Guardian

Seaton: Still digging after all these years…..


Tony Lerman is still Israel-bashing on CiF, and readers may judge for themselves whether he is telling us anything new or interesting.  The article reflects his own conflicted and tortured relationship with his Jewishness and Zionism (he used to be a youth leader in a Zionist youth group) when he tells us (yet again) that the “cherished assumptions of Zionism” are being questioned by Jews themselves  – nothing new here, Jews are nothing if not critical thinkers – and again he pushes his own agenda for a one state solution to the conflict.  There is precious little new there and I do not propose to go further into it.

The whole thread is, however, a prime example of the sort of confusion brought about when a moderator/staff member is allowed to comment freely and give opinions on the thread.  As I have argued elsewhere on this blog, this, from a person whose agenda is plain and who is more powerful than the commenters whose contributions he can easily get removed, is neither professional nor ethical.  Lerman seems unable or unwilling to defend himself, so Matt Seaton has once again taken upon himself the mantle of his rescuer. The result is highly educative about the “group mind” of CiF and is painful and hilarious by turns.  It seems that Seaton still has not learned to stop digging when he is in a hole.

There seem to be two parallel themes in this thread – one being the deletion of MarkGardner1’s post (Mark Gardner is Director of Communications at the Community Security Trust):  His post, which follows, was deleted but subsequently reinstated following an appeal to the moderators by Seaton:


Seaton’s comment about Mark Gardner’s post follows.  I would imagine that the moderators were wobbled by Mark Gardner’s notion that people should make up their own minds.  Note also that Seaton says that  the moderators “have exercised some latitude” presumably about what is or is not off-topic   It would appear so, otherwise most of Seaton’s subsequent comments to the following might have been deleted too:


The hiatus was far from temporary although MarkGardner1’s post was reinstated.  The thread continued to meander around, aided and abetted by Seaton’s attempts to put it back on track, which were undermined by the tone of his own contributions.

The other theme is centred on Seaton’s interventions.  Below are a selection of posts and Seaton’s replies to them.  You may well notice recurring motifs:

Let’s begin with a comment by Stomachtrouble:



Note that Seaton said that there was “much new here” which occasioned the following:


Of course he is right, and Seaton knows this full well but he dare not admit it. Instead he resorts to what I have come to call the “Henry manoeuvre” where, when all else fails, they tell the critic to leave if s/he does not like the bilge that CiF dishes up.   It is plain that Georgina Henry’s ghost still walks the corridors of CiF, chains rattling, and her mean-spiritedness lingers long after she has gone:


BorisOnishchenko replies to this later in the thread and I have included the most pertinent sections of his reply below at **

Jubilation1 makes an apposite point:


To which Seaton replies:


Note the lack of insight into his own behaviour in Seaton’s answer above, and how he bats aside Jubilation1’s point  as “nonsensical”, for equally nonsensical reasons;  so what if 40% of CiFers are American?  If they are afflicted with the same lack of critical thinking skills as their UK brethren and sisters below the line at CiF, then that is hardly a ringing endorsement of their contribution, is it?

Also note the variation on the “people can think for themselves” argument from one who obviously lacks the courage to trust people to do so, and evidenced by the fact that, in spite of the fairy-tale world which Seaton and his colleagues choose to inhabit, articles on CiF about the Middle East conflict are totally lacking in contextual information or balance and are anti-Israel agenda driven and unethically argued.

As regular readers of CiF Watch will know, many posts which disagree with CiF’s approach and try to put counter arguments for Israel are pulled from the page or deleted without trace so that a casual passerby without an axe to grind might be led to believe that most if not all the BTL commenters agree with the article.   There are enough of these arbitrarily deleted posts for CiF Watch to run a regular slot called “Why were these deleted?”

Seaton is soon taken in hand by Bananachips, however:


To which Seaton tries (predictably and ineffectually) to try to deflect from the Guardian’s/CiF’s unhealthy obsession with Israel = bad by the equivalent of, “Well don’t blame us, everybody else does it” together with a vain and, yes, ineffectual, attempt to get the thread back on track:


He does not get away so cleanly, however.  Enter SimonFunkal:


** We now come to BorisOnishchenko’s very measured reply to Seaton’s “Well, if you don’t like it you can go away” post 1.12pm, which includes the points I raised above, but the original of his post was removed.  I am surprised that this repost was not removed either.  Here are the relevant sections:

BorisOnishchenko

25 Jun 2010, 4:32PM

Matt,

Having just said goodbye I noticed my earlier message has been removed – just as well I copied it ……………………… Please don’t let the mods delete it again as it raised points following on from our earlier conversation.

I’m afraid this particular article has swerved on and off topic so much there’s little point in giving ‘yellow cards’ as It is become a ‘red card’ game.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Mattseaton,

Thank you for your reply. This is a direct reply to your message…….

I don’t mean to offend you in what is obviously a job where you cannot keep everyone happy and It is good to see you defending the Guardian’s coverage of the Middle East (a wide coverage indeed) but it does not quite ring true to me, so I’ll say it another way:

Britain is at war in a coalition of partners including USA, Germany, Poland, France etc for a war taking place in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Britain has just come out of fighting a war in Iraq. These are enormous events which affect the Middle East in particular. ….

Articles concerning these wars and participants should be encouraged as they are ones which affect us here in the UK, issues about which one can understand people becoming obsessed.

What surprises me is that Cif also appears to publish at least one Israel / Zionism / Jewish related article at least every other day. In addition to them articles which discuss matters not initially to do with Israel often contain some reference to Israeli intentions and it does not take very long for the comments pages to feature postings accusing Israel of mis-deeds somewhere or the other (the monitoring process is good but I see what I see ………………. Israel this Israel that again and again). When compared to Iraq and Afghanistan events in Israel are ‘very small beer’ to UK citizens. British soldiers are not dying there, British people go there for business trips, holidays and do what they do in places such as Europe or the Far East…..

I would be grateful if the Guardian would publish a table of articles published with links to connected fields – much in the same way that each Cif profile lists related subjects.

Now, “In any case, even if you could come up with a legitimate reason for saying that our coverage of I/P in particular was excessive, my response is that no one forces you to be here and nothing obliges you to comment on the fact that you lack the capacity to distinguish between one article and another ‘because there are so many of them’.”

Matt this sounds like you are saying to me: – “if you don’t like it here you can go elsewhere” + – “You don’t have to comment on things you don’t understand”.
Telling people they can go elsewhere is polite way of saying ‘I don’t want to hear that’
(emphasis mine) and the my (sic)comment about the article was that it was fairly pointless to publish it and it merely added to the large volume of Israel related articles (which must regularly pass by your screen).

I think you are worthy of delivering a better kind of comment.

And Seaton’s reply to this very polite criticism?  Why, very predictably and much later down the thread he bottles out.  Note how Seaton says that it is a shame that they are losing sight of Lerman’s thread when his lame attempts to defend criticism of Lerman’s views and the GWV have been instrumental in derailing it. Note also that posts have been deleted for being off-topic:


Readers may agree that there is very little to lose sight of.  Seaton has not yet “come back” to BorisOnishchenko at the time of writing this article.  Interestingly none of Seaton’s posts have been deleted for being off-topic:

However, I am more teased by:

  1. the fact that Seaton is such a presence in this thread
  2. from whence comes this obvious need to rescue Lerman?
  3. why cannot Lerman defend his own arguments, such as they are?

Is it unrealistic to believe, given the comments by BorisOnishchenko, Bananachips and SimonFunkal, (who are probably the tip of the iceberg), that the tide is turning for CiF and people are becoming tired of its anti-Israel obsession?    Does CiF realise this at some level, and is this why Seaton has once again been thrust out into the forefront to do his inadequate best to defend the GWV?

Heaven help CiF if he is the best they can offer.

23 replies »

  1. Medusa excellent and dispassionate view of the proceedings.

    In a very partial reply to your questions I recall that Lerman used to do the btl interpolations himself, but I think he got tired of the running battles that this resulted in and which he didn’t always win and that the rather more wily Matt Seaton stood in for him instead under no obligation to defend Lerman’s actual choice of words. In one exchange Lerman really disgraced himself by claiming that his own review of Anthony Julius’s book was superior to that of Professor Bloom, whose review he dismissed as follows:

    Harold Bloom’s review is a joke. Why give a history of English antisemitism to a literary critic to review? Naturally, he uses an inordinate amount of space to focus on the one chapter that deals with literary antisemitism, and barely touches on the rest, except, in the case of Julius’s completely wrongheaded treatment of anti-Zionism as antisemitism–which is what the book is really about–to lavish praise on something he knows nothing about.

  2. What do you know, Matt Seaton has become Tony Lerman’s nanny.From now on Matt Seaton should not allow Befuddled Tony out on his own.

    The blind lead by the the blind.

  3. I have sent an email to matt.seaton@guardian.co.uk informing Seaton of this post. I don’t know if CiFWatch has done that so I ‘dunnit’.

    Surprising that the multiple personality Berchmans has been missing.

    Perhaps a bender.

  4. Great analysis Medusa. Same old anti-Israel poo poo from Lerman and Seaton. At least Duvidl has managed to write a something new in the form a a new song about the pair of them, as follows:

    Brown Nose with a Ring
    (to the tune of “Brown Girl in the Ring.” Hat tip: Boney M)

    Brown nose with a ring, la la la la la.
    Brown nose with a ring, la la la la la la.
    Not exactly Jewish bling, la la la la la.
    Tony’s brown nose is up Matthew’s bum. (some bum [spoken])

    Mattew had a motion, la la la la la.
    Matthew had a motion, la la la la la la.
    It was diarrhoea devotion, la la la la la.
    Lerman laid a big log, not a plum. (some plum [spoken])

    (Tuba solo with whoopee cushion backbeat.)

    (repeat first verse)

    DS Al Coda

  5. Jerusalemite,

    “Surprising that the multiple personality Berchmans has been missing.”

    No he wasn’t.

    His point with regards to the Guinea massacre was as follows:

    Berchmans
    25 Jun 2010, 3:44PM
    Kfir

    .

    ##…CIF ( not) more obsessive But can you really deny that the conflict’s coverage is disproportionate in every possible scale ##

    .

    It is very interesting. There are elements of rich vs poor , history, religion ,power bloc politics and frenzied support from earnest people all over the world. It could easily trigger WW3 . Thats why it gets such coverage.

    B

    bananachips

    ## Lets take a example your total coverage of Guinea massacre of 157 on a peaceful protest was ONE article ##

    .

    The tragedy in Guinea was acknowledged by all here as appalling. The boat incident had people cheering and the debate flowed. I think you have completely misunderstood why the ME is interesting…no other conflict has folk applauding when poor people die. It is the debate that gets folk…not the numbers killed…you have to go back to last year in Gaza when thousands were killed if you want numbers.

    Just how many different ways are there of trying to stop CIF from publishing articles about the ME.

    B

  6. Notice Berchmans last words:

    “Just how many different ways are there of trying to stop CIF from publishing articles about the ME.”

    The problem as Berchmans tries to portray it is not articles about the ME, which includes Iraq and Iran, but about one country within this vast region, it’s unique role as a safe haven for a certain people, the minorities problems in that country, the refugees from that country’s creation, the neighbouring country / authorities towards it and it’s ideology’s flaxuation.

    All of which is not highly on Britain involvement list.

  7. It’s very clear now that CifWatch has got the Guardian rattled.
    Matt Seaton and his ilk are fighting a desperate rearguard battle.
    Maybe Seaton sees himself like a latter-day Davy Crockett in the Alamo?

    Our Duvid Crockett got it right – the Guardian is full of shite…

    Good work, Medusa !

  8. Well written and analysed, Medusa.

    I am always irritated by CiF moderators’ and editors’ inability to realise when they overstep the mark, not only about decency, as did BellaM, but by conflicting at least separate if not opposing roles as Seaton does, and seemingly being unaware that they are doing so.

    All posters to CiF who have the temerity to try to argue Israel’s case know full well that the scales are weighted against them. Seaton’s fiddling and opining makes his own bias plain. If CiF were at all worthy of its name, then Seaton would not be proving that by posting at all below the line, except to warn people about going off-topic. We should not know anything about his or other mods’ opinions if CiF is to be at all successful in maintaining its delusion that it is impartial.

    That he chooses to stand up for Lerman proves that CiF “impartiality” is a joke.

  9. Fairplay:

    “Matt Seaton and his ilk are fighting a desperate rearguard battle.”

    You must be joking. Seaton and his smug Guardian colleagues are totally convinced that they – and only they – know the absolute truth about every issue. Therefore they look at the whole issue of bias from a totally different angle: anti-Israel comments state are inherently true while pro-Israel comments defend the indefensible. Anti-Israel comments do need need to quote sources and references, pro-Israel comments must. Anti-Israel commenters are inherently “progressive” and politically-correct while pro-Israel commenters are inherently racists or worse. So all attacks on their integrity are deflected with the smug disdain they regard all “untermenschen” that do not agree with them. Seaton and his crowd see themselves leading the attack of the progressives on the forces of evil, not as a bunch of losers in retreat.

  10. MindTheCrap. A phrase I have heard & read used about Jews and nobody else (or perhaps I just wasn’t attending) is ”too clever by half”. Seaton and his ilk feel that the crown for the most creative and brightest bunch should by rights go to them, and it would, they feel if it weren’t for the Jews.

    Just like the British were annoyed that the Jewish WOGS in Mandate times weren’t grateful for instruction, didn’t accept the Bible (indeed, claimed the part they considered relevant as their own) and knew how to build a state apparatus for themselves and did so without being told to do it, Seaton & Co. feel that their role is being usurped again.

  11. Thanks everyone for your compliments.

    JerusalemMite, Well done. I’d like to be a fly on the wall when (if?) Seaton reads your email.

    GeraldKreeve, I had forgotten (or maybe didn’t even know) that Lerman ever replied blt on CiF. I wonder if Lerman knows how ineptly he is being defended? Would he even realise that it WAS indept?

    Mitnaged, as I said in the article, Seaton has absolutely no realisation of how he comes across, a state of non-mind that he holds in common with the rest of the Coven. If that is the case, how can he know NOT to interfere?

  12. I agree with you mindthecrap.

    Everything you say about the Groan’s obliviousness to the real world shows us the delusional way by which it and its fellow travellers try to achieve consonance whenever their view of themselves is threatened by “uppity Jews.”

    My perception is that the delusional nature of CiF is becoming more evident as a result of that. Seaton and his chums cannot deal with the cognitive dissonance caused by our continued inroads into their tenuous reality, and so have to resort to ever more bizarre ways to achieve consonance, such as continuing to publiish the rubbish of Lerman and his ilk.

    My prescription for action is to cause them ever more cognitive dissonance whenever we can.

  13. Fooledmeonce, yes.

    I think he should go on a long cycle ride and consider whether he ought to go back to doing what he knows, writing al-Groan’s page about cycling.

    That should at least keep him out of trouble.

  14. Medusa – good job following that strange thread.

    Hilariously, despite Seaton’s positive comment to MartyninEurope following his praise of Stomachtrouble, MartininEurope’s first comment was deleted and not reinstated even after MartyuninEurope grumbled about it -and had his grumble “vanished”.

    MartynInEurope

    25 Jun 2010, 12:13PM
    This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be deleted.

    Lerman’s “conflicted and tortured relationship with his Jewishness and Zionism” includes apparently being fired by the Jewish community from the IJPR where he had a strange relationship with the issue of anti-Semitism, worrying over his Jewishness while married to a non-Jewish woman, and clearly obsessed as former member of Habonim with Israel. When you put the pieces together, he emerges as a strange, almost pathetic figure.

  15. Tony Lerman is a critic,who can’t perform,but likes to write badly about it.

    MartInEurope,is pathetic,he’s been quite busy lately.Anyone who puts up a picture like his,is either blind or fancies himself,or both.

  16. Quite so, AKUS, re the conflicted nature of Lerman’s relationships to his Jewishness and his bitter rejection of Zionism and that there is antisemitism in terms of the fracture of his relationship with IJPR.

    Worrying, though, is how CiF and Lerman work together to give a specious validity to the cause of Lerman’s bitterness as he sees it.

    Actually, it’s more than worrying, it’s dangerous.

    CiF is like an opportunistic infection which preys on those who feel wronged.

  17. benorr, following on from that, Lerman is like the man who can’t dance but blames the orchestra.

  18. Medusa, thanks for this. JerusalemMite, do you think you will get a reply from Seaton???

    Analysing anything related to Lerman must be very like trying to catch smoke, but you’ve made a pretty good fist of this, Medusa.

    I find Seaton’s “contributions” just as confused and confusing. Were he an ordinary poster at the other place, he’d be banned by now for burbling inanities (but let’s face it, their resident burbler is still very much in evidence, but over there rather than here, thank the merciful heavens).

    AKUS, I tried to read Lerman’s bio here and I got the impression that although the writer of it did very well, Lerman had succeeded in throwing up yet another smokescreen. Can you tell us anything else about the circumstances of his departure from IJPR and whether he’s continued to embitter and twist other organisations he works with?

  19. Matt Seaton is notorious in the media for throwing tantrums. I wonder how potty he is going today!

  20. I believe that Seaton’s most interesting gaffe. which evidences all the lunacy of the GWV as well as the absolute unawareness of how stupid he looks, is his reply to bananachips above. Why can he not realise that judicious silence is the best defence against being made to look a fool?

    But of course Seaton, being part of the Guardian group mind, cannot be silent when the opportunity comes along to try to fool people into believing that he knows what he is talking about.

    Birds of a feather do stick together, and Seaton holds that in common with La Henry (remember the “choir of ethical cretins” excuse? I’ll bet she STILL doesn’t realise what a gaffe she made) so off he lollops along the Georgina-like primrose path to the sound of tweety-birds fluttering around his head. That ridiculous reply to bananachips sums up for me how wilfully blind are Seaton, CiF and al-Graun and yet arrogant too, since they believe that we will fall for whatever gloop they dish out.

    There is no reasoning with people who are solid from the neck up, but, for the record:

    SO WHAT if other news outlets are biased liars? The Guardian, with its past history of fairness should behave better.

    And as for the lifted-straight-from-a-media-textbook rubbish about the “morally distorting effect of news values” (he wouldn’t know a “news value” if it reared up and said “boo!”) and the “oft observed relativism concerning conflict casualties in different parts of the world” and how they are “universal values in the western media” – well, if he’d bend over, I could tell him where exactly to shove that argument.

  21. Serendipity:

    I wrote about Lerman’s obsession with the IJPR in two articles and his use of the Guardian as a platform to attack the organization and those who replaced him, with special venom directed at Lord Kalms, who threatened to withdraw much needed funding if Lerman continued there.

    If Lerman left of his own volition, it is hard to explain his vicious attacks directed at the organization and various figures employed by it and associated with it.

    Interestingly, after my articles were published here he stopped writing about the topic (at least in the Guardian).

    Perhaps I overestimate the importance of CiF Watch, or perhaps not, but its possible those articles raised a red flag somewhere about possible repercussions.

    http://cifwatch.com/2009/11/22/lermans-hidden-agenda/

    http://cifwatch.com/2009/11/16/amusing-musings%E2%80%93-the-inadvertent-humor-of-tony-lerman/

    Although I commend Medusa for doing a good job on taking Lerman and Seaton to the cleaners for his latest effort and the strange thread that accompanies it, this latest article by Lerman was simply silly.

    I think the entire article amounted to something like:

    “There are many opinions held about Zionism by Zionists and non- or anti-Zionists”

    Duh.

  22. Thank you, AKUS, for the links to those incisively- and very well-written articles.

    And I don’t believe that you are overestimating the impact or importance of CiFWatch.