Censoring Debate

The Guardian have a habit of over moderating readers comments when it comes to discussing the sensitive Israel/Palestine conflict. Understandably, racist and antisemitic comments need to be deleted but seemingly innocent comments regarding Israeli foreign policy have, in the past, been completely removed. Another recurring feature on the Guardian message boards (referred to as CiF) is an ongoing reluctance by the moderators to allow any discussion of the pro-Israeli Guardian monitoring group http://www.cifwatch.com

I’ve had around 6 or 7 comments completely removed by the moderators after politely but specifically mentioning CiF Watch. When I asked why my comment had been removed I was told that it was “off topic”. Unless the Guardian run an article specifically about CiF Watch (which seems unlikely)  I imagine that mentioning them at any point will be deemed “off topic”.

Here are some statements from the CiF Watch website;

About Us

Welcome to CiF Watch, dedicated to monitoring antisemitism and combating the assault on Israel’s legitimacy at the Guardian and its ‘Comment is Free’ blog.

By labelling something antisemitic are you not shutting down debate on what is perhaps a legitimate subject of debate?

Absolutely not. We support vigorous and open debate about Jewish related issues, including issues of controversy, however we object to speech that violates the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism.

In particular, it bears emphasizing that we support open and honest debate about the Israel-Arab conflict including harsh criticism of Israel as long as the criticism of Israel is similar to that leveled against any other nation of the world.

Judging from its mission statement CiF Watch seems like a reasonable and balanced organisation. I agree that racism should be challenged. However here are some statements made recently by CiF Watch on twitter, which (in my opinion) portrays the organisation in a much more radicalized light;


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So is my beef with The Guardian or CiF Watch? I believe the Guardian has a duty to allow debate about any outside influence it may be under when allowing readers to discuss world issues. Censoring debate in this way limits its readers knowledge and therefor helps shape opinion.

UPDATE 17/11/15

CiF Watch has now changed it’s name to UK Media Watch > http://ukmediawatch.org/

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Propaganda 101

On Sunday the 5th of May 2013 a lady called Carla Del Ponte (former Chief Prosecutor of two United Nations international criminal law tribunals) appeared on Swiss-Italian TV and stated that it was her belief (after reading a well researched report) that the Western backed rebels in Syria had used chemical weapons.

Even the BBC ran an article on this bombshell of a story.

I was waiting for the Guardian to post a story about this revelation. They post stories based on accusations made by rebels against Assad almost immediately – without any proof. Accusations from an overtly biased source. Accusations based on unverified video footage. But here we have an accusation made by the United Nations itself and the Guardian waits until late Monday evening to mention the claims made by Carla Del Ponte.

And In doing so they led the story with US dismissal and they led the story using an alternative source at the United Nations who uses less accusatory language. 

This is propaganda 101 and it doesn’t go unnoticed by many of its readers. I’ll leave you with some comments from below the line.

SPG700
Guardian, this is shocking reporting. The BBC (and a host of other normally one sided media organisations) have been headlining Carla’s findings all day.
As for you? Diddlysquat, no mention at all. As soon as your buddies (the US) cast doubt, you’re in there like a rat up a drain pipe. Honestly Guardian, shocking beyond all proportion. I really do wonder what your pay master’s role is in all this mess. Hang your head in shame. Shame on you indeed.

CarefulReader
So far, we’ve had plain old biased reporting, because the opinion at the Guardian seems to be firmly on the rebel side. That makes for shoddy journalism, but it’s still within bounds of journalism.
But this episode today went far beyond that. This is not journalism, it’s opinion engineering, i.e. propaganda.
Shame on you indeed.

UtgardLoki
So the USA dismisses the possibility that Syrian insurgents use chemical weapons, without evidence, yet the USA is minded to believe Assad’s forces have used chemical weapons, without evidence.
Nice to see the USA maintains its spotless record as an honest broker.
And nice to see the Guardian reporting this story… once it could be spun to make del Ponte’s comments seem questionable

 

Rewriting the Syrian script

Countless articles on the Guardian website and other mainstream media sites repeat certain statements over and over again. Articles regularly state that there were months and months of peaceful protests in Syria before the opposition decided to take up arms in order to defend themselves from violent repression – despite evidence of security forces being killed within weeks of the unrest starting. Articles regularly state that the uprising in Syria was popular and majority led despite the two biggest and most populated cities (Aleppo and Damascus) staying relatively quiet. Articles regularly state that America has played a minimal role in supporting the movement and has almost been a neutral player in the rebels attempt to violently overthrow the Syrian government.

It is true that Assad was in control of a repressive regime inside Syria and he cannot escape culpability for the situation currently unfolding within its borders. However, here is an alternative timeline that may highlight how some of the basic and most important facts being reported about Syria are not exactly concrete.

In 2001, retired General Wesley Clark met with Donald Rumsfeld in person and was told about a plan to topple the Syrian government. 

Since 2004 the US Government has been imposing tough economic sanctions against the Syrian government. 

Since 2006 the State Department has been spending millions of dollars on anti Assad propaganda.

In 2008 top members of the SNC (the main opposition group against Assad) were seen attending the secretive Bilderberg conference in Chantilly, Virginia.

In March 2011, weeks before the unrest began, weapons were discovered being smuggled into Syria from Iraq.

In April/May 2011 a joint US-NATO secret training camp in the US air force base in Incirlik, Turkey, began operations to organize and expand the dissident base in Syria (according to a Boiling Frogs article posted in November 2011).

In May 2011, weeks after the unrest began, Al Jazeera staff witnessed foreign fighters crossing the border into Syria but the media organization refused to air the footage.

In June 2011 (just a month or so after the unrest began) 120 Syrian security officers were attacked and many of them killed.

In August 2011 it was reported that “To date, most residents of Syria’s two main cities, Damascus and Aleppo, have tried to look the other way vis-à-vis the uprising”.

In May 2012 (a year after the unrest began) the State Department admitted that it was coordinating the shipment of weapons and hardware to the rebels.

In June 2012 it was reported that the C.I.A. were said to be steering weaponry to the Syrian Opposition

In December 2012 – mainstream media started reporting that the USA was helping to train Syrian rebels in Jordan.

UPDATE (11.09.13): In June 2013 France’s Former Foreign Minister revealed that the UK Government were preparing war in Syria at least two years before the 2011 protests

There were peaceful protests in Syria that called for genuine reform – I am not debating that fact – but most of the links I have provided will direct you to official news sites. These events are well documented but rarely pieced together by the mainstream media, who seem to prefer telling a much simpler story.