Guardian

Guardian admits that Israel related articles generate highest level of abusive comments


The Guardian, as part of their “series on the rising global phenomenon of online harassment”, commissioned research into the over 70 million comments left on its site since 2006, and concluded that articles on “Israel/Palestine” generate the highest level of abusive reader comments (The Dark Side of Guardian Comments, April 12).

The relevant graph and accompanying text is shown below. (Note that the red text “Abusive comments about Israel/Palestine” along the top black line was added by UKMW to make the graph clearer. Confirmation that our reading of the graph was correct can be found here.) 

guardian graph

These results wouldn’t come as a surprise to readers of this blog.

Indeed, CiF Watch, the original name of UKMW, was founded largely in response to the problem of antisemitic comments below the line of Guardian articles about Israel.  A 57-page report compiled by Jonathan Hoffman submitted to the UK Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism documented the extent of the problem.  Additionally, both in 2007 and 2008, the CST’s annual report on antisemitic discourse called out the Guardian comment section as a purveyor of anti-Jewish discourse.

Whilst we’ve reached the conclusion that (in part due to our work) the Guardian’s moderation in response to explicitly antisemitic comments has significantly improved over the years, we didn’t need Guardian research to tell us that toxic, inflammatory, bigoted (and often completely off-topic) demonizing rhetoric about Israel is still a staple of their site.

Interestingly, back in January, the Guardian announced that articles on race, immigration and Islam – subjects that editors believed were attracting unacceptable levels of toxic commentary –  would be closed to reader comments “unless the moderators knew they had the capacity to support the conversation”.

So, in light of this new research, empirically demonstrating that articles about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict generate the highest level of toxic commentary, will the Guardian now include Israel in the list of topics closed to reader comments when proper moderation can’t be assured? Or, will they at least acknowledge that their long-standing obsession with Israel elicits the kind of abusive and hateful comments they putatively oppose?

63 replies »

  1. It seems that you labelled “as abusive comments about Israel Palestine” that remarkable soaring-above-the-others graph line of abusive comments. It appears not to be so labelled in the Guardian original. Is that right? Plus the Guardian plays this down further by making it sixth of a list of six key findings. The Guardian also focuses on abusive comments towards individual commenters by gender,highlighting that women are far more likely to receive abusive comments than men. But it does not tell us which male Guardian writers received the most abusive comments. My guess would be that Jonathan Freedland would rank amongst the male writers receiving the most abusive comments. But so might Seumas Milne and Owen Jones, because they write so much off the wall claptrap, not because they’re men. We would need to know exactly who the males and females concerned were receiving the bulk of the abusive comments. It doesn’t necessarily prove what the Guardian tries to promote as being a gender issue. It all depends on which particular women and men attract abuse and what the topics they write on are.

  2. Der Guardian

    (That’s a stupid and offensive and inaccurate Holocaust comparison, but someone was definitely going to make it so I wanted to be the first to say it and reclaim the term.)

    • Perhaps. But as the Guardian often rushes to inappropriately compare Israel to Nazi Germany, it is satisfying that they get a taste of their own medicine.

        • You misquote. Hillel quotes the Torah:”What is hateful to yourself, do not do to your fellow man. That is the whole Torah; the rest is just commentary. Go and study it.”

            • Not exactly. I don’t think that you have the necessary credentials to give rabbinical opinions. My own Rabbi has stated that sometimes revenge is not only permissible, but required. Defending oneself against one’s enemies as well. The Guardian is an enemy.

              • (1) My own rabbi has stated otherwise, so ner ner ner to you.
                (2) Which part of Hillel’s adage do you think supports your position?
                (3) How is calling the Guardian ‘Der Guardian’ a form of defence? How does it advance our position?

                • 1.a. What stream is your rabbi?
                  1.b. What did he exactly say i.e., not an interpretation of what he said.
                  2.This is a countervailing tenet in Tanach. If you have ever heard of Rabbi Yishmael, you would know that it occurs.
                  3.a. I did not say that calling The Guardian “Der Guardian” is a form of defense. I do state that they are our enemy and it is a central tenet of war that you weaken your enemy.
                  3.b. Given your history, I would not include you in “our” position.

                  • 1(a) – irrelevant.
                    1(b) – what exactly did yours say? You never provided a quote.
                    2 – I’ll happily read up on any material to which you can provide a pinpoint reference.
                    3(a) – if you didn’t say that calling the Guardian ‘Der Guardian’ is a form of defence, then my original point still stands. Thanks for clarifying.
                    3(b) – that’s up to you but before taking it upon yourself to determine other people’s identities for them perhaps you may wish to read some Edward Markham poetry. I particularly recommend ‘Outwitted’.

                    • Gabriel and Michael, the pair of you are behaving like a couple of little children, nitpicking and totally ignoring the real problem which is the antisemitic and anti-Israel narrative of The Guardian. No wonder we can’t beat our enemies. We spend far too much time fighting amongst ourselves, usually over inconsequential and trivial matter.

                    • I’m sorry to break this to you Charlie, but Jews are among the most toxic, vociferous demonizers of Israel. Gabriel has shown that he is unwilling to address the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel narrative that you decry and he is therefore, part of the problem.

                    • 1.a. Evasion. Not surprising
                      1.b. That was the subject of his lecture.
                      2. You obviously know little of Judaism, if I have to explain that to you. It’s said at the end of Korbonot everyday.
                      3.a. It doesn’t. The Guardian is the enemy and every anti-Israel propaganda piece that they publish hurts Israel. As they have declared war on Israel existence, no punch should be pulled.
                      3.b. If you think that obtuse excuses for blaming Israel have gone unnoticed then you are ironically oblivious to your own claptrap. Outwitted indeed applies to you.

                    • Michael said:
                      > but Jews are among the most toxic, vociferous demonizers of Israel

                      Stockholm Syndrome Jews.
                      Uncle Tom Jews.
                      Court Jews.
                      Socialist Jews.
                      JINOs.

                • Gabby, You misquote us.

                  Der Guardian is the modern day analog to Der Sturmer of nazi Germany of the 1930’s/1940’s where both give platforms to people who defame Jews/Israel.

                    • Bon Charlie, What sort of post, pamphlet, article, book could you or any one else write that can decisively destroy anti-Israel ideas that ignore the avalanche of Eurotrash/Islamofascist attacks on Jews/Israel?

                      Obviously nothing. Better men and women than you or I never have either.

                      The SWORD is mightier than the pen – WW2 and the Holocaust proved that.

            • “I don’t think I did misquote, but even so, the point still stands (if anything even more). Thanks for your interest.”

              Weird. You sure did misquote Hillel. And context? Pffffffft…. who needs context?

              Get back to us when you willingly admit how much of a pompous ass you are. Much obliged, Your Lordshit!

              • I didn’t even quote Hillel at all, just refer to him, so I certainly can’t have misquoted him (and my reference to him was entirely correct as well, referring to how, if Nazi references are hateful to us, we shouldn’t inflict them on others: what is hateful to yourself do not do to your neighbour).

                If you’re able to provide more specific details of where you think I went wrong, rather than just “You sure did misquote”, perhaps we could have a more mature and fruitful conversation.

                • Webber how does one have a mature conversation with someone such as you who is a schoolboy just out of short trousers?
                  You are a self-important smug little prick who is as humorous as a dose of the clap!
                  That is an accurate comparison. Someone was definitely going to make it, so I wanted to be the first to write it.

                • Try to wiggle around it as much as you want Webber, the fact remains that you took what Rabbi Hillel said out of context to suit your argument. That is inaccurate, misleading, and therefore deceptive.

                    • I did read it (hence my reply) and am, clearly, still unclear. Perhaps you could try again. Maybe it would help if you could explain your position without being rude and patronising and it might be easier for readers to understand you. Thanks.

                    • Verbatim: Hillel quotes the Torah:”What is hateful to yourself, do not do to your fellow man. That is the whole Torah; the rest is just commentary. Go and study it.” BTW, patronizing and smug: that’s up to you but before taking it upon yourself to determine other people’s identities for them perhaps you may wish to read some Edward Markham poetry. I particularly recommend ‘Outwitted’.

                    • (1) You don’t think that the principle of not doing to one’s neighbour what is hateful to oneself is very similar to the principle that it’s not OK to do something wrong just because someone else did it to you?

                      (2) Are you saying that Hillel’s adage, as correctly quoted, is not applicable to calling others Nazis when we find the hateful ourselves?

                    • You, once again, take it out of context. First of all, the words “similar” and “same” are not the same. Fighting one’s enemies is not the same as not doing what is hateful to you to others. One who is attacked, has the moral obligation to fight back. Calling others Nazis who would not have a problem with extermination of Jews is arguably in that category.

                    • I just shifted in my chair when I read your comment. Are you being serious or willfully obstinate? If you would actually bother reading the texts of the articles on this blog, instead of looking for comments to criticize, you might actually find that the whole reason that this blog was created was due to the misleading, distorted propaganda directed at Israel by these media outlets. It amounts to a smear campaign, as part of an overall agenda of isolating Israel and that constitutes attacks. Therefore, fighting back is appropriate.

  3. “articles on race, immigration and Islam – subjects that editors believed were attracting unacceptable levels of toxic commentary”

    So no equivalent protection for Judaism?

    • @PDW –

      RE: “So no equivalent protection for Judaism?”

      In the article Adam links (@ http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/31/readers-editor-on-readers-comments-below-the-line ), the full relevant passage reads:

      ‘Certain subjects – race, immigration and Islam in particular – attract an unacceptable level of toxic commentary, believes Mary Hamilton, our executive editor, audience. “THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF THESE COMMENTS tend towards racism, abuse of vulnerable subjects, author abuse and trolling, and the resulting conversations below the line bring very little value but cause consternation and concern among both our readers and our journalists,” she said last week. (My caps added for emphasis.)

      The recorded figure for abusive comments on Israel/Palestine was 7.5% – or, in other words, an overwhelming majority (92.5%) DID abide by the Community Standards.

      Given this clear NON-equivalence of frequency, there really seems no reason for “Israel” (as Adam wants) or “Judaism” (as you extrapolate) to be given any more special protection than other categories – eg, “Feminism” and “Rape” – that notably attract toxic posts.

  4. This admission by the Guardian, and accompanying graph, should put to rest the silly idea that the Guardian’s “progressive, anti-racist” readership doesn’t have a vile and disgusting problem when it comes to Jew hate. When you put out the slop, the pigs will feed.

    • @Jeff21st –

      RE: ‘This admission by the Guardian, and accompanying graph, should put to rest the silly idea that the Guardian’s “progressive, anti-racist” readership doesn’t have a vile and disgusting problem when it comes to Jew hate.’

      The Guardian’s “admission” relating to articles on the Israel-Palestine conflict doesn’t specify how many toxic posts were aimed at Jews and how many at Arabs. From what I’ve seen of CiF conversations on this topic, deletions usually cluster around slap-for-slap bigoted comments – with quite a few Israel defenders no less shy in firing off anti-Arab racist slurs they are on … UK MediaWatch!

        • @Michael –

          Toxic comments directed against Jews ARE of course a case of Jew hate. I never said they weren’t. My point was that they don’t exist in a vacuum – either on CiF or anywhere else. Arab-hating posts ALSO abound in response to Israel/Palestine articles.

          Plenty of these haters express their loathing right here, for example. But that doesn’t stop Adam from publishing pieces which he knows from long experience will be accompanied by a flurry of bigoted comments. And, indeed (unlike the Guardian) UK MediaWatch takes virtually no steps to moderate BTL abuse, whether the culprits are Jew-haters or Arab-haters.

          “Why would those comments appear in the first place?” you ask. For no other reason as far as I can tell than that the world is, and always was, awash with deeply prejudiced people holding ignorant, stereotypically-loaded views. The internet provides forums where such opinions can be widely transmitted in a way most bigots didn’t stand a hope in hell of achieving in pre-internet times. A Guardian article “provokes” them. A UK MediaWatch article ABOUT the Guardian “encourages” them. News stories in the Jerusalem Post, or Ma’an, or the New York Times, or the BBC, or Al Jazeera … makes no difference … all “provoke” or “encourage” angry and/or sneering instant responses.

          So out of the woodwork they duly come – in multiple thousands, every day of the week, and all over the WWW.

          • I still think that you’re missing the point here. Israel/Palestine is the number 1 cause of hate speech either way. But, if it were a case of hating Arabs in general as generating that hate speech, why wouldn’t there be that level of commenting on say, articles about Yemen, with its repressive government? No other ethnic group has that level of toxicity and its no coincidence that it concerns the only Jewish-majority country in the world.
            As far as Adam’s publishing goes, he is definitely not aggressive about deleting comments, but not only those directed against pro-Israel posters.

      • Miranda,
        I have read many a sampling. I have seen some pretty disgusting stuff there – actually lots of it. And I noticed that if it’s anti-Israel it gets the lighter touch from the moderators, while articulate thoughtful posters, such as Adam Levick, get banned.

        “The Guardian’s “admission” relating to articles on the Israel-Palestine conflict doesn’t specify how many toxic posts were aimed at Jews and how many at Arabs,” said a hyperventilating Miranda.

        • Try criticising Palestinians btl and you get struck down immediately. The words ‘Hamas Charter’or worse, quoting from it verbatim, are enough to get you banned and banished to the outer darkness as many of us have found. This is how they keep the truth-tellers in check.

          They have to keep the Palestine image in cotton wool because the corruption, the lack of human rights, the open antisemitism taught in schools is so disgusting that after decades of brainwashing they would not be believed and if they were it would blow the whole ‘evil Israelis’ story sky-high.

        • @Jeff21st –

          “I have read many a sampling….”

          So have I – almost all from CiF Watch and therefore giving no idea of either the frequency or comparable nastiness of anti-Arab/Muslim Guardian posts. Only anti-Israel/Jewish ones were in Adam’s frame. (Any links you may have to more neutral samplings would be much appreciated.)

          “I have seen some pretty disgusting stuff there – actually lots of it.”

          Me too. But I do wonder how much disgusting stuff you and I FAIL to see – because we, personally, don’t happen to be “disgusted” by it …

          “…I noticed that if it’s anti-Israel it gets the lighter touch from the moderators.”

          Exactly the same complaint, turned on its head, has been – loudly and often – made by Israel’s critics. Are you correct? Are they? Or neither? Dunno.

          • “Me too. But I do wonder how much disgusting stuff you and I FAIL to see – because we, personally, don’t happen to be “disgusted” by it …”
            Speak for yourself, toots.

          • “Exactly the same complaint, turned on its head, has been – loudly and often – made by Israel’s critics” – when you write ‘Israel’s critics’, you mean ignorant, thick, bile-dripping bigots like you.

  5. I’m not too impressed with your defeatist attitude. I don’t disagree with you about the avalanche of Eurotrash / Islamofascist attacks on Jews / Israel but I do know from experience that you can change minds. I’ve done it – not as many as I would have liked but a few. In most cases it’s resulted persuading people to think and check out other sources of information rather than blindly accepting antisemitism and anti-Israel propaganda. Instead of attacking people on the same side over semantic differences, why not invest your time and energy in attacking our enemies and making people aware of their true aims and objectives? You’d be amazed at how many people who claim to support the Palestinians don’t know that the actual objective of the PA and Hamas is the total destruction of Israel and the elimination of Jews worldwide and how many respond positively when you expose the lies and misinformation of our enemies..

  6. Good work in an important, ethical cause bears fruit, as shown by Adam’s relentless scrutiny and rational criticism of the Guardian. The Guardian deserves to be constantly monitored among other reasons because it was for many years a standard bearer of liberal causes — C.P. Scott himself was a friend of the early Zionists, as well.
    There’s a lengthy part of the comment thread about Hillel’s incisive remark about ethics and the Torah. It is perhaps worth taking into consideration George Bernard Shaw (Fabian Socialist and no stranger to the
    Guardian) on the same topic: “Do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you — their tastes may not be the same.”
    Again: much kudos to Adam for holding these at times incredibly hateful and phony corrupters in the mass media to account!

  7. The BTL antisemitism continues, often unnoticed by the Guardian’s moderators, or only removed as a result of a complaint. Change Jews/Israel/Zionists to “Muslims” in the following, and it would have been deleted before I had a chance to copy it:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/15/britain-silent-extrajudicial-killing-palestinians-israel-terror#comment-72436048

    shibboleth0409
    8m ago
    2 3

    Israel can do what it wants. It influences foreign policy of most governments through its control of the financial system whilst sanitising its operations in Palestine and beyond through manipulation of the media, particularly in the US and UK. The Palestinians are suffering their own holocaust and have been subject to countless war crimes since 1947 – and despite the lessons learned in Europe a few years earlier, the world averted its eyes. It is said that most abusers have a history of being abused themselves and perhaps it’s just that simple human trait rather than a mad zionist plan for world domination that explains the senseless slaughter we see every day in Gaza.

    If the Jews has been given Wales after WWII – evicted the Welsh and have behaved in the same way to their neighbours in England and Scotland, turning Birmingham and Bristol into ghettos and launching regular missile attacks on Manchester and Cornwall, I’m sure after sixty-years or so, we’d have something to say.

    Is the Samson Option really such a threat?

    • Not me – but a great riposte.

      joeleee shibboleth0409
      55m ago
      8 9

      Are you a Labour Party member by any chance?

    • “If the Jews has been given Wales after WWII”

      Rescued them from illiteracy, extended their life expectancy from the Arab average to the western average, built the first ever universities in the region, attempted to prevent honour killing and wife beating,

      “I am sure that after sixty-years or say we’d have something to say”

      and if you had any decency or honesty at all, it should have been thank you. I hope for your sake it would be.

    • The poster is a 9/11 truther and if he was an opponent of Der Guardian line he would have been banned a long time ago.

  8. Totally illogical conclusion Adam but that is to be expected of you. I/P articles are luttered with deleted abusive comments from the pro Isral crowd. But you aren’t about to deal with any subject on a rational or realistic basis as that is not within your pure propaganda mandate. Please don’t argue that as the only other explanation would be your inability to comprehend.

    Also please get some decent software. On a modern moble device everything from gabriel and on ends up with one character per line. Thank God you movex to the high tech center of the world. Now if only there was some tech that worked there. Uber nothing for sure.