Thursday, December 31, 2009

HuffPoWatch: Marchers To Gaza Gather In Cairo, Egypt Says Few Can Cross Border

The latest and greatest update about the Gaza Freedom Marchers being delayed in Egypt led to a comment about an anti-Zionist Holocaust survivor named Hedy Epstein. This of course led to a storm of anti-Semitic comments comparing Israelis to Nazis, inflicting a "Holocaust" on the Palestinians. Read on, if you have the stomach for it. Just as a reminder, this was an unmoderated thread, so we can't get on the case of the moderators too much. But it does give us yet another insight into the Huffington Post community where Israel, Jews and Palestinians are involved:

Looking Back on Mandatory Palestine

Seth J. Frantzman has been taking another look at the Arab villages that were supposedly wiped out during Israel's war of independence. We hear a lot about how the Palestinians have lands and homes that they have an inalienable "right" to return to. Mr. Frantzman is taking another look at their claims to see how based on fact they really are.

It's interesting how history still very much relates to this conflict, and we keep coming back to the same events again and again and again. Most of the time the world simply moves on and accepts history as it was. Not in this case. And I can't help but wonder how many of those who are so in love with looking back at the history will accept Mr. Frantzman's findings with open arms.

(H/T: Yaacov Lozowick)

HuffPoWatch: Palestinians Mark One-Year Anniversary of Gaza War

This article has been on the Huffington Post for a while, but since it's stayed active up until now, we held off doing a profile until now.

The article is about how Hamas marked the one year anniversary of Cast Lead by proclaiming it a victory and holding a rally. Surprisingly, though, "the Hamas call to rally was met with indifference", as most of the Gazans are beginning to recognize Hamas for what it is: a source of problems rather than a solution to them.

The HPers responded to this article not with happiness over the apparent lack of Hamas support in Gaza (surprise, surprise), but anger at the "pro-Israel bias" of the article. You can read it yourself and decide how biased it is, and then read the comments below.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Rand's Question

One of the pro-Israel commentators on the HP recently posted a good question on one of the threads.
"As a life-long leftist, probably MUCH further to the left than most, having openly supported for over three decades a socialist revolutionary organization (Oglaigh na hEireann: The IRA), I'm amused at my being called a "right-winger" for being opposed to the blatant anti-Semitism of SOME who claim to be "merely anti-Zionist"
As far as Left v Right is concerned, I'll never understand how self-proclaimed "Leftists" can support theocratic militarists over the region's only social democracy"
It's a good question, and a very common one as well. I voted for Obama, I have attended anti-Proposition 8 rallies. I have supported women's rights, anti-child labor law petitions, Amnesty International, and so forth. I worked in college for four years against racism and in favor of social justice. And yet, because I have the temerity to support Israel and fight anti-semitism, I am labeled by the HPers as a "right winger" or a "neo-con." And like Rand, I have often wondered why as well.

I have already commented on the anti-Semitism among the left. It helps answer part of the question, but not all of it. After all, there are indeed leftists who support the Palestinians against Israel (to a point) but don't have anything against Israel. And they also will call people who disagree with them "rightwingers" as well.

I think part of this is the tendency of people to label. Like cognitive dissonance, this is something that we all do. Another use of "labeling" is "putting people in boxes." Because someone holds views that are liberal (pro-gay rights, pro-women's rights, anti-war) that person becomes to identify as a liberal. And other people label him or her as a liberal as well. As long as the person's internal view and others' external views match up, there's no problem.

Liberals like to think that other liberals all hold the same views that they do. If someone identifies as a liberal (or leftist) than others can assume that he or she holds certain views. And when that person doesn't toe the party line, or she is labeled as a "neocon" or a "rightwinger." Because no one who is part of "our camp" can possibly hold such views. This is also true among conservatives, by the way. We're beginning to get the point where fiscal conservatives who aren't religiously conservative can't find a candidate that represents their views, because "real" conservatives are conservative in all respects. But I'm far from the first person to comment on the increasing polarization of our country.

Rand asks "Why do liberals support theocratic militaries against a social democracy?" A very good question. Hamas imposing sharia law is probably not something that a liberal will support. So why?

It comes back to cognitive dissonance again. The far Left leadership (Chomsky, among others) has handed down an edict: Israel is bad because it is Western. Anyone who fights them is good, no matter who they are.The leftist is therefore forced to hold two opposing world views: Hamas is bad, because they are theocratic. But Hamas is good, because they are fighting Israel. And Israel is bad, because they are Western. But Israel is good, because they are a social democracy.

They reconcile this in two ways: They claim that Israel is not a social democracy. They claim that Israel is a theocracy run by Jewish law, or an ethnocracy in which only Jews can hold power. The stories of non-Jews in power such as Ismail Khalidi sways them not in the least, nor the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu is not a rabbi, nor even particularly religious. The fact that there are many other countries for just one nation, such as the Irish or the Italians or the Swiss, not to mention the other nations in the Middle East is irrelevant as well. Only Israel is criticized. What else is new?

On the other hand, some people claim that Hamas isn't that bad, or that they support the Palestinians but only up to a point. There is at least one HuffPoster who claims to support Hamas, apparently without caring that they are about the opposite of a force for liberalism in the world. By the way, even the PA is not as secular as it seems. But that's a topic for another time.

In the end, it comes down to labeling again. If the leftists can get people to see Israel as evil, anyone who supports them is also evil. And anyone who disagrees with Israel supporters or Israel itself is therefore labled as "the other." And to a fellow liberal, there is no insult more grievous than being called a "neo-con" or a "rightwinger."

I hope that helps to answer Rand's question.

More on White Phosphorus

In the fast-moving world of anti-Israel activism, the Goldstone Report has already been left far in the dust and no one could be happier about that than us. The report is error-ridden and totally debunked by this guy. However, the accusation that Israel used white phosphorus (true) and that that is somehow immoral and against the law (debatable/false). Some HPers keep bringing up white phosphorus as a catch-all example of why Israel is bad, right up there with the Liberty incident and Israel's existence (depending on the extremity of the poster).

Over Christmas, Zach and I had an interesting conversations with one of our great uncles. This uncle was in WWII, specifically the Battle of the Bulge, and he really enjoys telling us his old war stories. At one point during the 500th retelling of his experiences, he mentioned white phosphorus, and since this stuff had modern implications, Zach and I asked him more about the stuff. Apparently white phosphorus had two uses during WWII.

The first use is what you might expect: creating smoke screens. White phosphorus works pretty well for that, but it can be dangerous if it gets on your skin. If that happens, they needed to take a damp cloth and hold it against the burned area. That usually cures it. However, if there's no damp cloths around, you're kind of screwed.

The second use was more rare, but definitely more disturbing. Apparently my uncle and many other soldiers carried anti-personnel white phosphorus grenades. One of the worst sights my uncle saw in war was two German soldiers who had been hit by such grenades and whose skins was burning.

Obviously white phosphorus isn't pretty and no one would want to get hit by it. But the point is: the Allies used it in WWII and no one had a problem with it. No one was accused of war crimes and no one even knows they used it. I would wager white phosphorus is used in conflicts around the world and civilians get hit by it all the time, but only Israel is called out for the use of it.

In conversations with certain anti-Israel people, they have declared "Israel used white phosphorus!" as if that alone means Israel is guilty of war crimes. But unfortunately for them that is not the case.

The Loyal Opposition

Sorry the posting on the blog has been so erratic for the past couple of days. Matt and I are still traveling through the East Coast and internet access (as well as time) has been spotty.

I just wanted to thank all of the pro-Israel voices on the Huffington Post. In the past few weeks I have noticed a definite increase in people willing to argue with the anti-Israel viewpoint that used to rule the HP unchallenged. An airing of both sides of this issue has been something that's been lacking on the HP as long as I have been reading it, and I hope that recent weeks mean something greater. But it's too early to know for sure. Until then, keep up the good work.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

HuffPoWatch: Israel to Build 700 Apartments in East Jerusalem

Over the past few days, the Huffington Post has been working overtime in publishing articles about Israel and the Palestinians. There have been four news articles in as many days, which compared to the normal rate of publication is quite fast. One of the most commentated upon articles recently is one about Israel building apartments in East Jerusalem. It has attained 544 posts at the point of my writing, all of which has been in a full moderated thread.

As for the news itself...we've already discussed the role of settlements and Israel building to death. I'm just going to point out that even though Israel did not include East Jerusalem as one of the areas included in its 10-month settlement freeze, building more right now is not a good idea.

Anyway, here are the comments on the first three pages. When I tried to get to the fourth it wouldn't load the comments. These are enough to give you the idea though:

HuffPoWatch: Argument By Repetition Part 2

The Huffington Posts' argument by repetition has returned! This time the subject is the Gaza Freedom March, a group of "activists" who are trying to bring humanitarian aid and "solidarity" to Gaza. I'm not going to comment on the march itself, though other bloggers have, aside from the fact that it won't solve the problem.

What we're interested in is that fact that Huffington Post can't get enough blog posts about the GFM. Here's a list of them in chronological order:

Most recently, on the 29th, there's a news article about the GFM starting a hunger strike after failing to gain entry to Gaza. Also Collen Rowley wrote yet another article about GFM disappointment.
On the 28th Robert Naiman wrote about Egypt blocking the GFM, and it was posted on the front page of the "World" section.
Kathy Kelly also wrote an article about the GFM on the 28th.
On the 27th Gillian York wrote something about the GFM being warned by the embassies of their countries.
On the 23rd Colleen Rowley wrote an article simply describing the GFM and local protests.
On the 22nd Medea Benjamin (founder of Code Pink) had her first HP article about Egypt stopping the GFM.
On the 21st Robert Naiman reported Egypt talking about blocking the GFM from entering Gaza.
And on the 18th Richard Hall wrote the first HP article about the GFM, talking about the convoy setting off on its way.

Now, I'm not trying to tell to tell the Huffington Post how to run its railroad, but we have a grand total of nine articles all devoted to the Gaza Freedom March...and none to the murder of Rabbi Hai. I can't help but wonder if this single-minded devotion to one particular story was intentional. After all, the whole reason why the March is happening is for publicity. I guess the HP is all too happy to play along.

Hijacking of Language: Massacre

It's time for another installment of the hijacking of language. In this case the word is massacre. An emotionally loaded buzzword, it is defined thusly:
  • kill a large number of people indiscriminately; "The Hutus massacred the Tutsis in Rwanda"
  • slaughter: the savage and excessive killing of many people 
Even leaving aside the dictionary definition, when people think of a massacre they think of a lot of defenseless people being killed for no reason at all. For example:

We see Huffington Posters as well as other anti-Israel commentators reference the "Deir Yassin massacre" and the "Gaza massacre" and many other undefined "massacres" quite often. You probably don't need me to find an example. What is interesting is that when you look at the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, you will see that quite a whole lot of incidents are labeled as massacres when in another situation they probably wouldn't be. For example:

During the 1948 war, examples where 60-70 people were killed after surrendering such as in Saliha and the Cairo-Haifa truck bombing were labeled as massacres. In my opinion this is quite correct, as both sides suffered these manner of incidents and labeled them accordingly. After the 1948 war and pre-occupation, however, Arab civilian casualties drop and it becomes much harder for them to find enough "massacres" worthy of the label.

For example, in 1996 a house from which rockets were fired was attacked and eleven people were killed, including part of a family. It certainly was a terrible tragedy, but there is no evidence that Israel did so on purpose for the intention of killing civilians. And it certainly doesn't fit the lining up of prisoners and shooting them that the word 'massacre' implies. Yet Arab supporters labeled it a "massacre" anyway. The same source claims that a battle in the '85 Lebanon war in which five people were killed is also a massacre. Assuming that the story told on the website is true, of course.

Many accusations of massacre, though not exactly fitting the above definition, do make sense and I would not blame those who want to use the term. The worst, however, is when we come to the modern era, and Israeli self-defense actions against Gaza are labeled as a "massacre." It is clear why Israel carried out Cast Lead. If the Palestinian supporters want their use of the term "massacre" to carry any weight at all, it would behoove them to stop cheapening it.

Monday, December 28, 2009

What We Don't Know

One somewhat common refrain that I see on the Huffington Post and elsewhere involves claims about what we aren't told. Usually it goes that the Israelis are doing heinous things to the Palestinians: Murder, torture, beatings, theft, shootings, rape, etc. And it apparently happens on a daily basis. We just don't know about it because the American/Israeli media won't (or can't) report it.

Now, the trouble with this argument is that it is built upon a very shaky foundation. From an outsider's point of view, we are reliant upon the news to get information. However, just because the news doesn't report that, say, an IDF soldier killed a Palestinian, doesn't mean that it didn't happen. On the other hand hand, if an outsider isn't receiving any information, then he or she has no basis for making a claim that it did. Even bloggers and other independent media from the territories are not always reliable, and they can't see everything that happens in the West Bank either.

That being said, news about Israeli abuses do go through to Israeli newspapers, but only sometimes. There are also organizations such as B'tselem and HRW who are all too glad to pick up the slack as well. American and Israeli media also report on settler violence as well, against Arabs and Jews alike.

Consider as well: The silence from the territories is a two-way street. Americans don't hear about Israeli soldiers fighting Palestinians, but they also don't hear about the many attempted terror attacks against Israelis that are foiled by the police. A casual search of Ynetnews of the past few days reveals:
Yesterday, the 27th: A 16-year-old girl was hurt in Molotov attack
 On the 25th two children were violently hurt in the West Bank.
On the 24th Meir Avshalom Hai was killed, as we reported. And a collection of nine pipe bombs was found near a highway.
On the 23rd a Palestinian attempted to stab security guards at Bitinia in the West Bank.

None of these will be reported by the mainstream American news media. Therefore, to the average reader, they might as well not have happened. And as I explained in the previous post, one gets the impression that the Palestinians who live in the West Bank are "not doing anything," when the truth is that violence continues. Perhaps the anti-Israel posters should be happy that these stories don't get out. They might find themselves in the unenviable position of having to defend a lot of violence, and "the Israelis deserve it for being so mean!" only goes so far.

Mythbusting: "Jordan is Palestine"

Something that a few (although not many) pro-Israel posters say occasionally is the argument, "Jordan is Palestine". This argument, while it has some historical merit, is not an ultimately productive one and we would discourage people from using it. 
It is true that the country known today as Jordan was formed out of the British Mandate of Palestine and therefore is considered to be part of "Palestine" and the people living there are "Palestinians". It is also true that the majority of people living in Jordan today are considered to be "Palestinian" in that they formerly dwelt in a place known as "Palestine"
But Jordan is not Palestine. The Palestinians living in Jordan tried to take over Jordan's government and 10,000 Palestinian civilians died as a result. The Kingdom of Jordan is ruled by the Hashemites and they like their position. As I said in my crazy idea, the Palestinians could move to Jordan and try to make it Palestine, but that is something they would have to do themselves. Forcing Jordan to accept all the Palestinian refugees and dramatically change the nature of their state is just as bad as anti-Israel people trying to force the one-state solution on Israel.
The times they are changing. The Palestinians do not consider Jordan to be Palestine, and at the end of the day that is all that matters. There was a time where they considered all of Israel to be Palestine, and now they consider the West Bank and Gaza to be Palestine (or so they say). Simply declaring "Jordan is Palestine, fight's over, accept it," is just as unilaterally unhelpful as, "Jews go back to Europe."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Israelis Kill Palestinians: A Textbook Case of Media Bias

Jeez, go offline for a few days and look at what happens! I am sure that those of you who follow the news from the Middle East are aware of the shooting death of Meir Avshalom Hai, killed by three Al-Aqsa's Brigade terrorists in the West Bank. Hai was 45 years old, a rabbi, and a father of seven.
Naturally, this led to a flurry of activity. The PA security forces scrambled to find the shooters, and two children were hurt in follow-up attacks by Palestinians on Jews. The family and friends of Mr. Hai urged reconciliation and pleaded for their fellow Israelis not to seek revenge.
The IDF eventually caught up with the terrorists and killed them in a shoot out. The Al-Aqsa Brigade swore revenge and further violence. Other Palestinian leaders, including Salam Fayyad, made similar statements about how the IDF were damaging "security and stability."

So guess which parts of this story the Huffington Post decided to report? We finally received our answer on the 26th with the screaming headline Israeli Troops Kill Six Palestinians published through the Associated Press (from which the bias may stem). Only if you read the article will you see the background of the story and the circumstances around the violence.

This is clearly a case of media bias on the part of the Huffington Post. The HP could not be bothered to report the murder of Mr. Hai, but they were all too glad to inform their audiences about it when Palestinians are dying at the hands of Israeli guns. Therefore, when people made comments like this

'Well, the situation was way to calm and getting dangerously close to some form of peace. Luckily you can always trust the Israeli Army to put a stop to that kind of nonsense. We are now back to the usual hatred, violence and misery, but wow, that was a close call. Thank you so much, IDF!"
I cannot blame them very much at all. This was exactly the kind of reaction that the Huffington Post's reporting was going to illict, either intentionally or otherwise. If the only news you ever receive from the Middle East is about Israelis killing Palestinians, then of course you will draw the conclusion that the Israelis are always the ones who are wrong. One would have to read the article in detail to understand what the IDF was doing, and as I'm sure I don't need to remind you, many people do not.
A couple more observations:
-The HP did make it clear that all three West Bankers who were killed were longtime members of the Al-Aqsa Brigade. But they also referred to Mr. Hai as a "settler."
-The HP also reported many reactions of Palestinian leadership decrying the Israeli reprisal, but neglected to speak much at all about the murder that set the whole thing off. A classic case of telling only one point of view.

All in all, this is a perfect example of media bias on the Huffington Post. Again, I cannot say for sure whether or not the selective reporting of this latest flare-up is intentional or not. But keep in mind that the Huffington Post didn't seem to mind reporting Imri Olmert slugging someone, so it's not as if they are short on space. One can only conclude that the lack of news on Mr. Hai's murder was done on purpose. Why? I cannot say. Until then, we will keep this down as yet another example of the media only telling a fraction of the story.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Winter Break

As I am sure many of you are aware, tomorrow is Christmas. Both of our winter breaks have started and we are off to see family. Therefore, we are taking a three-day or so hiatus from now until next Monday. So if you are celebrating Christmas, I wish you a very happy holiday. Out.

Criticism/Racism Metaphor

In light of the ongoing controversy of criticism of Israel versus anti-Semitism, it occurred to me that the best way to explain my thinking on what often happens is through a metaphor. Here goes:

A: "Obama's entire economic program is reparations. Everything in the stimulus plan is repataions. The objective is to take the nation's wealth and return it to its 'rightful owners.'"*

B: "This comment strikes me as racially charged. Just because Obama is African-American doesn't mean that he wants 'reparations,' and that he is trying to bring down white people."

C: "Oh jeez! There you go again! Why is it that every single time someone has the temerity to criticize Obama is accused of race baiting?! It's not like he's infallible just because's black!"

B: "Wait, what? I'm not saying you can't criticize Obama just don't use the term repara-"

C: "Yeah yeah yeah! I've heard it all before! You just can't defend his policies so you resort to the race card! Well it's getting old and we're not falling for it! This is still America you know! We are allowed to practice free speech without censorship!"

And so on and so forth. The point is: Even though sometimes "false" accusations of anti-Semitism do happen, the "cry wolf" defense is also sometimes used to defend real anti-Semitic comments. The same way that same criticism of Obama is racist, and some is not. Labelling it all one way or the other is lazy and unhelpful.

*This is a real quote by Rush Limbaugh, by the way. I didn't make it up.

What about Islamophobia and other Prejudices?

Update: I have changed the title of this post to reflect better what it is about.

I have received a couple of complaints on the Huffington Post from hemara about why we don't cover anti-Muslim and anti-Arab racism in this blog. I feel that this is a legitimate concern, as part of our message is standing against hate, of which anti-Muslim bigotry would certainly qualify. I will address this question in this post, since when I responded to him on the thread it was censored.

The Huffington Post is saturated with anti-Semitism, to the point where many different news organizations have noticed it. In recent months it has improved (in my humble opinion) but comments that would not be tolerated on any other news site, with the possible exception of the Guardian, are commonplace. The Huffington Post has been accused of promoting anti-Semitism many times, and never of promoting anti-Islam or anti-Muslim hatred.

That being said, I have definitely noticed comments that are racially charged against Arabs and against Muslims. The pro-Israel commentator jordanispalestine springs to mind as one individual who's comments often toe the line. However, the difference is that comments like "Israel controls the US" or "Israel is a terrorist state" are praised and met with resounding cries of "Agreed!" and "here here!" Comments like "Muslims are terrorists" are denounced as the bigotry that they are. This indicates a very different mindset present among the HP community at large.

Most importantly, Matt and I are only human. We have lives beyond working on this project and we still cannot catch all of the anti-Israel hatred and anti-Semitism that is written on the Huffington Post on an almost daily basis. However, if a reader or anyone else would like to contribute to the blog and write articles about anti-Muslim or anti-Arab hatred, please send us an email at the address in the sidebar. Fighting hate is not an easy job, and we could always use some help. Hemara, if you are serious about fighting hatred, time to put your money where your mouth is.

Two Questions

I'm going to be on the road tomorrow visiting family, now that my break from work has begun. I would like to propose a few questions to any readers who feel like answering them.

My first question is a matter of history. We often see that Israel is accused of a response that is disproportionate to the aggressive act against them. This was most often used in reference to Cast Lead, but it is also used to describe Israel's acts against Lebanon in 2006 and fighting Palestinian terror in other situations. Now it's true that the doctrine of proportionality does very much exist in international law. However, I have yet to see an example of another nation accused of war crimes under the doctrine of using "disproportionate force." My question to the readers, therefore: Are you aware of any nation that has been serious accused of war crimes under the doctrine of disproportionate force...besides Israel?

My second question occurred to me while I attended the Warren Clark thing two weeks ago. The organization was called "Springfield [an alias] Citizens for Peace and Justice." Of course, they turned out to be more interested in demonizing Israel than in finding peace. And unfortunately, that seems to be very common with organizations that claim to be only interested in peace or justice or rights, that they are more interested in proclaiming their point of view (Israel bad, Palestinians good) than really finding common ground. It was, I don't mind telling you, somewhat disappointing.
So the question: Is anyone familiar with any groups that are really "for peace," and don't take just one side, be that pro-Israel or anti-Israel?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mythbusting: Harmless Rockets

One thing that we hear a lot is that the rockets that Hamas fires are “harmless” or “fireworks” or at the very least aren’t dangerous enough to justify Israel’s response in Cast Lead. I had one friend who compared it with a punch in the face to a friend doing the “stop hitting yourself” playground…thing.
It’s true that the rockets are homemade, and that they can’t destroy a tank, for instance. But that doesn’t meant that they aren’t dangerous and that Israel should just stand back and let them continue. The rockets have in fact killed more than a twenty people and have demolished homes and cars. If you aren’t one of those people who plays morality by numbers with human lives, each casualty is a casualty too much. If you still aren’t convinced, let’s do a little math:
The lower-end “Qassam 1” has an explosive payload of .5 kg, while the larger “Qassam 3” has an explosive payload of 10 kg.
In comparison, the M67 hand grenade used by the US military has 6 ounces of explosive payload. Though it’s true that the Composition B used by the M67 is probably stronger than whatever explosive Hamas uses, the fact remains that even a small Qassam is still many times more powerful than the M67.
So the next time someone tells you that the rockets are harmless, ask them if they would like someone to stand in their yard throwing grenades at their house.

Double Standard Watch: Organ Harvesting

We all know that the Huffington Post and it's posters have double standards when it comes to Israel. Most of the time, such double standards cannot be quantified, and we are unable to prove it. However, with the arrival of this new organ harvesting article, we are able to make such a comparison.

There are numerous posters on the Israel harvesting thread who are (rightly) complaining about the immorality of the organ removal without permission (a process that, while immoral, is hardly newsworthy). Here are typical examples:

Theft of body parts and the concealment of the act. [are atrocities]

This is the most despicable crime in human history. No decent society can tolerate such criminal act. The perpetrators of this crime should be brought to an international court of justice.

Now, we accept on faith that these posters are genuinely appalled by the actions of the Israeli doctors. There are quite a few of these posters, as the thread has 851 posts and growing. Assuming these posters are bothered by the crime (organ harvesting) and not just the criminals (Israelis), they should be just as outspoken against other incidents of organ harvesting around the world. We looked at some of the other threads, and this is what we found.

This thread about illegal organ harvesting around the world, including the New Jersey probe, should have attracted an equal amount of attention. However, it only had a humble 16 posts.

Another thread about Chinese death row inmates having their organs removed unwillingly by the government received even less attention, 13 posts.

A thread about the EXACT problem Israel is accused of (removing organs from civilians by force) during the Kosovo conflict received the full force of the Huffington Post righteous outrage: 3 posts!

So what can we conclude from these findings? Unless 500+ posters suddenly grew a mad-on for organ harvesters in a period of months between when these threads were posted, it is clear their problem is not with the crime, but with the criminals. Or more accurately, the nation that those criminals reside in. Finally, a quantitative example of the double standards at work.

PS: One last thing. Some may respond to this argument by saying, "Of course we care more about Israel than Kosovo and China! Israel is a democracy! Israel is a US ally! Israel is a recipient of billions of dollars from America!"

This line of argument is fine. Expecting Israelis to act better than other nations may not be fair, but it's understandable. I would simply prefer it if the HuffPosters who think this way would at least come right out and say it. And not pretend that it's really about their feelings about organ harvesting in general. That's simply being disingenuous. Selective outrage is almost as transparent as double standards.

Example of a Post: "The Chosen People"

Much has been discussed among Jewish philosophers as to what exactly the role of the Jewish people (as "the chosen people") entails. Some thinkers believe that the Jews were chosen to do a job, namely to spread the word of God as written down in the Torah to the rest of the world. Others believe that the term the "chosen people" means exactly the way it sounds: That God favors the Jews over all the nations on earth (or at least the Jew believes that God does). Of course, this is something that every religion believes as well, namely that only their beliefs are the right ones. I'm not really going to get into all of the philosophy stuff, but needless to say, the Jews are considered by many, including themselves, to be a "chosen people." As the Huffington Posters never stop reminding us when they have an opportunity to criticize Israel. Here's just one example from the most recent thread:
They are the chosen people, they can do as they wish. The rest of us are the unchosen.
On the surface, one would seem to have a problem with the use of the term "chosen people" because it's really rather arrogant. You're not going to hear any argument from me about that. And the argument that the Jews shouldn't call themselves that is a valid one. I could also see that when you see someone arrogant doing something wrong, it's even more satisfying to call them on it and rub salt in the wound.

Except in this case there are a couple problems: Even though Israel is the Jewish state, not all Jews are Israelis. Sneering at the "chosen people" indicates a mindset that describes the entire Jewish nation. Even if you know nothing about the Jews, you should at least be aware that there are Jews who live outside of Israel. But then again, these same posters ascribe the actions of individuals or governments to the entire nation of Israel too, so I guess generalizing comes naturally to them.

Second, Jews don't go around telling others that they are the chosen people, at least not in my experience. Therefore, it is almost as if the Huffington Posters who make this comment have a mindset of Jews as arrogant, and just wait for someone Jewish to screw up somehow. Remember this the next time someone tells you that they "only have a problem with what Israel does, not what Israel is." If the only thing you didn't like was the action, then you should have nothing to say about the character of the individual or nation who performed it. But you do.

Tangentially, this is also related to when people hold Israel to an impossibly high moral standard because of what the Jews suffered in the Holocaust. To misquote the Question, "Suffering is not a badge of virtue." The Jews are still as much a nation of human beings as anyone else. I do not hold the Palestinians to a higher (or lower) standard because of their "nakba," and I would not expect anyone else to do the same to the Jews.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

HuffPoWatch: Israel Admits Harvesting Organs from Dead Bodies Without Permission

The Huffington Post posted yesterday this article about Israeli forensic doctors who harvested organs from dead bodies they were assigned to give autopsies to. This practice is pretty disturbing, but apparently not illegal in Israel (just unethical) and the organs were harvested indiscriminately, from "Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers,". The problem is that the harvesting was done without permission.

This is obviously pretty bad, but judging by the posts of the HPers you would think this is one of the worst things to ever happen in the world. Organ smuggling is a rise trend in the black market and it's unfortunately no surprise it made it to Israel.

It's also very interesting that this article is old news. The harvesting happened in the 1990s and stopped in 2004, which is when the news first broke. Why is the Huffington Post reposting this old story? Because it supposedly provides corroborating evidence to support the Swedish Aftonbladet story about the IDF killing Palestinians for their organs. Of course, it clearly does not, as there is a huge difference between stealing organs from corpses and killing Palestinians specifically for their organs. It's like assuming a thief kills people for their wallets. It may be possible, but you need additional evidence beyond the theft to prove it. Of course, numerous HPers took this article to mean the Swedish article was right all along.

UPDATE: Many of the following comments were deleted, but considering that they even appeared on a fully moderated thread is pretty bad. And of course, more came right along to take their places.

Anyway, on to the comments....

HuffPo User Profile: Kirby

Today we're talking about Kirby.

No. Not that Kirby. I wish I was talking about that Kirby. I'm talking about this Kirby, one of many anti-Israel trolls on the Huffington Post. He has been active since April 2006, has 20 fans and about 500 posts to his name. Kirby is obsessed with AIPAC controlling the US and all of his posts reflect that same theme. Read on to see what this far-from-cute mind has to say:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Example of a Post: "It's the West's fault"

Today on Example of a Post we have an example of the kind of "cognitive egocentrism" that Richard Landes talks about on the Augean Stables. Read Progressneeded's post and click below for the discussion

Sorry I did not mean to favor you. I meant to press reply and hit favorite and now I feel all yuck inside. People like you, who believe people who don't sustain a democracy deserve to be subjugated by Israel and the West, fail to understand that the reason they do fail to sustain a democracy is Israel and the West. But that part of the world has been colonized by a myriad of invaders and where are they now? Oh yeah, back in Europe crying about the brown immigrants taking their jobs and resources. That my dear is called, "The chickens come home to roost!"

Now, I highly doubt that the person he was talking to believed that non-democratic people "deserve to be subjugated by the West", but it's very interesting that he blames Israel and the West for "failed democracies". Now, he's speaking in non-specific terms so it's impossible to know which failed democracies he's referring to, but it's clear that Progressneeded for some reason blames the West for that failure. Of course, he presents no evidence of this flawed thesis, but of course, he blames the West unconditionally. It couldn't possibly be the fault of the "subjugated" people, whose culture and society not only have no history of democracy but had no professed desire to start a democratic government. After all, democracy is great and everyone should want it and embrace it unconditionally. The only way to explain the fact that people have refused democracy is that it must be the fault of the West.

This is exactly the kind of problem that Richard Landes is talking about. Democracy is not a universal value that everyone loves or believes in. Some cultures are simply unwilling or unable to apply a democratic government. And that's not the fault of the United States, Israel, or anyone in the West. But nor is it those cultures' fault as well. It's just reality. It's people like Progressneeded that assume falsely that democracy is something that everyone loves and the only way to explain the failure of democracy is to blame the West. Check out Richard Landes' blog the Augean Stables for more about "cognitive egocentrism". It's a very interesting point for when you try to understand other cultures.

HuffPoWatch: Picture of Murdered Jew Appears on Dating Site

The Huffington Post has published a small story about a picture of Ilan Halimi appearing on a Muslim dating site. For those of you who aren't familiar with the story, he was a French Jew who was tortured to death by four people because of his faith. The story has nothing to do with Israel, of course, and it was sickening even by news standards. But that didn't stop the Huffington Post community from trotting out the usual anti-Israel and anti-Jewish talking points.


If your charged with murder why would give a $h1T about being called anti-semitic.Why is ANY crime against a Jew Anti-semetic but just a "crime" if committed on the other 6.5 billion people on the planet ?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Example of a Post: The Right to Anti-Semitism.

I recently had a short conversation with the HuffPoster "Ergon" on the CIA torture thread. Which by the way is unmoderated...sort of. It all started when he made an off-topic, anti-Semitic comment:
And oh, the Arbeit Macht Frei sign? It's been set up at the Erez crossing in Gaza.
So this is pretty clearly anti-Semitism under any definition, including the European Union's definition. When I told him this, and requested that he stop saying such things in the future, he responded with:
I prefer AMERICAN constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech, And the more often you play that card, the more meaningless you make the term.
This use of the free speech defense is quite interesting. Usually, when people are informed that something they have said or did is racist, they apologize or retract it. Not here. Of course, this can mean one of many things: He may have already known that the comment was anti-Semitic, but said it anyway to provoke people. He may not care that his comment was bigoted...and of course he might be an anti-Semite and take joy in slandering Israel and the Jews.
As I have said before, it is hardly the first time an accusation of racism was countered by an accusation of "censorship." Which of course is funny, because the Huffington Post censors comments all the time, including many of my responses to his comments. 
Finally, he didn't even attempt to deny that his comment was anti-Semitic, or that the definition shouldn't have included that part. He instead accused me of 'playing a card' and trying to silence him. Of course, we must also be careful not to assume that just because someone makes a bigoted comments and then doesn't even attempt to defend himself that he is, in fact, a bigot. Mind-reading is not one of my talents. I just thought I would share this interesting exchange.

Read It to Believe It

Recent breaking news have shown that the actress Brittany Murphy is dead from cardiac arrest. The Huffington Post covered the story as well, and when I logged in to read the story this comment was the at the very top of the fully moderated thread:

let's hope this doesn't happen to her:

Every time I think the anti-Semitism on the Huffington Post can't possibly get any worse, something like this comes along and blows me away.

HuffPoWatch: Maids Made Into Slaves

Last Friday, the Huffington Post published a blog entry by Josie Ensor about women being  forced into domestic labor jobs all over the Middle East, which leads them to despair and suicide. Rates of suicide are the highest in Lebanon, Jordan, the UAE and Kuwait. You should read the article completely to learn more about the situation. It's depressing, yet not surprising. And Israel and the Palestinians were not even mentioned once.

How did the human rights defenders on the Huffington Post community react to this? As you might not be surprised to hear, they didn't. None of the usual suspects (phute, Marcus, Sentient, hemara, etc) posted so much as one comment on the thread. I guess their attention was elsewhere that day.

EU Rejects Palestinian Statehood

This is old news, but interesting. So remember when I wrote back in November how the Palestinians were threatening to declare statehood over Israel's head? And then the Huffington Post was all too glad to publish news reports about how they took it to the European Union? Which in turn caused Israel to freak out? And of course the Huffington posters were quite happy with this move by Abbas?

How did it go? We haven't heard any further reports about it since.

Well, it didn't go very well. Even though the EU did recognize East Jerusalem as the PA capital, they prompted rejected the statehood declaration. Local officials said that the time wasn't right, or somesuch. When the Palestinians tried the same thing at the UN, things didn't go much better. So much for "the world" being on the side of the Palestinians I suppose. Sympathy may be one thing, but even that only goes so far when it comes to the real world.

Columnist Gey Bechor takes these developments a step further and claims that the Palestinians are "alone" and world support for them has eroded. His column sounds too good to be true, and therefore it almost definitely is. But it just goes to show how the Palestinians cannot simply refuse negotiations constantly and just expect the other nations of the world (who want the conflict solved) to just blindly go along with it.

Further, it's interesting how the Huffington Post couldn't be bothered to publish the follow-up story on the 17th, though they did cover the East Jerusalem thing. I can't help but wonder if the readership on the Huffington Post is only getting half the story. If so, that would explain a lot.

Friday, December 18, 2009

News the HP Doesn't Cover: Part 3

The sun is setting and I'm not really feeling in the mood to post, so here is a few news articles from today, compared with what was written about on the HP.

Libya is waving the blood shirt for the Palestinians again, this time at the United Nations. Not surprisingly, Israel and the US condemned Libya's showcasing of dead children to "prove" that Israel committed innumerable crimes last year. If a Palestinian had something against an Israeli, all he would need to do is throw his toddler under that Israeli's car while it's in motion. The Israeli would be locked up in a second!

(Meanwhile, the Huffington Post published from "The Guardian" an article implying that the CIA and the PA are teaming up to torture Hamasnicks...or something like it.)

President Obama approved international aid to be given to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This time the total came to about 2.77, all of it in "security aid." (where previously a third had been "civilian aid.") Here are a couple of interesting quotes from the article:
The aid [$500 million] will be handed over to the Palestinians under the condition that the American taxpayers' money will only be transferred to a Palestinian government whose members accept the conditions of the international Quartet – the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. The conditions include recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and accepting past agreements signed with the Jewish state.
Sorry HuffPosters, it looks like it isn't Israel who is getting conditions for their aid. That being said, Israel isn't receiving a blank check either...
Despite the serious financial crisis, the Americans did not raise the possibility of reducing the aid or cancelling it at any stage. Israel is bound by the agreement to use 75% of the security aid in dollars – in other words, to produce military devices in the US in order to help create workplaces there.
So the aid we give to Israel is not flushed down the toilet...unlike a decent amount of the aid we give to America. As I have written about before, if America cuts off aid to Israel we will suddenly find ourselves without a buyer for many products, and even more people will be out of work.

Finally, the Huffington Post published Olmert's brilliant plan for peace, coming too little, too late. Not that he didn't try while he was in office, of course.

HuffPoWatch User Profile: Ella Laurent

Ella Laurent is a once-in-a-blue-moon poster that only comes in for Israel threads every once in a while. She (I assume it's a she) has very few posts, so I was able to look at all of them. She has some of the strangest theories about the Middle East conflict that I have ever seen, even for the Huffington Post. She also has the standard array of double standards and hand-wringing. I put extra effort into the comments for these posts, so read closely.

Ella Laurent has 96 posts, 23 fans and has been a member of the Huffington Post since September 2009.

Mythbusting: November 4, 2008

Many of the anti-Israel posters like to make the argument that Israel started Operation Cast Lead, and that the 100+ Hamas rockets fired before it began were simply "retaliation." Their logic behind this was that Israel was therefore not acting in self-defense, and therefore it's subsequent march into Gaza was "aggression."

If you argue with them long enough, eventually it all leads back to one incident that happened on November 4, 2008. In short, Hamas was digging a tunnel under Israel's border with Gaza. Israel bombed it, and killed six Hamas operatives. Hamas claimed that the 35 rockets fired the next day was a "response to Israel's massive breach of the truce." Their followers around the world (and on the Huffington Post) followed suit. To stretch the bounds of logic even further, the Hamas-supporters claim that even though this incident happened more than month before Cast Lead officially began, it still counts as Israel "starting it." As usual, history begins and ends when its convenient. Also, the accusations of "disproportionate force" (e.g. 200+ rockets and mortars for one airstrike) are never, ever leveled at Hamas.

So really the entire argument rests on this one claim: That Israel's attack on this tunnel was not an act of self-defense, but of aggression, which Hamas was justified in responding against. The Huffington Post claims that an unnamed "IDF source" agreed with Hamas that the tunnel was being built for "defensive purposes," but I don't see how an attempted infiltration into enemy territory can honestly be labeled "defensive" rather than "retaliatory."

Here's another important point: Israel reserved the right to "self-defense actions" under the terms of the cease-fire. Airstrikes on rocket launchers were (under the terms) not considered to be a breach of the truce. Only when Hamas wanted Israel to look like the aggressors did they a) respond massively and b) play it up in the media. Conveniently, Israel just happened to launch this "aggression" when Hamas was armed and ready for a fight?

Which is more likely: That Hamas provoked Israel into yet another airstrike, and used that opportunity to hit Israel hard (and wave the victim card), or that Israel was trying to destroy the cease-fire in a really clumsy, ham-fisted way?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Carmichael's "Kill the Bill"

Zach drew your attention to Michael Carmichael's article on the Huffington Post about how Senator Joe Lieberman is an agent of Netanayahu and that's why he's messing up health care reform. This is obviously completely outrageous and anti-Semitic, but what's more interesting is not what Carmichael said (yes, it's refreshing in it's honesty about Jews, unlike Narwani or Adam Shapiro's posts) but how the Huffington Post treated it. The HP treated the article in two ways.

1. The HP removed the article from being found through links on any other home page. Neither the Israel home page nor Carmichael's profile page contain a link to it. If we hadn't saved the URL, it would have been impossible to get back to. Nevertheless, the page itself still exists, maintaining its anti-Semitic hate.

2. The HP muzzled all criticism. 8 of my "friends" posted on this thread and while I don't know the exact nature of their posts, I can only assume they contained outrage equal to my own. There are only four posts on the thread, and they all have to do with health care reform, not Carmichael's conspiratorial point. Such restriction of legitimate criticism is a sign of the HP's true colors. As a private site, they have a right and a duty to censor posts they feel are inappropriate, but I think preventing an anti-Semitic lie from being called an anti-Semitic lie is hardly grounds for censorship.

So on the one hand, the HP supports this article by refusing to print disagreements with it. On the other, it has essentially removed the article. I'm not sure what kind of conclusion we can draw from this incident, but one thing is for sure, we will never forget it.  

"Terrorism Works"

I saw a pro-Israel poster say a post arguing that point on the Huffington Post the other day, and while I don't remember the rest of the context, I think I got the message. I thought about it for a while, especially how terrorism has influenced the course of the I/P conflict. At the end of the day, I think it's safe to say that terrorism most often works against it's perpetrator's cause as much as it helps.

HuffPoWatch: British Arrest Warrant for Tzipi Livin

As Matt wrote about earlier, the Huffington Post published an article about a group of British citizens trying to get Tzipi Livni arrested. The arrest attempt obviously won't go anywhere, and the British government was very against it. However, this filled the HuffPo community cheer, and they poured out their hate on the comments thread, which has mushroomed over 800 comments. Here's the business:

Freenation [If you are wondering what the problem with this, it's an article accusing Israel of manipulating the media. Since it's unrelated to the content of the article, the only possible interpretation could be that it's an attack on pro-Israel posters.]

[To a pro-Israel poster.] Straight up copypasta propoganda from your favorite Hasbara information officer ;)

If the Zionists just "Get along" back to Europe none of this would be happening
did you take this from and paste

the abused turned into the abuser, they went after their abusers and so turn about is fair play.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holocaust "Revisionism" on the Huffington Post?

I recently became embroiled in a conversation with notable anti-Israel poster "CigarGod," who we wrote about when he presented a new theory about why Jews were "targeted" by Nazi Germany for extermination. Here it is reprinted:
"No more justiiable than targeting for someone's ethnicity or religion, the German's targeted Jew's to a large part due to their heavy involvement in the communist party....which very actively opposed the new and trendy ideology...which would ultimately lead to the holocaust."
This has recently come up again in a thread about ultra-Orthodox rabbis, and I resumed my conversation with "CigarGod," and upon giving him more rope, he proceeded to hang himself with it. At first, he claimed that I got his quote wrong, and attempted to clarify:

"I'm pretty sure my comment was that part of the opposition to Hitler's rise...con
stituted a large percentage of the communist party. This would certainly be double incentive for Hitler to target the communists."
Did you see that? According to this theory (to which "CG" has provided as yet no evidence) Hitler didn't want a "pure Aryan nation" that had no room for Jews, he just took out his anger against the Jews using the excuse that they were Communists. This stands in contrast with mainstream history, for example (this took me about thirty seconds to look up on Wikipedia):

" Once I really am in power, my first and foremost task will be the annihilation of the Jews. As soon as I have the power to do so, I will have gallows built in rows – at the Marienplatz in Munich, for example – as many as traffic allows. Then the Jews will be hanged indiscriminately, and they will remain hanging until they stink; they will hang there as long as the principles of hygiene permit. As soon as they have been untied, the next batch will be strung up, and so on down the line, until the last Jew in Munich has been exterminated. Other cities will follow suit, precisely in this fashion, until all Germany has been completely cleansed of Jews."
-Hitler, 1922.

Two Links Worth Reading

Contributor "Jeremy" has recently sent me a few links, but here are two that stuck out me, and which I pass along to any readers.

The first is an unbelievably anti-Semitic article on the Huffington Post by Michael Carmichael, in which he claims that Senator Joseph Lieberman is a double agent and secretly working for Israel to undermine healthcare reform. You need to see it to believe it, and I really suggest that you do. Here's one quick quote:

"One victim of Netanyahu's overarching hubris is now apparent: Obama's vaunted health care reform legislation of 2009.
Netanyahu's agent, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, provides the poison to the chalice of health care reform and - at the same time - accomplishes the mission of his ultimate master: The Prime Minister of a government of a foreign nation whose relations have proven to be more than burdensome for the American people."
 Yep. There are dozens of Republicans who are voting against the bill, and many others who disagree with it,  but it's so much easier just to blame the Jews. How quickly one can see the usual scrapings of anti-Semitism return.

The second link is an article by the Institute for Global Jewish Affairs about the rise of anti-Semitism on blogs, including our favorite HP. It's nothing that we haven't heard before, but if you are new to the cite or what exactly constitutes anti-Semitism, check it out.

My Response to "British Arrest Warrant"

The Huffington Post has an article about the Israeli FM, Tzippi Livni, canceling her trip to Great Britain because of fears of possibly being arrested by lawyers there. You can read the article here, but I wanted to post my response here as well as on the thread. I'll add the responses to it at the bottom if and when it clears moderation.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Some Jewish Philosophy

In my senior year of college, I took a Modern Jewish Philosophy course. There was much to be covered, not all related to the contents of this blog, but there was one subject that stood out in my mind. It is part of the eternal question of "What is a Jew?"

Many of the anti-Zionists make the claim that Jews are a religion, and only a religion. And how can a state for one particular religion be legitimate? Isn't that discriminatory (the fifty-plus Muslim nations and 20-plus Christian nations notwithstanding)? Therefore, they conclude that because Jews are merely "a religion," Israel by its nature is racist and should not exist.

They arrive at this conclusion from a Western perspective, and here is where the philosophy comes in. For most of Jewish history in Europe, things were simple: Jews were Jews, and then there was everyone else. Jews lived and worshiped together, and they didn't integrate. The nations in which the Jews dwelt made things easier by making the Jews live in ghettos or in places like Anatevka. And although things were not great for the Jews, the question of "who is a Jew?" was not a difficult one to answer. The Jews were a people who lived and worked together.

But then the Enlightenment came, and the Europeans came to the conclusion that discriminating against people and dividing their nations up arbitrarily was not acceptable. They threw open the ghetto doors and gave the Jews the option of joining the nation. Instead of being "Jews who lived in France" for instance, they would now be known as "French Jews." The difference, however, is that Jews who took this option would cease to identify as a Jewish people, and the "Jewish" part of their identity would now be relegated to a religion only.

Jews in the Western part of Europe took up the offer. This is why Jews in the West see their "Judaism" as a religion principally, and not a nationality. French and British Jews are culturally British, and therefore are indistinct from their countrymen. However, in the Eastern part of Europe, this did not happen. Russian Jews (among others) chose to remain separate and kept the Jewish part of their identity as a nationality. This is why Zionism was able to gain such support among Eastern Ashkenazim. Because they did not feel as strongly attached to the people of their home nations as did those in the West. And of course, the Sephardim in the Middle East were never given the choice at all, and for them the question of "who is a Jew?" is not a difficult one either.

So the point is: The next time someone tells you that "Jews are a religion," remind them that Jews and only Jews get to decide what and who they are. That's known as self-determination. It's how Israel came to be; Jews exercising their right to self-determination and nationhood. It is one of the oldest and most noble causes there is.

HuffPoWatch: Rahm Emanuel Lights National Menorah

Last night the Huffington Post published a story about Rahm Emanuel and a few Chabad rabbis lighting the National Menorah on the White House lawn. You can read all about it, but in case you didn't think so, Israel is not mentioned. In fact the only text besides the pictures was a reminder about what Hannukah is. Here's one of the pictures:

I expected this would bring out the anti-Semites on the Huffington Post, and the audience did not disappoint. Out of the following 237 comments (so far) on the unmoderated thread here are the worst. Comments that attacked religion in general (and there were quite a few) were not included.

the worlds largest menorah brought to you by goldman sachs and partners via their hundreds of billions in taxpayer bonuses and trillions in toxic derivative assets.

[Response: "I think the menorah was provided by Chabad. Response to that:]

from The Jerusalem Post: Nov 14, 2007 21:38 | Updated Nov 15, 2007 11:20 - Chabad heads suspected of major embezzlement -

I get the feeling the US is a subsidiary of Israel.

dual citizen rahm

what happened to the rabbis selling organs in NJ? that got buried in the msm real fast.

2% of the US population dwarf all around them.

Monday, December 14, 2009

HuffPoWatch: Obama at Oslo: Israel Exempt from International Standards

MJ Rosenberg is back! With his latest piece singling Israel out, implying that is the only country on earth that isn't held accountable for its actions. There's nothing there that we haven't heard before: Obama is being too easy on Israel, Israel "killed 1400 Palestinians," how can the USA ignore Israel's nuclear weapons, and so forth. He rails against American "hypocrisy" and yet refers to Israel as a "miracle." I am glad that Mr. Rosenberg has some good will towards Israel, though you'd never know it from the rest of his article. Too bad his audience doesn't share that good will.

Israel has lost the propaganda war and the tooth-past is out of the tube. The Palestinians are clearly not going quietly into the night and the concept of a country based on religious purity or historical destiny is quite ridicules at this point. Israeli politics need to grow up before they lose any leverage they have left.
[To a poster who disagreed with the above.] Like I said, grow up.
thanks MJ for your courage in writing this article. You are the torch-bearer of justice among the American jews of intellect but unfortunately, as reflected in some of the comments by zionists here day after day, , the masses of American jews are brainwashed by the "lobby".

Crazy Idea

I was thinking about alternative solutions to the I/P conflict this morning in the shower, and I came up with something new.

Some of the most right-wing pro-Israel supporters on the Huffington Post and otherwise try to make the argument that the Palestinians already have a state, Jordan, and they don't need another one. Therefore, there shouldn't be a conflict at all! While it is true that Jordan's population has a Palestinian majority, the ruling government is a monarchy controlled by the Hashemite (sp?) family. I can understand the Palestinians not really feeling like Jordan is their home, since they have no control over the fate of the country.

However, my thought was: The Palestinians should make Jordan their home, a.k.a. Palestine. They have more than enough weapons, what with all of Hamas' guns and rockets, and they have a lot of legitimate reasons not to like Jordan, especially the refugee camps and the killing of 10,000 Palestinians in Black September. Start a revolution, kill the king, demand a democracy and vote to change the name of Jordan to Palestine. Ask Israel for permission to annex the West Bank in exchange for honoring the peace treaty signed between Jordan and Israel and boom! End of conflict.

Now of course this will never happen, because Jordan rules the Palestinians with an iron fist. But it's an interesting idea to think about.

HufPoWatch: Three-For-One

I am combining a few smaller threads into one medium-sized HuffPoWatch today, Egypt Working on Wall Across Gaza Border, Israeli Minister: No Real "Freeze" On Settlements, and Yaacov Neeman says Jewish Law Must Become Binding. Some are more interesting than others, but all are worth checking out. Read on.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

November 2009 Research Summary

Here is where the data from the scanning of the blogs posted on the Huffington Post in the month of November 2009 is presented. The blog posts were divided up into approximate categories as discussed in the methodology post. Comments and suggestions about how the study can be improved are of course welcomed. Now, on to the results! Data page can be found here.

Number of Articles

Result: The number of blog posts that were anti-Israel were found to hold a significant majority in those Huffington Post blog posts that dealt with Arab-Israeli issues. Those posts that were in the "takes no side" were second place, as I was hoping they would be. For this month, at least, it seems that the original hypothesis (that the Huffington Post publishes a significantly greater number of articles that portray Israel negatively) is supported by this study.

Discussion: There were quite a few possibilities that might explain the results besides the hypothesis, in addition to those discussed in the initial post. For instance, in the month of November the anniversary of the Berlin Wall was held and the Goldstone Report was voted upon in Congress, both of which prompted a flurry of articles. However, this does not explain articles such as "Why I Am Not A Zionist" which are simply anti-Israel in nature and are unrelated to current events.
Secondly, this sample size was too small to gain an accurate reading. Therefore, this will be only the first of many studies of this kind.

Click the link below for more results in the month of November.

Huffington Post Research Data, November 2009

This post contains the information gathered from the month of November, 2009. I should remind you that the sorting of the blog posts into articles were indeed a judgment call by me. If anyone thinks that an article is misfiled and should be placed elsewhere, leave a comment and we can discuss. I approached this research with a hypothesis, but not an agenda. In fact, I would prefer it if my hypothesis was wrong. The data is compiled by category, with the post name, author, and the number of comments in parenthesis. Each article is also a hyperlink to the web page on the Huffington Post where it is contained.

It should also be noted that information was recorded about the number of comments. This will be discussed in the results, as it was added to the study while data was being recorded.

Click the link below for the results. Summary to follow.

Huffington Post Research Project Outline

As I was perusing the latest set of Israel-related blog articles on the Huffington Post, it occurred to me: We think a lot about whether the Huffington Post is biased against Israel, or in favor of Israel, or in other ways. There must be some kind of fact-based way to test this theory, wherever it may lead. Therefore, I am announcing here that we are starting a research project dedicated to testing whether or not the Huffington Post holds a particular point of view on this topic. Read on for further details.

Hypothesis: The Huffington Post publishes significantly more articles that portray Israel and its supporters in a negative light than it publishes articles portraying Israel and its supporters in a positive light.

Methodology: Only blog posts will be reviewed, and will be divided into five distinct camps: Pro-Israel, Anti-Israel, Pro-Arab, Anti-Arab and Takes No Side
Pro-Israel means that the overall tone of the blog post was that Israel's leadership, supporters, or people are doing the right thing, or that the author agrees with their point of view.
Anti-Israel means that the overall tone of blog post was that Israel's leadership, supporters, or people are doing the wrong thing, or that the author disagrees with their point of view.
Pro-Arab means that the overall tone of the blog post was that the particular Arab country or people's leadership, supporters, or people are doing the right thing, or that the author agrees with their point of view.
Anti-Arab means that the overall tone of the blog post was that the particular Arab country or people's leadership, supporters, or people are doing the wrong thing, or that the author disagrees with their point of view.
Takes No Side refers to blog posts that talk about people who are involved in solving the conflict (such as US leadership or J Street) or provides a relatively even-handed account of a particular problem.

Blog posts that simply report the news will not be given a category or included in the study.

The method the researchers will use for finding and presenting the blog posts will be by searching the Huffington Post archive based upon tags. For instance, "Israel," "Palestinians, "Palestine," "Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," and so forth. All tags and the order in which they were searched will be presented with the data.

Example of a Post: "It's Worse"

Today on Example of a Post we have a post that illustrates the absurdity of the anti-Israel poster.

"All of these crimes should be punished but none compare to israel's ongoing theft of land, brutal treatment of Palestinians (especially in Gaza), and 42 year occupation."

 The crimes referred to are the Chinese 1,500 year occupation of Tibet and the deaths of 20,000 Sri Lankan civilians.

This post is clearly absurd! If occupation and civilian deaths are crimes, then clearly the Chinese and Sri Lankan crimes are worse by factors of one hundred or more. It makes as much sense to attack Israel and ignore China as it does to arrest a driver for speeding while ignoring a drunk driver who just ran over a baby.

But despite this clear absurdity, the poster, and others like him, mean it. They honestly believe that the Arab-Israeli conflict is worse than the other examples around the world and condemn it accordingly. In the minds of these posters, this conflict is the worst one on Earth, and solving it should be the world's top priority.

Why do these posters have such a warped perspective? Why do they wring their hands over the poor Gazans, who have food, fuel, electricity, education and numerous other benefits, while ignoring the plight of the Rwandans and Darfurians?

My guess, and this is purely a guess, is it can be from a number of different reasons. One is that they have a problem with Jews, or maybe Jews with power. Another is that they perceive the Arab-Israeli conflict as a battle between "whites" and "blacks" (which, of course, the "whites" will always be in the wrong) and therefore fixate on it because of "white guilt". Maybe it's because the Palestinian propaganda machine is able to keep their suffering in the news and the Darfurians are contained to college campuses. I'm really not sure. I'll field any suggestions in the comments.

One thing is for sure, though, these posters' perspective needs a reboot.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Hannukah and the HuffPo

The sun is setting where I am, so I just wanted to wish every Jewish reader a happy first night of Hannukah. And to those Christian readers, sorry that you still have to wait another two weeks.

For a little Huffington Post-related holiday cheer, I invite you to check out this thread. It's Hannukah related, but mostly talks about Obama and politics. What's really interesting, though, is that when the haters come out to attack Israel, the Huffington Post community responds. The haters (of which there are a decent amount) are shut down not by Matt or I or any of the usual pro-Israel voices, but by people I have never seen before. It is really quite an inspiring sight, for those who have roamed the threads for so long and thought we were alone.