Wow. People sure are going batty over The General’s remarks about The JIBs. And even battier over Richard Silverstein’s remarks over at Tikun Olam. Let alone the thread over at Dov Bear’s.
Personally, I agree wholeheartedly with Dov Bear’s contention that websites which seethe hatred for Palestinians, and which callously ridicule the deaths of Palestinian solidarity activists, do little to advocate for Israel. Rather I think they cause greater harm to Israel and to the Jewish people by contributing to an incredibly nasty image of Israel’s supporters. That is why, out of the gate, I opposed the inclusion of LGF in the competition, and why I rose a stink about it during last year’s competition.
Does preaching hate to the hateful masses do anything to improve Israel’s image before its detractors? Does anyone honestly believe that “Rachel Corrie pancake” jokes turn anti-Zionists into friends of Israel?
While I get called a “self-hating Jew” and an “LLL moonbat” by right-wing bloggers and readers, Palestinian solidarity activists write things like, “Through [Mobius’] passionate writing about Israel not only have we come to see a different side of the country, but a different side of the people who live there.” The critical views for which my fellow Jews damn me have helped humanize Israelis and Israel’s supporters by showing that we are not a chorus of right-wing lunatics screaming for Arab blood.
Who, in the end, is truly a better advocate for Israel?
I do not for even a moment believe, as Richard Silverstein suspects, that the nomination or voting for the JIBs is rigged in any way. The simple proof is the fact that Jewschool, a site which often presents incredibly controversial views on Israel, won third place for Best Israel Adovacy Blog last year, much to others’ chagrin.
Aussie Dave may write and believe things which I think are just awful (and I know he feels the same about me), but there is no doubt in my mind that the JIBs — however flawed I think the nomination and voting system may be — are an entirely legitimate operation.
This year’s nominations and the poll leaders so far, speak much more, I think, to Jewish blog readership than towards the interests of Aussie Dave and his friends at Pajamas Media or the interests of The Jerusalem Post. The right-leaning blogs simply have a more committed readership, and I argue, a more obsessive and cocky readership than more secularly-oriented Jewish blogs like Jewschool.
It’s no secret that, in the past, the nasty comments left by some readers to Jewschool have driven contributors and readers away from the site. Most of our current readers ignore the comment threads all together, because they see the same bunch of ethnic nationalist and mishechist degenerates barking rude and cruel remarks on every thread. (This is why I recently began moderating comments — to reclaim the discourse from the self-righteous and socially inept.) This same bunch of self-appointed defenders of the religious Zionist status quo are also the quickest to make ad hominem attacks and to send hate mail to total strangers, making grandiose allegations filled with pure bile and hatred. They are the obsessed and obsessive who are “keeping close tabs” on me and others whom they perceive as haters of Israel.
It is to this group whom The JIBs matter most. They are the most active voters. They are the ones who race to make nominations. They are the ones who vote to vote against Jewschool. They are the ones who have voted LGF to the top of the Israel Advocacy list. To them, the web is nothing more than a battle ground in their war against everyone who doesn’t think like them. To most Jewish blog readers, blogs are a way to kill time at work. They could honestly care less about The JIBs: “It’s just a stupid online popularity contest. You don’t even win prizes. Who gives a shit?” Call it apathy, call it realism; whichever you prefer. Seeing Jewschool get bragging rights just isn’t important enough to them to spend who knows how many combined hours voting in a dinkly little online competition.
The only people this contest really matters to are those who are seeking the satisfcation of proclaiming that their ideology is most representative of the Jewish community. We already know it’s not. So it hardly matters.
Frankly, I think the most valuable thing we can get out of The JIBs would be a meaningful discussion about the efficacy of Freeper-style brownshirt attack tactics in promoting positive views of Israel and the Jewish community. It’s a shame “the Jewish people’s true defenders” won’t let us have one. Their “debate tactics” lead only to “navel-gazing on a tangent” that prevents any thoughtful conversation from ever taking place.
That’s what’s happening now as the brownshirts have begun bandying about allegations that a popular liberal Jewish blogger tipped-off Jesus General. The attack dogs are all amped up, looking to smear and defame him.
And that is apparently what passes for Israel advocacy in the Jewish blogging world. Forget about “agreeing to disagree” and “respecting others’ differences.” Smear, defame, decry and attack. But never get into a levelheaded discussion about complex issues. Never suspect you might not know everything or that your “opponent” is anything other than a brainwashed fool spewing Leftist propaganda. Never cede that you are anything other than the possessor of The Absolute Truth™.
You might just get caught with your pants down. And G-d forbid we should ever have an open, honest discussion about Israel.