February 11, 2007

Guardian comment space: not free but it's going pretty cheap....for some

There's a rum do over at Comment is free at the Guardian site. Linda Grant had an article titled "Other voices, other lives." In it, two statements glared at me:
Many, if not most British Jews have relatives in Israel.
But the majority of British Jews are not secular.
These were firmed up by a third statement regarding the thrust of the article, Independent Jewish Voices:
I can't speak for the intentions of IJV, but if their collective membership wants to have any impact on the majority of the non-Guardian reading British Jews, they need to take the conversation to the places where Jews are: in their synagogues, at their youth groups, in their voluntary organisations. They need to acknowledge the central role that Israel plays in contemporary Jewish life, how it is now part and parcel of Jewish identity.
Having read this I left the following comment:
There are some hefty unproven assumptions in this article. Breaking it down we find that most UK Jews go to shul, most UK Jews support Israel, most UK Jews have friends or family in Israel. Who compiles these stats and what questions are put to the individual members of this majority in order to establish what their support for Israel is based on?

Do they support the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, whether in 1948, 1967 or now? Do they support apartheid laws such as the Law of Return or the Absentee Property Law? It's easy to say that most Jews (or indeed anyone else) support Israel. Not so easy to prove.

And then there is the problem of representation of the UK's Jews whether by lobbying institutions or issuing propaganda. Many Jews were appalled by the Board of Deputies' support for the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon and yet even the zionist left supported the war until it was clear that Israel was losing.

Linda Grant was in the pro-war camp, assuming that her support for those people who went to a zionist rally in Kenton to support Israel's war criminality and spat on and abused five Jewish woman who went to picket the event can count as pro-war.

Maybe anti-zionist or other dissident Jews do not or cannot reach or represent the mainstream but this doesn't mean that there is not a Jewish perspective against Israel's "excesses" or its very existence, as a colonial settler state based on ethnic cleansing and racist laws, that has a right to be heard. Some feel a duty to speak out as Jews if only to protect anti-zionists from the time honoured smear of being called antisemitic.

Mark Elf
Well, as anyone who has tried an honest comment on a zionist blog would expect, there followed a some ad hominem attacks on me including two from the same person implying that I had some beef with Linda Grant and that that is why I criticised her article. These extracts are from Oliver10. There's this:
Oh dear the indomitable Mark Elf is back...
Maybe he should also have mentioned how he was nearly subject to a libel charge by Linda Grant?
And this:
BTW Mark Elf, what is a 'legitimate state' in your eyes? What makes Israel, which was born out of a UN resolution in a post-colonial era any less legitimate than Pakistan?

Don't the other posters have a right to know that your attack on Linda Grant's article is motivated by the major axe you have to grind?
And this rarity that manages to stay on topic, playing the ball and not the man:
Oh dear Mark, what a one sided take on history you have...

You know full well that the concept of colonialism as applied to Jewish immigration to pre-state Israel is debatable. The original pioneers were often ignorant as to the extent of Arab population in Palestine, some thought they could work together, and in any case there was no host state sending them to exploit Palestine for the host state's benefits.

If Israel is an illegitimate state based upon it being an immigrant settler state, then isn't the U.S or Australia?
Various comments about and addressed to me are still in place whereas my reponses to them have been deleted. I kept one in addition to my first one but I seem to have lost two others, maybe more. Anyway, here's the one I kept:
The concept of colonialism applied to this or that individual or their state of knowledge regarding the project in which they are engaged is irrelevant. The zionist project as set out by its founding father was a colonial project. He said so himself. The pre-state "pioneers" were most certainly part of a colonial settler project, pre-state and pre-mandate. Most of the zionist parties were clear that they believe that Jews had or should have more right to live in Palestine than the native population. Post-state the zionist position remained and remains unchanged.

Re America and Australia. The settlers in both places abandoned ethnic cleansing a long time ago and both give their native population protection and compensation for losses. The racist war criminals of Israel are yet to officially acknowledge that the natives of Palestine suffered any losses.

It is an interesting admission on your part that the zionist project is comparable to the settlement and genocide in the so-called New World. I hope Israel is stopped before it emulates these two ancestors to its own project.

Both America and Australia have abolished race discrimination under the law. In Israel racism is largely compulsory. It doesn't do "petty" apartheid but it does do discrimination on a massive scale.

Israel has rid itself of the bulk of the Palestine population. Israel has no right to close its doors on those people and no right to open its door on a preferential basis to people who don't come from there.

With regard to this: "Don't the other posters have a right to know that your attack on Linda Grant's article is motivated by the major axe you have to grind?"

My criticism of Linda Grant's article is because I am Jewish and anti-zionist. You (Oliver10) have shown that you can't make a case for Israel so you impugn the motives of anti-zionists. There has been some unpleasantness between us though, see for example here: http://tinyurl.com/yxrmvv and here:
So, as I said, my comments have been deleted and the comments arguing with my points or attacking me personally by my real name and my screen name have remained in place. But that's not all. Linda Grant seems to have announced that she is now the moderator of comments to her own articles in the Guardian's Comment is free space. Look:
The topic of my post is the IJV manifesto and my contention that the signatories should take the debate into the Jewish community itself. The topic is not wartime Nazi collaboration which can and has been discussed ad nauseam elsewhere. Additionally, the site's editor has removed links to libellous material about this newspaper and will continue to do so whenever they are posted.
See that last line? Let's have it again:
the site's editor has removed links to libellous material about this newspaper and will continue to do so whenever they are posted.
Now taking that with the earlier comments directed against me, referring to libel etc, that last line too seems to be aimed at me. I'm sure that anyone reading all of the comments would take that view and given that my comments have been deleted they might even take the view that I had written something libellous in the comments I left. All I can say to that is that I did not.

But, I know, another "but," sorry. But it gets worse still. I just clicked the "Post your comment" button at the bottom of Linda Grant's article and I have been banned from commenting altogether. This is the message I got:
This account has had its posting rights withdrawn. This may be because of a breach of our talk policy, or because you picked an unsuitable username. If you have any questions please contact registration@guardianunlimited.co.uk
I am in the process of writing, yet again, to enquire as to what is going on and to get some clarification as to how I have breached the talk policy or whatever. I'll let you know what happens, though I am still awaiting replies to two emails to the moderator sent on 8/2 and 9/2/2007. Not only that, when I wrote to complain that the name Alf Green, an Engage sock-puppet had been used to support articles by David Hirsh and Alexandra Simonon, I didn't get replies to those either and that was back in October 2006.

Now I am not against deleting per se. I do it myself. My objection is that I am identifiable as the subject of allegations of wrong-doing. I would always allow a right of reply to anyone on the receiving end of criticism.

Ach! What am I complaining about? Who needs the Guardian when I've got Jews sans frontieres?


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