Over the course of nearly three years I went from ‘Comment is Free’ contributor, to CiF commenter in good standing, to permanently pre-moderated CiF commenter, to banned user.
It was a good run, but my personal ‘Comment is Free’ journey seems to have come to an end.
It started well enough. Through my previous work with NGO Monitor I was able to get an essay published at Comment is Free in Feb. 2010, commenting on an appalling anti-Zionist rant by a far left extremist named Jody McIntyre which was published in the youth magazine of the UK charity organization, Christian Aid – at the now evidently defunct ‘CtrlAltShift‘.
The resulting row motivated Christian Aid to take down McIntyre’s piece (and all of his other Israel related blog posts) and apologize “unreservedly” for their error.
When I first joined CiF Watch, I was pleasantly surprised that the editors at ‘Comment is Free’ allowed me comment beneath the line using my real name – and I was even permitted to note in my user profile that I was the managing editor of a group dedicated to exposing antisemitism at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free.
Here’s how my profile looked:
I was never a frequent commenter, as there is enough offensive material at the Guardian and CiF to comment at greater length at our CiF Watch blog – and there are quite a few Zionist, philo-Semitic commenters who do a fantastic job of responding (with wit and wisdom) to the antisemitic and anti-Zionist propaganda appearing below and above the line.
However, occasionally I sensed that I may have annoyed the CiF moderators by violating the Guardian Prime Directive: Thou shall not write the name ‘CiF Watch’ or link to it the site in any way beneath the line. Such reader comment apostasy typically gets the comment deleted, and can result in a Guardian purgatory called “pre-moderation” – a place of uninterrupted darkness, where your every comment has to be pre-approved by some sort of CiF committee of Elders before it gets published.
Sure enough, one day, I woke up and thought to comment on a CiF piece, and (in my utter horror!) saw this.
The ideological algorithm which CiF moderators use to determine what gets deleted and what doesn’t get deleted has always been a bit of a mystery to the supporters of this blog (a topic we’ve commented on quite frequently), and the question of what can and can’t be written while in pre-mod was even more vexing, and I largely avoided even attempting to comment.
So, I was a bit perplexed to say the least when I considered submitting a comment under a CiF thread last night, only to find the following:
Here’s what’s left of my profile:
All my comments over the years have been permanently deleted from their site.
Why indeed did the ‘comrade Guardians’ decide to ban me completely from the site, and erase all traces my two-year presence at CiF?
Well, their comment FAQ’s state the following:
While I’ll likely never learn why I fell out of favor with ‘the Party’, my guess is it may have something to do with our continuing counter-revolutionary commentary exposing their Judeophobic biases, their licensing of the most extremist, antisemitic voices and a pervasive hostility towards the Jewish state at their site.
As a CST Report on Antisemitic Discourse in the UK observed:
Jewish Chronicle by its deputy editor, Jenni Frazer, appeared to capture the feelings of many Jews and mainstream UK Jewish communal bodies towards the Guardian. She wrote: “…I cannot count the number of complaints we have had from readers who do not understand the Guardian’s obsession with Jews and Israel, the poisonous letters or op-eds it publishes.”
One thing is certain: Above the line or below the line, CiF Watch will continue attempting to explain, name and shame the Guardian’s malign obsession with Jews and Israel.
CiF Watch, by use of the evidently “abusive” and “offensive” trolling tactics of facts, history, logic and moral reasoning, will continue trying to influence the debate about Jews and Israel below the line and above the line at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’
- Hanan Ashrawi lies at ‘Comment is Free’ about homes for ‘Jews only’ in Jerusalem (cifwatch.com)
- CiF reader comments attacking one particular Abrahamic faith not deleted by moderators (cifwatch.com)
- George Galloway Tweets for Israel (cifwatch.com)
- ‘Comment is Free’ contributor John Pilger spins lies about Gaza War casualties (cifwatch.com)
- Following CiF Watch post, Guardian corrects John Pilger’s false casualty figures from Gaza War (cifwatch.com)
- Ben White dreams that, by the “bloodshed and sweat of martyrs”, Palestine will be free! (cifwatch.com)
- CST report on antisemitic discourse slams the Guardian: Singles out Orr and McGreal (cifwatch.com)
- The Guardian and the “Zionist SS” (cifwatch.com)
- ‘Comment is Free’ publishes an essay by a Hamas leader…again. (cifwatch.com)