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News ::
Anti-Semitism & Open Publishing (english)
17 Sep 2002
Modified: 22 Sep 2002
To address this problem of anti-Semitism within the left we need to be having a dialog real dialog. Many people who equate Zionism with Nazism think they are being more radical because of the reaction they get.
June 06, 2002

The issue of anti-Semitism on indymedia sites has come up a number of times. A friend just asked me what I thought about it and this kind of came out. It's definitely rant quality. Things have gotten to the point where indymedia is being used to advance anti-Jewish racism. I don't use the word Semite because both Arabs and Jews are Semitic people to say it's anti-Semitism would be a little non-sensesical.

After talking a little explaining the two groups of anti-Semitic posters on indymedia and a digression in to the general israel/palestine conflict I talk about how the future of open publishing can create a new space for political.

Regarding the racist posts on indymedia, I see them coming in two categories. One are the true racists who are probably right wing anyway. They are attempting to use indymedia and the oppression of Palestinians both as a way of attracting members of the white left in to joining and advance their insane conspiracy theories about Jewish control over the world and how the Holocaust never happened. These folks are the ones who talk about the elders of Zion or keep spreading around the baseless rumor that 4000 Jews didn't show up to work at the WTC on 9.11. In theory our editorial policy of removing racist and hate speech should be enough to have these posts removed. The problem is that there are way to many posts. A few sites like the Israel and Palestine indymedia sites put a lot of work in to removing them but most do not. People simply don't have the time to go through and filter things as it's currently setup. Beyond time there is a bigger problem. That of making political judgments as 'indymedia'. Getting in to fights over the quality of questionable posting is a draining process and eventually people shy away from it.

The second problem with anti-Jewish racism in indymedia is more difficult. These are from people who are genuine leftists who generally uphold egalitarian anti-racist views. They are reacting to the tremendous oppression which has come down on the Palestinians. When they look around for who is at fault they see the state of Israel. Israel does have populations Muslim and Christian citizens but it was founded as an explicitly Jewish state. The ethno-religious origins of the Jewish state make it really easy for people to confuse Jewish people with the state of Israel. When people are looking for a bad guy to explain what is happening in the occupied territories they see the state of Israel and by extension all Jews. This is not simply a vision created by the pro-Palestinian side. Sharon and the right wing Jews are actively blurring the line between the state of Israel and the Jewish diaspora. They do it to consolidate power. If you are a Jew and you don't support Israel then you are opposing the whole of the Jewish people as Hitler did. The Palestinians are an exploited minority make the obvious jump to equating the actions of the Israeli government with Nazism which so devastated the Jews 60 years ago. As soon as you say Israel = Nazism you get a huge reaction. It divides people and consolidates the power behind the groups which are unable to achieve peace because their power comes for the protected conflict.

Anyway I£¡ìm not saying anything new, dozens of more articulate and well read leftist intellectuals have been advancing this critique for years. The only hope I see is if people start looking at the struggle in South Africa as a model for how two communities can come to live together. Unlike in Israel/Palestine the ANC never dreamed of having an all black South Africa. I personally think the best way out is to try and take religion out of the equation and start treating this as a second appartide.

Ok, regarding the newswire. These second group of people who are leftists but who have fallen in to the good guy bad guy trap are the ones who are difficult to deal with. Just as during the Gulf and Kosovo Wars we had to say that both the US AND evil dictator of the moment were to be denounced. We need to try and encourage people to take a stand for a just and egalitarian peace. I personally think that both the Israelis and Palestinians would be much better off without a state at all. The history of post colonial states has proved they've been a dismal failure. Consolidating power under a post-colonial administration hasn't worked. What we need is open federated communitarian movements. In some ways despite it's hard line Muslim ideology and advocacy for the self-defeating tactic of suicide bombings Hamas is a model. Instead of becoming a new Palestinian Authority like the PLO, Hamas has build schools, clinics, and provided other vital social services. It would be interesting to see what they would achieve if they could continue this model of stateless community based governance of society. But I digress... Back to open publishing and indymedia. To address this problem of anti-Semitism within the left we need to be having a dialog real dialog. Many people who equate Zionism with Nazism think they are being more radical because of the reaction they get. To simply shut down the views of people in that mindset doesn't work. If people just started hiding those articles then everybody would become entrenched in their perspectives and fight about what should or shouldn't be on the sites.

What I hope to do achieve a solution to this is redefine space in which this conflict takes place. The current form of indymedia is to have this really narrow channel in which the content flows. Either an article is visible or hidden. Some new sites have categories which nicely add depth to the same channel. The problem is that all of these things still have a flat one way vision for what is or isn't included. Our medium is the web and we need to look at how we can use a discursive networked model for organizing the information. The examples are already out there it's just a matter of pulling them together. First we take the concept from eBay about reputation and credibility. With eBay you buy and sell stuff with random people over the internet. Trust is very important so they include easy measures to judge and rate other people. If you think somebody's articles are racist or brilliant then you need to be able to say so. Other people should be able to find out that kind of information. The second place where I hope to draw ideas is from the Amazon lists function. In Amazon people are able to create lists of books around a specific topic. When you see a book you also see that it is on five different lists people have put together. From those lists you can find more information. Obviously due to the volume of articles on indymedia we'd want to be able to create the ability for groups of people to collaborate on a list. The third innovation which we need to draw from in the evolution of indymedia in to being a truly powerful sustained open publishing political news medium is the blog. Weblogs (blogs for short), are a way of individuals to be empowered to be their own media by writing about issues and commenting on other websites. Blogs use links extensively and seem to be one of the more powerful new forms of journalism which has developed on the net. The fourth inspiration is that of, it's a web news community where the users vote on the articles and editorial decisions about the site. We need to get away from having the potentially cabal like powers of an elite and toward a model where we can actualize popular democratic participation in both news production and editorial decisions.

By combining those I hope that we'll be able to evolve indymedia in to something where you can get quality news of political issues which can address the long term problems like anti-Semitism in the movement from a bottom up perspective. Indymedia started out and is still best at covering breaking news such as major protests. For us to be effective in the long term in other environment we need to evolve. The process is slow but we are moving that direction. Part of the evolution is the switch so that on the global indymedia site the right hand column is no longer open publishing but has links to the featured stories from local imc's.

Posted by rabble at 07:45 AM
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anarchogreek (english)
18 Sep 2002
you must be jewish. Why not consider that other antisemitism(the kind you dont want to talk about) directed by jews and their rabid christian supporters at arabs esp palestinians. Here is a example:

The spiritual leader of Israel's ultra-orthodox Shas party said yesterday that Arabs were reproducing like insects and "in the old city of Jerusalem they're swarming like ants". In his Friday sermon which is broadcast on Israeli army radio Rabbi Ovadia Yossef went on to say 'they should go to hell -and the Messiah will speed them on their way".

This is not the first time that rabbi Yossef, whose party holds 17 out of the Israeli parliament's 120 seats, has directed racist remarks towards Arabs. Earlier this year he called Arabs snakes and vipers and declared in a sermon that God must annihilate the "evil, damnable" Arabs -- saying "May the Holy Name visit retribution on the Arabs' heads, and cause their seed to be lost, and annihilate them, and cause them to be vanquished and cause them to be cast from the world."

Some in Israel claim that the rabbi represents only a small number of extremists who share these opinions, unfortunately however his view is shared by many in positions of influence in Israel and has been heard on more than one occasion.

Since the establishment of Israel in 1948 the state has encouraged and maintained an attitude of racism and racial superiority towards the Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin said in a speech to the Knesset "[The Palestinians] are beasts walking on two legs' and a former Israeli chief of Staff, Rafael Eitan, once likened Palestinians to cockroaches scurrying in a bottle.

Earlier this month Israeli tourism minister, Rehavam Zeevi referred to Palestinians as "lice" and a "cancer" ; a member of Sharon's government, Zeevi has often made derogatory comments about Palestinians.

A full-page advertisement which appeared in an Israeli newspaper two weekends ago called upon soldiers and civilians "not to hesitate to kill" Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat if the opportunity presented itself. The advertisement inciting murder was dubbed "a snake is killed from its head" another metaphor referring to the snake-like Palestinian people.

Apart from the inherent loathsomeness of any racist comments or trends is the worrying fact that it appears acceptable and almost normal for some Israelis to have these opinions. These racist beliefs that Palestinians are not as good as Israelis, that their lives are not as valuable as Israelis lives, that Palestinians are like insects, encourage, either consciously or unconsciously a total disregard for Palestinians lives and liberties.

We currently have a situation where highly armed young men and women who have for their whole lives been subjected to these views are in positions of power in all dealings with the Palestinian population. Is it any wonder that of the 587 Palestinians killed 92 were children under the age of 18? Should we really be surprised that the majority of Israelis remain silent despite the immoral and illegal Israeli government's policy of extra-judicial killings that has to date killed 35 Palestinians, (9 of whom were bystanders) or that 21 Palestinians have died in the past 10 months after being prevented from seeking medical treatment?

The racism that pervades Israeli society has contributed to the dehumanization of the Palestinians, and so when faced with that choice of firing or not firing at an unarmed Palestinian demonstrator, irrespective of their age, it is easier to shoot. Stopping cars at checkpoints and humiliating the occupants is uncomplicated as they are somehow not the same as the soldiers. Denying access to medical treatment is not such a moral dilemma if the patient is "not like us". The extra judicial assassination of Palestinians is not regarded as the immoral crime that it in reality is.

These racist comments need to be condemned by those of Israeli society who do not share them. But this is unfortunately not enough.

The racism present in the very fabric of Israeli society is similar to that of apartheid South Africa. It was only international condemnation and pressure that led to a change in that society. The condemnation of South African racism provided the impetus for change and the same condemnation needs to be heard as response to Israeli racism.

The racism in Israel is equally dangerous and provides the premise for the whole system of illegal Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories and maintaining this occupation. Not respecting the human rights of Palestinians, continuing to deny them a state, killing them with impunity and justifying it in terms of "security" or "war" all stem from the fact that Palestinians are lesser beings than Israelis - and as 'insects' or 'beasts' they deserve no better.

While such an attitude continues to exist, it is unlikely that a real solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will be reached. Inherent racism cannot form the basis for a just peace; it will only continue to threaten both societies. A just peace demands respect for individual and national identity. Only when each side recognizes the equal right of the other to exist will the road to a solution lay open. This solution, the only solution with real integrity, is the two-state solution, when a viable Palestinian state exists alongside the state of Israel.
There are two sides to terror (english)
18 Sep 2002
I suppose the person who made that last comment must be Palestinian? Racism and bigotry work both ways and an assumption about the ethnic/religious background of a writer based on his/her expressed opinion borders on racism.

While I agree with points made in both the article and the comments I also wish to remind folks that hundreds of innocent civilians have been murdered by terrorists in Israel. It's not so hard to lash out in revenge when you've seen your friends and family murdered by fanatics. This premise applies to both Israelis and Palestinians. No side in this conflict can claim the moral high ground.

As for the inherent problems of the creation of a "Jewish State", the same can be said of any "Islamic State". One thing should be obvious by now, only secular governments free from religious influences can safeguard the interest of all it's citizens.
sorry tennis (english)
21 Sep 2002
that is just the miserable doctrine of equivalence used to justify israeli aggression. Why not do yourself a favor and go read David Hirsts excellent(or so i thought)book:the Gun and the Olive Branch: the story of how palestine was stolen from the palestinians.
terrorism is never justified (english)
22 Sep 2002
obviously my comments have been misunderstood. I'm not trying to justify aggression by either side. I'm only trying to provide another perspective. Without a doubt the Palestinians have been brutally oppressed. But there is also no doubt that many innocent Israelis civilians have been murdered. Terrorism is never justified. And one cannot help but think that some of the more virulent critics of Israeli policies harbor some sympathy for terrorist.

The cycle of violence must end for ALL the Semitic peoples...not just Palestinians.

Do you have a suggestion on hos to solve the problem? So far most of what I read on this topic seams to focus on how evil the Israelis are while Palestinian murderers are freedom fighters.