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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3 comments on “Censoring Debate

  1. Christina says:

    ”The Guardian have a habit of over moderating readers comments when it comes to discussing the sensitive Israel/Palestine conflict.”

    I’ve never really bought the idea that the I/P ‘conflict’ is any more ‘sensitive’ than, say, the Korean standoff, the Syrian war or any other international story. I’ve never heard one good reason to justify the supposed ‘sensitivity’ of the issue.

    But I agree with you completely about the Guardian’s moderation policy on I/P posts. Their refusal to countenance the merest mention of CiF Watch (better referred to as the ‘self-styled monitor group which cannot be named’) and their willingness to let the organised use of the ‘report abuse’ button by the GIYUS gangs makes discussion very difficult on these threads. Whenever I’ve got the chance, I’ve pointed this out to editorial staff, but not got a remotely convincing response. That’s why I’ve all but given up commenting on I/P threads on the Graun, even though I used to be a regular. It’s painfully obvious that they’ve come under extreme pressure, not just from nobodies like CiF Watch, but from powerful pro-Zionist groups – something they are wary of in their attempt to expand in America. This is clear in their hopelessly biased ‘coverage’ of the Syrian war, and in the fact that they’ve pretty much given up on reporting from the OPT, and on the rare occasions they do, they make sure to add lots of out-clauses and ‘cover yourself’ phrasses to soothe the Zionists whose approval they so desperately seek.

    As a long-time reader, and one-time fan of the Guardian, the direction the paper has been taking over the past few years has been disappointing, to put it very mildly.

  2. schrapnel says:

    The first time one of my comments on the Guardian was deleted yesterday. The article was on supplying weapons and support for the rebels in Syria which as we know was pushed on the “proof” from the US that Assad used chemical weapons. My post was: “It’s interesting that the US government has no problem with Israel’s use of “white phosphorus”. Wasn’t Syria one of the countries listed in PNAC’s document “Rebuilding America’s Defenses”?”

  3. george roussopoulos says:

    My own experience with CIF recently and for some time is that comments however polite which mention that Israel and its agents are probably not a passive element in the development of the outside interventions in Libya and Syria are almost immediately removed by the moderators, and there seems to be no recourse.

    The reason for this bias is clearly either fear or or collaboration with the well organized groups which are set up to defend Israeli actions right or wrong and seem to terrorize our media by labeling any criticism as antisemitic.

    Sad for a newspaper which is one of the few showing courage and objectivity is other spheres.

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