Stephen Pollard's guidelines revisited.


By Anthony Posner
November 4, 2010
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I have raised the question whether the following guidelines are being enforced, and if not , whether they should be changed to allow "out-and-out anti-Israel bile".
Since I believe in freedom of expression, inevitably I have to conclude that The JC's guide-lines should be changed. Otherwise, one might imagine that The JC's editor also believes that it is "constructive and thoughtful criticism" to compare Israel to Iran and North Korea. If Stephen Pollard does, the question also inevitably arises whether he should, in fact, be editing The JC.

I urge The JC not to censor my above comments, since I think it is important for bloggers and readers of this site to be aware of the various issues.

http://www.thejc.com/blogpost/the-jcs-blogs-comments-and-bans

A number of bloggers have asked in recent posts if I
could explain our policy in relation to moderation, and what – and what not –
we consider acceptable.
Let me try to give some context. We have two aims, which
are in a sense irreconcilable. The tension emerges when we try to reconcile
them.
First, we want to encourage as many people as possible to
set up their own blogs and to use the JC’s site as a forum for debate and
discussion – in fact for whatever purpose people want.
The same goes for comments. We want people to feel that
they can leave comments and engage in debate.
It’s in the nature of blogging that posts, and comments,
can be somewhat blunt. That’s fine. We want passion to be stirred.
Sometimes, however, a line is crossed. Some commenters go
too far, and are so abusive and intemperate that they make sites unpleasant for
others to read, let alone join in. The
JC does not ‘publish’ any of the blogs on our site, other than those written by
JC staff. We simply host them. That’s
the law, and it’s very important that that is clear.
But as host, we are not willing to allow our facilities
to be abused. That’s why we have banned some commenters and bloggers.
In the end, it’s up to us at the JC to decide when that
line is crossed. Others might disagree with our view, but we host the blogs and
it’s our decision. No one is guaranteed a right to post on a JC blog – or
anywhere else, for that matter.
Others might not agree with such decisions. That’s their
right. But it is our right – and duty - to make the decision.
That brings me to the second aim, where more difficult
issues arise, and the tension sometimes emerges.
We are a Jewish newspaper. In a sea of media bias against
Israel,
our newspaper provides a space where the facts can be reported and commented on
without that bias. Yes, we make sure that the paper is balanced – we have, for
instance, a Palestinian stringer in Gaza who is
a regular contributor - but our stance is clear: we are proud to be an
independent voice for Israel.
Blogging is not – cannot be – the same. We could,
perhaps, impose some sort of theoretical rule that all contributors must be
‘pro-Israel’, and not allow any anti-Israel comments on pieces. Clearly, that
is what many of our posters think, and it’s understandable. How, they ask,
could the Jewish Chronicle, of all hosts, allow anti-Israel comments on its
blog?
But I believe that imposing such a rule would undermine
one of the core purposes of blogging – to foster debate. It would also be
preposterous: Who is to define the criteria? Is urging talks with Hamas of
itself anti-Israel? Should we allow the BNP to blog because it claims to
support Israel?
It is impossible to make hard and fast rules that would
work. In the end, we have to take the decision as to what is, and what is not,
an acceptable viewpoint for us to host on our site. You won’t always agree with
us, but we try to remain committed to the principle of allowing people who want
to set up a blog to do so, and allowing people who wants to comment to do so.
Up to a point. Where an individual or group is, in our
view, not offering constructive and thoughtful criticism of Israel but
out-and-out anti-Israel bile, then we will refuse to host it.
Similarly, when we consider them to be far from the terms
of civilised debate, then we will not allow them to take advantage of the JC’s
facilities.
We recently banned a blogger from the ISM for just that
reason – as we would a BNP member or a supporter of terrorism or violence
against Israel.
Similarly, when we consider a blogger is using antisemitic language or
arguments which use antisemitic themes, we will bar them.
But much as I and many other JC readers consider members
of a group such as Jews for Justice for Palestinians to be contemptible, and
view with disgust their support for a boycott, I do not consider that barring
them from posting is a sensible response. Better, surely, to destroy their
arguments in debate.
Others may not like this approach, and may feel that the
JC’s blog pages should be reserved solely for pro-Israel posters, but I hope I
have explained our rationale in taking a different view. That means that there
will be bloggers who are anti-Israel.
Some of our bloggers are angered by this, feeling that it
is not right for a Jewish newspaper to allow any anti-Israel posts.
I have two points in response. First, the JC’s blogging
facilities are not the same as the paper, either legally, technically or in
spirit. As editor of the paper, I am entirely responsible for what appears in
the paper. As a company, neither the JC nor any of its staff are in any way
responsible for what is written by bloggers and commenters. We simply throw
open our facilities for you to use. That’s the essence of the internet and of
blogging and what differentiates it from newspaper publishing.
But there is a more fundamental point. Many JC readers –
me included – get extremely exercised by sites such as the Guardian’s Comment
is Free. In the end, it’s their property to do with as they wish, and if they
wish to be biased against Israel,
it’s their right in a free society.
But we can’t on the one hand urge them to allow other
points of view, and then argue that blogs and comments hosted on the JC’s url
should be exclusively pro-Israel.
When anti-Israel posts are published, the point of
comments is to subject them to proper scrutiny. That is the sensible approach.
As a gesture, after this post we have decided to wipe the
slate clean. From today, those who have been banned for incivility and abuse
will be allowed again to post. (We will maintain our bans on those bloggers
whose comments and posts we consider crossed the line of anti-Israel
commentary.)
But we will make no apology for cracking down, as before,
on commenters and bloggers who we consider are abusing the freedom our
facilities offer them. If those who have
been banned carry on as before, they will be banned again.
But I want to end on a positive note. Our website has
gone from strength to strength in recent months. Our hits have increased
exponentially, and we are confident that we’ll reach our initial target of a
million a month. Blogging is at the centre of that, so we want to do everything
we can to make the blogs as welcoming and important a read as they can be. That
they are almost always just that it thanks to you, our bloggers and commenters.

COMMENTS

Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 08:45

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It should be noted that 'telegramsam" is now re-blogging his articles about Iran and Israel. I can only assume that his motivation is to erase the comments that appeared on his original blog. It seems that he is becoming increasingly desperate.


Yvetta

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 08:50

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The JC refuses to boot off stephenb despite his numerous Jew-baiting crudities.


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 08:54

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Yvetta,

I want both stephenb and tsam to stay.

But Stephen Pollard MUST amend his guidelines to state that "out-and-out anti-Israel bile" and "Jew-baiting crudities" are fully kosher on this site.


Elisha

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 09:02

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I, like I am sure many other readers, read without commenting. My friends and I discuss how awful is this Jewish newspaper propogating anti-Israel information.

Silent Readers, you must please make an account, because you can then tick articles as offensive and put your reasons. You cannot without a free account. It is essential that all silent observers do this, as there are only about 6 or 8 people who blog here.

What is really bad, is the bullying done to people here. If it was a workplace, the employer would be sued for allowing harrasement to individuals. Any post that attacks a person should be removed instantly.

Again Silent Readers, register for a blogging account, if only to flag articles and comments as offensive.


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 09:07

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Elisha,
There have been a couple of blogs attacking me personally. But when I wrote a blog stating that the JC is printing defamation licenses, it was removed. One has to wonder what is going on.


telegramsam

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 09:09

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To be honest, Anthony, I reposted after an edit to remove spelling and grammatical errors. I wrote about Israel being like Iran and North Korea after returning from a very agreeable evening with colleagues. So it needed an edit. I didn't read your comments. I rarely do because they appear like the leftovers starlings deposit when they fly over a shiny car.


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 09:14

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tsam,

You removed comments by doing so. It showed total contempt for freedom of expression on this blog.


Kahina

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 09:19

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I don't understand. Can a blogger who has posted an article remove comments?
Or can you remove a whole post and all it's comments?


telegramsam

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 09:23

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Anthony, I didn't know that. Had I known that, It wouldn't have made a smidgen of difference.


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 09:23

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Kahina,

One can't just remove the comments.

But bloggers can delete their own articles. When they do so, they inevitably erase all the commets that have been posted. Tsam did ths.


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 09:26

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tsam,
As I said, you have contempt for freedom of expression.

I,of course, believe that you should continue writing on this site but that the editorial guidelines should be changed.


telegramsam

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 09:29

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No, Anthony, I have contempt for you.


Kahina

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 09:30

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Anthony
What did you write that was removed? I must have missed that one.


Advis3r

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 09:35

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He/she has just done it again. Obviously he/she would be at home in Iran where he/she can suppress freedom of expression as he/she has done by taking down his/her own posts. Alternatively the JC may be getting fed up with him/her and they are taking down the balatantly libellous and outrageous posts which I heartily welcome.


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 10:12

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Kahina,
They were just a couple of comments relating to tsam's blog. It is the fact that they were removed which is relevant.

tsam,
I certainly do not have contempt either for you, or for your freedom of expression. I think you are taking this far too personally.

Advis,
The JC is not, as far as I am aware, taking down tsam's posts.


Yvetta

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 10:21

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Anthony, why do you want stephenb to stay?


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 10:25

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tsam,

I really cannot understand why you have contempt for me. I am not calling for you to be banned, just for the editorial guidelines to be chnaged so they can fit in with your views.

It is a pity that you can't be more tolerant of my views. I do my best to be open-minded and polite.


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 10:31

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Yvetta,

It is not so much that I want stephenb to stay, but I am not asking for him to be banned.

However, the editorial guidelines must be amended if he is, as you say, engaged in "jew-baiting".

But, I am opposed to any hypocrisy at The JC. It should just get real and say.. "Jew-baiting is cool on The JC"


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 11:39

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tsam writes:

" let's try and be objective and look at what I wrote. Israel is behaving like a pathetic Third World hellhole. It thinks nothing of entering silly games over the size of hummus plates and multi-player chess (like North Korea chides its neighbour with a game of "who can build the tallest flagpole").
It does close mosques, it lets murderers of gays get away with it (has anyone been arrested for the shooting at Bar No'ar last year? Or for the repeated attempted attacks on Gay Pride Marches?)
It is trying its hardest to suppress institutions through fear and hatred -- just look at the modus operandi of the fascist group Im Tirzu, which receives state and foreign funding and which has links to senior members of major political groups.
Yet the country of the people of the book is creating a generation of ignorami as its education system disintegrates and its results slide down every recognisable international league table.
Yes, people are hungry in Israel, perhaps not to the extent of eating their dogs, but more and more people are going without hot meals and meat. Just look at the number of charities working to help people in need with soup kitchens and cast-off clothing. This was almost unheard of before 1990. Israel is rightfully a member of the OECD, but it has one of the widest social gaps in that organisation. This is a people that gave the world social justice (read Leviticus about rules pertaining to slavery and treatment of others) and the Prophet Amos.
There is also growing racism, not only targeted at Israel's Arab population and the Palestinians next door, but also towards refugees and foreign workers. And if that isn't bad enough, there is huge racism towards Israel's Ethiopian immigrants and only recently a disgusting case of discrimination of Sephardi girls in the ultra Orthodox school system. What happened to the Golden Rule? "Ve'ahavta et re'echah kemochah" "Love thy Neighbour as Thyself"? Aren't we supposed to treat the stranger among us equally?
Israel is rapidly becoming the most Un-Jewish state imaginable. Yet its shills here will attack, abuse and damn anyone who cares enough about Israel but won't play aong with their silly, immature knee-jerk reactions. Damn them."


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 11:47

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In the above tsam does not directly compare Israel to Iran.

Is he backing down? Or just running scared, worried that he might be breaking the editorial guidelines?


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 11:56

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So Mr Pollard and fellow bloggers, what is it?

"constructive and thoughtful criticism of Israel"?

or

"out-and-out anti-Israel bile?


telegramsam

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 12:01

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Try not to be silly, Anthony. You neither determine nor interpret guidelines. You are just seeking to push the envelope, to see how far you can go before being martyred and offed again. Having gone thermo-nuclear once with you, the management here is unlikely to do it again. Thankfully, so you won't get what you most desire. So quit your silly little games.


telegramsam

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 12:03

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And I stand by every word in the first posting and the last. Whether you like its contents or not or whether you think it breaches any guidelines, is not of any concern.


Kahina

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 12:04

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Maybe Tsam works at the JC?


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 12:05

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I should also remind readers that The JC is owned by The Kessler Foundation (its trustee Nicky Saphir is also Chiarman of The NIF).

In such circumstances, one might ponder whether tsam's views reflect those of The Kessler Foundation.


telegramsam

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 12:07

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Telegramsam most definitely does not work at the JC. But he has every respect for those who do.


telegramsam

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 12:09

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Anthony, you're safe. No one will do what you most desire, that is ban you. Why would they want to create another martyr with a chip on his shoulder and a hate-filled website.


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 12:10

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tsam,

Try and keep calm.

I am just raising asking some questions.


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 12:13

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tsam,

I couldn't care less whether The JC ban me.

I am just discussing your views and whether they contravene the guidelines. If they do, I want the guidelines changed.

Why are you making such ridiculous allegations about me?


telegramsam

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 12:28

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Are they ridiculous allegations, Anthony? I don't think so, judging by your responses.


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 12:37

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Tsam,

Would I be banned for asking The JC's editor whether the guidelines should be changed? I think that is a bit far-fetched.

I am not even criticizing Jenni Frazer.


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 14:43

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Yvetta writes:
"I have flagged stephenb as an antisemite several times.
The JC obviously prefers to keep him here despite the offence he gives to Jews and the damage tolerance for his antisemitic and inanane remarks does to the JC's reputation.
But I suppose the JC website prefers "b*ms on seats" or rather "b*ms on blogs" to good taste."


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 14:47

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Yvetta,
Clearly The JC is quite happy to publish stephenb's comments. Obviously, the fact that you have flagged them has no impact.


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 14:52

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Amber writes re stephenb:
"You come onto the JC bogs, insult Judaism, and make antisemitic comments about Jews as a totality.
JC, why is this man here?"


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 15:22

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Re : "How Israel is becoming like Iran and North Korea" (telegramsam)

Amber writes:
"The very title of this "piece" is an expression of hatred. It is also a lie."

Not according to The JC's editors. Moreover, we are living in a "Gutless New World" where it is fine. And true.


TheBrit

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 15:43

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< set up their own blogs and to use the JC’s site as a forum for debate and
discussion >>

As I said in my first blog entry. The things putting people off

a) Bloggers attitudes on here.
b) Extreme views which tends to be right wing.
c) The constant childish banter.Anti this anti that or whatever!!

d) Always blogging on negative issues

Address the above and more people might be inclined to blog more !!!!


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 15:48

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Let us all be quite clear...

According to The JC's editor, it is not "out-and-out anti-Israel bile" to state that Israel is as bad as The Islamic Republic of Iran. It is, I suppose, quite reasonable to do so.

Those of us who think it is, are clearly out of step with The JC's thinking. Of course, bloggers will have to draw their own conclusions, but I believe that Pollard and Co have made it very clear how they feel about this matter. How one reacts to it, is of course a personal decision, but some may feel that now is the time to let them get on with it.


telegramsam

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 15:55

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Does that mean you are leaving, Anthony? Bon voyage. Don't forget to forget to write.


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 16:03

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tsam,

Well if, Pollard does not make a statement in the next few days agreeing that it is "out-and-out anti-Israel bile", I will be jumping ship.

I have no problem with you blogging that crap, but he must change the guide-lines to reflect it.


telegramsam

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 16:12

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Promises, promises, Andrew…


telegramsam

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 16:13

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Sorry, Anthony


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/04/2010 - 16:22

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tsam,

Just to elucidate..

You could be a chimp blogging from the zoo who has managed to get on-line. (You write, moreover, using a pseudonym so one should certainly not conclude that you are human.) So you are quite irrelevant.

But if The JC is giving succour to the "Israel=Iran" lie, then I certainly will not continue blogging on their site.

And of course, I realize that The JC will probably be pleased to see the back of me!

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