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The Good Jewish Bloggers and the Bad Jewish Bloggers

The Forward has bought the Richard Silverstein tear-jerking saga, the one where he laments his poor treatment by other bloggers and particularly by some guy who created Little Dickie’s Diaper Droppings. Silverstein is apparently one of the good guys.

In the same article, Dan Sieradski, AKA Mobius from Jewschool, is also depicted as one of the good Jewish bloggers, the civil ones. In fact, he tells the world that it was debating some of us here at Jewlicious that made him put up the “Jewish Bloggers for Responsible Speech Online” tag which he then proceeded to violate on his own site.

Oops, that last part wasn’t in the article. Neither was mention of the time he changed the words of this poster, without cause, into insults related to bowel movements. Or the time he changed the words of this poster to read, “I am a contemptible person.” Or the time he came to our site and wrote, “TM sucks hard” because he gave a report about Shira Chadasha in Jerusalem with which several others disagreed. I can’t recall, was that just before or just after Mobi put up the Responsible Speech tag? There’s no mention in the Forward article, of course, of all of the insults he’s heaped on those who disagree with his views or his penchant for banning or sidelining those folks, including Jewschool’s own posters, with whose views he disagrees.

There was also no mention in the article about Silverstein’s heinous treatment of people who come to his site and don’t share his anti-Israel views. These are people who try to debate his views – not to insult him or the regulars who visit his site who spew all kinds of anti-Israel and anti-Zionist nonsense regularly – who present a differing viewpoint which he so strongly rejects, since it doesn’t vilify Israel and its history or actions as he would like.

It is hilarious to see two of the Jewish blogosphere’s biggest violators of the rules of decency and etiquette on the Internet pose as victims of the same infractions. Interestingly, Jewlicious comes across as one of the attacker blogs thanks to Mobius neglecting to mention that it were his own actions leading him to put up his meaningless tag for responsible speech. And we have our own ck explaining why he won’t put on the hypocritical tag, except that being ck, instead of taking a well-deserved potshot at his accuser, Mobius, he says, “There’s a lot of testosterone on the Internet, a lot of swagger,” [What makes] “the blogosphere interesting is the fact that it is dynamic and anything can happen.”

Well yeah, like the time Mobius was frustrated in a debate with me and threatened to kick me in the shins. Or when he got frustrated to the degree where he wrote me an email calling me names.

silverwho.jpgOr the time, last week, when Richard Silverstein threatened Jewlicious with a lawsuit because he claims this image to your right is a copyright violation. That’s correct, this image bothers him so much that he is threatening a lawsuit and seems to keep writing articles on his blog attacking ck or Jewlicious writers. I would check and link to these articles, but my IP was banned from his site without any cause. Yup, imagine a blogger threatening you with a lawsuit over a harmless, humorous image the way Silverstein has, and then ensuring that your IP is banned from his site so that you cannot even respond to his attacks.

So Rebecca Spence from The Forward, take a closer look at the archives of these two Good Jewish Bloggers and try to be more critical. You are also welcome to visit our archives, having been depicted as the Wild West of the Jewish blogosphere. I’m sure they will compare favorably, even with some of the harsh discussions we’ve had here.

Now seriously, the stuff above is fluff and not too important other than for its humor value. However, one issue brought up in the Forward’s article is serious. Dan Sieradski complains that he had been called a “Zionazi.” This is ironic. You see, Sieradski belongs to the stream of Left-wing, anti-Israel Jews who have made an unspoken (or sometimes spoken) pact with the anti-Israel Left and pro-Palestinians to attack Israel and its actions and its legitimacy. A couple of the key ways in which these attacks are made include comparing Israel to South Africa in the apartheid days and to Nazi Germany, including a comparison of the IDF to Nazi soldiers. That is where the term Zionazi originates, it’s a blatant parallel between Zionism and Nazism.

Now, ANYBODY who has actually seen one of these pro-Israel/anti-Israel debates knows that it’s virtually always the Israelis and their supporters, often Jewish, who are called Zionazis and racists and ethnic cleansers, etc. Almost always the attacks are made by the very people who share the same or a similar political outlook regarding Israel and the Arab-Israel conflict as Dan Sieradski. When I say almost always, I mean 99.87% of the time. If he has been called a Zionazi, it was an aberration, or perhaps somebody misread his luke-warm support of Israel and attacked him the way he attacks Israel very often. It’s ironic that a person who shares the very same views as so many who call us Zionazis actually claims to be a victim of the slur.

14 Comments

  1. POLJ

    6/14/2007 at 8:14 pm

    tm-

    You are just bummed it wasn’t about you. But in all reality, no one who knows Mobius and his tactics think he is such a good guy. He called me names and I don’t even disagree with him on much; esp not on Israel stuff.

    My parents and people like them think blogging is stupid and a waste of time for the reason that we don’t really have any kind of credibility. Who am I to say anything? I am just a Pissed off Liberal Jew. I am no better or worse any Joe Cohen on the street.

    The Forward has a rep; you, me, Mobius, orthomom or otherwise are no-ones.

  2. Mobius

    6/14/2007 at 9:14 pm

    TM, of course you don’t mention the fact that the comments of yours which I changed (and humorously so in my mind) were troll bait — both acerbic and condescending in nature — which were consciously intended to inflame and provoke.

    Nor did you mention that you have for years now engaged in ongoing attacks against me, much like the one here.

    That I took umbrage with your repeated provocations should come as no surprise to you: You sought to push me to the edge and succeeded. You picked a fight with a guy younger than you and then upheld the immaturity of my response as evidence of my moral failure. That this is a known a tactic of character assassination is not lost on me. That, again, you act like a schoolyard bully, is not lost on me either.

    Of course I recognize my own shortcomings, and account for them wholly. I did, in fact, direct Ms. Spence to my Jewschool post initiating the Responsible Speech campaign in which I more than acknowledge my own shortcomings and my own failure to always comply with my ideals. I also told Ms. Spence that it was a verbal scuffle, ie., that it went both ways, and as such have indeed owned up to my end of things.

    With regards to your statement that I “belong to the stream of Left-wing, anti-Israel Jews who have made an unspoken (or sometimes spoken) pact with the anti-Israel Left and pro-Palestinians to attack Israel and its actions and its legitimacy,” throughout my time in Israel, I had been engaged in an ongoing process of examining, learning, discussing and experiencing the reality of the situation on the ground in Israel.

    In that time I explored many ideas, many narratives, and many interpretations. Sometimes I took a left-wing position, sometimes a right-wing one. While I argued with Jews from a left-wing position, at times making admittedly incendiary remarks, throughout the secular leftist blogosphere, I was simultaneously an ardent supporter of Israel, its right to existence and its right to self-defense. It all depends on the audience I’m addressing. If I’m talking to right-wing Zionists, I’ll take a left-wing post- or anti-Zionist position in order to challenge their assertions. If I’m talking to left-wing anti-Zionists, I’ll likewise take a right-wing Zionist position in order to challenge their assertions. This has forever been my approach.

    The folks at Meretz get me, as demonstrated when they wrote on their website: Sieradski, at least for now, considers himself a post-Zionist or anti-Zionist. And while he may be somewhat consumed by the heady mix of left-Zionism, left anti-Zionism, all manner of Jewish left politics from Anarchism to Zionism in fact, such that his politics are still in a state of rapid evolution – nothing wrong with that! – that … well, no matter. His criticisms of the Rosenfeld piece, as well as the diverse responses posted at the end of his critique, should be taken into account by anyone within the progressive Zionist camp when contemplating “how we as Zionists address our concerns for an Israel more dedicated to peace and humane values.”

    The emphasis is on the fact that my politics have been in a constant state of evolution — I have been pushing the boundaries at both ends of the spectrum in order to find what holds and what gives way. I have only sought the truth, in the process, rooting out falsehood by presenting positions to the public, and seeking either their affirmation or denunciation.

    Now, I believe I have come to perhaps not the end of this process, but something akin to it. I believe that I am now rooted in a much more nuanced and grounded perspective, one that is moderate, but more so, centered around Jewish interests.

    But you wouldn’t know it, because you’ve never met me. You’ve never spoken to me. You’ve never connected with me. You’ve only baited me, attacked me, provoked me, insulted me, and defamed me. Were I to conform 100% to your ideal of what a Jew should believe and profess about Israel, I doubt you would even give me the space or forgiveness to rejoin the world of “acceptable” members of your Jewish community, because you have a preconception of me in your mind to which I shall forever be held. I am merely a symbol to you. A straw man. A windmill at which you are forever tilting.

    Which is why I think you’re kind of a jerk, and why I’ve always regarded and responded to you as such. You have never expressed compassion or forgiveness towards me, and I in turn uphold that same mirror to you.

    You never saw fit to act maturely. To be “better” than me. To be a learned elder. A graceful teacher. You have only sought to rub my face in the dirt. I thus rubbed your own face back in it as well. And though I have managed to let go — to ignore you, to pretend, more or less that you do not exist — you have not yet let go. You are still there, harboring animosity, seeking out every opportunity to take swipes at me.

    I feel sorry for you, really.

    As for you POLJ: You wrote a post about me on your site which I’d never read (it didn’t show up in my pingbacks) and then subsequently attacked me for “ignoring” you. I responded by asking, rhetorically, “what’s up with crazy people online who think you owe them a response to things they’ve never even read?” You took that as an insult and have been harboring a grudge about it ever since, slandering me at every opportunity that presents itself to jump on the bash Mobius bandwagon. Why don’t you get over it already?

  3. Ephraim

    6/14/2007 at 9:16 pm

    Would you people just grow the fuck up?

    Jeez Louise.

  4. Mobius

    6/14/2007 at 9:28 pm

    Oh — and by the way TM — I didn’t sideline any writers because I disagreed with their views, and you have no business whatsoever commenting on internal matters of which you have limited, if any knowledge at all. If you must know, we made a round of cuts that included both our weakest writers and our most inflammatory ones. Part of that decision also involved me taking more of a backseat, which you may have noticed, has brought me to blog a hell of a lot less on Jewschool than I used to.

    Furthermore, I have never ever once banned anyone because I disagreed with their views. I have only ever banned individuals who engage in outright malicious behavior, such as attacking my contributors as being self-hating and the like, and I challenge you to prove otherwise.

    Mean spirited slander. That’s all you’ve got.

  5. Mobius

    6/14/2007 at 10:57 pm

    POLJ & TM: You know what, I’m sorry I responded that way. I am sorry that I have not approached your remarks, current and previous, with the utmost consciousness and humility. I am sorry that I allowed myself to become overcome with pride and emotion, responding to both of you in a way that fails to recognize the tselem that resides within each of you. I acknowledge my error and will strive to be ever more aware of my reactive tendency.

    I apologize, TM, for having changed your words so as to disgrace you. Furthermore, I apologize for being insensitive in the manner in which I presented the notions explored in my writings, thus drawing forth your anger, rather than your appreciation. I apologize for not wielding the power of Jewschool more responsibly, but I assure you, I have reaped more than one man’s share of the repercussions of that. At that, I apologize for being unconscious despite my constant struggle towards consciousness. All I can offer is that I struggle further towards awareness every day.

    I have no excuse other than humanness. I acknowledge my imperfection and I struggle with it. It is the best I can offer.

  6. themiddle

    6/14/2007 at 11:14 pm

    Whew, that sure involved a lot of reading.

    Apology accepted.

  7. Aussie Dave

    6/15/2007 at 3:24 am

    As the victim of Silverstein’s defamation and as someone who has disagreed with Mobius many times, I have to say that there is a difference between the two of them. As Mobius’ last comment demonstrates, he is capable of listening to someone else with divergent views, and admitting his mistakes.

    Silverstein, on the other hand, cannot. If he disagrees with you, he simply 1) insults you in the comments to his site 2) defames you and then asks you to provide proof of he is wrong 3) bans you from his site so you couldn’t respond even if you wanted to

    Shame on those in the media who continue to give this despicable person a soapbox.

  8. daniiel

    6/15/2007 at 9:15 am

    Is LGF a Jewish blog?

  9. themiddle

    6/15/2007 at 11:31 am

    No, LGF is run by a non-Jew who is a supporter of Israel and has very strong views about terrorism and extremism in Islam.

  10. WEVS1

    6/15/2007 at 5:06 pm

    Middle, I don’t know about the beef between you and Mobius but I have to second Aussie Dave’s comments. At the least, there is a big difference between their attitudes and the content of the two blogs. Silverstein and Tikun Olam are simply a Jewish version of Daily Kos. There is very little content about actually repairing the world, just standard anti-Israel and anti-American rhetoric. I think Mobius and Jewschool are different. While it definitely has a left-of-center slant, I’ve read some very informative posts about left-wing anti-Semitism at Jewschool, the sort of stuff you would never read on anti-Zionist websites. And, unlike Silverstein, Mobius is genuinely involved in Tikun Olam.

    As to comments or rhetorical style, I haven’t wasted much time with Silverstein’s blog. Followed a couple of links from other sites and got the gist of his thought processes (Israel and America = bad, Palestinians = good). But I have posted comments at Jewschool and when I disagree with Mobius he’s usually cordial. Yes I find his post-Zionism and limited understanding of anarchism annoying and he can occasionally be hotheaded and fly off the handle, but he generally is someone I can agree to disagree with. Silverstein, by contrast, seems like a total cretin.

    Shabbat Shalom…

  11. xisnotx

    6/18/2007 at 3:43 am

    Silverstein is a bit humourless and rather pompous.

  12. mhp

    6/18/2007 at 4:30 pm

    Mobius code of conduct was a brilliant idea, and its too bad that more Jewish blogs don’t adhere to it. The fact that he himself fails to adhere it at times is besides the point. The fact that he is willing to admit his failure to live up to the code is all the more admirable.

    The idea that a lax policy towards ad hominem and personal attacks is somehow required in order to preserve space for vigorous debate is a cop-out.

    To the contrary, all the wasted energy and side tangents provoked by gratuitous insults and cheap shots severely detract from substantive discussion. I’d much rather read about what Mobius and TM think about Judaism, Zionism and modern Jewish identity then what they think about each other.

  13. themiddle

    6/18/2007 at 6:33 pm

    All well and good, except that where do you draw the line? What is and isn’t offensive speech? What is an attack and what isn’t an attack?

    I’d like to discuss Judaism, Zionism and modern Jewish identity without being called a Nazi, racist, an ethnic cleanser or an apartheid supporter. I believe that those descriptions are far more offensive than somebody calling somebody else an asshole. And yet, they have become a normal part of the discourse regarding this conflict.

    Since I find those to be more offensive than somebody calling somebody names, should I censor those comments as well?

    There are a number of reasons that Mobius doesn’t adhere to his code of conduct, but among them, I believe, is the problem of assessing what is appropriate and what is inappropriate at any given time in a discussion. I can’t speak for ck or others on our site, but I don’t want to play policeman all the time and I don’t want to start measuring whether comment A was more offensive than comment B and whether C deserves censorship or D deserves banning.

  14. mhp

    6/19/2007 at 2:59 pm

    While I’m sympathetic to the concerns of trying to monitor an active blog, I still don’t think that warrants not making an effort. (It would justify the occassional offensive message slipping through or resorting to bright-line rules.)

    I don’t think any discussion of the Arab-Israeli conflict has ever benefited from the use of “Zionazi” slurs. Anyone who can’t criticize Israel without resorting the facile and incendiary Nazi analgoies isn’t worth interacting with. I think its perfectly legitimate to “censor” such “speech.” There are plenty of sites on the internet to engage in empty speechifying. The places that promote genuine dialogue are rare.

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