You didn't understand me, says Geoffrey Alderman

February 11, 2010

It is a reflection of the sensitivity of the Guardian’s Cif team that it has asked for the right of reply to my February 5 column. We are agreed that I was given an ultimatum that if I wrote for CifWatch I could no longer write for Cif. Matt argues that my writing for CifWatch gave it legitimacy. What if it did?

If the criticisms made of the Guardian by CifWatch were to any significant degree untrue, one might understand Matt’s touching concern for my reputation. Unfortunately these criticisms are only too true. I write for Cif as a freelance. If Cif wishes to offer me a contract of exclusivity I would naturally give this serious consideration. What I cannot allow Cif to do is to get away with the chutzpah of claiming to uphold freedom of expression while effectively banning me from writing for it.

The evidence for the demonisation of Israel on Cif is overwhelming. CifWatch has meticu-lously catalogued it. Matt’s assertion that I compared Palestinians to Nazis is both incorrect and mischievous. I took part in a Cif discussion on the balance to be struck between compassion for fellow human beings and the need to destroy an enemy. I argued that the fact that the Nazis were human beings did not deter the wartime allies from destroying the Nazi state. I made an analogy, not a comparison, but it strikes me now that the Cif team may simply not have understood this distinction.

In that same Cif thread, incidentally, a contributor called me a “cheerleader for war crimes”. Cif’s faceless censors appear to have turned a blind eye to this outrageous lie, which is still on the Cif website. Matt declares that he and his colleagues “take all forms of hate speech extremely seriously… and we work hard to delete offensive postings rapidly. In fact, the only place where such comments are kept online is at CifWatch; we do not tolerate them.”

Pull the other one, Matt.

Last updated: 2:08pm, February 11 2010