Guardian

Finger on the Scale: “Debate” About CiF Watch Rages at CiF


The fun and games have begun over on CiF in the Beaumont thread.

For example, we have exiledlondoner in full throttle at 4.50pm BST trying (and failing, given that it’s coming from him) to take to pieces the EUMC definition of antisemitism. He calls us a “nasty bunch of imbeciles” (praise indeed coming from him) but graciously admits that there have been on CiF some comments which are “arguably” antisemitic.

He then threatens us with Seth Freedman who’s “penning an article “as exiledlonder writes… Gulp!!

There then follows a hilarious more generalised paranoia fest in which anti-Israel posters accuse people who post against them of supporting us (someone called B’TselemPaul), and we have spectreovereurope unsurprised to find himself in our “rogues gallery” as he calls it.

Berchmans is even more paranoid:

“…know someone..you know them too ..who has had their iD abused, has been called horrible names and has had threats made .

These guys are no joke please do not treat this lightly. They cannot get to me as I thrive on it ..but some are less callous than my good self.

These are horrible folk trying to influence opinion on CIF by using their resources to hound good people.”

All in all, the CiF Moderators have been doing what they do best, though, weighting the scales heavily against anyone who speaks out in favour of CiFWatch:

Two who cheered us on: Rumplestiltsky said we were a great site and sorely needed. Pity that his/her post was removed without a trace. But there are some gems from it in exiledlondoner’s post, and he, among other things accuses him/her of being the CiFWatch representative on the thread. I would wager that exiledlondoner’s post is still online.

The second is PhyllisStein and I managed to get this one in its entirety before it was deleted:

“28 Aug 09, 6:16pm (1 minute ago)
exiledlondoner, “nasty bunch of imbeciles” eh?
I see, when reasoned argument fails, it’s OK to resort to personalised insult, is it?

I have looked at CiFWatch (see http://cifwatch.com ) and it seems to me that they are anything but. They are also long overdue.

What is it that so upset you – that they speak out against antisemitism under the false flag of antiZionism, or that they have the courage to say, as one poster says there, that the CiF King of knowledgeability about the Middle Eastern conflict is naked?

(Mods, go ahead. I shall write to CiFWatch at http://cifwatch.com and repost this there if you delete this without deleting exiledlondoner’s childish outburst).”

And someone called Mita posted an excellent suggestion. It seems that several CiF posters have had their feelings hurt by not having their timeless prose collected. (They hadn’t understood that our function is to call out antisemitic posts rather than anti-Israel ones). She suggests that each of you who are so upset should choose one of your favourite antisemitic posts and submit it to us for publication here. What about it?

65 replies »

  1. Modernityblog – ‘The Guardian is a *liberal* newspaper, not a leftie one, by any objective marker of the British political scene.’

    Sorry. I may have mistakenly conflated two separate but related entities.

    I couldn’t comment on The Guardian as I have only occasionally read its true newspaper content over the web.

    CIF, on the other hand cannot be called *Liberal*. At least relating to Israel and Palestinians/Muslims. It espouses an extreme, extreme left orientation where Israel bad – Palestinian/Arabs good.

  2. CIFDisgustsMe, fair enough.

    Well, it broadens the topic a bit, but I would agree about the anti-Americanism, etc, as you remark above.

    I think we need to see that there is the split between many deranged posters who use Israelis/Jews as a scapegoat for their own anger and frustrations, and the CiF authors.

    We shouldn’t confuse the two, although there is an overlap.

    Concerning the posters, the Guardian/CiF could have easily foreseen the problems that they had concerning expressions of racism on CIF, etc from the outset. Any competent study of the functioning of other forums and blogs would surely indicate that moderation policy for large-scale endeavours, such as CiF, is important, as is staff training in the areas of, how to spot neo-Nazis, trolls, blatant racism, etc.

    As for the authors, I can’t comment on the totality of them, only ones that I have read, but it’s possible that the Guardian management deliberately choose certain provocative authors to stimulate debate, however, the downside is that often these debates become inflamed and allow the outpouring of animosity towards Jews/Israelis. If you add to that vulgar “anti-imperialism”, a sort of reverse colonial mindset and the easy acceptance of victimhood, then that could explain some of the content on CiF

    On a broader point, I think there is a fair amount of contempt for Israelis amongst the British intelligentsia and the chattering classes, and I’m sure that influences to a certain degree of thinking within the Guardian/Cif.

    That is compounded by significant ignorance of antisemitism amongst Guardian management, journalists and many authors, which means whilst it perfectly acceptable to criticize Israel or Jews, as you might anyone else in the world, it is not acceptable to invoke antisemitic imagery, use baiting or indulge in low-level racism, but that message hasn’t got through to many in the Guardian.

    If we’re honest in Britain, Israelis/Jews are an easy target, whilst there is plenty of lipservice, there is little to be gained by being seen to side with Israelis/Jews, quite the opposite.

    Jews are not powerful and Britain’s ambiguous role in the creation of the State of Israel/WW2 means that the British intelligentsia and much of the chattering classes have an ambivalent attitude, at best, on these issues.

    Finally, I don’t think that the Guardian management,etc really want to admit there is a problem, and without doing so it is very hard to help them improve, avoid being a platform for anti-Jewish racism and a magnet for cranks.

    We need to bear in mind that whilst not all cranks are antisemitic, the most extreme antisemites are nearly always cranks, and CiF has fast become their favourite Internet home.

  3. ModernityBlog

    Finally, I don’t think that the Guardian management,etc really want to admit there is a problem, and without doing so it is very hard to help them improve, avoid being a platform for anti-Jewish racism and a magnet for cranks.

    Hopefully, CIFWatch will accelerate their dawning comprehension.

    We need to bear in mind that whilst not all cranks are antisemitic, the most extreme antisemites are nearly always cranks, and CiF has fast become their favourite Internet home.

    Very true.

    I personally tend to conclude that if a commenter obsessively posts a ‘hate Israel’ discourse on CI(F), then that allows me to classify him as antisemitic. I just cannot see how an obsession like this can ever be explained otherwise.

    There are far more bloody conflicts in the world than the Israel/Palestine conflict, that need to be addressed by so called ‘humanists’ which are constantly sidelined by them. Yet somehow, they seem to be outraged only by Israel. I cannot dismiss their usually obviously extreme left leanings stressed by their promotion of the victimhood of all persons in previously colonial countries and their dismissal of democracy. At least the true western liberal democracy.

    There are many such commenters of CI(F) who seem to be protected by the ‘powers that be’ there. CI(F) has tried to present itself as balanced but it is not. It should not try to do so.

    CIFWatch seems not to be balanced. But it doesn’t try to present itself as such either. It states quite clearly what its objectives are.

    I have noticed that over the past few days, posts criticizing CI(F) on CI(F) have not been deleted with the usual enthusiasm exercised by the moderators over the past two years.

    I think we can deduce that this is the first positive result of CIFWatch
    appearing on the scene. I wish that I had thought of CIFWatch or similar two years ago.

  4. CiFDisgustsMe, that may well be because they are operating on a skeleton staff of Moderators; it’s a Bank Holiday weekend here and since al-Grauniad is losing money, it isn’t about to pay the mods overtime is it?

  5. “I personally tend to conclude that if a commenter is not a Muslim but obsessively posts a ‘hate Israel’ discourse on CI(F), then that allows me to classify him as antisemitic.”

    I don’t think we should get into the lazy thinking that it is acceptable for *anyone* to articulate anti-Jewish racism or as you say “posts a ‘hate Israel’ discourse on CI(F)”.

    There are a great deal of Muslims that are against anti-Jewish racism, etc.

    Also, I would bear in mind the old adage:

    Why explain away with malice that which can be ascribed to ignorance?

    I think most on CiF are NOT antisemites, had they been then they’d they probably be throwing bricks thru the windows of synagogues etc, rather the conflict in the ME and the media attention makes it an issue where they can vent their spleen.

    Many use this issue as a valve for their own inadequacies, and seem to have an almost obsessive compulsive disorder on the topic, but I think we need to be *very* very careful in trying to classify people.

  6. Modernityblog – ‘I think most on CiF are NOT antisemites, had they been then they’d they probably be throwing bricks thru the windows of synagogues etc, rather the conflict in the ME and the media attention makes it an issue where they can vent their spleen.’

    When you say ‘on CI(F), are you referring to commenters or the CI(F) management team?

  7. I meant commenters.

    I’d very much doubt that CiF management contains ANY antisemites.

    I am sure that ignorance, cheap “anti-imperialism” and a misunderstanding of the Middle East are more than enough to explain their particular attitudes.

    As for commenters, I should say that many can *appear* to be antisemites at first glance, but I am less than convinced that a majority of them are.

    I think many have acquired a bias against Israel (and later on Jews) as a result of poor reporting and slanted journalism in the British and European media. I am less than sure about the rest, although if there is sufficient evidence then I’ll certainly examine the issue again.

    I suspect that the conflict is ‘favour of the month/year’ and many people somehow feel drawn to take sides, as if it were a zero sum game, in doing so many indulge in lazy thinking, unconscious racism and thoughtlessness, rather than a long lasting hatred of Jews.

  8. There is another way to turn this thing around. Boycott CiF. It worked against the Beeb’s Great Debate years ago. Let Jew-haters stew in their own juice without us.

  9. modernity: “…I am sure that ignorance, cheap “anti-imperialism” and a misunderstanding of the Middle East are more than enough to explain their particular attitudes…”

    You may have a point. Strange, though, that so many online column inches result from such ignorance and misunderstanding of the Middle East. Why do you think that is?

    And as for many commenters “appearing” to be antisemites at first glance but few actually being antisemites, again you may be right, but how do I know who is and who isn’t if not from the tenor of their posts?

    Quite frankly, if it writes like an antisemite, makes antisemitic remarks which appear to result from it thinking like an antisemite (or more likely not thinking at all), then it is an antisemite. Why should I have to go to the trouble of assessing whether it “appears” to be or really is?

    You go on “I think many have acquired a bias against Israel (and later on Jews) as a result of poor reporting and slanted journalism in the British and European media…”

    Again, whose fault is that? Is there not to be supposed to be some sort code of ethics in journalism by which good journalists triangulate their evidence and don’t report supposition as fact? What happened to ethical reporting about Jenin and al-Durah, the previous blood libel aimed at Israeli Jews which turned out to be a lie but was not reported on CiF?

    And are you really rguing that most CiF columnists have descended into moronic mindlessness ,where they just regurgitate whatever nonsense they have heard? Have they really, en masse, abrogated their critical thinking capability, or is this continued drip, drip, drip of Israel-hatred, which encourages the intellectually-challenged below the line to give vent to their Jew-hatred, (to which CiF often chooses to turn a blind eye) a pathological obsession which has all of them in its grip? Is that the enabling environment which allows antisemitism to thrive there?

  10. sergio

    Many do boycott CIF. That doesn’t stop the Israel-bashing and one-sidedness and antisemitism either above or below the line. And contrary to what the CIF slimeballs think, not all the pro-Israel posters in the world are communicating.

    You could never make it a total boycott: in practice the pro-Israel posters that remain would be under even more pressure.

  11. Louse, let’s give it a try. It will pan out sooner or later. We’ve done it before with the BBC. It cannot be done partially. This thing must airtight from the get-go to succeed.

  12. ReyaPhoenix,

    Forgive me, but I must bow out of this discussion.

    I prefer (mostly) civil exchanges of views, wherever possible, which is why I avoid CiF, etc.

    If you wish to know the totality of my views, please do make an effort to read *all* of them, not just snippets, and think what points I am trying to get at.

    I have spend many years studying and fighting the Far Right, so my views come from my experiences, etc.

    I don’t like antagonistic exchanges or unnecessary nit picking on other people’s blog, so again, forgive me but I’ll bow out of this thread.

  13. modernityblog: “Forgive me, but I must bow out of this discussion..”

    Reya: It is your right

    Perhaps you can explain exactly how what I have said offends you? I have disagreed with your “take” in that post, not with you as a person, for I don’t know you.

    From what I have read, I agree with most of what you write here. I just believe that you are letting CiF too easily off the hook in your last post.

    In other words, I took issue with your views in your previous post, not with you yourself, and I would appreciate your take on my reply (and you may disagree with that all you wish – I shan’t take offence).

    I shall look forward to hearing from you.

  14. wendy mann

    “how curious we have a website whose sole purpose is to victimise those who dare to be critical of israel and judaism”

    Others may not be that familiar with this uberloon, who is one of the nastiest antisemites around. It’s wendymann here but not on CiF Why is that wendymann?