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/