Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"Muzzlewatch" Gets a Muzzle

One of my daily sources of amusement lately has been reading (and posting on) the "Muzzlewatch" blog put up by Jewish Voice for Peace. That blog has the ostensible purpose of "tracking efforts to stifle open debate about US-Israeli foreign policy"; they actually did very little of that, because debate is quite open, it's just that their point of view gets very little traction in US public opinion-- see this previous post on this site. They happily promoted all sorts of anti-Israel viewpoints and speakers; any criticism of those was then claimed as attempted "muzzling". Much more interesting than their rather weak postings were the comments; not only was there a good representation of the pro-Israel viewpoint from some good writers whose work I had never previously read (take a bow, Jon), but there was also--no surprise-- the expected chorus from those whose anti-Israel position comes from true, heartfelt anti-Semitism.

JVP tried shutting down comments for a day, claiming it was "not because of the bigotry per se, but the escalation of personal attacks." (I guess "bigotry per se" is OK then?) But of course once the comment boards were opened up then they couldn't get rid of the company they attracted. Yet they do seem surprised at this: "Lately, the site has become a forum for posting anti-Semitic in particular, and also other bigoted and racist comments, as well as ugly personal attacks." Just like they were, in the words of one JVP member who posted there, "appalled" at the anti-Semitism displayed at ANSWER rallies against Israel last summer(see pictures of that event here ). Yet they never publicly dissociated themselves from ANSWER after seeing similar ugliness in previous ANSWER rallies, and they went ahead and paid ANSWER so they could officially participate with a booth at that hate-fest!

So why are they surprised that their forum became a haven for anti-Semites, at least one of whom were known posters on hate sites? Despite their own high-mindedness in claiming to oppose anti-Semitism, their track record of tolerating it in practice from ANSWER and other anti-Israel groups inexorably led to this. They just don't get it-- at its core, anti-Zionism (opposing the right of the Jewish people to have our own country in our own homeland, while supporting the right of every other group, including Palestinian Arabs, to their own state) IS anti-Semitic. And an anti-Israel website will always attract anti-Semites, like flies buzzing around excrement. Of course, JVP's recent conference in Oakland featured T-shirts on sale that proudly stated "Anti-Zionist". If the shirt fits........

1 comment:

  1. Muzzlewatch is eliminating comments? What a pity. The comments were the only part of the blog I ever read. In particular I’ll miss Jon Haber’s acerbic prose.
    Its seems disingenuous to use “fighting anti-Semitism” as an excuse, though. “From the forest itself comes the handle for the axe”. More likely, Muzzlewatch found that they could not stand the scrutiny of open debate. Muzzlewatch became a venue of exposure for JVP itself- from their complicity in stifling the free flow of information regarding the Islamic society of Boston, to their participation in anti-Israel events.
    At the Friday session of Jewish Voice for Peace’s recent conference in Oakland, CA, a proposal was introduced to add stronger language to their mission statement condemning anti-Semitism. That in itself is laudable. Racism and bigotry in all its incarnations should be opposed. What absolutely floored me was its rational, as proposed by Glen Hauer and Howard Lenow, both National Board Members of JVP..
    “By letting Jews know that we take anti-Semitism seriously and not just as a bogus charge our opponents make, we address some of their concerns and fears. This brings us closer and makes us more inviting to them”.
    “We gain credibility and stature among our church allies if they see us as being proudly Jewish and opposing anti-Semitism while we also fight the occupation”
    To Jewish Voice for Peace, anti-Semitism must be opposed because it’s a coherent part of a good marketing plan. It’s a way to increase market share and broader a base of support. For real activists in the movement for global justice only one reason is needed to fight anti-Semitism, and that is simply because it is wrong.