Who gets banned on “Comment is Free”?

This is a guest post by AKUS

Today Matt Seaton wrote in response to Robin Shepherd’s blog entry, Guardian website contributor says that recalcitrant Israeli settlers should be “slaughtered” in latest example of a new phenomenon in Great Britain:

But as you blur the distinction here between above the line contributors and below the line commenters, I am not clear which you are referring to. In the case of the former, the idea that any contributor is ‘banned’ for expressing pro-Israeli sentiments is manifest nonsense; in the case of the latter, moderators do not exercise any such political or editorial judgment, merely a technical one – so if pro-Israel posts have been deleted, it will simply have been because they were themselves abusive or, possibly, because they referred to an earlier comment which was deleted (this is standard moderation procedure).

As for contributors being ‘frequently banned merely for voicing politely worded comments which oppose the demonisation of Israel’, I would love to be presented with a single instance (since I note you do not offer one). As you and I have discussed, you yourself have an open invitation to contribute to Cif.

Taking the second paragraph first, in fact Seaton appears to be deliberately trying to blur the distinction between “contributor” and “commenter” in the world of “Comment is Free” to wriggle out of acknowledging the truth of Shepherd’s statements about banning and deletions, which can be attested to by myriads of pro-Israeli posters, and I am quite sure, very few anti-Israeli posters.

For clarity: In CiF-speak, a “contributor” is one who “contributes” an article, also referred to as writing “above the line”, while a “commenter” is one who posts a comment, in response to the article that the “contributor” wrote, also referred to as writing “below the line”. WilliamBapthorpe is, of course, a “commenter”, writing “below the line”, as Robin Shepherd made abundantly clear he understands.

Seaton’s comment about banning “contributors” may be an ingenuous attempt to side-step Shepherd’s accusation but is simply not true of those posting “below the line”. It is clearly the Guardian’s strategy, similar to that of the apartheid-era South African government, to simply “ban” pro-Israeli voices which it no longer wants to hear on its site. The WilliamBapthorpe issue is not whether his comment was deleted – we can all see that that happened – but why has he not been banned, when pro-Israeli posters have been banned for far less – or nothing? Seaton also says:

There is, further, nothing ‘revealing’ about the fact that William Bapthorpe (the commenter concerned) has not been instantly banned. Our standard moderation procedure places all offenders against our community guidelines indefinitely on probation, where they lose posting rights, prior to any further action – whether that is subsequent banning or retrusting.

WilliamBapthorpe, far from losing posting rights, is merrily posting away, perhaps not completely within “the circle of trust” (pace, “Meet the Fokkers”), and perhaps still “premoderated” till some Guardian moderator has read and approved his comments. Nevertheless, I maintain that had any poster used the word “Arab” or “Muslim” in place of “Jew” in an identical comment, he or she would have been banned instantly. Today, January 12th, WilliamBapthorpe has fifteen comments on CiF, not including any that may have been “disappeared”, another Guardian tactic for removing whatever they find offensive without a trace. However, as many can attest, as can I from personal experience, it can take hours for a pro-Israeli poster’s premoderated comment to appear if it ever does, making it almost impossible to post 15 comments in a day.

Since Matt Seaton says:

“As for contributors being ‘frequently banned merely for voicing politely worded comments which oppose the demonisation of Israel’, I would love to be presented with a single instance”,

I thought I would provide one example, and not allow him to get away with obfustication regarding “contributor” vs. “commenter” to avoid the perfectly correct accusation by Shepherd regarding their policy of banning.

I am that example. As frequent readers of both CiF Watch and CiF know (there have been calls on CiF itself to have me reinstated, even by some who are very opposed to my views), I was banned on September 2, 2009.

This happened instantly while commenting on the article Why a boycott of Israel is wrong by Rivka Carmi, which she wrote in response to Neve Gordon’s heavily criticized article proposing a boycott of Israel (excluding, of course, a boycott of himself and his articles for the Guardian). Rivka Carmi is the president of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva, Israel, where Neve, for lack of a better word, teaches.

Those “banned” are never informed as to the reason for their banning, so I have to try to recall the events as best as I can. I was at work at the time, absolutely appalled by the cyber-mobbing attack on Ms Carmi orchestrated by the anti-Israeli crowd on the thread following her article. At work I was unable to keep a record of my comments, which were all deleted (as were, later, some of the most offensive that I was complaining about). However, I was banned after writing my third (now deleted) or fourth or other (now “disappeared”) comment that was something to the effect of:

“The words of the mob attacking Ms Carmi are reminiscent of the cries of the crowds baying for blood around the guillotine in Paris”.

If you doubt the truth of my comment, take a look through the comments that remain on the thread. Roughly speaking, 90% include attacks on Israel and attacks on Ms Carmi and her opinions, in a manner that would not be tolerated for an instant if the author was one of the Guardian’s stable of Israel-bashing writers. The deletions of comments are so extensive one must assume they were removed because they were supportive of her and opposed to the attacks launched on Israel – or, perhaps, as vile as I pointed out. In addition, the excessively large number of recommendations approving the comments critical of Israel and Ms Carmi give you an idea of what the thread was like before being cleaned up.

But be that as it may – which is the comment that should result in banning?

“The words of the mob attacking Ms Carmi are reminiscent of the crowds baying for blood around the guillotine in Paris”.


“Sadly, there’s only one way to deal with these religiously motivated maniacs who think their superstitious beliefs trump international law. 1. We ask them to leave their squats, kindly. 2. If they don’t, we force them to [leave] at gunpoint. 3. If they still refuse, they must be slaughtered, every last man woman and child.”

Since in my view, it is the latter, I can only assume that the two cases are illustrative of the Guardian’s view on what is appropriate to say in a column – i.e., it is inappropriate to defend the author of an article against cyber-mobbing – but it is appropriate to call for the murder of 300,000 Jews – every last man, woman and child.

71 replies »

  1. MindTheCrap

    the Arabs did not thrown their Jews into gas chambers

    They would’ve if they could’ve.

  2. AKUS

    Just spotted this in the Guardian


    “In the end Islam began its war with America 30 years ago”

    Why does CIFwatch only defend some people?


    Herzl’s Daughter

    ((the Arabs did not thrown their Jews into gas chambers))

    “They would’ve if they could’ve.”

    I have previously stated whilst this horrible and hyperbolic nonsense goes unchallenged you are all tarred with it. Stand up for yourselves for goodness sake. If a twisted post like like appeared on CIF I would accuse the poster of being a spy.

  3. Abandon hope: ever heard of the Mufti, the Palestinian leader from the 1920 into the 1950s, who spent much of WWII in a fancy villa in Germany, recruited Muslims in the Balkans for the SS, and made plans for what to do with Palestine’s Jews after the Nazi victories he counted on? He even visited a concentration camp to study the appropriate methods, and was mightily impressed about the “efficiency” of Nazi methods to deal with the Jews. It might just be that Herzl’s daughter knows a thing or two about history that you don’t.

  4. I’ve called Bapthorpe’s comment “viscious” and “horrible”, and yet here we see Herzl’s Daughter referring to me “practising the anti-Semitism of indifference”


    What’s even more bizarre is that three people have given this ludicrous and offensive slur a thumbs up.

    Would you all kindly step forward?

  5. sababa

    ” ever heard of the Mufti ”

    Yes this very debate is going on at Harrys Place. When in doubt mention the one Nazi Arab that people remember. Interesting that at HP you can mention the BNP . There they can condemn the BNP. CIFwatch might follow suit when it feels sure enough of itself.

  6. pretzelberg, you are selectively antisemitic then! You often come here saying that you have condemned this or that or reported this or that on CiF as if this should earn you respect and makes you into a decent human being.

    But I have seen the antisemitism of indifference in you in how you cannot empathise with the revulsion caused by WilliamBapthorpe’s incitement to murder Jews and CiF’s reaction to it and how you even had the nerve to belittle it.

    What does that make you?

    Less than half a human being, and being so perhaps we shouldn’t expect anything like civilised behaviour from you.

  7. Great, so now HairShirt is openly calling me “antisemitic” (i.e. because I do not have the same opinions and perspective as him!) AND “less than half a human being”.

    “Less than half a human being”!!! So basically an Untermensch, right?

    You are an ugly bigot, you know that?

  8. I think, Pretz, that Hairshirt would call you something like a halbmensch in that case and not an untermensch.

  9. this thread seems to be descending into quite personal slants and name calling.. Cant we all get pass this? Please

  10. pretzelberg, you minimise the importance and the negative effects of antisemitism. What else should I call you?

    Actually, perhaps I should be more forgiving of such a challenged person.

    What else should I call you – a bystander (except for the “Well I protested about …” squeaks from you, which we have to take your word for) when antisemitism rears its ugly head at the other place? Now and again you try to curry favour here by telling us how you’ve protested against this and that, but so what? Any decent (half)person would. So what if you called Bapthorpe’s comment “viscious”sic? You’ve since undone all the good you may have thought you did.

    I don’t need for you to have the same perspectives and opinions as I do – in fact I would be very worried about myself if that were the case – but I believe it’s reasonable to expect you, halbmensch though you may be, to recognise and not to trivialise antisemitism when it is as blatant as WilliamBapthorpe’s call to kill Jews. (You implied that he can’t have meant it and that he was paraphrasing a previous poster. Your attempts to excuse him say much about you and none of it good).

    I’d hate to have to depend on the likes of you with all your self-righteous bluster for my safety if they began rounding up Jews again. You’d probably be telling us all not to worry, that we were making far too much of it.

  11. Actually Margie, I meant it in the sense of “half-formed psychologically” I should have been more clear.

  12. re Ci(f) for the first time in one month, they have actually placed a message indicating premoderation on my account, so I still have to wait an hour or so for comments to maybe/maybe not appear, and if a single comment does appear, it takes several hours, and appears upthread, So I have no chance of replying to a poster further down the thread. I cannot believe they(ci(f) are able to still get away with this form of censorship. I have even asked for my last comment to be removed(it was still awaiting premoderation, several hours later, and the thread was shutting down for the night-so what was the point.. my comment was a personal experiance of the antisemitisim myself and my family had experianced,and was in response to the anti semitism other posters seemed to find ‘laughable’ in their attempt to shut down all forms of discussion on the very real anti semitisim in the world today, they have won. Myself and many other posters have been unfairly penalized/ banned/suspended/deleted/premoderated from the guardians forum and we no longer have the right of reply- I suggest a day of protest againt ci(f) and let the haters hate amongt themselves.Boycott the boycotters

  13. Hair Shirt

    You implied that he can’t have meant it and that he was paraphrasing a previous poster.

    Oh, really?

    Let’s see my original comment:

    The only possible “explanation” I can imagine is that he was paraphrasing a previous poster.

    a) I nowhere “implied that he can’t have meant it”.
    b) I nowhere implied that he was “paraphrasing a previous poster”.

    See the quotes around “explanation”? That IMPLIES that I would even then be skeptical.

    Your accusations against me not only comprise a complete lie.
    Given that they can be immediately dismissed just by consulting the relevant thread on this very website, they point to an intellectual deficit on your part.

    Now please have the tatters that remain of your credibility applied to some other poster.

    @ smtx01

    Please do not write off my discourse with Hair Shirt simply as “name calling”.
    Would you agree that this poster is way out of line?


  14. Abandon hope: the one Nazi Arab that people remember??? Which people — people like you? Well, let’s see: first, the Mufti was regarded by a large number of Palestinian Arabs as their political leader, and presumably, his followers didn’t have a problem with his ideas about how to solve the “Jewish problem”. So the Mufti doesn’t just stand for himself. Secondly, if you take the trouble to google around a bit, you will discover that there are a number of books by well-respected writers and researchers who focus on the impact of Nazi antisemitism in the Middle East. It turns out that it went quite well with traditional Muslim anti-Jewish sentiments, and was enthusiastically embraced by Islamists throughout the Middle East. There are a number of clips available on the Internet showing various Muslim preachers regretting that Hitler didn’t finish the “job”, etc., some of them make for quite drastic viewing. You could also check out carricatures in the mainstream Middle Eastern press to get a vivid illustration of how Nazi imagery lives on. I could add quite a few other examples, but perhaps it’s more important to ask what motivates you to minimize Arab Jew-hatred?

    As to your complaints about this site, maybe you should read their “About us” page to get an idea what they are interested in; your comparison to HP, which is a political blog that focuses on a range of issues is quite ridiculous.

  15. @ prezelberg, i wasnt referring to any specefic comment,by any poster i just meant the whole thread had descended into name calling, and I had hoped we could all have moved on from it and addressed the real issues,

  16. Sababa, there’s a lot of info on the subject of Arab-Nazi collaboration that is available on the Internet. Maybe abandonhope ought to abandon his hope that real history exonerates the Arabs from guilt for harming Jews either during the Holocaust or over the period of Arab/Muslim rule in the Middle East and North Africa since the Arab Conquest of the 7th century.
    Here are some links that abandonhope will hopefully contemplate:

  17. John & everybody,
    I now remember one of the facts I presented in one of the two comments that I posted on the comments thread to Lyn Julius’ article on the treatment of Jews in Arab lands and Jewish refugees from same.

    In my comment I referred to Karl Marx [yes, that Karl Marx] who wrote in the New York Tribune, 15 April 1854:
    “Nothing equals the misery and the suffering of the Jews at Jerusalem, inhabiting the most filthy quarter of the town, called hareth-el-yahoud, in the quarter of dirt, between the Zion [Gate] and the Moriah [Gate], where their synagogues are situated — the constant objects of Mussulman oppression and intolerance, insulted by the Greeks, persecuted by the Latins. . .”

    The word Mussulman was often used in the 19th century instead of Muslim. According to Marx, the Muslims in Jerusalem were made of Turks, Arabs, and Moors [migrants from the Maghreb]. And the Muslims held full power in Jerusalem although they were a minority, the Jews being in the majority, with the Christians adding to the non-Muslim majority in the Holy City.

    “Jerusalem and the [Christian] Holy Places are inhabited by nations professing different religions [that is, Christian sects]: the Latins, the Greeks, the Armenians, Copts, Abyssinians, and Syrians… 3,490 [Christians in toto]… The three prevailing religious nationalities at the Holy Places are the Greeks, the Latins, and the Armenians.”

    “… the sedentary population of Jerusalem numbers about 15,500 souls, of whom 4,000 are Mussulmans [= Muslims] and 8,000 are Jews. The Mussulmans, forming about a fourth part of the whole, and consisting of Turks, Arabs, and Moors, are, of course, the masters in every respect, as they are in no way affected by the weakness of their Government at Constantinople.”

    Apparently, the Guardian feels that it would simply not do to have Muslims depicted as ruling over a city where they are in fact in a minority. It would be even less seemly to show these Muslims being oppressive and intolerant towards Jews. Perhaps the most unseemly fact of all would be that the Jews were already an absolute majority in Jerusalem in 1854. That fact is indeed totally politically incorrect in the glorious year of 2010, when divesting the Jews of their ancient and present capital of Jerusalem is near the top on the international diplomatic agenda. So, whatever respect or deference the “Leftists” at the Guardian may feel for the founder of “scientific socialism”, as Engels called Marxism, Marx’s politically incorrect views of Muslim oppression and intolerance in Jerusalem and the politically incorrect fact that Jews were a majority there in the mid-19th century must not be allowed to disturb the bigoted, false Judeophobic narrative that the Guardian feeds its readers.

    For those who might point out that Marx was never in Jerusalem, he took this information from a book published in 1853 by the French historian and diplomat, Cesar Famin. Most of Marx’s article in the New York Tribune [15 April 1854] was either quoted or paraphrased from Famin’s book. That is, the Jews were a majority in Jerusalem already in 1853.

  18. Eliyahu

    Facts like those you tried to present would have blown the Guardian’s collective mind. Muslims oppressing Jews? Never! Jews as a majority in Jerusalem? Never! Muslims as ‘masters’? Never! And Marx as a reporter of these facts – impossible!

    I hope that you will continue to post on CIF (remembering to save it first!) because without your knowledge being made available, Shabi’s revisionism wins the day – at least as far as Guardian readers are concerned.

    A suggestion – I love your website but it would be great if you could get a computer maven to sort out the posts into topics – so that it would be easy to find all your posts on Jersusalem, on Hebron etc in one place.

    Thanks again for your diligent research and your always courteous manner (neither of which saved your posts from being deleted – but that is why you and I are here on this website!).

  19. Eliyahu, your knowledge, your careful research and your courtesy always impress me. I always read anything posted by you with extra attention.

  20. Eliyahu and John and others, thanks for your contributions.

    It seems to me that the West has been hypnotised for far too long by the Muslim world into believing that things has always been well between Muslims and kufar. Posts to CiF which even threaten to break that hypnotic spell cannot be borne and are therefore deleted.

    Scales began falling from the eyes of intelligent people when Bat Ye’or exposed the dhimmi status of Jews under Islam since Islam became powerful. Islam of course reacted by heaping scorn on Bat Ye’or in an attempt to undermine the veracity of what she reported:

    “Dhimmitude: the Islamic system of governing populations conquered by jihad wars, encompassing all of the demographic, ethnic, and religious aspects of the political system. The word “dhimmitude” as a historical concept, was coined by Bat Ye’or in 1983 to describe the legal and social conditions of Jews and Christians subjected to Islamic rule.

    “The word “dhimmitude” comes from dhimmi, an Arabic word meaning “protected”. Dhimmi was the name applied by the Arab-Muslim conquerors to indigenous non-Muslim populations who surrendered by a treaty (dhimma) to Muslim domination. Islamic conquests expanded over vast territories in Africa, Europe and Asia, for over a millennium (638-1683). The Muslim empire incorporated numerous varied peoples which had their own religion, culture, language and civilization. For centuries, these indigenous, pre-Islamic peoples constituted the great majority of the population of the Islamic lands. Although these populations differed, they were ruled by the same type of laws, based on the shari’a.

    “This similarity, which includes also regional variations, has created a uniform civilization developed throughout the centuries by all non-Muslim indigenous people, who were vanquished by a jihad-war and governed by shari’a law. It is this civilization which is called dhimmitude. It is characterized by the different strategies developed by each dhimmi group to survive as non-Muslim entity in their Islamized countries. Dhimmitude is not exclusively concerned with Muslim history and civilization. Rather it investigates the history of those non-Muslim peoples conquered and colonized by jihad.

    “Dhimmitude encompasses the relationship of Muslims and non-Muslims at the theological, social, political and economical levels. It also incorporates the relationship between the numerous ethno-religious dhimmi groups and the type of mentality that they have developed out of their particular historical condition which lasted for centuries, even in some Muslim countries, till today..”

    Dhimmitude is an entire integrated system, based on Islamic theology. It cannot be judged from the circumstantial position of any one community, at a given time and in a given place. Dhimmitude must be appraised according to its laws and customs, irrespectively of circumstances and political contingencies.

    However, we have proof positive of Islam’s attitude, when it has power, towards other faiths when we examine the behaviour of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank towards the Christian minorities there, and Egypt’s disgraceful treatment of Coptic Christians.

    See also



  21. @ Mark North

    In Europe it is traditional to ask people connected to a country about controversial situations concerning that country. You might ask a Scottish man about Scotland or an Englishman with a self-declared Turkish Cypriot identity about the Greek/Turkish Cyprus controversy.

    You try to be careful to avoid causing any offence.

    When I was working in France my French colleagues asked me about the contemporary problems concerning Mad Cow Disease at the time because I was English. I was happy to answer because, being English I maintained an interest in an English country such as England.

    These questions were not an interrogation and I didn’t consider these questions to be due to anti-English racism. Nor did I question the validity of the corporation I was working for.

    Maybe I was incorrect, maybe such questions are racist and reflected badly on the company that employed me and colleagues. If you think these Frenchmen, and the corporation we both worked for, was Anglo-phobic due to these questions then I am genuinely interested in your view.