-Semitism. It’s too flimsy an interpretation.

  16. Blue, please read what we say before commenting. Not ALL the comments are antisemitic, but they all encourage antisemitic discourse.

    Here is what we say: “Although some of the posts when viewed individually may not necessarily be antisemitic per se, when viewed in their aggregate they evince disturbing antisemitic sentiment.”

  17. Blue.

    why is stevejones123’s comment as logged at 25 Jul 09, 11:38 anti-Semitic rather than, as it most certainly was, uninformed ?

    You should go to CI(F) and look at stevejones123 comments in full bloom. A single one would leave a lot of leeway. Taken together they add up to a rank anti-Semite. In his particular case, I believe that the antisemitism comes from identifying too closely with Muslims although he claims not to be Muslim. He has a serious knowledge of Islam which makes me suspicious of his saying that he is not a Muslim.

    Doesn’t really matter what his motive is, looking through the assortment that CI(F) so generously provides, the pattern is clear.

  18. Resistor, contrary to your stance, i believe that “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” is a fair example of antisemitism because it denies to the Jewish people the right to national self-determination in their own homeland, which is, presumably, what you would allow all other nations.

    In the case of the Jewish people, the Zionist Organisation was at several points during the 1920’s prepared, however reluctantly, to agree to a single bi-national state in Palestine [see Christopher Sykes’ “Crossroads to Israel” 1966 passim. Only the Woodhead Commission’s proposals were rejected, primarily because it limited Jewish immigration to Palestine at a time when it was essential for saving the lives of European [or at any rate at that time German] Jews. By then the British had begun proposing a two-state solution through exasperation with Arab rejection of previous proposals.

    The whole problem of the concept of Jewish nationhood stems from a linguistic difficulty. There are two distinct ways of being Jewish, which are confounded by the use of the same vocabulary [Jew and Jewish]. One is entirely through religious practice , which leads to the point of view that Jews are a religious not a national grouping. But the vast majority of Jewish people do not practice a religion at all; many are atheists. But they are still Jewish because of the second criterion, that of birth. Your mother is Jewish, therefore you are Jewish, QED. Even the most orthodox accept this and would agree that the atheist shegetz is one of them.

    As the very word “nation” is derived from the Latin for “be born”, it is clear that the Jewish people are a national grouping because accidence of birth is the criterion by which Jewishness is acknowledged. It is notable that those few non-Jews who adopt entirely Jewish practices are still not recognised as Jews.

    My plea is for linguistic change. When talking of Jewish people in the context of their religious or customary practices, let us call them “Jews”. Otherwise, let us call them “Jewish”. This will lead to the odd conclusion that most Jewish people are not Jews, but will put paid to the argument that the Jewish people are not a nation.

  19. JuliantheProstrate, well said. And thanks for your history lesson.

    @Resistor as a follow-on from James Mendelsohn – by your apology of a definition, presumably any future Palestinian state will racist too, since it will be a Muslim state. Is that a joke too?

    [Edited for clarity and spelling eg ‘Mendelsohn’ – Mod]

  20. Wonderful site! At a time when Jews and Israel are under attack in the West as never before, their adversaries need to be exposed and answered. The most powerful weapon Jews and supporters have is their right of reply – which must be carefully treasured. Keep up the good work!

  21. Julian

    I don’t see why any distinction need be made between ethnicity and religion. The Jews are obviously an identifiable human sub-group and as such merit self-determination regardless of the term used to characterise them, whether race or religion or ethnicty or nation.

    Ironically, the Jews have a greater claim to being a distinct nation than the Palestinians or many another national group or ethnicity. Jews may claim to be a distinct group by any one (or a combination of) history, culture, ethnicity, religion, language, values, and genetics.

    Of course, Zionism is nothing more than the Jewish variant of the same wave of ethnic self-determination which created an independent Italy, Poland, and India. Singling out the Jews for denial of such right is a grotesque crime.

  22. Have just the following message to the moderators I expect a positive reply, because of the anti-black angle, but – who knows:

    “Philip Hall* makes racist remarks against Blacks -Talking of Obama as “blackwash”;
    And against Jews – pinning the blame for the economic crisis on the “rapacious Goldman Sachs which has actually benefitted to the tune of billions out of the financial crisis”
    Can you please deal with it? Thanks”

    Watch this space?

    * Jonathan Freedland thread, 12:12AM

  23. Hi Orly

    I don’t think the term “rapacious Goldman Sachs” is antisemitic. I’m not sure about “blackwash” – not being black myself. I think blacks probably would find it offensive.

    Anyway despite your complaint (and no doubt that of others) the comment is still there — with 36 Recommendations!

    I think it’s a dumb comment for other reasons – but that’s personal.

  24. CiFChazers, the point of my comment was that anti-Zionists, Jews and others, say that, as being Jewish is a matter of religion not ethicity, Jews cannot claim the right to a national homeland or stste. They reject the element of ethnicity, partly through there being no clear linguistic distinction between people born into the Jewish nation and those who practice the traditional Jewish ethos.

    At Evian in 1937, in a half-hearted attempt to do something about the danger of European Jewry from the Nazis, an international conference estimated the number of Jews in danger as 600,000. This was probably based on synagogue membership. As we know, there were ten times that number of people identified as Jewish in the holocaust. [See Sykes, “Crossroads to israel”] That estimate, incidentally, probably forms the basis of the holocaust minimisers’ claim that only about half a million Jews perished.

  25. Be careful when criticising the author of an article if you happen to become involved in a discussion with him. I posted an excellent rebuttal to an argument I was having with the odious Seth Freedman not long ago and instead of replying he simply descided enough was enough and simply ensured my post was deleted.

  26. Shai:

    “I posted an excellent rebuttal to an argument I was having with the odious Seth Freedman not long ago and instead of replying he simply descided enough was enough and simply ensured my post was deleted.”

    This is one of the reasons why we created CiF Watch. Please feel free to post in our threads comments that get deleted to demonstrate how the “finger is on the scale”.

  27. This site wont please old MorginaPenry@Miff – she must still be seething her “kill button” doesn’t reach the posts on here.

    It’d be interesting to know where the “finger is on the scale” is when it comes to being moderated as well as being pre moderated by CIF. i.e. Check out the polite and substantive contributor, AKUS whose posts have at times been literally gutted.
    I wonder if, Per head of ciffers, is there an ethnic group more likely to be excluded from CIF ? To have posts removed by CIF moderators ? to find themselves being pre-moderated ?
    If one considers those who CIF have reinstated despite why some of them were banned in the first place and then Posters they simply won’t ban regardless – and compare that against the posters they exclude you’re left wondering if the infamous CIF Talk Policy isn’t a bad joke.

  28. Shia – Be careful when criticising the author of an article if you happen to become involved in a discussion with him. I posted an excellent rebuttal to an argument I was having with the odious Seth Freedman not long ago and instead of replying he simply descided enough was enough and simply ensured my post was deleted.

    A not uncommon experience.

    Quite a while ago, Our Sethela and Petra Marquardt-Bigman were going to have an above the line debate. It never materialized.

    I often wondered why.

  29. There is a discussion of cifwatch taking place at the moment on
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/aug/27/obama-peace-plan-israel?showallcomments=true

    Several posters have had their feelings hurt by not having their timeless prose collected. I guess they have not quite understood that it is not anti-Israel posters who are concentrated on but your actual anti-Semites.

    Perhaps you could allow each of them to choose a favourite posting and submit it for consideration, the most anti-Semitic of them to be included as requested?

  30. Mita – Perhaps you could allow each of them to choose a favourite posting and submit it for consideration, the most anti-Semitic of them to be included as requested?

    Good idea.

    And there’s one commenter, ExcellentLondon who seems to be miffed that he is not on that list.

  31. HAWKEYE

    “This is one of the reasons why we created CiF Watch. Please feel free to post in our threads comments that get deleted to demonstrate how the “finger is on the scale”.

    Unfortunately and unless I am mistaken, comments that are deleted are done so without the poster being imformed. It is also impossible to then retrieve or edit the ‘offending’ post. If I’m wrong I’d like to know. I used to post on the topics but stopped as I wasn’t willing to waste anymore time writing comments that may or may not be removed.

    Also, I’m wondering if anyone has come across an odious poster called TALKNIC? I first came across this self hating Jew on the Guardian talkboards – seperate to Cif. IF indeed he is Jewish then he certainly brings new meaning to the term “self hating Jew”. Very odd man indeed.

  32. Mita
    “How interesting Coco – are there any you know of who were definitely banned and then reinstated?”

    MBJeffries has been allowed to return more than once.
    (Khartoumi, Ironsocks, AxleOfElvis and so on…)

  33. “MBJeffries has been allowed to return more than once.
    (Khartoumi, Ironsocks, AxleOfElvis and so on…)”

    They’re not allowed to return. What they do is create a new account with a new username.

  34. “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities. In addition, such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for ‘why things go wrong’.”

    if one is allowed to claim all of the above for muslims and islam why should jews and judaism be exempt?

    surely if there is to be a antisemitism watch then there surely needs to be an islamophobia watch too.

  35. If you want a rabid Islamophobia watch there are plenty to be found.
    The difference is that the growth of antisemitism is real and tangible and statistically provable, while a lot of Islamophobia is in the mind rather than reality.
    And our current obsession with political correnctness and a fear of offending Muslims actually makes things worse for them rather than better.
    Most people are neither antisemitc or Islamaphobic, but sadly the minority extreme always seem to have the loudest voice

  36. The Guardian CiF blog today features Oborne and Jones pontificating about tonights Dispatches. I posted a comment asking when they intend to to do an expose on the anti-jewish cabal, Galloway, Short, Benn, Redgrave, Jackson, Ridley etc and Press TV, I also pointed out with only 270,000 jews in the UK compared with 1.7 million moslems the idea of a siginificant pro israel lobby in the UK is ridiculous, one or two other points on the impartiality or otherwise of the BBC, within minutes of this being posted it was removed bya moderator, so much for free speech!

  37. I would greatly appreciate some advice. For the past ten days i have been premoderated on CIF(effectively banned) I had no idea i was being premoderated,as no one informed me, and after several days, I sent multiple emails to userhelp/communitysuggestion/cifmoderation/mattseaton,asking why i could not post a comment,I recieved no reply.Eventually after a week, i received a reply from community suggestions,who told me i was being premoderated,because I referred to be being unable to post(premoderated)This made no sense to me,so I again complained, the second time, I was told I was being premoderated(whatever that means) because I had personally abused an author(which i hadnt), I believe they are referring to a recent Brian Whitaker article about Syria,although they never told me which author I had ‘personally abused) I had commented on human rights violations and the divorce rate in Syria,The author had asked me a question and I replied.I was not offensive in any manner. on other occasions I have brought up the background of an author,in the past(if,for example, I believe them to be biased and fiaxated on Israel> but i do not consider this to be personal abuse, After more than ten days Iam still unable to post,and still no coherant reason is given,It seems to be if you challenge casual Anti Zionisim, which slips so easily into casual Anti Semitisim, The Guardians cif, simply and completely ignore you and refuse to explain their reasoning.I simply do not understand the process, from deletion,to premoderation,to banning.I have complained, but I am getting nowhere.If anyone could give me a few hints it would be greatly appreciated.
    Sara

  38. smtx01: Many of us have had experiences similar to yours. The Guardian does not advise you of their decisions or their reaswons but pre-moderates or bans comments according to their own standards or whims. You have two remedies. You can either abandon comment is free or register under another identity. Of course the same thing can happen to you again under new identities.

  39. If people want to comment on the guardian then you should use the message boards aswell as the CIF. Atleast there your messages aren’t removed. I get the impression CIF wants to have the palestinian side come out as the most populat so a number of pro-Israel comments will be removed for no reason.

    For anyone pre-moderated just don’t waste yourtime. Create a new e-mail account as register again as a new user.