For at least two years, I’ve touted the idea of creating a discussion forum for progressives who want to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The following websites host discussions of the conflict: MideastWeb, Middle East Information Center, CharlieRose.com, NewYorkTimes.com maintains a Mideast Forum and Tikkun Magazine. But there are various reasons why I find each site lacking for my purposes.
A year ago, I compiled a directory of Israeli peace resources here in this blog. I wrote about my discussion forum idea:
I’ve proposed to several peace organizations (Brit Tzedek V’Shalom, Americans for Peace Now, the New Israel Fund, Tikkun Magazine and Israel Policy Forum) that they initiate such a project. But none have been willing or interested in doing so. Tikkun Magazine’s website does contain a discussion forum but it is rather static in that the topics are based on articles published in the magazine or pre-determined topics. A member cannot generate a new topic for discussion. Speaking as someone who spends a good deal of time on the web, I’d like to be able to communicate with like-minded people regarding a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I regret to say that “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”
All that changed when I read Andrew Schamess’ Semitism.net in which he called for the same type of forum:
In addition to reading each other’s blogs, I think those of us concerned with Israeli-Palestinian peace should be connecting with each other, sharing information and talking about strategies. What’s going on nationally in the way of boycotts, information campaigns, etc.? What has been effective in our local communities? What do we think of national organizations like The U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation, Brit Tzedek, etc.? How can we support Israeli and Palestinian groups that are working for peace? Are Muslims, Christians and Jews connecting on these issues? Is there common ground?
I think I could do an open thread or bulletin board on this site if people would be interested. Let me know.!
Well, I was in hog (pardon me for lauding a treif animal) heaven. Someone finally thinking on my wavelength! Anyway, Andrew and I have been corresponding and we’re planning to have a website up and running in the coming months. Thanks to Andrew’s good ideas, it will be more than my original idea of a discussion forum. Like Open Source Politics, we hope to have what Andrew calls a metablog composed of blog posts written by progressive bloggers who we invite to join us as fellow authors. We also plan to have a news feed containing stories from major sources of Mideast coverage including the New York Times, BBC and Haaretz. Like CommonDreams.org, we’ll also feature essays from websites which do distinguished Mideast journalism like the New York Review of Books. We’d like to invite Mideast analysts, commentators, journalists, politicians and academics to use our bully pulpit to share their ideas. We plan on weekly or daily posts to members featuring the top news articles and discussion forums from the site. For those who are less web savvy, we hope to establish a means of receiving and posting forum posts via e mail.
Since the site will be non-profit, we plan on soliciting donations to cover our expenses.
If you’re a progressive who’s interested in this project, please e mail me via this blog. We can especially use experienced website graphic design assistance.
Andrew Schamess says
Thanks for putting up this notice, Richard. I’d be interested in any suggestions that readers have regarding the new site – what should be included? Suggestions on software, content, anything else. Thanks!
hello sir ,i’m mohamed ,the algerian journalist ,i understand why you
haven’t found what you’re looking for in this forums of dialogue ,
i think the main reason is that it lack the pillars of a sincere and objective dealing of the israeli-palestinian conflict ,it impose a
pre-conditions and superficial visions about the region and neglect a
lot of interesting dimensions ( i don’t want to be impolite by saying
that its initiators ar ignorant about history and religion , but
i think they have to learn more and avoid infantile concepts like good
and bad guys ), by the way , congratulations sir richard for the
twins , they look pretty ,children are a precious gift from god but unfortunately only few people thank god for his endless gifts ,thank
Sounds like a cool site. I’d just be sure to give a lot of thought to how you’ll moderate the content… as you know, people can occasionally get a little… emotional or hostile! I think DailyKos might be a good model. He seems to be using a useful open-source system which has people register before they can comment, and gives them a sense of ownership by giving them “diary” areas when they can also write their own articles.
Richard Silverstein says
kjfalk’s comment is exactly right. There are unfortunately many out there who are threatened by the idea that Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians can engage in serious dialogue. I’m aware that there could be lots of hot tempers within the forum and lots of hostility directed against it from without. We’ll have to have very good security safeguards to protect against things like denial of service attacks and also a no tolerance plan for dealing with excessive vitriol within the forum.
fred lapides says
I tend, as you know richard, to be in the pro-Israel camp, but I am old enough to know that the more varieity and opionions one can get the better making judgment will be. thus, I have posted an announcement of your new site at http://IsraelPundit.blogspot.com
I wish you luch in your new enterprise.