Israel, Mishegas, Politics

The JIBs Drama & Unraveling the IsraelForum.com Mystery

I got a pingback earlier from a post on Tikkun Olam, Richard Silverstein’s blog, in which Richard expresses his dismay at apparently being banned from JBlog Central, the Jewish blog aggregator hosted by Israel Forum, a site for “24-Hour News, Discussion & Debate from a Pro-Israeli Viewpoint.” Richard had linked to my post from February in which I recounted the sordid tale of JBlog Central and the Jewish & Israeli Blog Awards.
Taking Richard’s concern that he had been “blackballed” with a grain of salt, I decided to check if there was some foul conspiracy afoot against Left-wing Jewish bloggers, and, sure enough, discovered that Jew School, Radical Torah and Orthodox Anarchist had also been removed from JBlog Central’s aggregator. (Politics? Maybe. Ridiculing his ad campaign? Probably.)
This mildly confounding and yet hardly surprising news comes at an interesting juncture, whereas Chaim, the blogger behind Life-of-Rubin and founder of the J-Blogosphere Blog, recently announced the relaunch of the Jewish & Israeli Blog Awards (JIBs).
As some may recall, Chaim caused a bit of a ruckus last year over what he deemed to be suspicious behavior on the part of JBlog Central’s webmaster, calling into question, among other things, the legitimacy of JBlog Central’s voting process. Chaim’s concerns ultimately resulted in a pretty widely supported boycott of JBlog Central’s awards, which in turn led to the official title of the JIBs being revoked from JBlog Central and passed onto Chaim by JIBs founder Aussie Dave of Israellycool.
Soon after Chaim’s announcement, a new blog, Ploni Baloney, was launched, featuring a cartoon entitled “Life-of-Rhubarb,” which essentially mocks Chaim and the JIBs controversy. Interestingly, and also unsurprisingly, Ploni Baloney is now being featured prominently on JBlog Central, and the site itself is carrying a banner for Israel Forum’s ad ring network.
I decided to do a little bit of investigation in order to figure out just who exactly is behind Israel Forum and what their agenda is. After all, the site’s owner isn’t a known jblogger, so he can’t be out for his own blogging glory. And more so, his site isn’t monetized (ie., there are no ads on it, so he doesn’t seem to be turning a profit). This made me all the more suspicious about who this fella is and, likewise, wondering wherefore came the “Conservative Revolution” stick that appears to be so firmly planted in his buttocks.
So here’s what I dug up…
IsraelForum.com’s DNS points to GoodMorningSir.com, which also hosts NewAmericanVoter.com, Widecast.com, GellerNet.com and Top10Mag.com. All of these sites are offline, but the domains are nonetheless registered to Israel Forum, in Reseda, CA (go Karate Kid!). That is, with the exception of Top10Mag.com. Top10Mag.com is registered to NewsFactor Network, which lists David Geller of Woodland Hills, CA, as its technical and administrative contact.
NewsFactor.com, also owned by NewsFactor Network, is a wireless technology news site built on the same model as Israel Forum, and which uses the same software, BLOGOWOGO. The only other site, aside from Israel Forum and NewsFactor using BLOGOWOGO is CIO-Today.com, which, incidentally, is also owned by NewsFactor.
BLOGOWOGO, it would thus appear, is a community-oriented blog aggregator package developed and distributed by NewsFactor, a company owned by David Geller, the anonymous creator and webmaster of Israel Forum.
All the aforementioned sites share, more or less, the same registration info, though with variations on the suite number and telephone number associated with each project. (Feel free to look them up yourself.) So I ran a basic lookup on the address, but the closest I could come to anything remotely interesting was a record of a $1,000 donation to George W. Bush’s 2004 presidential campaign from a woman sharing the same address as Geller, but with a different last name.
I don’t consider it beyond the realm of possibility that Geller is working with members of a radical pro-Israel group that’s seeking to usurp and/or manipulate the Jewish blogging community for their own political interests; cuz hell, we know it’s on the agenda. However, my preliminary investigation leads me to conclude:

  1. That Geller is very good about keeping personal details about himself and his relationships out of Google’s prying eyes (which makes sense considering that technology nerds tend to be privacy freaks);
  2. That he’s just some putz with a software company that pursues his crazy right-wing agenda as a mere labor of love, much like myself and any number of web-coding geeks who believe passionately in their politics.

No conspiracy there.
Clearly, Geller has no obligation to promote my websites, particularly if they espouse views with which he disagrees, and especially not after I mocked his stupid ad campaign. Nor do I have any interest in promoting his website by providing him with free content that may increase his site’s visitor traffic.
However, I would therefore recommend that Geller then change his site’s policy statement to be reflective of the fact that he’s banning submissions he deems inconsistent with his political allegiances (or which are critical of his venture), and cease presenting himself as an honest broker capable of holding unbiased and uncorrupted awards ceremonies. To that effect, Geller also has no justification in claiming that either his awards ceremonies, nor his site’s aggregation feed, are adequately representative of the broader Jewish blogging community and he should revise his Google Adwords campaign to be reflective of such.
Otherwise, I will personally see to it that legions of young Left-wing Jews click his pay-per-click advertisements endlessly, and teach him that there are indeed consequences for such unscrupulous behavior.
Furthermore, I would recommend that those Jewish bloggers who concur with my assessment and so too disapprove of Geller’s behavior remove themselves from JBlog Central’s aggregator in order to emphasize the principle that regardless of our theological and political disagreements, we are nonetheless one Jewish community, online and off, and that we are all welcome members of the community, deserving of inclusion, no matter where we stand ideologically. 12 tribes, 72 faces, one am yisrael. And that’s how it ought to be.

15 thoughts on “The JIBs Drama & Unraveling the IsraelForum.com Mystery

  1. Dudes-
    I generally love the site, especially it’s awesome writing style, but it really bugs me when you guys call anybody with a pro-Israel agenda a crazy right wing nut. The majority of Jews and the majority of Americans are pro-Israel, and it’s kind of disconcerting when you approach it this way.

  2. Being banned together fr. JBlog Central reminds me of the old Groucho joke “I refuse to belong to any club that would have me for a member.” I think we should pride ourselves on getting kicked out. What about starting a Spinoza Society for banned Jews?
    Anyway, I think he only does himself & what he’s trying to accomplish a disservice by picking & choosing who he’s going to exclude.
    I’m glad you requested that others join us in dropping out of JBlog Central (though Chaim told me it took Geller fully 6 months before he removed Chaim’s feed). I meant to suggest that in my post & forgot. If you believe in fairness I hope you’ll join Mobius and I on the outside looking in.

  3. but it really bugs me when you guys call anybody with a pro-Israel agenda a crazy right wing nut.
    dude, i have a pro-israel agenda. meretz has a pro-israel agenda. ameinu, the union of progressive zionists, peace now, arthur waskow, tikkun, this-that-and-the-other-thing: we all have pro-israel agendas.
    none of us engage in race baiting. none of us engage in the wholesale slander of a people. none of us justify human rights abuses and violations of international law. and none of us exclude other members of the community for having divergent political opinions.
    being pro-israel doesn’t mean being an asshole. being right-wing and pro-israel generally does. zeh oh.

  4. there was also a blog or email of the “weasel” variety (named after the dovweasel saga) who tried to blow the whistle on the israel forum’s game of basically “stealing” everyone’s blog traffic by not beain an actual aggregator, but by being a site that republishes (without permission?) everyone’s full posts and has the option to leave comments right there on their forum. The proprietor of israelforum never relinquished a chance throughout the “jibs” process to remind everyone via email etc. that his was the largest and most comprehensive site with hundreds more blogs listed than any other.
    (nevermind the whole flawed voting system ratings, riggings etc. which was covered at length on several blogsites and comments threads)
    That, and during the entire nominations process when certain bloggers attempted to nominate certain sites they were met with two distinct negatives. Firstly was the trashing certain “left wing” bloggers and sites receinved in the forum. Secondly but more importantly, many of the sites nominated were indeed not among the “hundreds” listed in the forum rendering them immidiately disqualified from the running, unless the proprietor himself added it. THis was the case with several sites. Each time a site (many of them of the minority variety) was nominated the israel forum proprietor smugly replied “its not listed” adding that the owners were more than welcome to add it if they wish. The problem with this of course is
    A) Why cant mister israelforum add it ihmself once nominated?
    B) How the heck is the blogger to know if no one sends him a direct engravedi nvitation?
    C) Telling people over and over that “they arem ore than welcome” to add themselves doesnt change the fact that he is making it harder for blogs he probably isnt interested in carrying anyways to be included
    D) Obviously, listing himself the week or two before the awards leaves him Zero chance of winning anything anyways when the other blogs have been there for months have much higher ratings because of time, which goes back to the entire seperate story of a flawed stupid rating system

  5. IThat he’s just some putz with a software company that pursues his crazy right-wing agenda as a mere labor of love, much like myself and any number of web-coding geeks who believe passionately in their politics.
    Ding, ding, ding. You win the prize.

  6. While I pretty much agree with your post, why did you have to spoil it with your comment “being pro-israel doesn’t mean being an asshole. being right-wing and pro-israel generally does. zeh oh.”
    It kind of makes your call for inclusiveness, regardless of ideology, sound insincere.
    I ask this as I look down at your nifty “Jewish Bloggers for Responsible Speech Online” icon.

  7. dave, you gotta understand: i’m burnt out man. every day i see so much hate speech coming from the right-wing pro-israel crowd i don’t even have the stomach for it anymore.
    i mean, dude, who acts like this?
    and where are the people on the pro-israel right to stand up and disavow such behavior?
    nowhere to be found.
    the only people i see making sound conservative, pro-israel arguments are commentary and the shalem center. everyone else is bashing liberals and arabs with smug grins on their faces.
    i can’t take it anymore.

  8. the only people i see making sound conservative, pro-israel arguments are commentary and the shalem center. everyone else is bashing liberals and arabs with smug grins on their faces.
    That is as unfair as someone claiming that leftists hate Israel. It is just patently false.

  9. The top post at IsraelForum is currently titled “Some Good News and Media Lies” and contains such enlightened and well-reasoned editorial comments like this:
    “When asked what they thought of Arab culture, over 37 percent replied, “The Arab culture is inferior.” [Which it is.]”
    and this gem:
    “As I have explained several times elsewhere, the charge of “racism” over Israeli attitudes towards the enemies of the Jewish State is not racism for a number of reasons. First, Arabs are not a race, and their ethnic group belongs to the same race as the Jews–they are Caucasians. ”
    Now, it is entirely possible that “KettleWhistle” doesn’t understand the etymology of the word “racism” or the fact that the biological division of humanity into Caucasaid, Mongloid and Negroid “races” was disproven years ago. But ignorance of the facts is no excuse.

  10. here dave, here’s another example of what i’m talking about; freshly rejected from the comment queue:

    MM | [email protected] | IP: 24.215.234.227
    Leftists should keep smoking dope – it will help them feel better as they give away Israel to the jihadis.
    Mar 28, 12:00 PM

    like i said, assholes.

  11. ok, as a pro-israel right-winger, I am offended by that kind of behavior. It is not excusable, as the obnoxious behavior by many on the left is not excusable. You can find just as much on either side…

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