Thursday, January 1, 2009

Progressive Blogs and Zionist Concern Trolls

Readers should take a look at the intra-ideological debate taking place among progressive bloggers on the question of Israel and the campaign in Gaza.

Philip Munger has
a post at Oxdown Gazette that addresses the apparently bitter online battles between hardline pro-Palestian progressives and apparently "moderate" pro-Israel leftists. I'm struck by the language Munger uses to describe backers of Israel: "Zionist concern trolls and flamers." The way Munger describes thing, you'd think that bloggers and commenters at Daily Kos had a side gig at Contentions. Recall, of course, that Daily Kos is a blog that hosts the most rabid anti-Semitism online, for example, "Eulogy before the Inevitability of Self-Destruction: The Decline and Death of Israel," which calls for the elimination of the Jewish state.

Wading through the comments at Munger's peace one finds a link to a Jane Hamsher Firedoglake essay on the progressive/moderate debate, evincing classic nihilist form, "
The Third Rail of “Israel” Cools in the Blogosphere":

For years, the subject of Israel has been the biggest third rail subject we have to deal with. Any time we wanted to mention Israel in a post we had to alert the mods to strap on their hazmat suits, because the comments section would invariably turn into a shitstorm. Any criticism of Israel was greeted with catcalls of anti-semitism, which would inevitably draw out the anti-semites. The next thing you know, the mods are tearing their hair out and Bill O'Reilly is calling you a Nazi.

It was extraordinarily difficult to provide a place for free speech and open discussion and yet police racism and hate speech. Most people concluded (quite rightly) that the conditions were not right for a mature discussion of the subject, and just avoided it.

But as the current crisis unfolds in Gaza, all that seems to have reversed itself. Although a lot of bloggers are still obviously gun shy, it looks like readers are ready to take it on, and they are doing so without letting the conversation devolve into an endless flame war. I read closely the comments section of
Gregg Mitchell's top-rated Kos diary on the diversity of opinion about the Gaza situation within the Israeli press, which commenters reflected in their own disparate opinions. But despite the attempts of a couple of trolls to derail the conversation, it remained remarkably civil.

A series of diaries on the subject of Gaza subsequently made their way onto the recommended list, some critical of Israel's actions and others in support. But one thing is becoming clear - the third rail is cooling off.

Opinions will differ as to why this is happening, and Obama's November victory certainly sets the stage - people really are eager for change. But I would attribute this turn of events to three things ...
Before I discuss Hamsher's "three things," note how her mention of Obama's victory confirms a point I've made for months: The hard-left sees in the Obama administration the wedge to impose its radical secular-progressive on the rest of society. Lord knows they've made great headway. Anyway, it's worth citing Hamsher's additional discussion. She mentions the liberal Jewish lobbying group "J Street" as a new source of "peace" dialog on Israel, alhtough Hamsher's second and third points are really combined huzzahs for Joe Klein, the Jewish antiwar mouthpiece of the journalistic left:

2) Joe Klein: The importance of what Joe Klein did in the face of intimidation tactics from the extreme right cannot be overstated. When Jennifer Rubin of Commentary Magazine called Klein an "anti-semite" for criticizing Israel and the ADL piled on and condemned him, it was pretty much just standard operating procedure for them -- tactics that had silenced many critics before. But Klein was totally (and appropriately) enraged by this kind of thuggery, and fought back publicly on the pages of Time.

As Glenn Greenwald wrote:

Klein really became the first person in a venue as establishment-serving as Time Magazine to explicitly criticize neocons for their Israel-centric fixations and, much more importantly, for their disgusting exploitation of "anti-semitism" accusations against anyone and everyone who disagrees with their views on the Israel-Palestinian conflict and, more generally, on the Middle East.

Having someone like Klein, in a place like Time, make those arguments without punishment is highly threatening to the neocons' ability to continue to intimidate people away from expressing divergent views by wielding "anti-semitism" accusations. And they know that it is threatening, which is why, once Klein began doing it, they engaged in a full-court swarm to attack and demonize Klein and even insinuate that he should and would be fired for his transgressions on the topic of neocons and Israel.

I got a front row seat to the battle at a BBC dinner in New York with Commentary Magazine's John Podhoretz and Klein:

No sooner had the dinner begun than the two were screaming at each other over the table. "You're a shithead! You're a shithead!" screamed The Pod. "Why don't you just call me an antisemite? That's what you do!" retorted Klein.

Klein never backed down, and he used his perch at Time to expose the intimidation racket they were running, marginalizing them as right-wing extremists. I applauded him at the time, and continue to think that he made a tremendous contribution to the evolution of the conversation around Israel.

3) Leadership: What Klein did to Commentary Magazine and the ADL, Glenn Greenwald has done to Marty Peretz and the neocon propaganda organ he runs at The New Republic. Likewise Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias, Spencer Ackerman, Paul Rosenberg, Siun, Ian Welsh and Stirling Newberry have done a tremendous job of stepping outside the "usual suspect" sources and taking advantage of a new freedom to explore the subject of Israel from a multiplicity of viewpoints with intelligence and integrity.

Readers may have noticed how Hamsher rounds up the usual rogue's gallery of nihilist leftists and persistently diabolical Israel-bashers (on this, see Noah Pollak's related essay, "The Juicebox Mafia on Gaza").

I rarely use "anti-Semitic" to describe these folks. It almost goes without saying when many of their posts mount the most disgusting demonizations of the government and people of Israel. But it's the larger point people should keep in mind. As I've noted before, the health and preservation of the state of Israel is an EKG on the life of Western civilization. If and when pro-Palestinian "peace" activists prevail in their endless campaign of death and destruction of the Jewish state the rest of the traditional international community can kiss the fight for decency, light, and reason goodbye. Goodness will have been enveloped by the forces of nihilist evil. International postmodernism and the spread of the transnational secular-collectivist state won't be far behind.

This is why I blog. Tune-in here throughout 2009 for updates on the hard-left's campaign of endless recriminations against "Zionist concern trolls" and the normal folks who otherwise want to cherish and preserve the culture and values of modernity.


Laura Lee - Grace Explosion said...

OK, I read this whole article. I know it was on Israel and Palestine. But what really leaps at me is how these people say, "Yep, the people voted for change." The fact is that Obama got only 52% of the vote. (And I really think he got less than that when we trim out massive voter fraud by ACORN and polls allowing multiple voting, etc.) He hid his socialism. He hid his anti-Israel positions. He ran as a fake centrist. And now some say that those who voted for him voted for America to become a pro-Muslim, anti-Israel, communist country. That's not what people voted for. He didn't run on that platform. In fact, that's what we from the right said we saw - and everyone denied that was the case. Now they say it was the case - and everyone who voted for Obama really voted for that platform. Ridiculous.


AmPowerBlog said...

Thanks Grace! Happy New Year!

Philippe Öhlund said...

What have we done, Donald!

We have a new European President - Vaclav Klaus.

We never even voted for him!

Klaus says the E.U. Presidency is unimportant, and that he doesn't want the Euro, the E.U. constitution, or fly the European flag.

What a catastrophe for Europe!

I will never again criticize the American Presidential election, or who you choose for President.

AmPowerBlog said...

Thanks for commenting, Philippe. Hope your new year is starting well. You've got a head start on us over there!

Philippe Öhlund said...

Thanks, Donald! :-)

Everything is just fine here.

You're right there is a great time difference between Belgium and California.

I think the time difference is 9 hours. I remember it from when I visited Las Vegas, which is in the same time zone.

Last year, 2008, was the first year I spent at work both Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.

Well, I signed a contract with my new employer yesterday, and I am happy things are moving forward.

I like it, when I can see concrete results and improvements.

I hope your new year likewise starts well.

Now, I have a few days off work until Monday, but I also have other stuff I must take care of...

For a couple of weeks it has been relatively cold here in southern Belgium, with around -6°C i Mons.

My dog, "Jack" - he is a Jack Russell - sleeps in my lap and keeps me warm.

I had a long walk with him earlier today, and he loves that. :-)

Norm said...

Right off the bat Hamsher writes:
"Any criticism of Israel was greeted with catcalls of anti-semitism,"
As soon as I read that I know that she is all BS and I cannot proceed further. Just criticizing Israel gets no one labeled anti-semitic. Singling out Israel or Jews as the
sole reason for evil in this world will get one labeled anti-semitic. I have taken part in more debates online and in person about Israel that have been a pleasure and civil
starting before Obama knew how to roll a joint. So when I read that BS line from Hamsher, I know that she is plainly an idiot. J Street
is written by the same people who thought that they could be nice to the Nazis and survive. They didn't

Philippe Öhlund said...

Nice reflection, Norm! :-)

I think you should be nice to nice people.

There is no point in being nice to evil people.

Jack Steiner said...

I am going to include this post in the next round up of news and information about Gaza.