Guardian

Why was this pro-Israel comment deleted by Guardian moderators?


Cross posted from the blog of Yisrael Medad

I posted a comment to this op-ed in The Guardian, entitled: Don’t worry! Clinton and Trump are going to fix Israel/Palestine by Moustafa Bayoumi, a student of Edward Said.

Bayoumi is “an award-winning writer, and associate professor of English at Brooklyn College, City University of New York” according to his bio at the paper.

I received this reply in less than an hour and a half:-

Hi YMedad,
We wanted to let you know that a comment of yours has been removed from theguardian.com because it was flagged by the moderation team as:
    *Off topic*
What is on topic is what is included in the article, so what is off-topic is decided on an article-by-article basis depending on the subject and will be enforced more scrupulously on sensitive subjects. Posts which could derail the conversation by leading it away from the topic of the article including ‘whataboutery’ will be removed.
A full description of our community standards can be found here: http://www.theguardian.com/community-standards.
Warning: Those who seriously, persistently or wilfully ignore the community standards, participation guidelines or terms and conditions will have their posting privileges for all the Guardian community areas withdrawn.
If you have any queries about this decision you can contact the Moderation team directly (details can be found on the Community Standards page).
Guardian Moderation Team

This was my comment that was deemed “off topic”:

This assertion raises some problems: “the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands will turn 50 years old.”
a) can we understand that the writer rejects the normative Arab position that actually all of Israel is occupying “Palestinian land”, as when in 1964, three years before the Six Days War, the Palestine Liberation Organisation was founded? Or as in the Hamas Charter that all of “Palestine: is waqf territory?
b) If they are Palestinian lands, does that mean that Jews cannot reside on these lands if they have bought them, either pre-1948 or post -1967?
c) were those lands “Palestinian” even before the country was first termed “Palestine” by the Romans? and before, were they not Judean lands?
d) did Arabs occupy those lands in 638 CE?
e) when Jordan occupied them during 1949-1967, who was oppressing the Arabs then? Why was there no BDS movement or the like?
f) just as an aside, what is the difference, in the sense of nationality identity, between an Arab in Israel, in Judea & Samaria, aka the ‘West Bank’ and the Arab in Jordan (besides the fact that the Hashemite family only arrive in Jordan in November 1920 from Saudi Arabia)?

Okay, I am flummoxed and nonplussed.

I think the writer needs to clarify for his audience anything he writes.  I think what he writes is legitimate for criticism.  Indeed, the whole topic of “occupation” hinges on whether we know what he really means and if any diplomatic move will end the conflict.  If we can’t assure our mutual understanding of the core issues, what use is arguing over how to solve them?

In 2014, Bayoumi was quoted as saying at a guest lecture at Colgate that there was a

need to reset the terms of the dialogue at an institutional level and to find “solutions that guarantee individual and communal rights to all and find justice for all Israelis and Palestinians, including those Palestinians who are the ancestors of those displaced in 1948.”

So, indeed, my points (a) and (c) are quite on-topic.

If I had commented on this section of his…

In fact, there are 2,898,927 Palestinians living in the West Bank, 1,850,559 in the Gaza Strip, 1,471,201 in Israel,

…by writing that (a) his number for “West Bank” Arab residents is close to a million off or that (b) if there are “Palestinians” in Israel then at least my point ‘f’ is quite on topic would that comment be allowed?

Or if I had commented on this section…

According to the New York Times, there are now more than 350,000 settlers living in the West Bank and another 300,000 living in East Jerusalem, 

…by pointing out that (a) that quote if one-and-one-half year’s old and that (b) the numbers are wrong [there are 460,000 Jews residing in Judea and Samaria and 210,000 in Jerusalem’s post-1967 neighborhoods] would that be off-topic as well?

If I would have commented on this bit…

In fact, slim majorities of both Palestinians and Israelis still support a two-state solution

…by pointing out that a poll in March, a half-year earlier had 69% Palestinian Arab support and that his poll had but 51% in favor which is quite a dramatic drop and does not augur well, would that have been off=topic?

If his details are wrong or questionable or fudged or plain misrepresentations, how can his conclusions be “on-topic”?

Or, to phrase it differently, why is The Guardian so zealous in its censorship?

16 replies »

  1. We all know why it was deleted, and it’s nothing to do with being on or off-topic. It was an excellent reply, but the big big problem was that it is “pro-Israel”. i.e. it didn’t condemn Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria (I refuse to call them “West Bank Settlements”). For the Guardian that is the biggest no-no there is.

    They didn’t want to expose themselves to criticisms of being anti-Israel or even antisemitic, so they just plumped for “off topic”. The only people they’re kidding are themselves, if that.

  2. Ah, the antisemitic Guardian deletes pro-Israel comments … what a surprise.
    The keywords Edward Said and CUNY tell us all we need to know about the writer.

      • What is it about a professor of comparative literature and an associate professor of English which gives them more gravitas on a political dispute than a well read cab driver or a pro-Zionist math professor? Why not a waiter at the local Sheraton or better yet, a Hollywood actor or a former Texas bar owner? Do you think that this associate professor of English has a better handle on things than you, that he is given an article at the Guardian to pontificate than you or a professor of Middlle East History in Israel? Or are they just using the title “professor” coupled with his ethnic background for purposes of “mock” expertise in truth telling?

  3. Mount a campaign to pressure advertisers to cease advertising in Der Guardian

    as long as it continues to dishonestly report events in the Middle East,

    especially WRT Israel and continues to provide space to Islamofascists and Fascist Socialists and NOT provide space to people who can refute dishonest claims by Der Guardian.

  4. There was another comment which pointed out that if Palestine was occupied for 50 years, then his acceptance of Israel’s pre-1967 borders would upset most of the readers. This comment was also removed.

    As to your comment, This type of historical arguments in (c) and (d) are somewhat ludicrous, totally irrelevant and detract from the discussion.