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Siun and Philip Munger say FDL has offered a platform for criticism of Israel

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My post yesterday on Firedoglake suppressing criticism of Israel has hit a nerve; even neocon Eli Lake has commented on it. I’m going to respond later but in the meantime, I wanted to post two sharply-critical comments that we’ve received from two longtime contributors to FDL, the blogger Siun and the composer Philip Munger. Their responses are in the comment thread, but this is an important conversation on the left (as Alex Kane notes); and it feels right to highlight these criticisms from the FDL community. On a defensive note, I’d add that Jane Hamsher, FDL’s founder, has been tweeting that I’ve been in favor of McCarthyite tactics. That’s not me. She is referring to a post by Jack Ross about blacklists. Yes I like Jack’s independent mind, which mingles anti-Zionism and libertarianism; and we post a lot of stuff I don’t personally agree with but find interesting.

Now here’s Siun, followed by Philip Munger:

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

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

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

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

Philip Munger:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time for Abe Foxman to Apologize to Jimmy Carter

British Prime Minister Calls Gaza a “Prison Camp”

Andrew Breitbart’s Next Target? – Oliver Stone

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

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

What more can one ask of the site, Phil?

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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