‘Firedoglake’ is progressive– just don’t talk about Palestine

Here is an important matter that I have been sitting on for days and that people who care about American support for Palestinian oppression need to be aware of: the extent to which Firedoglake, a leading progressive site, suppresses criticism of Israel. The battle demonstrates that even inside the left, the Israel lobby is a strong force. Indeed, the founder of the site, movie producer Jane Hamsher, has dismissed concern for Palestinians as a "pet issue."

As I have said often, our country cannot make progress on this critical policy issue until people who care about Palestinian freedom find one another and make a political combination to take on the Israel lobby. And one way we will find one another is by taking on the corruption inside the left when it comes to human rights in Palestine. 

The latest evidence of FDL’s entrenchment is an exchange yesterday at Firedoglake’s community site, The Seminal. An FDL author whom I follow– Kathleen Galt, who writes under the name Leen and for whom Palestine is front and center– did a post called "Change?" saying that Israel/Palestine continues to be off limits for the liberal mainstream media:

Does the Israeli Palestinian conflict, expanding illegal settlements, humiliation of Palestinians, bulldozing of Palestinians homes, destruction of Palestinian olive trees, continue to be off limits to so called progressive MSM host like Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Dylan Ratigan, Ed etc? I think this critical issue is still off limits to most MSM outlets.

Galt did a search of several progressive broadcasts and found not a peep about Palestine.

"So my question is this. Do folks think that anything has changed about the amount, depth, honesty of coverage by our T.V. MSM over the last several years? Has anything changed?"

In the subsequent comment thread, Galt complained that leftwing blogs were also blindered. And she specifically mentioned Rayne, the moderator of The Seminal. 

I am also very interested in which so called progressive sites were blocked to discussing this critical issue, which sites drug their progressive feet on the issue, demanded higher standards of definitions of terms “zionism” than they demand of other over used general terms? Selective discrimination etc of certain issues but not others. Avoid having their heavy hitters or bringing on a heavy hitter to blog about this critical issue every week? Blog clogs of sorts specifically clogged on this issue.

Crooks and Liars has been closed down to this issue from the beginning, Huffington Post has opened up…

Still wondering why Rayne has specifically targeted this topic and is demanding higher standards for this issue more so than any other issue?

Rayne responded with a sharp rebuke:

…Let’s make this perfectly clear again that you are not an editor, moderator, site owner or host at this site, and that simply because you personally feel an issue should be handled in a particular fashion doesn’t mean it’s going to happen as you demand.

Give some thought to the possibility that your constant harangue about the manner in which this site operates drives off others — readers, commenters, diarists alike — who may not want to encourage your posts and posts like yours by recommending them.

Inside the last several weeks you’ve already attacked the owner/founder of the FDL family of sites for not fulfilling your personal expectations. You did not take the hint at the time about your behavior. And don’t think I haven’t seen your terse comments directed at me, either. This is yet another warning to you that you need to focus on subjects of your choice, stop haranguing the site’s policies and operations, or risk moderation….

Galt responded in her typically thoughtful manner:

Many of my posts have been recommended. There have been times where folks have come out of the woodwork and folks who regularly make comments here and stated that they greatly appreciate what I have posted here…. [I am] just suggesting that having a qualified individual do regular post[s] about the I/P conflict might just might be a path for FDL to take on this critical issue. This is not just my issue. You may personally [be] in the dark about this issue. For decades middle east leaders, former Presidents, former heads of the IAEA, former and present weapons inspectors, former and present CiA analyst etc have stated that the I/P issue is the most critical issue to resolve in the middle east. Now you can keep attempting to minimize the importance of this conflict but that does not change the situation. You can attempt to close down the discussion, debate etc here but that in and of itself says a great deal…

Beautiful, huh? And obvious.

Galt then asked about the process: why there was no one in the FDL wheelhouse working on the issue. Rayne smacked that down.

Leen, you’re off your own topic again, in your own thread. This was supposed to be about change or the lack thereof in mainstream media coverage, and your last several comments have drifted further and further from that.

There will be no detailed discussion about process. In my 14+ years working in online community management, such discussions are often used to game the site.

Now some back story. On August 14 at The Seminal, Galt criticized Jane Hamsher, the author, producer, and founder of Firedoglake, for appearing on Washington Journal on CSpan and talking leftwing politics for 45 minutes and saying nothing about Israel/Palestine. Galt wrote:

This interview with Jane Hamsher (Firedoglake) on Washington Journal is fascinating. Jane was on discussing the stance of the Obama administration on many issues and how the left feels about those stances.

While I appreciate Jane’s willingness to touch upon and her hard work on many issues. Her willingness to call Dem Reps and the Obama administration out on so many issues. And I also know she cannot make all issues her "pet issues" But why does she avoid bringing up this critical issue when she so clearly has the opportunity? How is this any different than our MSM talking heads? She brought up Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet she completely avoided this humanitarian crisis and decades long conflict and how the Obama administration is dealing with it during these 45 minutes. Did not even whisper about it.

At one point on this blog she called my efforts to bring up this issue here at Firedoglake my “pet issue”

This is one of the most critical issue[s] in the middle east. The issue that the 9/11 commission even mentioned. The decades old conflict that many leaders in that part of the world have endlessly referred to as the most critical issue to resolve. The issue that former head of the CIA Bin Laden unit Micheal Scheuer, Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern and many many others state is the most critical issue to resolve. Jane and others will not touch it. She even criticizes others who do make an effort to shed light on this conflict.

She had a prime opportunity to shed some light on this issue during her 45 minutes on Washington Journal.She did not. Silence. Not any different than talking heads in the MSM.

During this interview Jane referred to herself as “left of the left” on many issues. How is avoiding even mentioning this issue progressive?

When Jane was asked who her favorite Reps were she mentioned Rep Grayson and Rep Barney Frank. Both of these Reps support Israel no matter how many UN resolutions they are in violation of, how many illegal settlements they keep expanding and building, how many Palestinian homes are bulldozed etc. They both support more aggressive actions towards Iran. Can anyone tell me how these stances are progressive?

Now remember Jane takes pride in calling others out on the mat. But is incapable of taking the same kind of criticism from others.

Go ahead Jane and others knock me out. I know you are smarter etc than me. I appreciate all you do but why do you keep avoiding this critical issue when you have a clear and totally appropriate opening to bring it up?

Hamsher quickly responded to Galt in the comment thread:

I didn’t mention it because THEY DIDN’T ASK ME ABOUT IT.

I didn’t mention marijuana legalization either, because they didn’t ask me about it. I didn’t mention Social Security privatization, because they didn’t ask me about it. Both of these are issues I’ve been writing about extensively.
If I was going to inject anything into the conversation, it would have been the subjects I’ve been writing about and have some knowledge of. I didn’t. I followed the format and responded to the interviewer’s questions, as most civil guests do.

This paddling was soon followed by others. Seaglass made it clear that Zionism is part of the left:

It seems that Leen and many others here have drawn a clear line in the sand on who they consider Progressives and if you in any way support Israel’s existence these days here your treated with contempt and I’ve found @ times sneering hatred. Who are these people to judge those of us who differ with them on this issue? Why does it make us any less Progressive then they are? They can support obviously radical Islamists like Hamas or Hezbollah and support the odious theocracy in Iran ( that abuses and treats it’s women as animals , and they seem to think that these aren’t directly in conflict with progressive principles for some unknown reason? The hatred of Israel and Jews here is very off putting to some of us who have been Progressives long before the title was even bandied about. The Israeli , Palestinian struggle /war clearly splits our ranks, but it saddens me that it cause such rancor and ill will. Don’t we get enough of that from the Right and it’s Blue Dog Demo. allies?

Then moderator Rayne stepped in:

Leen, make a more constructive case for promoting your research and content further. As it stands right now:

– Siun has covered the Gaza flotilla at FDL and that wasn’t enough*;

– You’ve had a platform to use to cover I/P and the Gaza blockade, and that’s not enough; – You’ve demanded the site’s owner/operator speak as you demand, without making reasonable requests in advance and without real concern for the site’s owner/operator’s projects and initiatives;

– In spite of repeated efforts on the part of the community to teach you how to use this platform more effectively, you pointedly ignore learning how to do so. This is hardly a pattern of cooperation and collaboration which might earn more attention. I think the community has been more than fair with your persistent biting-the-hand-which-hosts-you; it’s time for you to assume full responsibility for the topics you want to cover and do so in a reasonable fashion…

So FDL is progressive except when it comes to Palestine– PEP.

I asked Galt about her background as a blogger and she wrote to me that she does not consider herself any great shakes as a writer. I disagree. Judge for yourself:

"My history at FDL (a good four years or more) has been to persistently bring the I/P issue up. I met Jane and the team at the Libby trial although I had followed FDL for a while before that. Jane posted something I had written for her at the Libby trial. And again I totally respect what she has and is doing. I just find this avoidance of the I/P issue confusing. I never demanded anything. I only suggested…. that the heavy hitters write about the I/P issue periodically.

"My challenge the other day was not demanding that Jane take this issue on– just mention it for instance in her 45 minutes on Washington Journal when it would have been perfectly appropriate for her to include the I/P issue in the lineup of issues that the left was not so happy with the Obama administration on. All I asked was to include this issue, whisper about it.

"I’m really not sure what Jane’s avoidance is about this issue. I just do not know how one can not consider this issue progressive. How is this avoidance any different than what Rachel Maddow, Ed, Dylan Ratigan, Keith avoid? These characters completely avoided covering the Goldstone Report. Silence on the settlements.

"And it seems the efforts to intimidate are working. They are closing the small opening over at Firedoglake to actually discuss, link etc about this critical issue."

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Beyondoweiss, Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, US Politics

{ 75 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. MRW says:

    Their avoidance has another effect: I pointedly left their blogs, and several others as well. I refuse to give them (1) the Alexa® blog hit, (2) the advertising dollars, and (3) contribute in any way to their popularity.

    Far better for me to be over here and sneer at their fear. Mondoweiss is read, and referred to, in a much wider audience than just the progressive left.

    • Edward Q says:

      “I … left their blogs”

      FDL seems mostly concerned with domestic politics. I never read it much either because it didn’t discuss the issues I was interested in.

      • As with the concept, “All politics is local”, you cannot meaningfully examine the state of the nation and of our various American communities without looking at how not dealing effectively with the I/P conflict affects us all.

        The lack of this discussion distorts the process further because it serves to keep other unsavory aspects of the Lobby out of the spotlight. The expected default support of Zionism across the political spectrum coupled with the refusal to critically address the influence of the Lobby on a whole host of crucial issues in the US, let alone the I/P conflict makes the process progressively more dysfunctional. It’s like trying to steer our political course while in an inebriated or altered state.

        I think the reason the subject is avoided is rather obvious. The expressed concern is that discussions will deteriorate into heated and nasty exchanges and bring forth smoldering or rampant anti-Semitism ending in bitterness and resentment among people who otherwise share a good deal of the same political views. And discussions can be rather volatile when they are actually allowed to take place. DKos and posters there have used that excuse and said since their purpose is to promote Democrats, discussion of contentious issues factionalizes the community. Members complain that debates become shout fests or always cover the same old ground and devolve into rearguing history, but site owners deny that it would then be in anyone’s interest to actively sabotage emerging discussions to prevent further ones. But make no mistake, the goal is to preserve the status quo, the often unspoken orthodoxy being that the whole situation will just sort itself out if we just stay out of it.

        And the meaning of “stay out of it” has been distorted to mean continue to give Israel every political and financial support, follow Israel’s lead as to what circumstances require public declarations versus behind the scenes actions, discuss situation only when it serves to promote and maintain current orthodoxy, employ standard where Israel “gaining ground” (literally and figuratively) and never losing ground is considered “keeping things as they are”, allowing for inaction when it suits Israel’s needs and quick action when Israel feels threatened, control discussion as needed with pro-Zionism as default position (or at the very least not anti-Zionist), the easiest way being to avoid discussion altogether.

        When discussion does take place, hobble views contrary to the prevailing memes and official narrative by any means available. Gatekeeping and heavy-handed moderation being the most effective where top down control exists, but otherwise maintain an environment hostile to criticism of Israel in anything other than mild quibbles meant to pretend an air of fairness and objectivity (such as – mistakes were made in the flotilla raid but Israel is right to take action to maintain its blockade to prevent terrorism, blah, blah, blah…). Pounce on anything that could be portrayed as being over the line in its depiction of Israel and/or Jews, recognizing the confusion and conflation works to the advantage of those seeking to stifle/direct discussion.

        Strong statements and criticisms can be painted as being virtually indistinguishable from hate-speech, bigotry and anti-Semitism. Should a person actually make an awkward statement when trying to express views on difficult and contentious issues, affix negative label permanently both as a means to dismiss other valid points (linking said valid points with bigotry using “guilt by association”), and to send a message to others who might agree with or want to express similar views.

        Create an atmosphere where being too persistent is equated with Holocaust denial (irrational, hateful, stubborn in the face of facts), all the better if the Holocaust is actually brought up as in noting the extent Israel/Jews use the Holocaust exempt themselves from criticism or justify any given action. This is particularly effective since those well informed on the conflict can be accused of being too fixated on the Jews and Israel due to a underlying deep hatred, and debates can then be diverted into psychoanalyzing the critic of Israel and questioning their awareness of their own hatred.

        Continue to hammer the point home that criticism of Israel, fair or otherwise, is an indication of hatred of Jews, acknowledged or not, and any denial of bigotry, prejudice, or bias is just more evidence of guilt. Citing Jews in support of an argument is dealt with by labeling them as self-hating, Israel hating, loons of whatever political stripe – making note of the hate groups that also reference them – and therefore further evidence of guilt. Citing Palestinian/Arab/Muslim sources is dismissed out of hand as being non-objective. Portray non-Jews that offer Jewish viewpoints unfavorable to Israel or Zionism as still being Jew-haters and citing them is only a pretense used to cover said hatred (and further evidence of guilt).

        Any mention of control or stifling of debate can be mocked and linked to conspiracy theory, which can be linked to Holocaust denial (and further evidence of guilt). Actually supplying examples of such gatekeeping can be dismissed as an indication of a fixation on Jews and conspiracy theory (and further evidence of guilt). Declining to redirect discussion to some other human rights abuse deemed more egregious is seen an indication of a fixation on Jews (and further evidence of guilt).

        Remember that the “logic” used against critics of Israel is not applicable in the other direction. Claim what appears comparable is nothing of the sort. Special pleading allows for a multitude of contradictions. An atmosphere properly maintained can stigmatize critics of Israel to the point where conditions resemble de facto “Holocaust denial laws” as in parts of Europe, so that critics tread lightly for fear of retaliation via banning, hacking, loss of privileges, outing, defamations of character, threats of financial consequences, complaints to employer, and all around harassment.

        Silence equals assent. That which retards discussion helps preserve the status quo. Maintaining current conditions is paramount except when more favorable conditions are achievable. Ignore the parallels between hoping the Palestinian “problem” just goes away with other historical instances of attempted genocide. Claims of threats of being “driven into the sea” is permanent defense when driving others out of their communities – same for killing in large numbers; prior tragedy becomes license to kill.

        And this is just one element of the unwritten rules of public discussion. Whether delving deeper or pulling back for a macro view, the framework in place resembles fractal patterns in that they are duplicated regardless of level of magnification. The control of the discussion doesn’t need to be complete either. Like Vegas house odds or the evolutionary artificial selection of the shell pattern on the backs of Samurai crabs noted in Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos”; these ensure a predictable outcome.

        Changing the outcome will require overriding these controls and the inertia of the status quo, which to this point have been exceedingly effective by almost any definition or measure in maintaining the default equilibrium.

        • Danaa says:

          LanceThruster, very good points you bring. The tenor of most online discussions I witnessed, especially on left-leaning blogs, mirror the dynamic gamesmanship you describe to a T. I will use your comment in the future as reference, if you don’t mind.

          Since your observations are right on the money, do you have also ideas about how these little trains of obfuscation going nowhere can be derailed, or at least shown to be the ghost trains that they are? I know there are many like-minded people out there, if only from the number of recommendations posts that bring up the palestinians’ narrative receive. But many prefer to lurk so as not to wade into the pool of nasty. Personally, I never understood why some people take anonymous online disputes and accusations so seriously. But apparently many do. So I guess my real question is – wherefrom to find and spread courage?

        • Thank you for your comments. You are welcome to use them in any fashion you find helpful, and it never hurts to link to the original or the Mondoweiss site in general, particularly as an example of where real discussion is fostered and actually taking place. I often invite the most obnoxious Hasbarats I encounter to try peddling their wares in this “bigger pond”, with informed people unwilling to be cowed by bullying and nonsense. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone take me up on it, but it does take a little wind out of their bluff and bluster.

          As to the “what to do” part of the question, I’ll have to give it more thought. I think what concerns me most is that any sort of fringe politics has the chance of success on a scale far larger than they rightly deserve if they’re saying the right things at the right time about Israel. Look at how the media often treats Palin as some sort of wise sage in touch with the views of “real Americans” and all that entails.

          In Tom Hayden’s “I was Israel’s Dupe” essay (see: link to counterpunch.org ), he mentions how as long as you had the right stance on Israel, the rest of your views were secondary if not virtually inconsequential. You had a green light to move up the ranks and the flow of money via donations would not be unduly restricted. Imagine how much more the new laws regarding corporate campaign cash can further magnify this catalytic component.

          The very last part of your reply is important too. My confidence came from being as well-informed as I could, in not being so rigid that I couldn’t revise my own views when confronted with new information, and taking up opportunities to do a little “sparring” as it were. I’ve written what I’ve often referred to as my “champions” and told them that their greatest contribution is as educators. As they bring new perspective and understanding to others, they help them gain the confidence to stand firm in the face of a relentless flow of propaganda — they become a “force multiplier,” as do the people who now have information and the contributions to be made from their own experiences having entered the arena of competing ideas.

          I’ve written elsewhere that I entered this arena initially because I liked debating theology (I am an atheist). In many places online are FAQs on “Constructing a Logical Argument” which includes “Logical Fallacies.” These are certainly timesavers and confidence builders as you can pinpoint exactly why a particular argument sounds so bogus.

          After 9/11, I felt compelled to learn more about the conflict in the Middle East as it was clear that it would be the basis for our ongoing military action in the world for sometime to come. It didn’t take a whole lot of scratching the surface to discover that the “official narrative” was horribly one-sided. Being lied to so thoroughly, in so many blatant and also inconsequential ways, has at least one positive effect. I tend to try to verify information on my own much more, as those sources once relied on for news and information have pretty much lost all credibility.

          They had every opportunity to mention the “elephant in the room.” That they didn’t could be the result of any number of factors, but anytime a hidden agenda comes into play, one must then dig beneath the surface. Though people can blanch when confronted with the dots actually being connected – dismissed out of hand as conspiracy theory – there are clear and established connections to be made, and no one should retreat where facts are concerned merely because it increases someone else’s discomfort level.

          Having given it a bit more thought, I’ll close with a little preview of how I’ll approach the “what to do” part. One of my best sources for insight on, and deconstruction of the issue has been my secular “Jewish” attorney friend (in quotes because as a dyed-in-the-wool secular humanist, his Jewish mother is his only link to the designation – not culture, not upbringing, nor religious or worldview) who cheerfully goes by the moniker “Bernie the Attorney.” To help understand a little the pervasive nature of the problem, I’ll tell you up front that he has said time and again, “There’s nothing you can do.”

          How’s that for away to start a pep talk? Next time I’ll post a little outline of the things he’s covered, an overview of sorts, and you can choose which items might be of use to you so that I can expand on them.

          To those familiar with the original Star Trek, it’s kind of like the Kobayashi Maru simulation at Starfleet Academy – a no-win situation. Kirk is actually able to win because he “cheats” and reprograms the simulator.

          (from: link to en.wikipedia.org )

          Business theory commentators have used the Kobayashi Maru as an example of the need to redefine the foundation upon which a business competes—changing the rules rather than playing within a rigged game—as an example of successful business strategy

    • MRW says:

      Read Hamsher on Twitter: link to twitter.com. She unhinged over Mondoweiss.

      • annie says:

        poor jane’s runnig in circles bordering on obsession over this. pulse media is giving her a run for the money stating the obvious. one would think if jane had a good leg to stand on she wouldn’t be dumpster diving into 09 posts by guest bloggers to smear phil.

        # @janehamsher the focus was Trumbo’s rather militant Zionism which in no way affected his liberal image. Ditto Ben Hecht. But that’s history. 9 minutes ago via web in reply to janehamsher

        # @janehamsher the comments about trumbo were made by a guest poster. @mondoweiss publishes many writers with whom it disagrees. 11 minutes ago via web in reply to janehamsher

        # @janehamsher odd to find someone dispensing accusations of McCarthyism while quoting from a member of the McCarthyite Harry’s Place network about 2 hours ago via web

        # @janehamsher So Dalton Trumbo co-wrote, rather than directed, a racist film. Still despicable. Kudos to @Mondoweiss for not ignoring history about 2 hours ago via web

  2. MRW says:

    Here’s the deal: they don’t walk their talk.

    • MRW says:

      Further: does Jane Hamscher have an opinion on the mosque issue in NYC? Does she allow discussion of it? If she does, she’s a phony.

  3. Stellaa says:

    Wow. My window of reading progressive sites keeps getting smaller and smaller. We are Progressives with a big, whereas clause regarding Palestine. Many are even afraid to use the word, Palestine. It’s as if you used a dirty word in some quarters.

  4. Chaos4700 says:

    Leen, you’re off your own topic again, in your own thread. This was supposed to be about change or the lack thereof in mainstream media coverage, and your last several comments have drifted further and further from that.

    So Firedoglake has no aspirations of attaining mainstream recognition, huh?

    This is why the Progressive movement is broken. The leaders of it will literally shoot themselves in the foot if that’s what the Zionist lobby demands of them.

  5. annie says:

    yep, i used to frequent FDL. an action i took at my senators office was even front paged there. it just so happened that the foreign policy issue i felt was most critical to our entire involvement in the ME wasn’t explored there. i left. it’s been so long now (over 4 years i’d say) it’s only siun i read on occasion. i never even came across galt.

    the comments by Seaglass sound indistinguishable from radical rightwingers.

    if you in any way support Israel’s existence

    ah, helllllo. wake up seaglass, here’s think progress today (also front paged at mondoweiss):

    A few points. The first, and most obvious, is that there’s simply no analog on the left to this sort of thing. You won’t find writers from The Nation or The American Prospect just breezily writing about how driving the Jews out of Israel “would open a new horizon of possible solutions that don’t exist today.”

    anyone who thinks any part of the left in this country focusing on i/p doesn’t support israel’s existence as a part of the solution to this problem obviously is completely divorced from the discourse on any mainstream blog (including daily kos who has running i/p discourse).

    I’ve found @ times sneering hatred

    ah, the old ‘my enemies are full of hatred routine’. how original/not.

    Why does it make us any less Progressive then they are?

    why does ignoring millions of people living for decades without representation in the government that rules over them not progressive? gee, let me go ponder that for another fews years while israel expands itself into the land needed to prevent a one state solution (which zionists claim will end israel’s existence). some people think progressives should shed light on issues to bring resolution, y’know.

    They can support obviously radical Islamists like Hamas or Hezbollah and support the odious theocracy in Iran

    obviously seabreeze? is that what motivates all of us? support for radical islam? and how are you any different than o’reilly?

    that abuses and treats it’s women as animals , and they seem to think that these aren’t directly in conflict with progressive principles

    excellent strawman, since we’re all so very obviously in support of radical islam.

    The hatred of Israel and Jews here is very off putting

    cry me an f’ing river. now we ‘hate’ ‘jews’. could you even get more acrimonious? the old ‘criicism of israel is anti semitic’ routine. and how is this any different camera?

    The Israeli , Palestinian struggle /war clearly splits our ranks, but it saddens me that it cause such rancor and ill will.

    saddens you? maybe you should get a big hook and grab that mote out of your eye. the rancor from your schpeel is palpable.

    tsk tsk, obviously not progressive on this issue. sad indeed.

  6. annie says:

    i meant is that what motivates all of us? support for radical islamist?

    this line of discourse is so steeped in anti muslim islamophobia, it is as if that is all they can see.

  7. Danaa says:

    Kathleen and Phil, it is my contention that the avoidance of the I/P issue on most of the progressive sites is a cancer that’s eating the soul of the left from within. To wit, because of the need to skirt the issue, the entire foreign policy – lock, stock and barrel – has become marginalized among progressive circles. The reason is simple – it’s obvious that there’s no way to discuss North/South Korea for example, or US “war on terror”, or relations with the ME, or the “war” against the Afganistani people (masquerading as “anti-terror” campaign), or any other foreign policy question without somewhere along the line bringing in the Palestinian issue, be it the front or the back door. Since everyone knows that, there has been a tacit agreement – seemingly across the left spectrum (a few shots across the bow from HP direction notwithstanding) – that this issue is not going to be addressed by front pagers.

    I haven’t done the necessary research to confirm this, but the facts, as Kathleen brings them up, and a we read on thi blog and elewhere, speak for themselves. I can however elaborate on the many ways this deliberate cordoning off of an entire field has hurt the left as a whole, serving to dilute its message to the population at large and to the political class, and effectively sapping a lot of good energy from all parties, including thoe dedicated to domestic policy area. Perhaps I will elaborate some time soon, but I haven’t finished flushing out this thesis yet with all the relevant facts. What I can say so far, from looking at this in some detail, is that it’s not as simple as turning up “The Lobby” card again. Yet it does have a lot to do with the large number of activist Jewish people within the progressive ranks, and the fact that it’ a large boisterous tent, living on relatively meager resources.

    It’s not that all these jewish progressive people are of one mind on this issue either. Far from it. It’s more the opposite: the splitting of the Jewish american world is taking place deep inside the left, rather than between the left and right, as Phil has sometimes suggested. The progressive american left may well be ground zero of what I call the coming “Great Split”. People like Kathleen,, Bob Browne on DK and many others no doubt sense the rambling. One doesn’t have to even be jewish for that. I am sure Jane Hamsher or Moulistas – who I believe are not Jewish (am I wrong/ anyone know?) – may simply be trying to get out of the earthquake zone. Poor excuse, I know. But human nature just the same.

    Phil, of course, can barely wait for it to happen already. But then he has been earthquake ready for some time time now and has all the needed survival supplies handy.

    • Keith says:

      DANAA- I’m glad that you brought this up. I think that it would be less than honest to discuss the Progressive Except for Palestine issue without commenting on the large number of Jews in leadership positions in progressive organizations (Firedoglake?). I think the whole issue of Israel/Palestine has become somewhat traumatic for many progressive Jews because the harsh reality on the ground conflicts with their core beliefs about what it means to be a Jew. In their minds, the Jew is the eternal victim fighting for justice down through the ages. Israel is seen by them as a final refuge, the Jew among nations. I think that many progressive Jews are psychologically incapable of confronting the myth shattering reality of the situation, hence, avoid the issue to the extent possible.

      • I think that many progressive Jews are psychologically incapable of confronting the myth shattering reality of the situation, hence, avoid the issue to the extent possible.

        An extremely important insight, Keith, for non-Jews to try to understand. If a certain amount of categorization can be forgiven, it is my impression that many Jewish people relish functioning in the world of ideas, that is, they live in their heads. Those ideas in their heads compose reality — think of Alan Greenspan, for all those years committed to the ideas of Ayn Rand, and even with evidence of their error heaped at his feet, shards of a broken economic model, Greenspan is still forced to acknowledge, belatedly, “it seems the theory was flawed.”

        Those who have the ability to understand the ideas that motivate PEPs as well as all others whose ideas can be rationally critiqued as harmful to American interests, must put every effort to pointing out the error of those ideas, in as compassionate and effective a manner as possible.

        Thanks, Phil and Kathleen, for opening a venue for that critique.

      • Danaa says:

        Keith, I quite agree with what you say. Indeed, for many Jewish people, especially those who like to live in the world of ideas (as PG says), the entire issue of Israel leads to a situation of serious cognitive dissonance. And therein lies the great conundrum.

        Your statement that “many progressive Jews are psychologically incapable of confronting the myth shattering reality of the situation, hence, avoid the issue to the extent possible” is really the crux of the matter. Basically Israel, a country many grew to believe was a plucky little, can-do place, one based on enlightenment born out of centuries of persecution, has turned out to be anti-progressive on a very deep level. Israel was supposed to represent Jews everywhere, yet it now clearly conflicts with what progressive Jews regard as the best in what Judaism evolved into. One result is that many feel that just by engaging in I/P discussions, the very notion of Jewishness tends to be cast into disrepute. o they avoid the entire topic. As PG implies above, Israel is kind of an own-goal for the jewish people everywhere, but especially for progressives. And that IMO is one of the truly great crimes Israel has committed – it has done its utmost to sully the very culture, ideas, and indeed, religion it was supposedly set up to preserve and expand.

        I believe this is the kind of dilemma Joel Kovel spoke of in his piece last week here, which is what led him to a place where a choice had to be made between humanistic values and jewishness itself, all because of the toxic mix created by zionism. I think this is also what people like Finkelstein wrestle with constantly as are the owners of this blog and many many others. I read the top piece on your blog, so I know you understand the issue all too well.

        But here’s where I derive some optimism from (if such can be had): I am totally counting on the Israelis collective to continue its downward slide into the special abyss where a fateful meeting with their worst instincts awaits. A place where xenophobia, parochialism, paranoia and triumphalism mix into one concoction, spiced with a toxic dose of exceptionalism boltered by an increasingly radical religion. As the unsavory mix becomes more and more unpalatable to most diaspora jews, especially of the more liberal kind, the divergence that is now percolating underground is bound to break into the open. The Gaza flotilla brought a whiff of the turmoil to the fore, as many left wing blogs felt obliged to comment on thi mot unusual and highly public debacle. I believe that there will be more such departures from dogma, because Israel will see to it.

  8. annie says:

    wow, i’m just now reading the link to the article. how weird the very first comment is from the moderator imposing her framing, distilling it shall we say, reducing it to parameters that will be accepted (‘whether mainstream media television has changed at all with regard to the coverage of the Israel/Palestine conflict’).

    i guess expanding illegal settlements, humiliation of Palestinians, bulldozing of Palestinians homes, destruction of Palestinian olive trees, continue to be off limits not only to msm, but to FDL as well. nothing to see here folks.

    and as leen queries wrt ‘anti Islam frenzy taking place on some MSM outlets?‘ (which one would have to have their head fully implanted up their yazoo to evade due to the ground zero conversation plastered all over the msm) she gets a stern rebuke….right off the bat! how is this conducive to dialogue? why goes leen care about posting on this site? is it that popular or something?

    well, i will continue reading the comment section there but this is like entering some twilight zone of terse/curse moderation. maybe the site is funded by ziobots. what other explanation could there be for this kind of slap down?

  9. hughsansom says:

    I thought it was my imagination. Or, worse, that phenomenon where a progressive (meaning me, in this case) demands that Person X agree on _every_ issue.

    Edward Said had something to say years ago about “When Thinkers Jump the Tracks.” He wrote that, though he knew Isaiah Berlin well and could talk with the very liberal scholar on any number of topics, when it came to Israel, Berlin clammed up — would not talk about it. Berlin, so liberal on so many issues, when very conservative on the topic of Israel and justice for the Palestinians. You see this fairly frequently. Charles Schumer, Anthony Weiner and several others in Congress are pretty liberal on a host of issues. But on Israel, they are as right-wing as Avigdor Lieberman. The philosopher Michael Walzer (famous for his thinking on “just war”) is another example.

    It speaks ill of any “thinker” that he or she is unable or unwilling to address the issues nearest and dearest.

  10. This exchange is news?

    • The editors are right to respond as they honestly feel.

      Was her rights to post suspended, moderated even?

      You speak of progress on BDS encouragingly (where there is little). You speak derisively of the quantity and tone of mass media presentation on Israel/Palestinian (which is observably improving).

      And, you frame this as necessary to “oppose the Israel lobby”, indicating your lack of faith in the democratic process based on coherently and determinedly making your better argument.

      It is NOT the Israel lobby that controls US foreign policy. It is the president and his administration. Israel/Palestine is prominent in his foreign policy, and he has been consistent in his approach, which is primarily mediative rather than dictatorial.

      His design includes uncompromisingly, reconciliation on the critical needs of the two parties. And, that includes recognition of Israel, confident security for Israel, viability and self-governance for Palestine, rule of law applying to all minorities in Israel and Palestine.

      If you differ with those goals, or if you think that I mischaracterized the president’s goals and guidelines, please clarify.

      • Elliot says:

        RW – yet again your post presumes to speak the last word on the subject. Then, you change the subject, telling us all what the real question is.

        • It is a response to Phil’s.

          The framing of the question, what question is important, is the subject of his post.

          The content, the argument, is whats important, and the whining about the press is a laziness, not substantive.

        • Citizen says:

          Whining about the press is a laziness, not substantive? Please name one show on US TV that has discussed the Goldstone Report. Witty? Please name one show that has described the official position of the US that all the settlements are and have been illegal, and has then discussed the consistent growth of those settlements since 1967.

    • Chaos4700 says:

      This is a discussion of Progressives talking about issues with other Progressives.

      Obviously, none of it applies to you.

  11. Don says:

    Hopeless (firedoglake, that is). It seems to me the only way to bring the issue to the forefront among progressives, liberals, etc…would be for people like Galt (and the rest of us) to start leaving posts/messages on other sites…that direct interested individuals to…Mondoweiss.

    The replies directed at Galt are clear enough. Hamsher, Rayne etc simply seem incapable, or unwilling, to look at what is being done to Palestinians (by Israel). It is too emotionally difficult for them. At least that would be my interpretation.

  12. Les says:

    Keep plugging away. There are many many people who are latecomers. Michel Warschawski got started when a religious Orthodox cousin visiting from France pointed out to Michel what Jewish Israelis were doing to the Palestinians. Until relatively recently Medea Benjamin accepted that Israel/Palestine was a taboo discussion topic. When new people do join in the discussion, they often bring in something new to the topic that widens and deepens the discussion which helps to draw in even more people. Each of us must do our part, whatever that may be.

  13. tommy says:

    Any person or entity that is pro-Israeli aggression cannot be considered a legitimate progressive, liberal or leftist. At its best, Firedoglake is a site for establishment centrists, which describes most movie producers and former pharmaceutical company executives.

  14. bob says:

    ‘Firedoglake’ is progressive– just don’t talk about Palestine


    • bob says:

      I’d also like to add that PEP is failure common in Kos as well. This encourages me to join firedoglake more to give her support. Its a common tactic to get belligerently threshed out, and I’m sure Kathleen Galt may feel hurt from the experience. She needs to remember that trying to drum out this Palestinian narrative is an extremely weak effort that folds under the lightest pressure. Its really easy to hold on to hasbara ideas like “Israeli as victims, Palestinians as mindless aggressors” only if you block out a Palestinian point of view. With a Palestinian narrative, you have to deal with the cognitive dissonance with long held hasbara formed propaganda, and this can be tough to resolve. It may be easier for PEP’ers to ignore the Palestinian POV, but its really weak and will fold. Kathleen Galt, keep your chin up!

  15. HRK says:

    It all comes down to power and politics–and political alliances. And if some people groups have to get thrown under the bus, so be it. And then they’ll attack (with vitriole) the messenger. What wonderful liberals we see at Fire Dog Lake. What wonderfully big-hearted, sensitive, artistic, above-it-all, larger-picture latitudinarians.


  16. Kathleen has had fierce opposition at FDL from the “establishment” there since the beginning when even the use of AIPAC would set off the filters and put a comment into moderation. There had been numerous encounters with various “moderators” over some issue or another, finally getting “kathleen” banned from commenting. Fortunately “Leen” was allowed to continue commenting and even posting on the “sentinel” open post, invariably attracting the FDL’s hasbara disinformation unit(s) to disrupt all comments the post generated. Siun also “enjoys” that same attention and there is rare intervention by most of the moderators (with one notable exception) most of the time.
    Would also comment that there is a strange perception concerning the ability to exercise free speech at FDL. A commentator may lie, spread falsehoods, disrupt the flow of information, inject disinformation and make a shambles of another’s presentation as long as “comity” is observed. But should you assert a strong objection to those things your ability to have a voice disappears along with your assertion. It is a place that has not matured beyond the machinations of a high school “in group” and is certainly incapable of adult behavior to anything else than their sense of propriety. After three such exposures, I no longer comment there.
    The comments by “Leen” introduced Mondoweiss to my reading must list.

    • Siun says:

      I’ll just note that I have chosen to ask the FDL mods to mostly leave comments on my continuing posts on Israel, including a number of very vitriolic ones, remain since I find it more useful for us all to see the various responses. If at any point I had felt a commenter had crossed the line, I would have had their support in handling that comments. We’ve had some rather fascinating bursts of hasbara at times and to my mind, it’s better to counter them in public.

  17. Walid says:

    It’s unclear if Weiss is basing his condemnation of FDL on the Galt-Rayne rumble provoked by Jane Hamsher remaining silent about the Palestinian cause during a 45-minute interview somewhere or if he is generalizing about FDL being on the wrong team in the conflict for whatever reason. I have no idea what’s going through FDL’s Number One, Hamsher’s head or politics at this point but from my past reading of FDL, it has been anything but silent about the conflict and anything but favourable to Israel; one such article appeared in FDL less than 90 days ago and it involved Israel’s murderous assault on the flottila. It has several other (linked) related posts with equally anti-Israel bias in the titles:

    “… Israeli Commandos Kill Unarmed Civilians in International Waters
    By: Siun (FDL)
    Monday May 31, 2010 6:30 am

    Last night, Israeli commandos attacked a flotilla of humanitarian aid ships headed to Gaza. They killed at least 15 civilians on these boats during their attack according to numerous media outlets. The activists, parliamentarians, medical personnel and reporters were unarmed and the ships had decided to back away to avoid a night time confrontation after the Israelis challenged them around 100 miles offshore. The Israeli commandos had been drilling for days in preparation and as we watched a live news feed from Turkish TV (the lead vessel was Turkish and carried several hundred passengers), we were able to see the commandos land — and fire — on the aid activists on board. And we could hear an organizer on the boat repeatedly call for help in English and Hebrew, telling Israeli forces that “we have critical casualties, we have 3 dead, we need help, stop your attack.” As seen in the videos, Israeli forces continued to fire even after the ship raised a white flag.

    … Within minutes of the reports of the killings of the aid activists, the Israeli PR machine started spreading tales – claiming the activists were violent, attacked the Israelis and more. Yet, as “Audrey Bomse, a spokesperson for the Free Gaza Movement, which is behind the convoy, told the BBC“:

    … Israel’s actions were disproportionate.

    Related Posts
    •Israeli Warships Try To Block Wheelchairs and Schoolbooks for Gaza May 30, 2010
    •Israeli Assault on Aid Ships Killed an American; Biden and Hoyer Statements Shield Israel June 3, 2010
    •Israel Blocks Access to Flotilla Press and Participants June 1, 2010
    •IDF Information Blockade Fails: Growing Number of Flotilla Survivors Debunk IDF’s Massacre Story June 1, 2010
    •Talk about Jurisdiction Shopping: Israel to Investigate Self with U.S. OK June 14, 2010
    Petitions by Change.org|Get Widget|Start a Petition …”

    link to firedoglake.com

    I failed to see where in the above FDL article, any negative information about Israel was being suppressed, as Weiss is claiming. On the contrary, I saw it being highlighted.

  18. pabelmont says:

    Phil: How should MW readers usefully fire a complaint to FDL?

  19. Avi says:

    I don’t see how this is any different than the issue surrounding the moderation policy on this very website.

    The underlying problem continues to be the tolerance for a member’s bigoted commentary — so long as it’s cloaked in a veneer of pseudo-sophisticated civility. All the while, the case continues to be made that participants need not criticize the site owner, for they are mere guests here.

    That’s fair enough, but without participants, there will be no site. Additionally, without participants, there will be no traffic. Similarly, Galt was concerned with a political/moral issue, while Leen’s criticism focused on a technical bureaucratic matter.

  20. annie says:

    well, i’m back. i’ve read both those threads. this is the same thoughtful kathleen that posts here isn’t it.

    y’know it’s kind of funny because there are most definitely more than a few suggesting this issue could tank obama in the next election.

    Obama will have to decide what he prefers: A second term, or to get into the history books and make peace in the Middle East.

    and dems chances in congress for that matter:

    The current change in his attitude is politically motivated. Very many Senators and Congressmen [sic] swarmed Washington [sic] and begged the President to loosen the leash and let Netanyahu be (otherwise the Jewish donors will close their pockets.)

    i’ve heard zionist on dk claim they would vote for the gop if obama didn’t stand by israel. (not common but i’ve heard it). frankly i can’t think of a single issue that could almost single handily guarentee to tank a politician like withdrawing support for israel. it’s the single issue both dems and gopers pols declare everlasting dedication to in campaign speeches (love for israel). so frankly i think it is completely reasonable, coming from either the left or the right, when discussing topics that could withdraw support for the president to mention israel.

    do politicians run for major office without mentioning israel or support for issues important to the lobby (iran). not that i know of. classifying it in the same category as the legalization of pot is weird. social security privatization is so last last election and rather a done deal. i/p is very current and the president has already spent LOTS of political capitol on it.

    i do think it was more the responsibility of the interviewer to broach the subject but the question was valid, as was jane’s response (tho she didn’t have to yell about it). BUT, one would have to have their head in the sand to think the israel/palestine issue does not have a huge impact on obama’s chances of making or breaking a second term. he’s walking a tightrope, closely watched. there’s something particularly amusing about how those of us on the left are dismissed in this conversation. it is as if our input and support of the prez doesn’t really count while at the same time those pissed at the prez if he doesn’t NOT appear to be supporting israel enough really really really really counts.

    this issue matters a lot to people on both sides of the spectrum and LOTS of the money that pours into the dem coffers is crucial to his position on israel. so why didn’t we hear jane or site administrators say anything resembling ‘that’s a good idea, i should have broached the topic if only briefly’. it would have been so simple and diffused all the hostility coming from the comments (as opposed to literally no hostility coming from kathleen).

    it is as if some people are afraid to talk about israel in public (not even a whisper shhh). maybe jane is one of those people, and this rayne person is quite the gatekeeper isn’t she.

    thanks for all the work you do kathleen.

  21. demize says:

    She ia having a hissy fit on Twitter. Basically calling out Vanden Huevel for subsidizing “comment trolls” er what?? The Cog-Dis it stings.

  22. Jelperman says:

    I had a similar experience at Daily Kos, where Likudnik spambots and outright trolls are given free rein to spam any I/P discussion to death, which is the real reason so many “progressive” sites shun the issue.

    Almost any forum that tries to discuss the issue will find itself besieged by spammers and trolls and most moderators or hosts simply don’t want the headache. It’s easier to avoid the issue than it is to weed out trolls.

  23. Setanta says:

    I gave up on so-called “progressive” media like FLD and Huffpo a long time ago. Most so-called “progressive” outlets have abandoned any leftist principles they may have had in exchange for uncritical, groveling support of the Democratic party and its right-wing, neoliberal and fascist agenda.

    We now have “feminists” who support the Afghan war in the name of liberating women, and “liberals” who support the oppression of the Palestinians and Israeli aggression against its neighbors in the name of “defending Israel’s right to exist” and opposing anti-Semitism.

    They praise Obama for making us indentured servants to the corrupt health care industry rather than burning it to the ground with a flamethrower and pissing on the ashes. They are all for “welfare reform” and for the paternalistic soft-fascism of “liberal” “thinkers” like Cass Sunstein. End the War on Drugs? Not unless we can tax street drugs and make our corrupt and dysfunctional medical system the highly-compensated gatekeepers over who gets to access these drugs and how much that is going to cost. No, the people simply can’t be trusted to control their own destinies.

    They have some marginal sympathy for Blacks and Hispanics, mainly because it allows them to feel morally superior to those who don’t, but they despise the white working class with extreme passion. Progressives? Liberals? No, such people are conservatives without the courage of their convictions. Tea-partiers who are too stuck-up to party.

  24. On the term PEP.

    “progressive except for Palestine”.

    I contend that the support for mutual humanization is the ONLY progressive approach to Israel/Palestine, that any approach that seeks an either/or solution is the oppossite of progressive.

    For us liberal supporters/critics of Israel that is a dilemma, as to the “converted” we appear to appease wrongs that the Israeli government and military do and institutionalize.

    For the “converted”, it is a dilemma, as you appear to alternate between humane support for Palestinian civilians and then to Hamas solidarity (rather than Palestinian civilian solidarity), dissolution of the Israeli state, solidarity with Hezbollah, each of which represent uniquely reactionary positions, not progressive in the slightest.

    There is the habitual investment in 1948 justice over present orientation, which is progressive like Ezra Pound was progressive in the late 20′s, taken in by the Italian fascist version of opposition to the powers that be.

    Something about seeking to identify Jews in positions of power (and then prospectively censoring and/or excluding them), is the common thread.

    An eighth of a step beyond Walt/Mearsheimer is in the fascist realm, not the progressive.

    And, advocacy for the dissolution of Israel as a currently democratic state, is also in the reactionary realm.

    Criticism of policies isn’t reactionary. Criticism of specific actions isn’t.

    • I assume people have bothered to read the op-ed by Ali Abunimeh in today’s NY Times?

      link to nytimes.com

      Hamas, the I.R.A. and Us

      I hope the presence of this op-ed puts to some rest the accusation that the mass media does not present alternative opinions on Israel-Palestine.

      • Chaos4700 says:

        Great, one op ed in a sea of lies about how its in the US’ interests to kill as many Iranians and Palestinians as we have Iraqis for weapons they don’t have.

      • rmokhtar says:

        “I hope the presence of this op-ed puts to some rest the accusation that the mass media does not present alternative opinions on Israel-Palestine.”

        Don’t make me laugh, Richard.

        THe MSM has a long way to go regarding ‘alternative opinions’.

    • Chaos4700 says:

      I contend that the support for mutual humanization is the ONLY progressive approach to Israel/Palestine, that any approach that seeks an either/or solution is the oppossite of progressive.

      Excuse me? Mr. “That’s Fascism!” now intends to dictate what is and isn’t progressive?

      You have absolutely no moral ground to stand on, considering your “humanism” insists that Israel has the right to imprison thousands of non-Jews, and to build a concentration-camp style wall to imprison people on their own land and to isolate them from their farms, schools and livelihoods. Your “humanism” insists that Israel has the right to starve Palestinian children and to steal from or kill anyone who has the audacity of hope to maybe try and feed them.

      And all for the privileged safety of the “Jewish nation.”

      Don’t give us a lecture on humanism, Witty. If it made sense for Jews to wear pointy white hats, YOU would be wearing it.

  25. yourstruly says:

    no, these efforts to put the I/P issue before the public are working. Proof? The above online conversation , signifying, as it does, that despite conceding that the I/P issue is the most critical issue of them all – somehow this ain’t enough, since still the gatekeepers ain’t gonna open them gates. Not until, that is, people such as Philip Weiss agree to adhere to the principle that process counts more than substance or content. Except it’s too late, ex-gatekeepers (Jane Hamsher included) , reason being that the meaning of Internet conversations, such as this one, is not only that the barndoor’s wide open, compliments of mondoweiss.com, but that from now on substance, not process, matters most, especially on issues of life or death , which, after all, just happens to be what the Mideast conflict is all about. Which, again, is to say that, yes. indeed, these efforts to get the I/P issue before the public are working. Up & at’em!

  26. yourstruly says:

    What’s more, that “Firedoglake” considers itself progressive yet refuses even to talk about Palestine tells us that, on the J/P issue, progressives divide into two camps, those who, in regards to the one equals one, practice what they preach, and those who do not. What’s more, members of the two camps are easy to tell apart – those who practice what they preach not only talk about Palestine, they demand justice for its indigenous people, the Palestinians, whereas, those who don’t practice what they preach do neither. Indeed, in so far as the latter are concerned, Palestine doesn’t exist, therefore, no such thing as a Palestinian. Which translates into, if these deniers ever were progressives, they sure ain’t right now, not if the definition of progressive still includes all human beings being equal, the one equals one.

  27. syvanen says:

    A few years back I accepted that many of the progressive blogs could not deal with the Palestinians. I accepted that it was a devisive issue. IP was not the only issue out there. No need to tear apart the left coalition over one issue. I still think this is true. But I think it is very healthy for us to continue to raise the IP issue with these recalcitrant blogs. FDL, Daily Kos, Atrios and the others deserve feeling some heat. They especially deserve even more heat when they accuse us of hating Jews or being Hamas partisans — they are then descending into extreme right wing rhetoric and should be exposed as enemies.

    And that folks, is the nature of political discourse.

  28. Rowan says:

    Firedog for many years has featured this disagreeable subdomain:
    link to attackerman.firedoglake.com
    I think Spencer Ackerman’s banner illustration speaks for itself.

  29. mymarkx says:

    It won’t do them any good. The change is going to come from within Israel. The 600 Israeli Jews who signed up to smuggle Palestinian women and children into Israel for a breath of freedom, even though they’re risking arrest by doing so, represent the tip of a very large iceberg. For every person who is willing to risk arrest for a cause, there are hundreds, probably thousands, who support that cause but for personal, health, job, family, or other reasons, are not willing to risk arrest.

    Only 15% of American Jews are Orthodox, but the best estimates I can find say that only 25% of Israeli Jews are Othodox, so despite having power in government, the right-wing is not a majority in Israel either.

    The Knesset vote on the conversion law has been postponed until January, but it can’t be postponed forever. The Israeli government appears to be committing suicide. The more support there is for the human and civil rights of Palestinians, the more desperate the Israeli right wing becomes to label humanitarians as “Arab lovers” (this has the same meaning and connotation that the KKK used to intimidate southerners who supported civil rights for African-Americans with the term “n-word lovers”), or “not real Jews.”

    Once the conversion law passes, and it will, and American Jews who have been supporting Israel all their lives and defending Israeli government policies find out that they are no longer entitled to the right of return, which will be only for Orthodox Jews, the entire game will change.

    Those so-called liberals and progressives who keep telling themselves that it won’t happen, fail to recognize that the government of Israel is neither liberal nor progressive. They’re the same people who still support Obama no matter what he does. It is easy to ban or stifle the conversation, but history continues whether or not anyone is allowed to talk about it on gatekeeper websites. Once we were slaves in Egypt, but only some of us have ever gotten out of de Nile.

    • Philip Weiss says:

      Thank you mymarkx for the political insights. greatly appreciated

      • The conversion laws have incrementally been implemented, and have contributed to distance between sectors of American Jews and Israeli official institutions.

        Even some American and Canadian orthodox conversions are not recognized in Israel. NO conservative or reform conversions are.

        No marriages performed by conservative or reform rabbis in Israel are recognized as valid in Israel. If they were conducted outside of Israel, they are recognized. For that reason, many Israelis take vacations to where they can legally marry, then return with an authorized marriage.

        The children of unauthorized marriages are religiously regarded as bastards. (Worse than dhimmi status).

        The stresses between the state of Israel and the supporters of Israel are known, and may contribute to “it can’t happen”, in fact, not just in rhetoric.

        It raises important theological questions. The Haredi that I know well, don’t regard Israel as a messianic state, but just as another secular state, that just happens to fraudulently have the name “Israel”. They accept it as a state, like they accept France, or the United States.

        They DO attribute great importance to their now right to visit, study and/or reside in the holy land.

        Shas and a couple other parties, do regard Israel as an incrementally religious state, as the messianic state even.

        That comprises another internal theological divide (even beyond the difference between regarding Zionism as a heretical movement – Satmar vs regarding it as an indifferent secular movement )

        I assume you guys read of the Shas religious leaders comments yesterday, declaring that “Palestinians should perish, that they are enemies of the Jewish people”.

        I think of Shas and Hamas as of similar stripe, not humanists.

        • Mooser says:

          “I think of Shas and Hamas as of similar stripe, not humanists.”

          Good for you! I’ll call the press and the TV networks! When word gets out that Richard Witty said they’re “not humanists” the entire situation will change!

        • Chaos4700 says:

          Considering you don’t even rate Hamas as human, Witty, and at best enforce a Hollywood caricature of “Jooo-hating Moooslem terrorist!” on them, your fluffy whipped posting is a lot of empty calories when it comes to rating its humanistic nutritional value.

        • You two are predictable.

        • potsherd says:

          I see that you commented. Good grief, have you ever actually read the Torah? It’s an ongoing encomium to genocide! If there’s one thing Josef is doing, it’s treading in the bloody footsteps of his Isrealite predecessors.

        • I read Torah daily.

          Maturely, it is NOT presented as a model of perfection, but as a description of reality.

          Josef is relying on selections from Torah to justify his perspective. That is a danger in ALL authoritative literature, religious, political, philosophical even.

          I would counter to him that he might be using Torah to justify a collective covetousness, and that those that fear God in fact, fear abusing the commandments, would be very reticent to wish or recommend any personal or mass violence in that way.

          There is profound substantiation for more humane attitudes in Torah, such “honor the stranger, for you were a stranger in a strange land”, “thou shalt not covet anything that is thy neighbors” and admonishments to apply judgement/law in a color-blind manner.

          You should hear what is said to and by people entering battle/war. Its often horrid. Statements in Torah are horrid, statements in Koran, statements by some Israelis, statements by Palestinians.

          The point is to get to more kindness, in fact, even if just incremental.

        • Chaos4700 says:

          And the fact that Israeli “kindness” comes in the form of white phosphorous doesn’t seem to ever faze you.

    • Mooser says:

      “represent the tip of a very large iceberg.”

      Of Israelis who are willing to destroy Israel? Oh excuse me, of Israelis who are willing to see, maybe, a few of the fruits of their theivery and murder evaporate in return for world approval, maybe?
      Amazing, just amazing how ethnocentric one can be and still be a critic of Israel.

      And what the hell does “progressive” mean? The word just appeared one day, when people got too scared to call themselves liberal, let alone socialist, but it’s one of the weaselest weasel words in the lexicon. It means nothing, unless you want to go look up the old Progressive Party and sign on to their agenda. Please do so, it’s good for a laugh.

      • Chaos4700 says:

        Well, progressivism, liberalism and socialism have all pretty much been killed off in the United States, and we’ve basically condemned ourselves to function like a “third world” country. Which is pretty much what we’re going to become, when the rest of the world figures out that our shell-game economy has nothing under any of the cups anymore.

  30. Siun says:


    I am stunned by this given our continuing overage of IP issues, particularly the free rein and encouragement I’ve received from Jane to write on our flagship front page, warning of the run-up to Cast Lead, 2-3 posts a day during that horror, live blogging of the assault on the Mavi Mamara and much more. I’d suggest you and your readers take a look before launching such an unfounded attack.

    Also, I’ve made a point of linking to you on many occasions and encouraging our readers to follow things here as well.

    While the progressive blogosphere has persistently avoided IP issues, Jane has been one of the only site owners to offer a platform for precisely this type of coverage – and I’d note I have never had my work on IP issues edited or censored in any fashion, only encouraged and promoted.

    Thanks for just dismissing several years of my work and for attacking one of the few spots where IP issues reach a larger audience.

  31. I’ve been involved with how firedoglake deals with the inevitable hassles that ensue in an online community when I/P gets brought up as long as anyone. I post there as Edward Teller, and have written a few front-page articles for fdl and hundreds of essays for The Seminal, the fdl niche at which the exchange between Leen and Rayne occurred. Several of my Seminal diaries have been front-paged at fdl. Some of my I/P diaries have been headlined, but I’m more likely to get headlined there when I write about Alaska politics, as I live in Wasilla and I’m a long-time critic of you-know-who (see chapter 13 of Eric Boehlert’s Bloggers on the Bus).

    I started commenting at fdl shortly after the blog was created. I was one of the first people to attempt to write there about Palestinian rights, militant Zionist expansionism and the concerns many have about the power of the Israel lobby, particularly their influence on congressional decisions.

    From early 2005 until about the time of the 2006 Hezbollah War, it was extremely difficult to comment about I/P without your comment going into moderation for minutes or even hours. If you entered the term “AIPAC” in a comment, the comment went into long, long moderation. We got around that by entering the term “A*P*C,” which skirted the filters.

    That changed in July-August 2006. Since then, there have been hundreds of diaries at various fdl niches that are critical of policies and issues that pertain to Israel.

    In a comment here several weeks back, I linked to a question I had posed in October 2006 to then-Adm. Joe Sestak at a Blue America session at fdl that sought to clarify Sestak’s position on Israeli settlement expansion. Sestak replied. Nobody moderated the exchange. Nor have any of my thousands of comments at fdl on the topics of I/P been moderated or deleted since mid-2006.

    I’m not quite sure what Rayne is attempting to achieve in her very hands-on interjection as “site editor” into some diaries at fdl, but this interjection has not occurred at any of my diaries there. I haven’t written any I/P diaries there since August 8, and this tempest only began last week, from what I’ve been able to determine, so I can’t write that if there is a new policy at fdl regarding I/P diaries, I had noticed it in my contributions.

    I would like to stress, though, that more than any multi-issue progressive blog in the country, fdl has attempted to honestly record the changing environment in how the blogosphere, American politics, cultural trends and other related issues reflect current events in Israel, the occupied territories, Gaza and our own country. Here are the titles of my last five diaries there on I/P-USA issues:

    Thoughts on Abe Foxman’s Speechlessness over Fareed Zakaria’s Return of the ADL’s Humphrey Award

    Israeli Troops Violate U.N. Resolution 1701 in Provocation that Kills at Least Five – War, or Communications Probe?

    Time for Abe Foxman to Apologize to Jimmy Carter

    British Prime Minister Calls Gaza a “Prison Camp”

    Andrew Breitbart’s Next Target? – Oliver Stone

    These are recent, and were written in less than two weeks. Nobody hassled me about writing them. fdl live-blogged the Mavi Marmara fiasco and MV Rachel Corrie interception better than any other multi-issue blog in the western hemisphere.

    I’ve discussed I/P coverage at fdl in e-mails with fdl editors, contributors and Jane Hamsher herself, many times over the past four years. In all these communications, I felt that the people with whom I was corresponding were very fair, and that in the exchanges progress was made.

    What more can one ask of the site, Phil?

  32. Wow, this has been blown a little out of proportion. I participated in some of these discussions on FDL when I had the impression that Kathleen was being treated somewhat as an “energetic but persistent and naive” writer at The Seminal – it seemed as though other commenters were discouraging her by characterizing her as some kind of “one-issue” zealot. But the discussions were mostly civilized (except for some rather dumb ones, like “get your own blog”, etc.), and it never ceases to amaze me how difficult it is for some people to keep a cool head, follow the arguments and not get offended at every occasion. Some at FDL see any discussion about Jane Hamsher (who is pretty impressive, in my opinion) as an attack for some reason, and there is an immediate raising of the shields to come to her defense, as if she needed that.

    Part of the problem is the different natures of the two forms of expression, written and spoken – some of the humor or sarcasm doesn’t come though in the print medium and one has a tendency to interpret statements by default in the most negative possible way, when they are not necessarily negative. There is a lot of susceptibility.

    I think Rayne (the “moderator”), even though he/she is sometimes a little too interventionist in a grammar-school teacher kind of way, is more concerned with what he/she sees as the literary, or journalistic quality of the articles, than the fact that they deal with I/P – I really don’t think there is anything more to it than that. I’ve seen many articles dealing with I/P on The Seminal (E. Teller, Siun, and others, some very critical of Israel), and I don’t think there is any sort of attempt to stifle discussion on this issue. I think Rayne just has a problem with Kathleen’s style of writing, to be honest.

    Lance Thruster got it right higher up, I think :

    The expressed concern is that discussions will deteriorate into heated and nasty exchanges and bring forth smoldering or rampant anti-Semitism ending in bitterness and resentment among people who otherwise share a good deal of the same political views.

    However, in an effort to stay within the boundaries of decorum and good manners, certain aspects of the problem are not addressed because people are afraid to develop their ideas fully for fear of intimidating or offending others. This is a problem, in my opinion, because it installs a sort of self-censorship.

  33. Kathleen says:

    great comments above great post by Phillip and thoughtful comments. Let me repeat I deeply respect what Jane Hamsher and her team do at FDL. But do think there is an avoidance by our so called progressive leaders when they have the spotlight where it is appropriate to at least whisper about this issue perplexing. Glenn Greenwald takes it on head on (one of the only progressive folks who does this when he has the spotlight) Have also really found the recent and past attacks moderators over at FDL confusing and inappropriate.

    I stand by what I said earlier

    “My challenge the other day was not demanding that Jane take this issue on– just mention it for instance in her 45 minutes on Washington Journal when it would have been perfectly appropriate for her to include the I/P issue in the lineup of issues that the left was not so happy with the Obama administration on. All I asked was to include this issue, whisper about it.

    “I’m really not sure what Jane’s avoidance is about this issue. I just do not know how one can not consider this issue progressive. How is this avoidance any different than what Rachel Maddow, Ed, Dylan Ratigan, Keith avoid? These characters completely avoided covering the Goldstone Report. Silence on the settlements.”

    Know the folks here at Mondoweiss will keep pushing and bringing people here to read important information about the I/P conflict.

    And yes Siun and Ed Teller have written about the I/P conflict at FDL. But the heavy hitters seem to avoid. Understand to some degree that it is not their interest.

    We need to keep hammering our MSM the progressive bloggers etc. This issue is we all know one of the most if not the most critical issue to resolve in the middle east.

    Please contact Rachel Maddow, Keith , Matthews, Ed, Dylan Ratigan and ask them why they do not touch this issue. They did not even whisper about the Goldstone Report. Silence

    Will be out of the loop the next few days. Painting metal roofs if the whether stays clear.

    Hope folks will come together on this issue. Hope some might admit that there is room for improvement.

  34. Kathleen says:

    Siun put a great one up . Maybe FDL could pay her or Ed Teller to do this weekly? Whether Jane thinks the I/P issue is just my “pet issue” Leaders in the middle east have for years been trying to get the MSM’s spotlight on this issue, Heads of the Iaea have been trying, former Cia analyst have been trying. Former President Jimmy Carter, Norman Finkelstein, Amy Goodman and others have been trying. This is not a “pet issue” this is one of the most critical issues in the middle east. This is stated over and over again as one of the reasons some people are willing to strap on bombs and try to take out Americans. Think we should keep looking at it, bringing it up on the MSM when we can , contacting MSM and progressive blogs, Congresspeople. Keep up or start pressuring

    link to seminal.firedoglake.com

  35. Kathleen says:

    Is this Jane saying this? “@Renois “Classy” equals “honest” and if you were, you’d call @MondoWeiss a liar too instead of lauding his bs as “important” & “influential”

    Never follow facebook. Unless I missed it Phillip never called Jane a “liar”

    • Kathleen says:

      I mean twitter. I hope the conversation between all of us (Jane, Philip, Siun, Ed etc ) moves to there is plenty of room for improvement on bringing the I/P issue into the spotlight based on facts and reality.

      Just a few whispers when our progressive blogging heavy hitters have the national spotlight and where it fits in during those interviews

      Well unless a person believes the I/P issue is not that important

  36. CTuttle says:

    Like Philip Munger, I’m a longtime FDL contributor and blog extensively on I/P issues (take a gander…), Jane and the larger FDL community should not be construed as ‘Progressive, except for Palestine’… That is factually inaccurate…! Leen and I are great friends (at least in my eyes) and frequently contribute to each other’s Diaries…! Please do not paint FDL with that paint brush…!

    • Kathleen says:

      Yes friends.

      Do you think Rayne the new moderator over there is making extreme demands? Thought it was so odd that she/he popped up as the first commenter when I put a post up.

  37. Rowan says:

    I must say though that as far as domestic US politics goes, Marcy Wheeler (‘emptywheel’) is hard to beat for subversive gossip and speculation. It was she who single-handedly brought down the Bush 43 regime, dealing it the decisive psychological blow by dubbing its press secretary, Dana Perino, “pig missile”.

  38. Why am I not surprised? The liberal/progressive blogosphere follows the “mainstream” narrative, by and large, which frames discussion/debate according to “democratic party” needs. It becomes a question of how to help “the party.” And, in the end, that ends up framing the choice of moderators/blog admin on the left. Some “liberal” bloggers choose to eliminate opposing views because they are clueless — Riverdaughter at The Confluence and Taylor Marsh– some because they are acquiescing in Democratic Party funding needs, i.e., they don’t want to be the cause of any negative associations which might limit donations to the party or give the GOP a weapon to use against them with the rest of the clueless public! I haven’t read FDL in some time, having cut my associations to the Democratic Party; but if Philip Munger and Kathleen Galt at FDL are engaging in actual debate and discussion, like Mondoweiss, Loewenstein, and Karon are not afraid to do, then maybe I’ll check out FDL. I won’t get my hopes up, however; I’ve been burned, and banned, by left-leaning blogs too many times to count, and banned for even posting links to Mondoweiss.