Changes to the Mondoweiss comment policy

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Several times in the life of this site, we’ve revised the comments policy so as to limit offensive speech. We’re about to do so again—and this time move the goal line. Whereas in the past we have published comments on the basis of whether they abide by certain ground rules, our new policy will involve editorial discretion about the content of comments. Yes that is a subjective test, but we have no other choice.

Obviously this decision is a result of the recent flap over anti-Semitic comments posted from the Free Gaza Movement Twitter account. That incident has prompted a lot of soul searching inside the movement for Palestinian human rights, because it showed that a significant part of the community wants to talk about Israeli policy in the context of Jewish history and Jewish identity, and do so in a highly critical manner. Clearly a lot of people, including many in our community, want to have these conversations and regard them as necessary to resolving the Middle East conflict. We don’t. We are tired of serving as a platform for this discussion, including in the comment section, and don’t see the conversation as a productive one. From here on out, the Mondoweiss comment section will no longer serve as a forum to pillory Jewish culture and religion as the driving factors in Israeli and US policy.

We are making this change because this discussion makes for a toxic, often racist, discourse, and scares off others who would otherwise be drawn to the issues this site concerns itself with. Obviously some of our own posts have broached issues of Jewish identity; and we will continue to publish critiques of Jewish identity construction and analyses of the Jewish political establishment—what Tony Judt called the most powerful Jewish community since the Roman Empire. But we’re going to sharply circumscribe commenters’ freedom to address these issues as a special or unique Jewish problem, or to post arguments that any form of collective Jewish community-building is negative. We believe in free speech, and expect that these commenters will find a place on line to have their conversation. We just don’t want it here; it interferes too much with our work.

In addition, will be redoubling our effort to adhere to our current comments policy in a stricter manner – no personal attacks, no trolling. We want the comment section to be a constructive addition to the discussion of the site and these practices only undercut it.

What’s allowed? What’s not? We’re going to have a tight screen on comments, almost as if they’re letters to the editor, deciding which are good enough to be posted. We’ll lose some casual comments inevitably and we understand this change will lead to a decline of the conversational nature of the comment section. We regard this as a loss, but we don’t see a way around it.

We greatly value the comments section on this site. We’ve all learned a lot from the commenters here, who are better informed than some of the writers. Indeed several of the commenters have become contributors, Annie Robbins wouldn’t be an assistant here were it not for the comment section, and we do not want to lose the insight, knowledge and passion that many of the commenters here hold for the issues we cover. We believe this change will lead to highlighting the best part of our comment section, while reducing the volume that often obscures the best it has to offer.

We are proud of this site because we think it has a vital and historic role to play in reforming American policy. Clearly the rich comment section is not incidental to that role, but a major part of the life of the site. Please help us as we institute this policy by trying to be more thoughtful in your remarks.

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132 Responses

  1. soysauce
    October 24, 2012, 10:07 am

    Good move and long overdue. Thank you.

    • LeaNder
      October 24, 2012, 11:28 am

      I agree, somehow all the fights over the years, which I also consider pretty futile by now, could be easily classified under this category.

      concerning this:

      We’ll lose some casual comments inevitably and we understand this change will lead to a decline of the conversational nature of the comment section

      Strictly I anticipated this to happen, when the site changed into a more professional format, but it obviously did not happen.

      Good decision, Phil, Adam. I know, I am not representative, as Mooser, (thanks Danaa for bringing this to the surface of my gray cells) I wouldn’t join any club that would accept me as a member. You always have to somehow surrender to the pressure of group dynamics. The last sentence was a random explanation. Fact is, in 62 years, I never was.

      Now I realize that will also indirectly banish his occasional humorist escapades into the topic, which quite honestly, I will miss. ;)

  2. edwin
    October 24, 2012, 10:21 am

    As the comment policy becomes more complicated it becomes harder and harder to follow. Probably a reason for refusing a comment would be helpful. (do not allow argumentation over that reason – just delete such posts)

  3. seafoid
    October 24, 2012, 10:51 am

    I thought this was good :

    link to mondoweiss.net

    “Your culture and the culture of the site’s postings are quite different and not in sync. Phil and Adam may think otherwise, but it is my view that the posting culture would be better served if the two cultures separated and had different sites. ”

    It does seem as though there are certain cultural factors which are driving Israel towards the cliff. But maybe not here.

    • Mooser
      October 24, 2012, 2:31 pm

      “It does seem as though there are certain cultural factors which are driving Israel towards the cliff. But maybe not here.”

      Israeli culture is driving Israel towards the cliff? Can’t argue with that. Want to call it “Jewish culture” which is driving Israel towards the cliff, you got problems.
      And once again, it’s ground that Mondoweiss can more than concede.

      • seanmcbride
        October 24, 2012, 3:02 pm

        Mooser,

        Israeli culture is driving Israel towards the cliff? Can’t argue with that. Want to call it “Jewish culture” which is driving Israel towards the cliff, you got problems. And once again, it’s ground that Mondoweiss can more than concede.

        The Israeli government and the Israel lobby themselves *CLAIM* to be speaking for “the Jews,” the Jewish people, the Jewish tradition, Jewish values and Judaism, with very little opposition from the worldwide Jewish establishment — including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and its 51 organizational members:

        link to en.wikipedia.org

        Is my remark even remotely controversial? It is the plain truth.

        Dissident groups like Mondoweiss occupy the far margins of the Jewish world. Do I have this wrong?

        More than 98% of Benjamin Netanyahu’s funding comes from non-Israeli sources.

        The NJDC (National Jewish Democratic Council) speaks for the Jewish establishment in the Democratic Party and the RJC (Republican Jewish Coalition) for the Jewish establishment in the Republican Party. Both groups are under the control of AIPAC, which is a member of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Which is another way of saying that the Jewish lobby is the backbone of the Israel lobby.

        Now that I think about it, I have never seen you take in interest in the *social science* of analyzing the Israel lobby. But you have made me laugh out loud many times, for which I pay you high honors.

      • seanmcbride
        October 24, 2012, 3:20 pm

        Here are the 51 members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations as listed on that group’s own website:

        link to conferenceofpresidents.org

        1. Ameinu
        2. American Friends of Likud
        3. American Gathering/Federation of Jewish Holocaust Survivors
        4. America-Israel Friendship League
        5. American Israel Public Affairs Committee
        6. American Jewish Committee
        7. American Jewish Congress
        8. American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
        9. American Sephardi Federation
        10. American Zionist Movement
        11. Americans for Peace Now
        12. AMIT
        13. Anti-Defamation League
        14. Association of Reform Zionists of America
        15. B’nai B’rith International
        16. Bnai Zion
        17. Central Conference of American Rabbis
        18. Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
        19. Development Corporation for Israel / State of Israel Bonds
        20. Emunah of America
        21. Friends of Israel Defense Forces
        22. Hadassah, Women’s Zionist Organization of America
        23. Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
        24. Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life
        25. Jewish Community Centers Association
        26. Jewish Council for Public Affairs
        27. The Jewish Federations of North America
        28. Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
        29. Jewish Labor Committee
        30. Jewish National Fund
        31. Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
        32. Jewish Women International
        33. MERCAZ USA, Zionist Organization of the Conservative Movement
        34. NA’AMAT USA
        35. NCSJ: Advocates on behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia
        36. National Council of Jewish Women
        37. National Council of Young Israel
        38. ORT America
        39. Rabbinical Assembly
        40. Rabbinical Council of America
        41. Religious Zionists of America
        42. Union for Reform Judaism
        43. Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
        44. United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
        45. WIZO
        46. Women’s League for Conservative Judaism
        47. Women of Reform Judaism
        48. Workmen’s Circle
        49. World ORT
        50. World Zionist Executive, US
        51. Zionist Organization of America

      • Mooser
        October 24, 2012, 3:47 pm

        “The Israeli government and the Israel lobby themselves *CLAIM* to be speaking for “the Jews,” the Jewish people, the Jewish tradition, Jewish values and Judaism”

        And you believe them? That’s your problem. But if I were you, considering how truthful they are about everything else, I’d view their contentions with a lot of scepticism. I mean, they would say that, wouldn’t they?

      • tokyobk
        October 24, 2012, 5:17 pm

        Saudi Arabia is the guardian of Islam’s holiest site and claims to also be the guardian of Sunni Islam itself. So what.

      • German Lefty
        October 24, 2012, 5:28 pm

        @ Mooser:

        And you believe them?

        No, of course not. However, there are a lot of non-Jews who do believe that Israel speaks for all Jews, because the MSM keep ignoring the existence of anti-Zionist Jews. I think we should be allowed to discuss this conflation here on Mondoweiss, because it is a problem. Just because we talk about the conflation of Judaism and Zionism doesn’t mean that we approve of it.

        In my teenage years, when I saw a Star of David somewhere, I got sad, because it reminded me of the Holocaust. Nowadays, when I see a Star of David somewhere, I get angry, because it reminds me of the Israeli flag and what Israel does to Palestinians. Zionists misuse Judaism. They do it so successfully that even my subconsciousness falls for it, although I actually do know better.

      • seanmcbride
        October 24, 2012, 5:46 pm

        Mooser,

        You chopped off that sentence. Here is the meat of my comment:

        with very little opposition from the worldwide Jewish establishment — including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and its 51 organizational members….

        Do you see the problem? The elephant in the room? One could reasonably conclude from this state of affairs that the Israeli government and the Israel lobby are in fact speaking for the Jewish establishment.

        Should this be a topic of discussion on Mondoweiss or not? It rather goes to the heart of the matter. I don’t think it is I who has the problem.

      • seanmcbride
        October 24, 2012, 6:52 pm

        Mooser,

        Check this out:

        “In Christian version of AIPAC conference, CUFI draws 5,600 to Washington for pro-Israel lobbying” (July 17, 2012)
        link to jta.org

        Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, who addressed the CUFI delegates during a session on the importance of Christian Zionism, told JTA that he has spoken with Hagee about the matter and believes him.

        Both Christians and Jews believe they are living out God’s mandate and that their understanding of the messiah is correct, said Riskin, an Orthodox rabbi in the West Bank community of Efrat and founder of the Israel-based Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation. “They have the right to believe that because I believe at the end of days all of the Christians will convert to Judaism.”

        “Christian Zionism is tremendously important because now we’re in the midst of a religious war,” Riskin said. “There are 1 billion-plus Muslims and there are 2 billion-plus Christians. For us, Christian friendship is critical. ”

        Among the Jewish presenters at the conference were Sen. Joe Lieberman (I.-Conn.); Ari Fleischer, a former George W. Bush White House spokesman; Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; and Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America.

        Mondoweiss readers know what John Hagee and CUFI stand for.

        Notice that Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations attended the conference and helped provide it with legitimacy.

        Notice that Rabbi Shlomo Riskin framed current world affairs in terms of a RELIGIOUS WAR against 1-billion-plus Muslims.

        More:

        “The entire territory from the Jordan to the Mediterranean” is God’s “gift to the Jewish people,” said Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg, who three decades ago helped Hagee organize his first Christian Salute to Israel event, to strong applause. “It is not stolen land. It is the eternal heritage of the Jewish people.”

        Hagee told the crowd, “The Bible is a Zionist text beginning with the fact that God created the world and as the owner of the world he entered into a contract with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants forever and gave them the land. Israel does not occupy the land, they own the land!”

        Mooser: is this a Jewish issue as well as an Israeli issue? Is this an issue that greatly involves Judaism? To what degree? Should these be legitimate topics for discussion on Mondoweiss? Who exactly has the problem here?

      • Bruce
        October 24, 2012, 9:26 pm

        @ seanmcbride

        According to a National Jewish Population Study 2000/01 (United Jewish Communities), synagogue membership rates among American Jews equal 40% and Jewish Community Center membership stands at 17%. Just 10% of American Jews give $100 or more to their Federation campaigns (the largest of the Jewish charity organizations) and just 21% contribute to any other Jewish cause.

        Membership in JCCs and Federation campaigns are mostly about communal social services than anything else. The US has one of the most undeveloped social welfare systems in the developed world, and so such services are a major concern, especially if you anticipate the need for elderly care in your future.

        American Jews are not that organized. Do we really know who speaks for them?

        Jewish Voices for Peace probably has more members than most of the organizations on your CoP list, far more than AIPAC.

        At least one of the organizations on your list, the Workmen’s Circle, has chapters sponsoring BDS meetings.

        None of the organizations above have democratically-elected leaderships. Major donors usually determine the leadership.

        I don’t know of a single American Jew (and I am not claiming the ones I know are representative) who is comfortable with the Prime Minister of Israel claiming he speaks for all Jews in anything.

        In American politics, money talks. US political parties and politicians effectively control American voters with fear. Jews are not alone in this respect. But if you want to unite American Jews of all persuasions, keep telling them that they are overly fixated on the Holocaust and that they suffer from a perpetual sense of victimhood.

      • Shlomo
        October 25, 2012, 6:17 am

        Oy! What are the new boundaries here?

        How can we NOT compare how a state acts with the religion it claims to represent?

        What drives many (maybe not enough) people nuts is that Israel CLAIMS to embody Judaism and be a JEWISH state while acting entirely different. At least based on what the confused THOUGHT they new about Jewish culture/beliefs.

        Perhaps the site’s founders feel set upon, not hearing enough “good stuff” about Jews. Maybe they’re being understandably defensive.

        Israel used to (at least appeared to) be benevolent. A Disney-like “Kibbutz Land” filled with earnest Holocaust-era Jews and vaudeville comedians. Most Americans thought Israel was the “tiny country that could,” a place their Jewish neighbors supported with Israeli bonds.

        That is, the Jewish State was like America, but with sand and bushes and hills. A place on Christmas cards, Jesus a blue-eyed Viking-wannabe. Slightly exotic (being in the Mideast), but friendly like “Uncle Milty.”

        After 1967-73 that image morphed. Israel was now the “righteous, fighting Jew”…a state version of liberal Jews forefront in the Civil Rights movement.

        At the same time Arabs went from being “mysterious” to somewhat malevolent.

        Now I’m not overlooking quotas and “gentlemen’s agreements” and so on. Just saying that 40-60 years ago Israel was both less known and better liked in America. Only recently have Americans started to notice Sharon wasn’t Seinfeld.

        That may be due to traditionally liberal (Reform?) Jews having assimilated so well. They’re not considered Jews so much. Instead, the more extreme Jewish enclaves (Ultra Orthodox…in Brooklyn, etc.) are now standing out. And they seem more aligned (and openly so) with Israel.

        This confuses and upsets non-Jews. They were fond of the Israel they knew from EXODUS (Uris’ book and the movie score). Now…?

        The Internet has abetted the “shock.” Benny Morris et alia not only revised Israel’s founding, they made their findings widely available. Shocking things have been revealed. It’s like learning priests molest children. Like visiting Amish country and seeing the natives drunk, having outdoor sex, and filming it all on their iPhones.

        That is, the mind boggles.

        Explanations are sought.

        People hear liberal Jews talk about “healing the world” as images of Gazans being blown to shitereens flicker on TVs behind them. The talkers don’t seem to notice or care. That confuses observers.

        Why HAVE so many Reform and “liberal” Jews done and said so little as Israel ran amok? How DID they feel about it all? Did they ever talk in private with fellow Jews? Were they angry? Embarrassed? Confused? Scared?

        Compounding all THAT is the fact that Israel sometimes (often? too often?) does things Nazi Germany did, things Jews normally condemn. It’s like watching a formerly bullied child, given tons of TLC, becoming a bully in turn. The world seems insane.

        Any of this making sense? Am I breaking the new rules?

        It’s like discussing the Katyn Forest massacre. Suppose a Pole says how horrid it was, the cream of Polish officers slaughtered by Russians. Suppose he also says he’s PARTICULARLY upset because he’s Catholic and vehemently opposes killing. Imagine he then brags about Polish partisans who rounded up and murdered Jew on -the-run. Your head’d feels like it would explode. You’d want to ask how he can hold beliefs that conflict with praised actions.

        Similarly, people are starting ask how Jews can support an Israel that thumbs its nose at Judaism.

        If Israel were the “Vulcan State” I doubt “Jewish beliefs/traditions” would be of any concern. At least not to anyone not out of his Vulcan mind (!). But a “Jewish” country, championing a particular faith and culture, DOES give rise to questions about its conduct and stated beliefs.

        Put another way: How SHOULD a state that represents the best Jewish traditions look/act? How do Reform Jews view the Ultra-Orthodox here in America? Are Mideast problems caused by the latter filling Israel while the former flee? Would parts of Brooklyn be like Israel if the NYPD stopped monitoring it?

        I think it germane (german?) to ask why Deutschland’s Christian acted like devils. I think it helpful to ask where the insanity came from: religion? Particular branches of religion? Something in German culture? Child-rearing practices (like Alice Miller and others suggest)? Aryanism? Paganism? The 30 Years War? Versailles? What allowed someone name Eisenhower (“iron hewer”) to fight other Germans?

        That is, what mix makes things toxic? If only Reform Jews were allowed to become Israeli citizens would things be different? Are Ultra Orthodox all nuts? If not, why have so many suddenly become zealots? What makes someone a die -hard Zionist?

        Finally, does the culture of Jews/Judaism have the best chance to rein-in Israel? Or is the real problem strings-free aid, UN vetoes, and U.S. military might? Is defaning AIPAC the way to go?

      • seanmcbride
        October 25, 2012, 9:26 am

        Bruce,

        American Jews are not that organized. Do we really know who speaks for them?

        We know who claims to speak for them: the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and its 51 constituent organizations (including AIPAC, the ADL and numerous organizational representatives of establishment Judaism). The CoP is passionately pro-Israel and pro-Zionist and has even developed warm relations with Christian Zionists like John Hagee. The CoP is probably the most influential organization within the American Jewish establishment and works hand in glove with AIPAC (which is one of its sub-0rganizations).

        I don’t know of a single American Jew (and I am not claiming the ones I know are representative) who is comfortable with the Prime Minister of Israel claiming he speaks for all Jews in anything.

        If most Jews oppose the Israeli government and the Israel lobby then why haven’t they been able to organize an effective opposition against them? Why does the Israeli government continue to build settlements in the occupied territories with the manifestly declared objective of constructing biblical Eretz Yisrael?

        You seem to be confused, by the way. No one has claimed that “the Jews” are monolithic. What has been stated is that many elements of the Jewish establishment and the Israel lobby *CLAIM* to be speaking for “the Jews” — based on *THEIR* assumption that “the Jews” represent a messianic ethno-religious nationalist collective. That is the most pressing issue that needs to be addressed in discussing the role of the Israel lobby in American politics. These self-proclaimed representatives of “the Jewish people” (and that includes many prominent neoconservatives) are much more conspicuous and powerful on the American public stage than people like you, Bruce. Why is this the case?

        Why do you try to muddy the waters by repeatedly setting up and arguing with your own straw men? My impression is that most of your comments are deliberately obfuscatory — you are the anti-Danaa. You find it difficult to deal with the real arguments that are being made, as in the previous paragraph.

      • seanmcbride
        October 25, 2012, 10:42 am

        Shlomo,

        Any of this making sense? Am I breaking the new rules?

        You are making perfect sense to the sensible people here.

        Regarding discussions of culture and ideology: policies and acts flow from cultural and ideological systems. If you want to understand the deeds, understand the ideas that drive the deeds. If you want to change the behavior, change the ideas and beliefs behind the behavior.

        Ideas rule the world.

        Cultural and ideological issues concerning Zionism are discussed all the time in the mainstream Israeli and American Jewish press because they are extremely important and are the core drivers of political behavior. It would be exceptionally strange if Mondoweiss began to censor discourse that is conducted all the time in the pages of Haaretz or Forward.

        Mondoweiss’s motto: “The War of IDEAS in the Middle East.”

      • Walker
        October 25, 2012, 10:58 am

        Bruce, that is a wonderful post. It would be helpful if all of us who get angry with the power of the Israel lobby keep this in mind.

        At the same time, there is no mistaking that what some Jews believe about Jewishness has a powerful effect on their behavior vis a vis Israel. When Elliot Abrams, a former National Security Council Senior Director for Near East and North African Affairs says “Jews are in a permanent covenant with God and with the land of Israel and its people. Their commitment will not weaken if the Israeli government pursues unpopular policies”, this is rooted in his view of Judaism . Jewish religious and cultural tropes can affect all of us that way. In any genuine conversation they must be must be subject to open criticism. We seldom have an honest conversation, which is why, scandalously, Abrams’ opinion expressed above has not been the subject of public debate, considering his public power and responsibilities.

        In his forward to Israel Shahak’s Jewish History, Jewish Religion, Edward Said said that understanding the religious and cultural beliefs of Jewish Israelis was essential to understanding Israeli policies. I believe that is completely true, and it also can apply in cases to American supporters of Israel. (Caution – this book is dangerous if taken as a determinist view of how Jews think).

        A recent AJC survey said that 71% of American Jews agreed with the statement “Caring about Israel is a very important part of my being a Jew”. I must admit that I think of this whenever I hear of a Jew being appointed to an key national security position, or making a large political donation. This is an issue that powerfully affects the whole country, and must be discussed.

        At the same time, Bruce, your point that Jews have all kinds of opinions, and that the Jewish Lobby whose organizations seanmcbride enumerates tends to represent the most pro-Israeli Jews, must always be kept in mind. It’s a big canvas. We’re all on it together.

      • seafoid
        October 25, 2012, 12:17 pm

        “But if you want to unite American Jews of all persuasions, keep telling them that they are overly fixated on the Holocaust and that they suffer from a perpetual sense of victimhood”

        Or that they are threatened by a new Persian holocaust and that any criticism of Israel is criticism of their community

      • Bruce
        October 25, 2012, 3:39 pm

        @seanmcbride

        We know who claims to speak for them

        As Mooser already asked you, “so you take them at their word?” How do we know who the ADL represents other than Abe Foxman and his contributors? Most American Jews can’t stand Christian Zionists such as John Hagee. So why does the CoP develop warm relations with them? Why did many Independent Jews end up voting for Obama in 2008? They were afraid of Sarah Palin.

        All establishment groups, all lobbies and all politicians claim (by the way, you don’t have to shout, it won’t make your argument any more true) they represent the will of some much larger collective. Have you ever heard a candidate or pol start with, “What the American people want ….”? Your insight is just trivial. And even then, you can’t help but use hyperbole. Even the Lobby doesn’t say Jews are a messianic collective. You just can’t help yourself. Over on Ellis’ posting, I did what you asked and put together a number of your bombastic statements on “Jewishness” (if they let it through under the new comments policy).

        If most Jews oppose the Israeli government and the Israel lobby then why haven’t they been able to organize an effective opposition against them?

        The view of American Jews towards the current Israeli government is quite mixed, but the current government is a stable coalition in Israel. You want American Jews to effectively interfere in Israeli politics, but want Israelis to stay out of ours. American Jews are not going to organize to overthrow Netanyahu, but if Obama decided to do it, as Clinton did, the majority of American Jews would go along. Obama was unwilling to take the political risk. Bush I and Clinton were.

        Some American Jews are organizing against the Israel Lobby. JVP has many more members than AIPAC. J Street is playing an inside game, trying to get into a position to draw off some of AIPAC’s rich resources, so they can compete in paying off Congressmen. We won’t know J Street’s true positions until they develop sufficient political muscle. (This doesn’t mean that I agree with J Street’s positions or strategy.)

        Very few American Jews fund the Israel Lobby, but due to their resources AIPAC and associates have information hegemony. This is a problem throughout American politics. The US is a plutocracy and corporate state, not a democracy. Get use to it, as it is only going to get worse in the near future.

        As poll reveals, Israel is way down there as a concern for American Jewish voters. Like most Americans, most American Jews are more concerned about other issues. They don’t accept the collective responsibility you want to assign to them.

        There is a contradiction between the professed liberal values of the majority of American Jews and their support (no matter how intense or nominal) for an increasingly right-wing and religious hegemonic Israel. Until now, too many have been in willful denial of the Israeli reality. But also, as everyone on MW knows, the information flow from US corporate media and US society itself is highly skewed on all issues. But the tensions are so great and so visible, American Jews will have to either adjust their values or resolve the dissonance eventually. Apartheid is being increasingly formalized in Israel. American Jews could go either way in my opinion. What needs to be recognized is that the US and even Europe are in analogous situations. Americans and Europeans may move in a similar direction as the Israelis, and that will make it much easier for American Jews to do the same.

        I ask you why have American Christians not been more effective in organizing to assist their fellow Christians in Palestine or all Palestinians for that matter? I tried to organize some events with Methodist churches in my area. The pastors are afraid of the splits within their congregations, not the pressures from the Zionist lobbies.

        These self-proclaimed representatives of “the Jewish people” (and that includes many prominent neoconservatives) are much more conspicuous and powerful on the American public stage than people like you, Bruce. Why is this the case?

        As my lawyer once said to me, “Because they have more money than you.”

        You want to help? Raise money for JVP, that is if you can get over their position on Greta Berlin.

      • Danaa
        October 24, 2012, 4:26 pm

        @ Mooser

        Israeli culture is driving Israel towards the cliff? Can’t argue with that. Want to call it “Jewish culture” which is driving Israel towards the cliff, you got problems.

        Actually, I would say (and have been saying in oh so many guises…) that Israeli culture is what’s driving Jewish culture over the cliff. You may want to – but cannot – untie the knot that binds one to the other, because there are great forces that resist a disconnect. The two greatest risks posed by Israel are to the palestinians and to Jewish culture the world over. The horror show unfolding over there is bound to poison the healthy tissue over here (and elsewhere in the world at large) because zionism is like a highly infectious agent (need I say “Christian Zionists”?). You really don’t think, Mooser, that Israel can go all apartheid and uber-colonialist/militarist/xenophobic without serious repercussions for those Jewish groups that by and large support them in the “greater israel” project? and by osmosis, any jewish group, including fiercely enlightened ones. Have you noticed what happened to American foreign policy? did you watch that travesty of a foreign policy “debate” the other day where it was all drones and Israel and muscular power projection?

        I know that the first collateral victim of Israel’s malfeasance will, in fact, be the vaunted jewish culture. How do I know? because I stopped finding Jon Stewart’s little yiddish asides and all-in-the-family jokes cute. When he does it now, I cringe. instead of funny it feels condescending (like pulling rank –). When I hear a nice jewish joke now I can’t stop thinking of the palestinians whose olive harvest is disrupted, homes taken and children hauled off in the middle of the night. I see, in front of me – always – that sad eyed palestinian girl sitting outside her demolished home (you know which one, right?). And what chuckle I had coming at some nice Jewish joke is frozen stiff in my throat. Instead of feelings of warmth, I shiver.

        To me not being able to laugh at jokes – or having but a stunted sense of pride upon reading about some great American Jewish achiever – are the first tell-tale signs that something is seriously amiss.

        I just finished reading “The Jewish century”. Rather than elated, or impressed, it left me ever-so-sad, for many reasons. Mostly I had a sense of great loss – so much done and accomplished by so many – only to have the memory of it all, the impressive historic heritage, soiled by a brutish enterprise gone toxic.

        First zion (Israel) is bound to drag second zion (of the USA) with it. That’s what I often lament. I escaped what I considered a moribound, militaristic, ultra-conformist, inward looking cult of first zion to find the second refreshingly thriving and vibrant – and largely new (to me). Nowadays it feels like there’s no escape. Not really. The tentacles of the cult seem to be everywhere, suffocating anything that which gives it nourishment. If that’s not a tragedy I don’t know what is.

        Sorry for going all OT.

      • seanmcbride
        October 24, 2012, 5:12 pm

        Danaa,

        You just penned a classic comment in an authentic voice — a real keeper in the spirit of keeping it real.

      • Mooser
        October 24, 2012, 5:56 pm

        Danaa, thanks for sharing your thoughts.
        I’m reeling from “because it showed that a significant part of the community wants to talk about Israeli policy in the context of Jewish history and Jewish identity, and do so in a highly critical manner.”
        (I’m sorta thinkin’ “critical” was meant to be an understatement, and ‘derogatory’ or ‘bigoted’ was more what they had in mind in that statement.)
        I hardly know what to make of that.

      • irishmoses
        October 24, 2012, 6:03 pm

        Danaa said,
        “When I hear a nice jewish joke now I can’t stop thinking of the palestinians whose olive harvest is disrupted, homes taken and children hauled off in the middle of the night. I see, in front of me – always – that sad eyed palestinian girl sitting outside her demolished home (you know which one, right?). And what chuckle I had coming at some nice Jewish joke is frozen stiff in my throat. Instead of feelings of warmth, I shiver.”
        ______________

        You have hit on something that has been troubling me more and more in the past six months or so: how I now tend to identify or attach Jews I encounter to the Palestinian problem even though the encounter generally has nothing at all to do with Palestine. It’s a very subtle thing, a tiny momentary thought or feeling, barely conscious. It’s like a quick rebuke that flashes through my mind, a “how could you” as in how could you be discussing your accomplishments, how could be talking eloquently about the election and Obama, how could you be telling funny jokes, how could you be talking about the latest sports news, how could you…, how could you…, all while people who share your religious belief and who you have the closest cultural and kinship ties, continue to oppress another people in your name?

        I’ve tried to suppress this reaction feeling it was the beginning or maybe a sign of latent anti-Semitism in me. At one point I was going to write about it hoping that Phil would publish it as a valuable look at the reaction of a non-Jew to what was happening inside himself. I decided not to, I guess because being a non-Jew in this discussion is to be alien, tolerated but not really welcome. But Danaa, what you have noticed in yourself, as a Jew, is now showing up in the non-Jews as well. I’m not sure if that is healthy or scary.

        I began to talk around this issue in the earlier “If only one it was just one tweet” thread, also in response to a posting by Danaa (10/18, 11:58pm). My point was that the Palestine problem is not a Zionism problem, it is a Jewish problem and an American problem because the latter two groups enable, fund, equip, and protect the Zionists (Likud version) to do what they do (10/19, 2:19pm). My argument, which drew virtually no responses, was that there was a collective guilt attached to this issue (10/20, 1:21am).

        So Danaa, once again you have framed a critical issue. Hopefully some useful dialogue will spring from it.

      • Mooser
        October 24, 2012, 7:49 pm

        When we pay the price for Zionism, I don’t think we will have a choice as to how we pay it. It wouldn’t surprise me if our carefully nurtered history or culture or self-image takes a hit, and if our sense of ourselves is seriously dislocated.

      • yourstruly
        October 25, 2012, 1:19 pm

        irishmoses
        ….because being a non-Jew in this discussion is to be alien?

        alien on a matter (palestine/israel) that, accept it or not, involves all of us (humans, that is) in what’s possibly a doomsday scenario? despite this, withdrawing from the fray, rather than taking on one of the worst threats to humankind ever?* isn’t this tantamount to ceding the fate of all life on earth to fanatical zealots? you can’t be serious.

        *another being global warming

      • Chu
        October 25, 2012, 3:14 pm

        Irish Moses,
        Danaa’s comment made me feel that I am not the only one who is tired of the charade of Israel. One state, two or three, the damage has been done for decades from the Zionist plan. And everyone wants to act like it doesn’t exist, but it does and is a detriment to peace and grates at societies so-called moral values of the west (as do many other issues).
        Israeli’s need to be kept on a short leash, but they always want more, because they are living in a bubble that is funded and supported by outside zionist help, as well as buttressed by other american influence as well. The US could stop their supply of weapons and unending support between the two nations and I think the surrounding Arab states would look like better partners for peace from inside Israel.

  4. American
    October 24, 2012, 11:12 am

    Fine by me, I have said repeatedly that dredging up ancient history on Jews or Judaism, pro or con, is a waste of time and doesn’t do anything to address the ‘today’ Israel problem. This is a Today Political Problem. It is what it is and it doesn’t matter how it came about except as relates to the political aspects of zionism.

    However, regarding this…..
    ”Obviously some of our own posts have broached issues of Jewish identity; and we will continue to publish critiques of Jewish identity construction and analyses of the Jewish political establishment’

    It has looked to me that comments and arguments over Jewish identity and etc come from some of these articles and from some commenters, usually zio defenders themselves, who as their last resort get into trying to prove Jewish peoplehood and etc, and justifying zionism by linking Judaism and ancient and present Jewish culture to ‘religious zionism’ I guess you could say. Then many on here who are knowledgeable or into the historical aspects get into fact and fiction battles over the positive-negative Jewish religion and culture.

    Anytime anyone’s religion or culture is brought up or injected into some present controversy it is inviting comment,opinions or critique. I get your purpose but it’s gonna be a very line to walk.

    • tokyobk
      October 24, 2012, 11:41 am

      Its a good decision beyond Jewish sensibilities because Islamophobia and racism against Palestinians and Arabs also depends on demonization of religion and culture.
      Its not at all a matter of pleasing the Jewish community but about standing in a morally correct and consistent position.

      There will be peace in the ME when what is bad for the goose is also bad for the gander.

      • seanmcbride
        October 24, 2012, 2:38 pm

        tokyobk

        Its a good decision beyond Jewish sensibilities because Islamophobia and racism against Palestinians and Arabs also depends on demonization of religion and culture.

        Reasonable and well-informed analysis and critiques of the role of religious fundamentalism and religious belief systems in general in energizing, empowering and justifying political movements all across the ideological spectrum are a staple of mainstream Israeli, European and American scholarship and informed commentary.

        Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent speech at the United Nations grounded Zionism firmly in the Bible and Torah. To say that these issues need to be discussed thoroughly would be rather an understatement.

      • tokyobk
        October 24, 2012, 4:49 pm

        Absolutely. I agree with what you wrote completely.

        And there is a line.

        The moderators are imo, right to draw one and I trust their sensibilities where it should be drawn, especially if they wish to be consistent in critiquing what is a discussion of the role of religion in Arab politics and what is Islamophobia.

      • straightline
        October 25, 2012, 1:19 am

        Agreed sean. This is a worrying move to my mind and one that might force me to seek to read serious debate of the I/P situation elsewhere. It’s a pity because I have come to regard this as the best site around.

        Incidentally I tried to post a comment along these lines earlier which disappeared. It may have been censored of course – who knows under the new regime. I’ll paraphrase. So the use of Jewish history (real or not) to justify the current state of Israel and its policies will be allowed perhaps, whereas anyone who attempts to refute them with facts will be censored? Will the ziotrolls who quote the Koran to justify their islamophobia also be censored? I imagine that many muslims find that kind of behavior hurtful too.

        As a non-Jew I find the fact that this site is populated to a large extent by Jews one of its more attractive features – I get to understand the situation from a Jewish perspective – from both the pro and anti-Zionist side. Most of the posts here are by people who put their humanity ahead of their religion/culture. But if Jewish history and Jewish (only Jewish?) culture are somehow to be off-limits – or at least negative comments on such – then the debate will become facile.

        In my crazier moments (maybe that’s all of the time) I would like to put the repeated denial of history (recent and ancient) by the ziotrolls off-limits too, but the intelligent refutation of their lies is almost always informative to me and to newer readers. The same would seem to me to apply to Jewish culture. There are enough smart people here to counter the trolls of all kinds and surely the debate itself informs us. It is pretty easy to tell the truth-seekers here from the mischief makers. Or are you saying that Jewish culture and history cannot stand scrutiny?

        The earlier nakba/holocaust denial rule was relatively clearcut and I guess not hard to police. This new rule seems much more problematic.

    • Donald
      October 24, 2012, 12:05 pm

      “I get your purpose but it’s gonna be a very line to walk.”

      Sometimes it might be, especially when Phil himself likes to talk about Jewish influence in American culture, but a lot of the time it won’t. Most of the time when a person strays too far afield from issues relating directly to support of Israeli injustice and starts talking about Jewish culture in general, well at best that’s probably a discussion beyond the competence of most of us and one with no direct connection with the I/P conflict. But Phil is going to have to figure out where to draw the line if he wants to keep posting on those areas.

      • Mooser
        October 24, 2012, 1:19 pm

        “But Phil is going to have to figure out where to draw the line…”

        An observation of the here and now, as one experiences it subjectively, and labeled as such, and open (in its larger aspects, of course) to verification, is a whole lot different than cherry-picking a line out of the Talmud, and making the assumption that there is a common thread of Jewish motivations and behavior and dissemination which is different from the rest of humanity’s. I think that is what they wish to avoid.

        And don’t you think Mondoweiss could concede that ground, and a whole lot more, and still be fine?

      • seanmcbride
        October 24, 2012, 2:30 pm

        Mooser wrote:

        An observation of the here and now, as one experiences it subjectively, and labeled as such, and open (in its larger aspects, of course) to verification, is a whole lot different than cherry-picking a line out of the Talmud, and making the assumption that there is a common thread of Jewish motivations and behavior and dissemination which is different from the rest of humanity’s. I think that is what they wish to avoid.

        I find your remark to be mystifying. Which regular Mondoweiss commenters have expressed this point of view? Perhaps I missed the comments — please provide a few links to the archives.

      • Donald
        October 24, 2012, 2:53 pm

        “making the assumption that there is a common thread of Jewish motivations and behavior and dissemination which is different from the rest of humanity’s. I think that is what they wish to avoid.”

        Me too. My theme all along is that Israel and its defenders remind me of certain unpleasant episodes in American history. I’m a white Southerner (or grew up there) and a lot of what I’ve heard from pro-Israel types sounds a lot like the rationalizations and thinly veiled (and sometimes unveiled) bigoted comments of white southerners I knew. A closer analogy yet would be to the way white settlers took the land from the Native Americans. There’s nothing particularly unusual in people taking land from others in an unjust way and rationalizing it.

        “And don’t you think Mondoweiss could concede that ground, and a whole lot more, and still be fine?”

        Yes.

      • Mooser
        October 24, 2012, 3:56 pm

        “Which regular Mondoweiss commenters have expressed this point of view?”

        Sorry, Sean I’m a bit confused. Is it the “An observation of the here and now, as one experiences it subjectively, and labeled as such, and open (in its larger aspects, of course) to verification” point-of-view or the “cherry-picking a line out of the Talmud, and making the assumption that there is a common thread of Jewish motivations and behavior and dissemination which is different from the rest of humanity’s” point-of-view?

      • German Lefty
        October 24, 2012, 5:46 pm

        Mooser wrote: “making the assumption that there is a common thread of Jewish motivations and behavior and dissemination which is different from the rest of humanity’s. I think that is what they wish to avoid.”
        seanmcbride wrote: “Which regular Mondoweiss commenters have expressed this point of view? Perhaps I missed the comments — please provide a few links to the archives.”

        I agree with Sean. So far, I didn’t come across any commenter with such a point of view.

      • straightline
        October 25, 2012, 2:38 am

        @mooser “is a whole lot different than cherry-picking a line out of the Talmud, and making the assumption that there is a common thread of Jewish motivations and behavior and dissemination which is different from the rest of humanity’s”

        But we (especially you) are not stupid, mooser. We know that this kind of argument is fallacious. When one of the ziotrolls argues in similar vein about all Muslims or all Christians we treat it (especially you) with the contempt it deserves. If our potential debates cannot stand up to scrutiny by the world they’re not worth the effort. There seems to me to suggest an undercurrent of Jewish exceptionalism that many on this site have rightly railed against.

        One of the ziotrolls here (can’t recall which now) once said “God gave us the land” as justification of the choice of Palestine for Zionist settlement while, as we know, many of the early Zionists – and indeed more recent ones – were secular. I can imagine that the conversation might naturally under those circumstances have drifted off into a discussion of Jewish identity. Is that allowed under the new rules?

        Christian support in the US for the Israeli regime it to a large extent biblical in origin. Jewish history and culture pervade the debate. Of course we shouldn’t pillory a whole group however it is defined (we’d need lots of pillories) for the actions and statements of a few. We shouldn’t use selective quotes from religious works of any kind as justification for abuse of members of that religion but when it happens, we rely on you mooser to shoot them down! And that’s much better than censorship!

        This site has an educational role – by opening up these and all other issues we fulfil that role. Recall: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

      • American
        October 24, 2012, 2:07 pm

        “and starts talking about Jewish culture in general, well at best that’s probably a discussion beyond the competence of most of us “..Donald

        I agree, people like me know zilch about Judaism in it’s relation to Jewish culture. I found some of the discussions sort of interesting by way of theories to answer questions of peoplehood origins and etc,…but basically I’m not even that interested in what kind of culture my own religion produced…..all of that kind of inquiry is a bottomless pit of eternal discussing that has gone on for centuries, will go on for centuries.

  5. pabelmont
    October 24, 2012, 11:23 am

    Well, hmpf, discussions ” in the context of Jewish history and Jewish identity, and do so in a highly critical manner” are out!

    So, what’s left? Pure current events? (Does that include 1945-1948?)
    Does that exclude all consideration of the Holocaust (1933-1945)?
    If [high] criticism of Jews is OUT, is any sort of criticism IN?
    Not sure what “Jewish Identity” means.
    Does “says wants Israel to be democratic” fit this rule?
    Does “says wants Israel to be apartheid-in-nature” fit this rule?

    Well, it’ll be interesting. Good luck.

    • Mooser
      October 24, 2012, 12:37 pm

      “I can tell by the cut of your tie, that you’re an American, well so’m I! Hi there, hey there, how do you do? And while we’re on the subject, how’s the old Wazoo?” Why is that rattling around in my subconsciousness?

      Anyway, I would think that attempts to find, through explications of some lines in the Talmud, some anecdote, the raving of a Rav, or even some statistic or other, the insidious essential thread which binds all Jews into a cabal, not to mention underlying the actions of Zionism, will be dealt with summarily, and severely.

      And for a typical Jew like me, that’ll be a big relief!

      • OlegR
        October 24, 2012, 4:24 pm

        a typical / atypical
        A single space but a world of difference…

    • jon s
      October 24, 2012, 1:25 pm

      Section 2 of the Comments Policy already severely limits discussion of the events of 1947-48, under the guise of “nakba denial”.

      • Woody Tanaka
        October 24, 2012, 1:30 pm

        “Section 2 of the Comments Policy already severely limits discussion of the events of 1947-48, under the guise of ‘nakba denial’.”

        Nonsense. That section merely precludes Nakba denial. I guess a space-exploration website outlawing discussions of how the moon landings were “faked” so as to focus discussion on reality is similarly “severly limit[ed]” but the only people limited are those who are in denial of reality. Same here.

      • Mooser
        October 24, 2012, 2:50 pm

        O, By the way, “Jon s”, you do have any number of comments dealing with Mondoweiss’ false narrative of the Nakba which have been denied on Mondoweiss, and you’re ready to show them to us, right?

        I mean, you can demonstrate your contention, and show it’s more than a malicious fantasy of yours.

  6. eljay
    October 24, 2012, 11:28 am

    Very fair.

  7. FreddyV
    October 24, 2012, 11:56 am

    I think addressing the issues with the I/P conflict in the ‘here and now’ is the best course to follow.

    Only one question: It’s commonplace for Harbarists to attempt to hamstring their opponents by shamelessly using the Shoah to cow their opponents regarding the modern state of Israel. Will this aspect of the debate also be addressed and moderated under the same guidelines?

  8. seafoid
    October 24, 2012, 12:22 pm

    Perhaps the shameless use of the slur of antisemitism by members of the Bibi worship club could also be addressed.

    • Bruce
      October 24, 2012, 12:52 pm

      @ seafoid,

      Are you implying that slurs of anti-semitism are not addressed, or not addressed sufficiently? Is this an impression or something you’ve quantified?

      • seafoid
        October 24, 2012, 1:05 pm

        Bruce

        I think conflating anti Zionism with anti semitism is pointless.
        Noting that Israel is on the wrong path does not turn one into Adolf Eichmann.

      • FreddyV
        October 24, 2012, 1:55 pm

        @seafoid:

        You’ve kind of made my point. Israel doesn’t have a right to exist any more than any other country. The fact is it does exist and there’s nothing anyone can do but move forward. Conflation is useless as is history.

        In general it’s Zionists who bring the history into the equation to obfuscate the argument. This ends up with guys like Hostage excellently refuting the hasbara, but the end game is achieved. The topic is derailed.

        Let’s keep it in the today. But if that’s got a chance in hell of success, the old ‘Jews deserve a state after what the Nazis did’ argument needs to go as well. The state of Israel exists whether we like or dislike the reasons. Resolution of the conflict is the issue, right?

      • Bruce
        October 24, 2012, 2:06 pm

        @ seafoid

        In my opinion conflating anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is one of the more damaging self-inflicted wounds Israeli supporters have made, and I certainly can envision fatal blowback. But my question to you is: “do you think faux charges of anti-Semitism are not sufficiently addressed at Mondoweiss?”

        For example, are you not satisfied with the attention that has been given here to the anti-Semitic charges made by a number of American-Jewish organizations towards the Christian Churches that signed the letter to Congress about U.S aid to Israel? I grant the relevant postings have not received the number of comments other postings have, but that is not the fault of Mondoweiss.

        In the last week I heard a similar charge against me a number of times. I went back and counted at least six postings I did on faux charges of anti-Semitism. I started at Mondoweiss covering a hoax by the Jerusalem Post and an Israeli think tank, in which they accused Norway of anti-Semitism. It became a front page story in both countries for over a week, and I provided full coverage of the incident as it unfolded.

        So exactly what is your beef? I’m listening.

      • LeaNder
        October 24, 2012, 3:42 pm

        Bruce, could you be a bit more specific about the hoax. Are you alluding to a recent or much older story? Headlines in Israel and Norway? I am curious.

        Not that it matters: Several years ago a storm in the JP teacup concerning a Berlin institution caught my attention too. Not long ago I stumbled across a highly emotional debate about essentially the same core topic. Although stripped of the many misunderstandings, alleged motives and distortions concerning the Berlin institution that irritated me highly in the JP story.

      • Bruce
        October 24, 2012, 6:08 pm

        @ LeaNder

        It was an incident from April, 2009.

        Amazingly – not really – Manfred Gerstenfeld, Chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and director of the Institute for Global Jewish Affairs, is still the Israeli expert that the media goes to for insights about Scandianvia.

        Anatomy of an anti-Semitic falsehood: ‘Jerusalem Post’ said Norway’s Finance Minister led chant, ‘Death to the Jews!’

        By persisting in slagging Norway, ‘Jerusalem Post’ drains the meaning from the word, ‘anti-Semitism’

        ‘Jerusalem Post’ admits it was duped by hoaxer on report of anti-Semitism in Norway

      • straightline
        October 25, 2012, 2:53 am

        But Freddy V you read this site regularly. There are always newcomers and when the ziotrolls bring up their distorted view of history and it is refuted by Hostage and others, the newcomers learn. That’s part of the power of this site. Don’t lose it!

        Our arguments about today in themselves are not going to change anything. Education of the community might.

      • seafoid
        October 25, 2012, 8:37 am

        “Jews deserve a state” is fine. Perhaps that state could have defined borders and a constitution.

        Maybe Palestine wasn’t a great place to build it.

        “The state of Israel exists” is fine. Yugoslavia existed too.

        “Jews deserve a state after what the Nazis did”. They got their state. Have they used it wisely, or not too well ?

        There also appears to be a 2 pronged strategy. Run the State of Israel and lever up influence in the US.

        Palestinians deserve voting rights.

      • FreddyV
        October 25, 2012, 9:05 am

        @straightline:

        I agree with what you’re saying. I’m constantly amazed at those posters that can recall sourced and verified information on here and I think it’s a valuable resource for education, but it seems that Phil and Adam don’t wish to have the history of the subject discussed, (at least some of the less savoury elements) and that’s fine, although I must confess I am a little sad that it will mean certain posts and posters will move on.

        The point I was making is that if that is indeed the decision, then an even handed approach would be nice. Regular posters know the rules and generally honour them. The trolls who appear every so often to spout why Israel is a necessary entity because of the Shoah need to be censored too, more due to the fact that the rules play directly into their hands. If we get some arsehole on here baiting regular posters with their hasbara and it results in otherwise good and loyal members finding themselves on the ‘ban wagon’ because they’ve bit, the trolls win.

        Personally, I don’t think any subject should be off the table if it is sourced and verified as accurate and I think you’re right in your comment about educating, but it’s Phil and Adam’s house and we live by their rules.

        On the other hand:

        The one thing that is all too commonplace here is that some hasbarist will take a post about a subject and throw a load of horse shit at it and everyone then weighs in with their two cents. Hey presto, the subject is derailed, never to return to the topic. I’m as guilty as the next guy in wanting to ‘show off my chops’ and refute the lies, but the hasbarist’s endgame is achieved. No one is talking about the subject any longer.

        The reality is that most of the facts surrounding the I/P conflict are pretty simple. One group of people are making another group’s lives miserable and that’s universally considered a bad thing. Most of the posts here are on that subject. Some idiot rocks up and starts some barely related historical event and we all immediately rush to refute. How about we just stay on topic?

        One thing on here that really pissed me off today was that I learned that settler women put stones in Palestinian kids mouths and crack them in the jaw to break their teeth. We’re talking about mothers doing this to another’s six year old child. I’ve never heard of anything so calculatingly inhuman it what is supposed to be a civilised society but I can bet that some pleb will be on here saying that it’s nothing compared to the Shoah.

        Sorry, I’m getting wound up and it’s nothing personal to you straightline. If the way things work around here is going to take a change, lets use that change to keep it on topic, in the now and give the liars no quarter.

      • talknic
        October 25, 2012, 11:53 am

        FreddyV October 25, 2012 at 9:05 am “the hasbarist’s endgame is achieved. No one is talking about the subject any longer”

        The name of the game is propagation and countering Hasbara twaddle with well sourced information is essential in swaying opinion, especially for readers new to the subject.

        Although it might derail the subject for a while, it affords one the opportunity to inform readers and a chance to hone the presentation of the material. Readers in turn can use well sourced info for lobbying, blogs, debate and wherever they meet the Hasbara again.

        Write for readers, Hasbarristers aren’t ever gonna be swayed, it isn’t their brief.

      • American
        October 24, 2012, 2:28 pm

        Bruce says:
        October 24, 2012 at 12:52 pm
        @ seafoid,

        Are you implying that slurs of anti-semitism are not addressed, or not addressed sufficiently? Is this an impression or something you’ve quantified?>>>>>>>

        LOL…I could give you some examples if I was motivated enough to spend a hour going back into the archives, which I’m not. Off the top of my head one commenter WJ who was otherwise semi reasonable, use to say that antisemitism was an ‘inherent disease’ in gentiles…..well more than one use to say and or imply that.
        Frankly I don’t get all spazzed out about it…I chalk it up to some being brainwashed about it and just point out the hypocrisy and/ or similarity in someone saying that about all non Jews as people saying the same thing about all Jews.
        IOW you can’t lecture people on collective blame and etc, if you do the same thing yourself….consistency my dear Watson….or people will ask why the dog didn’t bark.

  9. radii
    October 24, 2012, 12:35 pm

    Wouldn’t it just be easier to post all comments and delete the parts that don’t meet your guidelines? Then everyone gets to see their contribution and how it was received by Mondoweiss. Plenty of major sites have strict and severe comment guidelines (ExiledOnline, Reddit) but you’re crafting an unwieldy set of rules. It’s as easy as highlight-and-delete once you receive the comment. Examples:

    Random Commentersays,
    DATE TIME

    Israel is … [deleted]. The policies of Israel need to change.
    This comment has been edited to conform to our comment guidelines

    Random Commenter IIsays,
    DATE TIME
    [deleted]
    This comment has been deleted for violation of our comment guidelines

    Regular Commentersays,
    DATE TIME
    It is the character of [deleted] … The policy of the checkpoints and separation walls must be changed. If Judaism continues to [deleted] … Thinking needs to change, and behaviors need to change.
    This comment has been edited to conform to our comment guidelines

    Put at the bottom of all comment sections per post this disclaimer:

    Mondoweiss intends for the comments section to provide a forum for civil discourse and comments deemed offensive, inflammatory, off-topic, or mere trolling will edited or deleted

    • W.Jones
      October 24, 2012, 3:42 pm

      I think it’s a good suggestion. I have been on forums that do this and find it helpful.

    • German Lefty
      October 24, 2012, 5:55 pm

      Wouldn’t it just be easier to post all comments and delete the parts that don’t meet your guidelines? Then everyone gets to see their contribution and how it was received by Mondoweiss.

      I totally agree with that. Also, I wish there were “thumbs up” buttons. Then I wouldn’t have needed to make this comment.

  10. chinese box
    October 24, 2012, 1:06 pm

    good idea–the Jewish culture posts were interesting at times, but also a distraction from the main issue, and, I assume, an easy target for outsiders who want to discredit the site.

    • Mooser
      October 24, 2012, 2:53 pm

      the Jewish culture posts were interesting at times”

      I know I found them interesting. It’s always good for a Jew like me to get a glimpse into a very different culture.

      • Don
        October 25, 2012, 11:25 am

        I think it is time we looked in to cloning Mooser.

      • tear-stained uzi
        October 25, 2012, 2:50 pm

        If it worked for Dolly the sheep…

    • Cliff
      October 24, 2012, 2:56 pm

      Tactically speaking yea.

      Dishonest Zionist commentators would cite some comments out of context and then use them to slander the site and the authors.

      Except Phil already writes about Jewish identity and its relationship to the conflict.

      Phil has always intended to ‘paint’ a comments section because maybe he knows that the political enemies of a peaceful resolution to the conflict and justice/freedom for the Palestinians seek to UNDERMINE all the legitimate grievances of the issue precisely because of taboo talk that is probably just peripheral when we get down to it.

      Sorry for the run on sentence.

      I think in principle this is awful and its horrible to see such an important and integral peripheral issue (that at times is major and front-and-center) have its legs taken out.

      I think it’s great that people on the Left have actual morals and will do all this self-reflection. At the same time, its mind-numbing and proves how insulated Phil and other progressive Jews are – who focus on this issue and have the opinion that identity issues should be left to the editors or squelched entirely.

      In college history classes these peripheral issues are front-and-center. It’s just that it ISN’T about Jews, hence it’s acceptable.

      So I think of this as a huge distraction and win for fanatic Zionist censors.

      Greta Berlin is not the movement. And her mistake or perhaps intentional antisemitism shouldn’t undermine the movement.

      I said before that if it does for some people (undermine it that is) then they never gave a shit anyway.

      To Phil and Adam,

      Are you going to ban the religious fanatics and the trolls who just copy-paste Zionist memes we’ve all dismantled zillions of times?

      I bet not! I have been a MW commentator for almost six years or w/e and its always a double standard.

      Hate against Jews or perceived hate against Jews is the focal point and hate against Palestinians, Arabs in general, Muslims, and general trolling comments are the after thought.

      Hence why we had Witty around so long.

      • Bruce
        October 24, 2012, 6:37 pm

        @ Cliff

        How many “religious fanatics” and “trolls who just copy-paste Zionist memes” are left on the comment boards at Mondoweiss? Is there a one that has been here for almost 6 years? I can’t think of one that has lasted one year. Of the few that remain, you have to wonder how many are paid trolls.

        I always thought Witty was kept around so long to act as Phil’s foil. We know how persuasive a Witty comment was.

        All the Liberal Zionists who could at least make a reasonable argument and concede the opposition also had some legitimate points have long been chased away.

        What’s left but a Zionistrein site?

      • eljay
        October 25, 2012, 1:40 pm

        >> All the Liberal Zionists who could at least make a reasonable argument and concede the opposition also had some legitimate points have long been chased away.
        >> What’s left but a Zionistrein site?

        As I understand it, justice for the Palestinians demands, at a minimum, that Israel:
        – abandon territories acquired by war and remove itself to within partition borders;
        – respect, to some reasonable extent, its RoR obligations; and
        – guarantee equality for all non-Jewish Israelis.

        Liberal Zionists – at least the ones whose comments I’ve seen (or seen referred to) on this site – don’t seem to agree with this interpretation of justice.

        Is my understanding of what constitutes justice for the Palestinians correct?
        – If it is not correct, what elements should, in fact, comprise justice for the Palestinians?
        – If it is correct, of what value are reasonable arguments and concessions made by liberal Zionists who, ultimately, will not accept / support / advocate for at least these three basic elements of justice?

        Thanks.

      • Rusty Pipes
        October 25, 2012, 3:11 pm

        This is offensive: “What’s left but a Zionistrein site?”

        I find it particularly offensive on this thread about a change in comments policy. An orange “progressive” site (where I have been a member in good stead for almost 8 years and one of MW’s admins was banned for a bogus reason) has a long history of applying double standards to critics of Israel and Defenders of Israel. The double standard has been particularly annoying in regard to “making Nazi comparisons” and hyperbolic humor. Even after failing at getting the EUMC working definition of anti-semitism adopted as site policy, Defenders of Israel at the orange site have gotten away with making Nazi comparisons and passed off hyperbolic comments about Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs as jokes, while critics of Israel have not been extended the same latitude.

        This site will never lack for Zionists, whether true-believers or GOI-subsidized operatives. As long as this site continues to shine the light on how Israel is delegitimizing itself, hasbarists will attack this site. Some of them will even say that they are Zionists.

  11. ritzl
    October 24, 2012, 2:28 pm

    Sounds fair. The Berlin affair was a turning point. Adjustments will have to be made to reestablish effectiveness.

    And if I’ve been an offender, I do apologize.

    • German Lefty
      October 24, 2012, 6:02 pm

      The Berlin affair was a turning point. Adjustments will have to be made to reestablish effectiveness.

      Well, Berlin does not represent Mondoweiss. Therefore, I don’t think that Mondoweiss needs such an adjustment.

      • ritzl
        October 25, 2012, 7:43 am

        Yes Berlin didn’t and doesn’t speak for Mondoweiss, but her mistakes and the reaction to them were a cleaving event. Something has to be done to pick up the pieces and move forward.

        Effectiveness and effect, TBD, but yes, adjustments do need to be made.

        So while I share MRW’s seconds of Eva’s and Danaa’s reservations about the new policy here (and in Palestinian advocacy leadership circles), I don’t for a second question Phil and Adam’s (and Palestinian advocacy leaders’) good faith in doing what they think is right to pick up those pieces and move forward.

      • German Lefty
        October 25, 2012, 3:38 pm

        @ ritzl:

        her mistakes and the reaction to them were a cleaving event.

        That reaction was an overreaction. Berlin apparently believes in dumb conspiracy theories about Zionists. However, the term “Zionists” is not synonymous with “Jews”. Therefore, her comments weren’t anti-Semitic.

        I don’t for a second question Phil and Adam’s good faith in doing what they think is right to pick up those pieces and move forward.

        Oh, I don’t question their good faith either. What I question is the usefulness of the policy changes.

  12. Danaa
    October 24, 2012, 2:45 pm

    I expected this change in policy or some time now. The curtailing of comments is what happens over time to most blogs/forums that deal with I/P in any way. People may try to do their best to separate Israel from Jewish but that’s kind of hard when the former claims to represent the latter and is staunchly defended in so doing. What is transpiring out there is that fast approaching is the end of the elusive “two state solution” and the unfolding of the annexation of most of the West bank (minus the indigenous people of course). That means that the jewish people of America are finding themselves in the difficult position of defending that which – to a liberal – is indefensible. So commentaries are bound to burst into flames as the ‘2-state’ fig leaf is slowly removed to reveal the uncomfortable naked truth of what israel is becoming, even as we all start processing just what fate is planned for the Palestinians.

    Ultimately, everything is part of a process, the outlines of which do not become clear until much later, when history has rendered its judgement. Phil has written many times about “The Great schism” within the American jewish community, welcoming it, more often than not, lamenting it at times. Schisms do not however occur without great pain and turmoil all around, and quite a bit of real danger too. Obviously the schism is already upon us as segments of American Jewish people and groups splinter off in search of deeper, more universal sense of identity, rooted in liberal American values. And in so doing find like-minded in surprising places. However and whatever things come about, we need to start processing the fact that zionism and Judaism cannot and will not just drift apart peacefully. It’s bound to be a messy process where some alliances will be pulled asunder and others formed along new lines and newly forged common values. That sounds great until we care to look at the collateral damage, which is and will be there.

    I believe that comment section on MW viewed sort of from above, dispassionately, gives great evidence of that process that’s unfolding in the background (not saying it’s the only process but it is an important one). I have been attuned to the sounds of a distant rumble for quite a while, and it is obvious to me that it’s getting louder. Clearly, some commenters here – none of whom I know as actual individuals – perceive the sound of drums more acutely than others, as comments sometimes seem to address a hidden reality rather than the strict facts of the post at hand. This helps explain why Phil’s own ruminations about Jewish identity tend to receive so many plaudits and attention including from many who are not at all jewish . The theme of “identity” seems to resonate with a large section of the people attracted to this blog, maybe because many are looking for affirmations of their own discomfort and/or perception of those still-hidden processes now taking place mostly still under the surface but sending out geisers of apprehension now and then.

    The real difficulty comes from the obvious fact that the conversation is not confined to the mishpocheh, at least not any longer. Non jews commenting on the identity crisis of Jewish individuals – and collectives (as in groups, congregations, etc.) – that’s bound to be disturbing, isn’t it? But even that is not as much of a problem as the fact that members from very diverse groups of people – Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, seculars, atheists, theists and believers in either/or both liberal and libertarian principles can form a commentariat community of sorts, that thrives on the exchange and batting opinions/facts off one another. I suspect many whose comments I have seen over time exist in real life across major divides – geographic, cultural, ethnic, religious and just personal. But still they seem to thrive in an atmosphere of transparency, and many quite enjoy rattling chains, now rendered somewhat loose (hence the provocations – just how far can we go?).

    Anyways, I have this idea that the second and third decades of the 21st century will come to be seen as the “Decades of Red LInes”. All kind of lines, not just those involving Jewish/Israeli problems. Probably a function of humans in general entering the era of limited resources, something which the winning cultures on this planet (cf, modeled on the dominant Western one) have not had a chance to acclimate to.

    Am not sure whether this kind of comment will pass muster with the new policies. I guess I’ll find out if lengthy abstractions about “commentariat”, “communities” identities”, “red lines’ etc. and voicing vague apprehensions about “schisms” and “geisers” are still allowed.

    • seanmcbride
      October 24, 2012, 3:18 pm

      Danaa,

      Am not sure whether this kind of comment will pass muster with the new policies. I guess I’ll find out if lengthy abstractions about “commentariat”, “communities” identities”, “red lines’ etc. and voicing vague apprehensions about “schisms” and “geisers” are still allowed.

      Thoughtful, big picture comments like yours are what have kept me coming back to Mondoweiss and fully engaged in the conversation here. If that conversation is pushed elsewhere, I think that Mondoweiss will suffer and its influence will rapidly decline. This conversation is definitely going to happen — if not here, then in many other forums.

      I have enjoyed Mondoweiss best when it has been fully oriented around the musings and analysis of Philip Weiss, who is a true humanist with a wide-ranging and fearless mind. I think Phil should keep this blog centered on his own thoughts. I can’t imagine Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Sullivan, Juan Cole or Stephen Walt ever turning over control of their blogs to any group of “right-minded” people or political activists, no matter how well-intentioned. They are great individualists and truth tellers. That is why they draw high-quality traffic to their blogs.

      Hang in there, Phil — we all suspect that you are coming under enormous pressure to trim your sails.

      • Donald
        October 24, 2012, 4:29 pm

        “Hang in there, Phil — we all suspect that you are coming under enormous pressure to trim your sails”

        Well, we don’t all suspect that. I think Phil stated exactly why he and Adam are doing what they are doing. It is summarized here–

        “That incident has prompted a lot of soul searching inside the movement for Palestinian human rights, because it showed that a significant part of the community wants to talk about Israeli policy in the context of Jewish history and Jewish identity, and do so in a highly critical manner. Clearly a lot of people, including many in our community, want to have these conversations and regard them as necessary to resolving the Middle East conflict. We don’t. We are tired of serving as a platform for this discussion, including in the comment section, and don’t see the conversation as a productive one. From here on out, the Mondoweiss comment section will no longer serve as a forum to pillory Jewish culture and religion as the driving factors in Israeli and US policy.

        “We are making this change because this discussion makes for a toxic, often racist, discourse, and scares off others who would otherwise be drawn to the issues this site concerns itself with.”

        I think that’s exactly right.

      • Rusty Pipes
        October 25, 2012, 3:39 pm

        Perhaps we don’t ALL suspect that they are coming under enormous pressure. You clearly don’t. Even so, the quote you highlight could lead others here to believe that they have received pressure of some sort:

        We are making this change because this discussion makes for a toxic, often racist, discourse, and scares off others who would otherwise be drawn to the issues this site concerns itself with.

        They don’t state on what basis they believe that “others” have been scared away from this site. Have site stats dropped? Have they been contacted by people who say that they will no longer send links to articles at this site because of the comment section? Have they been pilloried more than usual by Zionist gatekeepers in the media? We are left to draw our own conclusions.

      • Danaa
        October 24, 2012, 5:02 pm

        Thanks Sean. The encouragement is much appreciated (and reciprocated).

        I agree with you that certain conversations are just aching to happen, no use pretending otherwise. If they get banished from one place they’ll happen elsewhere. I felt that, all in all considered, MW comment policy kept a good reign on the discourse, letting a goodly number of controversial statements through (some of mine included in the latter) but not letting it all get way off course to never never land. There’s IMO a real danger in keeping the lids too tight, as transparency can serve as a good valve for letting off steam. MW may not have realized it but I think that the blog -in allowing the commentary it did – has been doing a great service on more levels than meets the eye. Of course, far be it from me to discount the effort it took to keep things moving along as they had, and it is obviously the prerogative of a blog owner to decide which function they want to serve and how best to channel their contributions.

        An aside: once upon a time there were the great comment pages in the Cif sections of The Guardian. Many deep thinking people gravitated there and debates raged at great length and not just on I/P but much else that’s controversial, like religion, god, etc. In particular, there was an Israeli contributor by the name of Seth Friedman whose twice weekly posts drew upward of 300 comments every time, reaching 1000 once or twice. Some comments were really superb though one needed to wade through quite a bit of chafe to get to the good ones. Then, when it was crystal clear which side was losing the arguments (as in all of them), the policies changed (and you can guess at whose behest) and it all went away in a jiffy. Not just that the comments dwindled to a sad little trickle but that Cif changed entirely and I/P got marginalized into the greater, vaguer “Middle east”, there to be ensconced in safety away from prying minds. I kept track of how the change transpired for a while, but like everyone else, I lost interest – and that perhaps was the goal of the gate keepers in the first place. Nowadays I no longer read The Guardian daily (or even weekly, except for Gleen greenwald, now that he’s there) and based on what I read and hear, neither do many others. To me though, the evident decline of a once great paper is what collateral damage looks like.

    • Krauss
      October 24, 2012, 4:06 pm

      People may try to do their best to separate Israel from Jewish but that’s kind of hard when the former claims to represent the latter and is staunchly defended in so doing.

      I absolutely agree.

      I would go a step further. It isn’t merely hard. It is impossible.

      My guess is that Adam is mainly tired of this, Phil is the one driving this conversation.

      I’ll readily admit I don’t read all or even most comments on the site so the mods probably have a better outlook, but I do read quite a lot. Most of them have been relatively balanced, but yes, there are some with a shrill tone against Jews(which I noticed in the recent Spielberg thread).

      Nevertheless, to understand the death of the 2SS you have to understand Jewish culture. And in turn that means Jewish history. Jewish culture didn’t prop out of nowhere. Why is AIPAC so strong, why is it able to marshall the defence and loyalty of so many Jews? Zionists, no matter if left-leaning or right-leaning, tend to distance themselves from explanations centered around the Holocaust.

      But the Holocaust is a strong motivator, never again etc. That deep fear, that existential angst is a very large and looming cloud when we’re talking about opposition to Palestinian statehood.

      Second, it is impossible to discuss U.S. policy towards the I/P conflict without talking the Israel lobby in general. While there are Christian elements, all the major power brokers are Jewish. As Apartheid South Africa’s foreign minister said in the 1960s: “we all know there is only one vote that counts in the UN and that is the vote of the U.S.”.

      If the U.S. would change its attitude then the conflict’s dynamics would radically change. We all know this. Yet it won’t happen anytime soon for the above mentioned reasons. To disregard the role of the Jewish community, our history, culture etc is complete nonsense. Sorry, but that is what it is.

      I understand that the crazies need to be weeded out. But to severely curtail discussions will, in effect, mean that you’re stuck with halting Chomskyite explanations about “capitalist alliances” and other gibberish.
      Or why not buy into the mainstream hasbara? Like, “oh it’s too complicated” or “Obama’s tone was too harsh, therefore he scared the Israelis away”.

      I mean, this is what you’re left with. The Israel lobby, which is mostly, but not whoolly, Jewish is the central aspect to this question. It’s an undeniable fact. And it cannot be explained by economics or by happenstance. It can only be explained by cultural answers. Fear, history, pride etc.

      No matter how much the editors may want to pretend otherwise, this is what the curtailing is about. Moderation of it is one thing. This senstence is a deathblow:

      From here on out, the Mondoweiss comment section will no longer serve as a forum to pillory Jewish culture and religion as the driving factors in Israeli and US policy.

      First, “pillory” is a subjective standard. I don’t exactly consider myself an anti-Semite/self-hating Jew. But to ignore Jewish culture (religion is in my opinion not really nearly as important, there are religious crazies in all religions) and history in the shaping of this conflict and the motivations of the actors in organizations as AIPAC is, as I mentioned before, a total deathblow to the accuracy of the conversation. Weeding out the clear anti-Semites/crazies, sure, but curtailing the entire framework? That, in my humble opinion, is madness.

      But clearly this is a losing fight.

      If this is kept up, maybe we’ll land in soft-left Zionist explanations as those muddied answers will be the only ones left who are permissable.

      • seanmcbride
        October 24, 2012, 4:31 pm

        Great, insightful comment, Krauss. You hit the core issues dead on. I would be happy to see Phil appoint you to the board of moderators.

      • straightline
        October 25, 2012, 1:33 am

        I agree entirely with Krauss, but the concept of a board of moderators that discusses how the rules apply to each comment is an anathema. That discussion should happen HERE!

      • Mooser
        October 24, 2012, 5:04 pm

        Nevertheless, …..you have to understand Jewish culture.”

        So, tell me, Rabbi Krauss, is Jewish culture good for the Jews, or bad for the Jews?

        “But the Holocaust is a strong motivator, never again etc. That deep fear, that existential angst is a very large and looming cloud when we’re talking about opposition to Palestinian statehood. “

        Krauss, do you have the slightest, teeniest, weeniest bit of substantiation for this link between retro-active fear of the Holocaust and the Palestinians, or is this something you know exists because you’re, well, because you know everything.
        Hey, Krauss, I know, go back to the Israeli survey featured in another post. No doubt the survey reflects that view. Of course, you just indistinctly allude to the view, never specify it.

      • seafoid
        October 24, 2012, 5:13 pm

        “If the U.S. would change its attitude then the conflict’s dynamics would radically change. We all know this. Yet it won’t happen anytime soon for the above mentioned reasons. ”

        Empires do not have friends, Krauss. They have interests.

        link to haaretz.com

        “Now Israel joins the ranks of the friends who must not be abandoned. Not because it is essential to the existence of the United States, and certainly not because it is useful to Washington’s policy in the region, but because the principle of “non-abandonment” has become the focus of political discourse between the two candidates.

        This is a very dangerous principle for Israel. It is good for election season and as a sound bite in a televised debate. But it is not only unstable, it also places Israel on the same footing as other countries that once were not to be abandoned. Instead of maintaining a relationship with the American people, and in turn with the various administrations, based on shared values, Israel is becoming tactical albatross. Support for Israel is intended first and foremost as a means of garnering the Jewish vote and financial contributions for the candidate, and only thereafter to show “responsibility” to friends as part of a foreign policy that can change at any moment.

        The current Israeli government, and apparently the one that will succeed it, is leading Israel directly to this point. It is still sure that it is Washington’s most important basis of support in the Middle East. It is still crowing over the fact that it was at the heart of the presidential debates. It acts like one of those enraptured contestants on the reality show “Dating in the Dark” – before the lights go on, and things look very different.”

      • marc b.
        October 25, 2012, 9:17 am

        Empires do not have friends, Krauss. They have interests.

        exactly. i cringe everytime i hear the ‘israel is our only real friend in the ME’ meme. as you put it, there are no ‘friends’ among nations, only degrees of rivalry, and the use of the word is just one way that the conversation is infantalized.

        as for the latest, newest comments policy, i’ll cast my no vote for the publication of redacted comments, a terrible idea, and a waste of time for the editorial board and those who do regularly read the comments. are we supposed to pour over a heavily redacted comment, like its some FOIA response from the NSA, trying to figure out what the commenter really said? that’s nonsense, and worse, completely at odds with open debate. i think that all approved commenters’ comments should be published for a reasonable fixed period of time, and then removed if it is determined that a particular comment violates the policy. this would permit every contributer here, not just the editorial staff, to gain a much greater degree of understanding as to how the comments policy actually works in practice, and would more clearly illustrate the basis for any decision when this or that commenter is later ‘disappeared’, a practice that i find repugnant frankly, particularly where the commenter in question has been around for some time. in many cases, she/he has invested a significant amount of time, helping make this site what it is, and then to be croaked in the dark of night. not cool.

      • Chu
        October 25, 2012, 3:59 pm

        I agree completely with Krauss. How can you only discuss current events when so many here are aware of the historical factors that led to the current events we witness today.

    • Keith
      October 24, 2012, 5:16 pm

      DANAA- First of all, let me say how much I appreciated your comment.

      Having said that, my opinion is that two-thirds of the appeal of Mondoweiss lies in the vibrant comments section which has been created. Without going into detail, it has been obvious to me that Phil (primarily) has chosen to emphasize comments from interested commenters in lieu of top down preaching from some ‘all-wise’ poster guru. Needless to say, this has offended some authoritarian critics who think that “leaders” should decide and the rest of us applaud. That isn’t how change occurs. This policy has tremendous appeal for those of us who long to discuss relevant issues but otherwise lack a forum. I personally have been frustrated in this regard, social events suitable for small talk only, substantive political discussion non-existent. Our society atomized and marginalized. And while my personal interests lie in the global political economy, the “war of ideas in the Middle East” has provided a place for discussion.

      “Anyways, I have this idea that the second and third decades of the 21st century will come to be seen as the “Decades of Red LInes”. All kind of lines, not just those involving Jewish/Israeli problems.”

      I agree. The American empire has morphed into the American centered transnational corporate/financial empire. Effectively, Wall Street rules the world via a global matrix of financial control. We have entered the era of neo-feudalism. The divine right of Kings has been replaced by the divine right of capital. We have entered uncharted territory and extraordinarily dangerous times. Our society is pursuing continued capital accumulation at the expense of the survival of the species. The failure to deal with nuclear arms and catastrophic climate change obvious examples. Will these issues be discussed on the Mondoweiss comments section, or will pressure for conformity rule the day. Only time will tell.

    • Don
      October 25, 2012, 11:54 am

      Extraordinary post, Danaa. In many ways. You give new meaning to the concept of insight. This comment in particular…

      “Schisms do not however occur without great pain and turmoil all around, and quite a bit of real danger too.”

      There is real danger, I think. I wonder of that is not what Phil and Adam are feeling, consciously or otherwise.

  13. pipistro
    October 24, 2012, 2:54 pm

    Maintained that we’re luckily moving more and more into secular societies, and (insofar as I’m concerned, at least) policies must abstain from travel into the transcendent, the exclusion of religious remarks and stuff, seems to be not only reasonable, but auspicable.
    This notwithstanding, I fear that, on the contrary, it will be pretty difficult to counter the usual recourse to compelling facts of the actual Jewish history/identity by means of what is called the Godwin’s Law. The one which – in my opinion – fits the purpose to stifle any debate on the Middle East facts by recourse at what happened during WWII, Nazi and Fascist deeds and around.
    I mean, if it’s certainly possible to cut, as pretty irrelevant, most of the comments linked to the transcendent, this seems not so easy to apply, say, to interconnected implications of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, past and present, without recourse to some sort of inequality.
    Hope you don’t get me wrong, I mean it will be difficult, of course, not impossible.

  14. Donald
    October 24, 2012, 4:04 pm

    Somewhat tangential, but Jerry Haber (The “magnes Zionist” blogger) has a post up at “Open Zion” making the distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-semitism.

    anti-zionism is still kosher

  15. PeaceThroughJustice
    October 24, 2012, 4:14 pm

    The problem with this policy is that it presumes Zionism has no roots in Jewishness, that it is an alien set of ideas that has hijacked “real” Jewishness. But this is by no means clear.

    • tokyobk
      October 24, 2012, 5:01 pm

      PTJ,

      This is -exactly- what they say on Jihad Watch about Islam and terrorism and its wrong there too. Zionism may be an expression of Judaism but it is not the logical outcome of Judaism by any means.

    • Mooser
      October 24, 2012, 7:33 pm

      “The problem with this policy is that it presumes Zionism has no roots in Jewishness”

      And Zionism’s roots in Jewishness might be very interesting and useful if they weren’t already well accounted for by Jewishness’ roots in humanity.

    • Charon
      October 24, 2012, 8:54 pm

      For those who wish to focus only on current events, the alien set of ideas and hijacking aspect is in the past anyways. Anti-Zionists need to realize that the majority of Jewish people identify with Zionism and the majority (if not all) of non-Jewish people who identify with Zionism do not live in Israel.

      In addition, I suggest everybody re-assess their position and direction. The two-state solution is essentially dead and one state is unofficially already here, especially when most Israelis admit they are willing to accept Apartheid. Israel is the self-proclaimed Jewish state. Many if not most of the world would not deny this, even among some critical of Israeli policies. Most Jews believe Israel is the Jewish state. Those who do not believe this, what do you believe? Do they want to destroy the modern UN nation state of Israel? Because that will certainly scare people away. Distance themselves from the state and its people or from its state policies?

      If the anti-Zionists among the diaspora want to dissociate with the state of Israel, they should realize that nearly half the world’s Jewish people live in Israel and mostly aren’t going anywhere. They should realize that most Jewish people are always going to be partial to Israel for one reason or another, especially since many have family living there. So again I suggest everybody re-assess their position and direction because right now I really don’t see the point.

      The reason I moved along earlier was because of far-left group-think witnessed in some comments. Liberalism is not the same as the far-left. True liberalism is a centric approach aka left-center, center, and right-center. Many among the left and far-left are the Marxist socialist subverter types and I think it’s obvious that they along with Zionist agent provocateurs have subverted the anti-Zionist movement. I wouldn’t be surprised if real anti-Semites tried to do the same thing but there is an awful lot more socialist types trying to make Zionism into some ideology separate from Jewishness when the two are inseparable even if you choose to keep your head in the sand and refuse to believe it. For those that do, please take off your blinders and see past your confirmation bias to the whole picture.

      It’s one thing to lay ground rules and outline a direction. When the rules are subject to case-by-case interpretation, the direction is not clear and the movement is polarized, I know which ‘side’ I do not want to be on. In the West, the ‘left’ is more fashionable than the ‘right’ leading the ‘right’ to be picked on more than the ‘left’ and the far-right completely demonized for good reason. Yet the far-left should be equally demonized because they are just as bad. The difference is they are differently bad and the left-biased West accepts it when they should not. Address critics, don’t silence them unless they are obviously trolls. That’s my opinion anyways.

      In my opinion little of this is helping the I/P problem. Ignoring history when there are loose ends is a recipe for disaster. Ignoring the reality of the situation is not going to change it. Demographically there might now be more Palestinians than Jews from the river to the sea but not by much. Flooding Israel with refugees might seem just but a lot of things have changed since ’48. It’s not realistic nor desirable. Most were born in refugee camps and many who were in Jordan have been given Jordan citizenship. Some sort of compensation is of course due, but you have to take everything into account. Including the fact that some refugees might not be waiting to ‘return’ but are just taking advantage of welfare resources. IMO you need to take a centric POV and realize these things no matter how un-politically correct they are. They still are facts and truth. Ignoring them, censoring them, suppressing them… Not going to change the status quo. Smearing people and others they associate with as anti-semites when they are not along with dissociation is not going to make friends nor will it solve any problems.

      I haven’t been an activist for very long, just a few years, and in this time I have lost a few friends for irrational reasons. They refuse to speak to me and at this point even though I care, it doesn’t matter. Raising perceptions and awareness to the real greater good for this planet and doing things about it… that’s what I think is important. Acknowledge facts and truth no matter how uncomfortable it is because the truth does hurt sometimes. Doesn’t mean it should be suppressed. In my honest opinion, I see several here who are unwilling to confront relevant historical truths and even resorting to the tactics of the opposition and labeling it antisemitic when it isn’t. And if it does manifest as that, maybe that’s a response and an irrational one because of reactive (defensive) thinking. We’re only human after all. Nobody is perfect. Maybe these people don’t think it helps and it scares people away. Maybe they’re right in that regard. Can’t please everybody though. Keep moving the goal posts and everybody gets scared away. The unwarranted attack on Finkelstein a few months ago already did that to me

    • Bruce
      October 24, 2012, 9:46 pm

      @ PeaceThroughJustice

      Suppose your “real Jewishness” is even more diverse and fluid than Zionism, what does that do to your “Zionism has roots in Jewishness construct”?

      Do you categorically reject that early political Zionism was a reaction to 19th century European ethnic nationalism, which itself was a reaction to capitalist modernization? And in this narrative, how useful is a “has roots in” analogy?

    • piotr
      October 24, 2012, 9:58 pm

      Isn’t it a bit like trying to trace the root of Apartheid: in Boorishness, Dutchness, Calvinism? Of course, Germanic farmers (Boers, Bauers, Boors) and Calvinists around the globe were not as supportive of Apartheid as Jews are of Israeli safrada (there is some Hebrew word that means the same and is not offensive to Israelis) so I guess the roots (and mythos) matter.

      Anyone who took care of potted plants knows that healthy roots are important, but from time to time you have to cut out the excess. There is entire huge root cellar! And what can we find there! link to en.wikipedia.org What is that! Should we throw it out?

      Perhaps not. Perhaps it is good to know that things can go terribly, terribly wrong in a way that few dare to discuss.

      The bottom line is that while I do have intelligent ideas about the roots, 99% of the time people raise some ignorant irrelevant crap …. sorry, I am signaling how things can go wrong. The true bottom line is that the roots matter in ways obvious and not obvious, and that it is hard to delineate all “unproductive” areas without bad damage to our discussions.

      • Rusty Pipes
        October 25, 2012, 3:47 pm

        Re: “Calvinists around the globe were not as supportive of Apartheid as Jews are of Israeli safrada.” Calvinists (World Alliance of Reformed Churches) condemned Apartheid as a sin and broke off communion with the Africaaner Church.

    • Eva Smagacz
      October 25, 2012, 2:55 am

      PTJ
      “The problem with this policy is that it presumes Zionism has no roots in Jewishness, that it is an alien set of ideas that has hijacked “real” Jewishness. But this is by no means clear.”

      I have no problems with notion that Zionism hijacked “real” Jewishness. But there is no denying that it grew, perservered, developed and expanded, became dangerous, ruthless and aggressive, and caused endless suffering to people who either were/are a wrong race or religion and live on a land coveted by Zionism. So what was it that caused Zionism to be so successful between it’s Jewish adherents?

      Good luck explaining battle of Thermopylae without explaining culture of Sparta, or explaining ongoing widespread support for strongman political leaders without delving into culture of Russia, or Meiji Restoration in Japan without a culture of samurai.

      • MRW
        October 25, 2012, 4:16 am

        Brilliant response, Eva.

      • Donald
        October 25, 2012, 7:15 am

        I don’t think Phil is going to stop writing posts about Jewish organizations that support Israel or rich Jewish billionaires who support Israel, nor is he going to stop writing about their reasons for doing so. I think he wants to put a stop to conversations that drift towards discussions of what is wrong with Jewishness in general, or which question why anyone would want to identify as a Jew, or which defend people like Atzmon who somehow thinks that Israeli actions are worse than any other form of colonialism, because, you know, of that whole Jewish thing. I doubt Phil objects to analogies between Israeli Jewish racism and other forms of racism–he himself has latched onto the Jim Crow comparison.

        The complaints here are disingenuous. For as long as I’ve been here there’s been a double standard in the comment section–anything smacking of Islamophobia or anti-Arab bigotry would get slapped down hard, but so long as someone was one of the regulars who bashed Israel and Zionism with great vigor they could drift close to anti-semitism or even claim to be anti-semitic and they were just part of the gang. Maybe some individual would object, but not the commentariat as a whole, not with the same vigor that was aimed at the anti-Arab bigots. Anyone who has been here for years and hasn’t noticed that just didn’t want to notice it. But then some people here just can’t see why Atzmon might be objectionable. If we had a culture in the comments section where Atzmon’s more objectionable statements were acknowledged as repulsive, just as those of Islamophobes are rejected, then I doubt Phil would have imposed this policy. But instead people want to blame Phil for the policy and not ask whether there might be anything wrong with the comment culture. Oh, no, the comment culture is great, it’s the best thing ever, we rock, critics suck. Which should sound familiar. It’s how humans tend to react to criticism.

      • PeaceThroughJustice
        October 25, 2012, 12:32 pm

        Thank you Eva. I did not mean to imply that Zionism was the only conceivable outcome of Jewish ideas of separateness and choseness, but just that it undeniably grew in that soil. (Other ideas — nationalism and colonialism — also played a part.) I should have been more careful so that even those people who want to misunderstand wouldn’t have had the chance.

  16. marc b.
    October 24, 2012, 4:23 pm

    Thoughtful, big picture comments like yours are what have kept me coming back to Mondoweiss and fully engaged in the conversation here. If that conversation is pushed elsewhere, I think that Mondoweiss will suffer and its influence will rapidly decline. This conversation is definitely going to happen — if not here, then in many other forums.

    i think that’s accurate, and i second danaa’s analysis of what’s at work here and now, and what’s ahead. for all my sarcastic criticism of weiss, i do often appreciate how personally difficult this must be for him sometimes. but, then, of course, he inevitably goes and says something outrageously dim. apparently he can’t help but spend his emotional capital the moment he’s come into it.

  17. southernobserver
    October 24, 2012, 4:38 pm

    I have to believe that the evil that has happened in Istratine for the last 64 years is not an expression of Jewish culture. Actually what I think that we are seeing is more an expression of antique Greece, or rather specifically Athens. We tend to think of it as the apotheosis of democracy. I am thinking though of the very same limited democracy that excluded women and whole classes of people, kept slaves, exiled people with unwanted views or just killed them, extorted money from the other city states in the name of their ‘defence’ and then escalated the war with Sparta with what even they thought were horrible war crimes until everything fell apart.

    Even the references to an unruly, ‘vibrant’ democracy have horrible vibes.

  18. ToivoS
    October 24, 2012, 4:54 pm

    Phil and Adam you are doing the right thing here. This is a political blog with a political perspective and it is only right to use your political judgement to guide comments. I never participated in those long discussions on Jewish culture and how it influenced the growth of Zionism. Mostly they were just boring. Too often stereotyping Jews often up to good old fashioned antisemitism. The degradation of that term has made it difficult to point this out.

  19. yourstruly
    October 24, 2012, 6:00 pm

    if zionism is so rooted in jewishness, how come, up to the late thirties, zionists were a minority among world jewry?

  20. David Doppler
    October 24, 2012, 6:15 pm

    Your site is invaluable and I applaud your effort to assert editorial control over the comment board.

  21. Joe Catron
    October 24, 2012, 7:31 pm

    “[A] significant part of the community wants to talk about Israeli policy in the context of Jewish history and Jewish identity, and do so in a highly critical manner. Clearly a lot of people, including many in our community, want to have these conversations and regard them as necessary to resolving the Middle East conflict. We don’t.”

    I would say “Alhamdulillah!” and “Mabrook!” if you had offered this in the context of a new *article* policy. The fact that you haven’t leads me to believe that, like your statement that there’s “[n]o room for racism in a movement working for equality and freedom” – followed, within ten short days, by a glowing hagiography of Noam Chomsky, a repetitive public apologist for objectively racist policies – you actually mean nothing of the sort.

  22. AlGhorear
    October 24, 2012, 8:51 pm

    So here we go again. The only problem I have is that the change in policy is based on the reaction to Greta Berlin’s “anti-Semitic tweets”, which requires the conclusion that the material she posted was something she endorsed (which she has consistently denied) and ignoring the voices of those who have known her for years and say she is NOT anti-Semitic. I have no problem with the comments policy changing, but I do disagree with the characterization of Greta’s comments as anti-Semitic. In any event, it’s the prerogative of the administrators to decide what they’ll allow on the site and any of us who disagree can find somewhere else to post their opinions (but if you do, please let me know where are. Ha!)

    In regards to Phil and Adam’s decision to curtail comments about Jewish culture and religion, I agree that should be avoided. I don’t think it’s necessary or valuable to try to link someone’s religion and culture to the oppressive policies of a State actor like Israel. Those policies speak for themselves and should be able to stand alone. It’s no different than the American colonialists’ treatment of the indigenous Native American population or the current US government’s dehumanization of the inhabitants of countries we are at war with (e.g. referring to the victims of drone strikes as “bug splat”). Throughout time, whole populations have been convinced to follow and support racist ideologies for a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t mean there is some defect in the religion or culture. To know this is true, I only have to look at people like Miriam Reik, Rhoda Shapiro, Phil, Adam, and the countless others who are in this fight as humans first and Jews second. Otherwise, why would they subject themselves to what I can only imagine is terrible attacks from members of their community.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate comments like those from Hostage who provides historical perspective and legal analysis like no one else.

    And of course the same is true for Mooser who may not provide historical context but he himself is like no one else :).

    And of course there’s Danaa, whose insight and passion keep me coming back to this site.

    Whatever happens, I’m sure Mondoweiss will continue to grow and thrive.

    If I’m among the purged and banned, it’s been nice knowing you all :).

    • LeaNder
      October 25, 2012, 8:21 am

      I feel an ambivalence between the first and the second paragraph.

      For the record, I don’t think that Greta is necessarily an antisemite, all I can say she seems to be attracted to an extreme type of lore.

      I also think there are no right or wrong solutions, every “solutions” may well create new problems.

      When I responded the way I did, it was mainly to articulate a sigh of relieve that the recurring topics like e.g. the Boycott led to the Holocaust or the high numbers in of Jewish Russians in leading socialist, communist or even Cheka positions really in a way justified the Nazis (who exaggerated them up to 98 percent in some cases, but generally with quite flexible numbers) Admittedly it is usually not articulated that straightforwardly. And some of the debates may in fact be innocently ill informed.

      There are several other similar arguments, that from my own limited perspective seem to more or less surrender to an easy dot connection that at its extreme goes something like this: well if the Nazis already had problems with “the Jew”, and we are now here again studying similar topics of Jewish influence, couldn’t these two historical phases somehow be related? Could it be that the Nazis really were right after all and we are only censured from articulating this idea, since there is this powerful lobby.

      The core problem with this approach is that history never lends itself to easy conclusions, always has to be read in its specific time and place. The more you leave the macro and descend into the micro of a the human universe the more complex it gets. Just as the Nazi mental universe is an especially paranoid room full of mirrors.

      But what do I know. Fact is I like the desire to understand, and it may even be present in Greta’s case, I don’t like the easy assumptions the video represents. So what exactly attracts her to this stuff, and to such an extend that in her eagerness to pass it on she makes a mistake and gets herself into troubles? Something she cannot straightforwardly deal with, at least that is the impression I get. It was nobody else’s mistake but hers, at least as far as her attraction to this type of matters in concerned. Why the haste when this type of lore is probably all over the American web universe as Sean somewhere suggests?

      On a more general level: Censorship may in fact create a desire to overstep it, some journalists in Nazi Germany tried to write “between the lines”, with the help of not directly articulated suggestions. Just as in Phil’s case his original motivation is connected to the taboo, and the desire to not shy away but to pull down artificially (???, really only?) erected facades. Or the idea this can only be discussed inside the community, best represented by Richard Witty. Maybe this is the more secure position, since many people are attracted to easy tales. Censorship may also indirectly feed the myth through secrecy. Secrecy and rumors are a close couple.

      The lobby surely has a distinct motivation, guarantee the survival or Israel, but it is also deeply American since shaped in that time and space. It has a highly valuable narrative to offer, America is the zenith of civilization since it freed the world of the Nazis. No other lobby can offer a narrative that helps its respective partners to celebrate themselves. I think many of the standing ovations during Netanyahu’s senate speech were in fact self-celebrations.

  23. wes
    October 24, 2012, 9:00 pm

    dear sirs

    “From here on out, the Mondoweiss comment section will no longer serve as a forum to pillory Jewish culture and religion as the driving factors in Israeli and US policy.”

    fair enough

    so basically what it comes down to is arab national vs israeli nationalism with relegion out of the picture

    good move because it resolves the issue of anti semitism when attacking zionism
    obviously it also resolves the issue of anti islamic discourse when supporting arab nationalism
    so americans are free to support arab nationalism without being seen as pro islam
    or anti semitic
    egypt had its arab spring and voted in a muslim brotherhood goverment
    thats what the egyptians want
    israel voted in a jewish goverment
    thats what the jews want
    what you want is irrelevant as you are not a voter in either country
    what you get is yes men on your comments section telling you what you want to hear
    good luck with that

  24. Les
    October 24, 2012, 9:06 pm

    For those who imagine there is such a thing as universal Jewish culture:

    Israel’s State Archivist opposes returning documents to Austrian Jewish community
    Responding to the community’s unprecedented demand, Yaacov Lozowick determines that the collection, which includes thousands of papers documenting Jewish life in Vienna since 17th century, belongs in Jerusalem.
    By Ofer Aderet | 16:30 23.10.12

    The archives of the Jewish community of Vienna will remain in Israel and not be returned to Austria, as the community demanded, following a decision last week submitted by Israel’s State Archivist Yaacov Lozowick to the Jerusalem District Court. The court requested Lozowick’s opinion following an unprecedented suit filed by the Vienna community against the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish…

    link to haaretz.com

    • seafoid
      October 25, 2012, 8:20 am

      The same reason behind the siting of Yad Va Shem in West jerusalem on the land of a destroyed Palestinian village.

      The Holocaust didn’t happen in West Jerusalem. It was the Nakba.

  25. piotr
    October 24, 2012, 9:27 pm

    There are topics like the ethnic origin of Ashkenazi Jews or precise reasons for Jewish Holocaust that are (a) tangled, (b) raise incredible emotions, (c) are actually irrelevant.

    To stick to less volatile subject of the Ashkenazi origin, apparently Khazars contributed to their genetic makeup. An article that I have read described a study showing (on small sample) that Ashkenazi Cohens have “Palestinian” Y-chromosomes while Levis have Y-chromosome relating them to some nations in Siberia (doesn’t Bernard Henri Levi look like a dashing Siberian nomad? link to rjohnhowe.files.wordpress.com ). Many feathers flied in Khazarian disputes, but even if Jews had impeccable Palestinian origin, is it OK to show up after 2000 years and expel the “new commers”? How many nations could be secure in their dwellings if we conferred the 2000 year old “rights”? Turks were perhaps still in Siberian taiga, South Germany was Celtic, England Brytonic, Franks were definitely not in Gaul, Scots were in Ireland, where Slavs were nobody knows, Thai people were in parts of Southern China that then did not belong to China etc. But Jews preserved their books. And the Welch have books on King Arthur. So Palestine for the Jews, England for the Welch and the English back to the Angle (London can be relocated to the vicinity of Hamburg). This is utterly insane. (Although when I broached that as an example of absurdity, a Welch person started to see some sense in the idea. One more example why some topics should be discussed rarely.) The whole dispute about Khazars diverts us from the insanity of the issue.

    • Bing Bong
      October 25, 2012, 7:18 am

      “So Palestine for the Jews, England for the Welch and the English back to the Angle (London can be relocated to the vicinity of Hamburg). This is utterly insane. ”

      Along with Israel for the Arabs I presume?

  26. DICKERSON3870
    October 24, 2012, 11:50 pm

    RE: “our new policy will involve editorial discretion about the content of comments” ~ Weiss & Horowitz

    MY COMMENT: Personally, I always consider the approval of comments on any site to be at the exclusive discretion of the owners/administrators. And, I don’t take it personally when one of my comments or replies goes into e-file 13.

    • DICKERSON3870
      October 25, 2012, 12:23 am

      P.S. RE: “I don’t take it personally when one of my comments or replies goes into e-file 13.” ~ me (above)

      MUSIC/VIDEOS
      File 13 – AFI (album version on the “Very Proud Of Ya” CD) [VIDEO, 01:48] – link to youtube.com
      A.F.I. (A Fire Inside) – File 13 – Live (bloodless)link to youtube.com
      AFI (A Fire Inside) – File 13 Nov. 25, 1997 (Mark Cracks His Head Open) [VIDEO, 01:52] – link to youtube.com

      “. . . Someone should throw me away. I feel like a garbage can.
      Throw me away, I’ve got no use.
      Throw me away, I’m nothing to lose.
      Throw me away, I feel like sh_t.
      I am useless. I know I know nothing at all. . .” ~ AFI (A Fire Inside)

  27. Walid
    October 25, 2012, 1:22 am

    “… a significant part of the community wants to talk about Israeli policy in the context of Jewish history and Jewish identity…” (Phil & Adam)

    And here I was all this time believing we were all discussing Zionism and what it has turned Israel into.

  28. Danaa
    October 25, 2012, 1:36 am

    One more comment before I am done with this thread (as it is obvious it’s not being updated, though neither is any other post for quite a while – and perhaps they will never be).

    Let’s face it – the news and events and even opinions reported daily on this site are by and large profoundly depressing. Bearing witness to the minutia of stealth annexation and creeping expulsion is a worthy endeavor but one that does not exactly leave an uplifting impression. Even more dispiriting is the faithful track-keeping with the lobby in all its machinations and the ongoing attempts at silencing any and all debates about Palestine. Yes, there are minor triumphs along the way, which are well received and heralded with much deserved fanfare, but if one cares to look honestly and objectively, such victories that are to be had – like the Churches’ letter to Congress – are few and far between. Even BDS – though it is moving along is making little more than a dent (maybe the dent is slowly enlarging, but it’s not happening exactly at a neck-breaking pace).

    Just look at todays posts – one depressing turn of events after another. It’s an important job to do and I applaud it, but for the mere reader and supporter it’s all a bit of a downer. Yet many come back again and again – and I believe that the lively comment section is one reason so many do. The ability to let out even a bit of the outrage one feels serves to clip the edge of the advancing sense of dread, even if all one does is take on a zio-troll like Hophmi or Dimadok. That BTW, was the usefulness of Witty – IMO – not the non-existent insights he brought to the site but the fact that he served as lightening rod for those who just wanted to let off some steam in their frustration.

    No, I am not calling for the return of Witty, but I do want to express my concern for the long term health of this site. By eliminating what you call “conversations” and eviscerating the comment section in the process, you will take the air out of the master sail that keeps this boat running despite the daily dose of dispiriting and upsetting stuff.

    It seems to me, that given that most of us, including the blog owners – cannot physically join the palestinians in their honorable, if desperate struggle, the least we can do is to put up with a little raucous conversation now and then, both as a way of lending a few more voices to the fighters -on the-ground and to draw inspiration out of despair. If we – who live in the comfort of the West – each in our own happy little bubble – can’t do even that much, what hope do the Palestinians really have?

    • MRW
      October 25, 2012, 4:22 am

      Great comment, Danaa. It’s like they introduced the TSA for our ‘security’.

    • Cliff
      October 25, 2012, 5:24 am

      No, I am not calling for the return of Witty, but I do want to express my concern for the long term health of this site. By eliminating what you call “conversations” and eviscerating the comment section in the process, you will take the air out of the master sail that keeps this boat running despite the daily dose of dispiriting and upsetting stuff.

      It seems to me, that given that most of us, including the blog owners – cannot physically join the palestinians in their honorable, if desperate struggle, the least we can do is to put up with a little raucous conversation now and then, both as a way of lending a few more voices to the fighters -on the-ground and to draw inspiration out of despair. If we – who live in the comfort of the West – each in our own happy little bubble – can’t do even that much, what hope do the Palestinians really have?

      Great comment Danaa.

      There’s no reason to come back to this website IMO. You never needed Mondoweiss to stay up to date with Israel-Palestine. Mondoweiss was great because of the comments section and the daily battles with the troll brigade (until things got so thoroughly uncivil and hateful).

      But it’s clear there are trolls in the Palestinian solidarity movement who think antisemitism or perceived antisemitism is MORE IMPORTANT than the actual physical reality of the on-going Nakba.

      Who cares about Greta Berlin anymore? Clearly, all this shit was stirring under the surface.

      BDS is the way to go, but it’s not making the dent it gets hyped up to be making. And the lack of successes weren’t ever supposed to delegitmize the moral fiber of our stance – but nevertheless it is demoralizing to see Israel get away with its crimes over and over again.

      And that is where the anger towards Jewish nationalism comes from. It is for me at least.

      I don’t have the patience to listen to Jewish supremacist Zionist trolls rant about how Jews were promised ‘the Holy Land’ by god or that Jews today are returning to their ancient sacred 3000 year old country club.

      Those comments keep coming through. So does the trolling comments that are aimed at causing diversions.

      Phil and Adam take forever to deal with touchy subjects – ranging from legitimate inquiry to outright hate – when it pertains to non-Jews.

      Anyways, I’m out! Enjoy the redundant back and forth between the usual Zionist hysterics and Phil’s self-indulgent Jewish identity pieces that we can’t criticize or comment on and the daily litany of Zionist crimes.

      Turning into Chomsky and divorcing the ethnic and religious and cultural component from the analysis of the Israel-Palestine conflict when these variables are always relevant to OTHER CONFLICTS IN HISTORY, is the last straw for me.

    • chinese box
      October 25, 2012, 7:53 am

      Thank you Danaa. I have long thought that you have to be a bit of a masochist to become invested in the Palestinian cause. But what’s the alternative? If everyone just turns away because it’s depressing or uncomfortable, then have we humans really learned anything from the Holocaust, Pol Pot, colonization, etc.?

    • seafoid
      October 25, 2012, 8:17 am

      what hope do the Palestinians really have?

      The march of folly !
      Israel just makes it up as it goes along and it is all going to go horribly wrong

    • German Lefty
      October 25, 2012, 1:18 pm

      @ Danaa:

      Yet many come back again and again – and I believe that the lively comment section is one reason so many do. The ability to let out even a bit of the outrage one feels serves to clip the edge of the advancing sense of dread, even if all one does is take on a zio-troll like Hophmi or Dimadok. That BTW, was the usefulness of Witty not the non-existent insights he brought to the site but the fact that he served as lightening rod for those who just wanted to let off some steam in their frustration. [...] I do want to express my concern for the long term health of this site. By eliminating what you call “conversations” and eviscerating the comment section in the process, you will take the air out of the master sail that keeps this boat running.

      Great post. I totally agree with you.
      I really hope that Phil and Adam will change their mind. This is/was the only site I know where it’s possible to have a normal discussion about I/P without being falsely accused of anti-Semitism all the time and/or without being censored for supposed anti-Semitism. Also, as a non-Jew, I found the articles and comments about Jewish identity quite interesting.

  29. Thomson Rutherford
    October 25, 2012, 6:04 am

    Of all the money that e’er I spent
    I’ve spent it in good company
    And all the harm that ever I did
    Alas it was to none but me
    And all I’ve done for want of wit
    To memory now I can’t recall
    So fill to me the parting glass
    Good night and joy be with you all

    If I had money enough to spend
    And leisure to sit awhile
    There is a fair maid in the town
    That sorely has my heart beguiled
    Her rosy cheeks and ruby lips
    I own she has my heart enthralled
    So fill to me the parting glass
    Good night and joy be with you all

    Oh, all the comrades that e’er I had
    They’re sorry for my going away
    And all the sweethearts that e’er I had
    They’d wish me one more day to stay
    But since it falls unto my lot
    That I should rise and you should not
    I’ll gently rise and softly call
    Good night and joy be with you all

    All good things must end – even Mondoweiss. So fill to me the parting glass;
    goodbye and joy be with you all.

  30. chinese box
    October 25, 2012, 7:47 am

    I initially thought this new policy was a good idea but now I’m wondering if it’s going to work since people are already having a discussion about Jewishness on another thread. Maybe two separate forums, one for the Mideast, one strictly for issues relating to to American Jewish (non I/P related) cultural issues?

    • Les
      October 25, 2012, 12:08 pm

      That will make sense the microsecond the US media chooses to forever distinguish between what Israel does from both Jews and Judaism. Until that distant day when (deliberate?) misinformation ends and clarity begins . . .

  31. Klaus Bloemker
    October 25, 2012, 8:30 am

    I understand the new comment policy – but it’s an intellectual castration.
    ———
    Maybe the amount of text people post should be limited. – Often, less is more.

    • Klaus Bloemker
      October 25, 2012, 8:51 am

      Mondoweiss is primarily a political forum with a political agenda.
      It therefore has certain political constrains. – I understand that.

  32. Sumud
    October 25, 2012, 9:36 am

    Danaa ~ I have read your comments on this thread and share your concern about the comments section here being moderated into obscurity.

    I’ve been reading MW since the comments section was entirely unmoderated. A lot of change since then, and I think this latest tightening of moderation policy may just be one too far. Time will tell, I think it is a big mistake to underestimate the value of the comments sections for new and regular visitors, and that includes spirited debate and some rough and tumble. There are enough adults here that authentic anti-semitism (as opposed to the hasbara confection) is addressed by other commentators, jewish and non-jewish.

    I’m wondering who are these dainty flowers Phil & Adam mention who are scared away by MW’s comments section. Also concerned that there is some serious denial here – that they are labouring under the illusion that if MW can just eradicate all traces of anything that could even vaguely be interpreted as almost anti-semitism, that zionists the world over will fall to their knees as the truth about Israel is revealed to them – obvious rubbish, and no effort should be made here to cater to those zionists who are committed to the bitter end, they are a lost cause.

  33. Erasmus
    October 25, 2012, 10:14 am

    New Comment Policy – what is it in the real?

    @Phil
    re .…because it showed that a significant part of the community wants to talk about Israeli policy in the context of Jewish history and Jewish identity, and do so in a highly critical manner. ….. We are tired of serving as a platform for this discussion, including in the comment section, and don’t see the conversation as a productive one. From here on out, the Mondoweiss comment section will no longer serve as a forum to pillory Jewish culture and religion as the driving factors in Israeli and US policy…..

    This paragraph confused me more than it could clarify.
    What is actually meant by it?

    I think it is good to streamline comments, and ostracise especially those who do not contribute to the very subject, but are most probably only intended to highjyck a thread and deviate. I think here, a stringent mode of editorial censure is well justfied.
    Wrt the para above, however, i am rather at sea what is meant by it in concrete terms.
    Could you please clarify and perhaps give examples?
    Thanks.

  34. Ellen
    October 25, 2012, 11:05 am

    Do not think it is possible to discuss the Israeli state (which is a self-described Jewish state) and its current policies, without veering at times into discussion of Jewish identity — whatever that may be. There is a lively and fair ongoing public discussion on Zionism and Jewish Zionism.

    But the spirit of this new policy is clear. Having MW morph as a platform for uncritical collective bashing of any serves absolutely no purpose. I think most thoughtful posters have adhered to that and called it out when it sullied the comment section.

    Troubling is that the policy appears to limit uncritical rants only to Judaism and Jews as a collective with issues as a special or unique Jewish problem, or to post arguments that any form of collective Jewish community-building is negative.

    Does this mean those who come here with uncritical and distasteful rhetoric against Palestinians “living in mud huts” or language such as the “Swiss stealing from Jews…blah blah,” or that all “Germans deserve everything they got” is still game on MW?

  35. Theo
    October 25, 2012, 12:57 pm

    Phil and Adam writes: “We believe in free speech….”

    In my simple opinion free speech doesn´t mean that I allow only comments that conforms with my ideas, but it means that people can voice their opinion freely, even if it is not to my liking. Once you start curtailing what can be said and what not, you just left the patch of a democratic system of free speech.

    Ex israeli minister Shalamit Aloni once said: if we want to put pressure on europeans, we use the Holocaust, against americans the word anti-semitic.
    In my opinion MW is moving into a direction where a free exchange of opinions will become impossible, turning into a yes club, where commentators will praise what the others said.
    Naturally derogative and vulgare text should be deleted, but I must repeat this true comment I read many years ago: “those who did not learn from history are destined to relieve it again”. In other words, if one want to make a point, sometimes he must turn to a historical even, and if we cannot do it anymore them it becomes a useless discussion.

    Example: It is well known the Vatican is corrupt, a cesspool of major crimes that includes money laundering for the Mafia, children molesting and even murder.
    If you criticise that establishment are you anti-catholic? Doesn´t the Vatican have members of that church all over the world supporting this very corrupt system?
    In my opinion it is very similar to the Israel/jewish situation, how are you going to keep apart those two grown together at the hip?
    One must walk a very narrow line that has absolutly nothing to do with free speech anymore.

    I enjoyed MW for about two years and learned a lot, enjoying many comments. It would be a pity if it turns into a dull, in-line instrument, serving a certain political direction.