After publishing my critique of the JIB Awards competition last night, it seems I struck a raw nerve among many of the right-wing bloggers whose material was quoted here. They came at me with both barrels blazing in the comment thread.
After publishing the post, I also asked the Jerusalem Post to comment on it. Derek Fattal provided some interesting background information about JIBA which, while attempting to reassure me, raised red flags regarding the fairness and openness of the nomination process.
My first post on JIB Awards noted that Aussie Dave’s Israelly Cool was a co-sponsor (he, in fact, created JIBA). It also noted that in the only two JIB Award political categories almost all the nominees reflect a similar ideological slant to Israelly Cool (hardline anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, pro-settlements, etc.). I questioned why a competition calling itself the “Jewish and Israeli Blog Awards” couldn’t do a better job of representing the rest of us who are slightly to the left of Ze’ev Jabotinsky.
Well, now Mr. Fattal has provided some of the answer. Apparently, there IS an ideological criteria for being allowed into the process. Getting nominated isn’t the only hurdle. You have to pass a litmus test of sorts. Here’s how Derek described it:
Israellycool…set up the JIB Awards on the basis that they would not include blogs whose raison d’entre was to criticize Israel. I was assured by Israellycool that blogs that included criticism of Israel would not be barred from the nomination process
Which begs the question: when does a blog cross that threshhold from being one which criticizes Israel to one whose “raison d’etre” is to criticize Israel?? Besides, if the process is as democratic as the Post claims, why should they exclude any Jewish or Israeli blog? Anti-Zionist Jewish blog? So what. Let the democratic process winnow out the cranks and extremists. How many people would vote for such a blog anyway? I think that neither the Post nor Aussie Dave has the courage of their supposed democratic convictions to throw the competition truly open.
Here’s an even more distressing fact from Derek noting that none other than Aussie Dave is the enforcer of these ideological criteria:
The nomination side was handled by Israellycool.com…I have not received any complaint from any blogger that their nominations have been rejected on political grounds. As far as I can see your blog would have been included had it been nominated.
You’ll note that Derek grants that my blog would’ve been eligible if he were the judge. But he wouldn’t be, now would he? Aussie Dave would be the judge. So let me throw out a challenge to him. Since I know he despises me and my progressive Zionist perspective on the conflcit, would he deem me eligible? Further, has he disqualified any blogs on political or ideological terms? And what level of criticism of Israel would be impermissible in JIB Awards?
I’d also like to know if Aussie Dave nominated blogs himself and whether he voted in the competition. In my opinion, if he did either he further eroded the openness and fairness of the competition. I’d have no problem with his involvement in this fashion if he were just another blogger. But he’s a full co-sponsor and in fact the founder of the event. I think that sponsors have an obligation to allow others to judge such subjective questions as whether or not a blog is eligible based on political or ideological grounds.
So my problem with all this is that the Post tells me that Aussie Dave doesn’t control who gets nominated or wins. Maybe so. But theoretically, he controls which nominees get into competition by having veto power over that aspect of JIB Awards. Even if he hasn’t used it (note that Derek says he does not know of any such disqualification which is different than saying definitively it hasn’t happened), he could and that alarms me.
Finally, Derek says “the call for nominations was openly publicized to all readers on the Jerusalem Post site.” All well and good. But this competition is not called the “Jerusalem Post Blog Awards.” It’s called the “Jewish and Israeli Blog Awards,” indicating its pretension to embrace the broad diversity of the Jewish-Israeli blog world. Does the Post believe that its readers constitute a broad enough cross section of Jewish opinion regarding which are the best Jewish and Israeli blogs? What would be wrong with publicizing the event to readers of say, Haaretz.com, Nytimes.com or readers of progressive Jewish blogs? My suggestion that the Post make an effort to recruit broader participation in future met with this response from Mr. Fattal:
I believe that the spirit of the competition is open and democratic, and that our conduct has been correct.
What more need be said? The Post is perfectly happy with a skewed, unrepresentative competition. Who are we to carp about it?
Mr. Spock says
The funny thing is that a lot of Cox & Forkum’s cartooning seems to be directly inspired by Nazi Propaganda – see http://www.drmenlo.com/lgfquiz/slideshow1.html
Put them side by side and it almost becomes a “separated at birth” sorta thing
I don’t know that Cox & Forkum actually plagiarized Der Sturmer but they definitely seem to be drinking from the same stream.
Derek Fattal says
All the nomination elements are openly published on the Israellycool.com site. No blog has been barred on account of political or anti-Israel bias.
The process was completely transparent and the call for nominations was publicized on The Jerusalem Post.
I think you are trying to start a fire where there is no smoke.
The nomination rules clearly state as follows: 4. A blog is ineligible for being nominated if, although it is written by a Jewish blogger, the content of the blog is virulently anti-Israel, or even anti-Semitic. The test is “Is this [blog] considered anti-Israel/anti-Semitic by the layperson, regardless of his/her political orientation?”
The reason for this rule is that neither Israellycool.com nor The Post were prepared to be placed in position where they would be hosting a competition that could be used to spread some of the virulent anti-Israel or anti-Semitic material that exists on the web. As it happens we have not had to apply this rule to any nomination.
That is my last word on this matter.
Director, Internet Services
The Jerusalem Post
Aussie Dave says
Shame you deleted my previous comment, which alerted you to my post. Had you read it, you may have saved yourself some embarassment, considering that I addressed all of your “points.”
But feel free to continue to make a fool of yourself.
Richard Silverstein says
That’s actually quite inaccurate. Derek should have said the test is–“is this blog considered anti-Israel or anti-Semitic by Aussie Dave, who is the sole individual responsible for determining this.”
And what does “regardless of his/her political orientation” mean? I assume you mean that Aussie Dave is capable of making this decision neutrally without regard to his own political orientation. And if you’re trying to say that it’s a laugh because his political orientation doesn’t allow him to see merit in any blogs to the Left of Ze’ev Jabotinsky.
I think you are nothing short of a baby. You are mad because your blog didn’t contain the substance neccesary for a JIB nomination, and due to that you were left out in the cold. Well here’s a blanket, because you won’t get my sympathy.
Richard Silverstein says
Dave, Dave, let’s not get paranoid now. I didn’t delete your comment. My comment software forced your comment into moderation as it does with all first-time commenters (though you’ve commented here before, but perhaps you’re using a different IP address this time). I had to approve your comment before it was published. And why would I want to delete yr comment since I’d hoped it would respond substantively to my questions about JIBA (alas you didn’t, here at least).
Frankly, Dave, since you can’t be bothered to answer my criticisms here I don’t think I can be bothered to visit your blog to read whatever it is you’ve said about me. But I’d be happy if you wished to publish substantive comments here. Just answering the specific questions I’ve asked of you in these two posts would be a good start.
But really, telling us you’ve responded in your own blog without providing a link…what’s that supposed to mean? Don’t you want people here to be able to read what you’ve written? You also did the same exact thing here when you responded to my post on Pajamas. Told everyone in my comments thread that you’ve responded to me at your own blog–no link. Not giving a link makes it that much more inconvenient & less likely anyone’ll visit fr. here.
Unless of course that’s somehow meant to show your disdain for me–like calling me “Silverstein” in your other comment here. Really Dave, that hurt to the quick.
Aussie Dave says
Richard Silverstein says
Dave: I really don’t understand. You’re obviously monitoring my site given that you published a reply to my last comment about 60 seconds after I published it. Yet you can’t present your argument here? That baffles me.
Richard Silverstein says
tovya: You’re about the fourth person to repeat the same shit. What, do you all get together & rehearse what you’re planning to say here?
Here’s Aussie Dave on the subject:
And my reply to him:
Don’t want your blanket, don’t want your sympathy. Don’t want your presumption to know what I feel on subjects I haven’t even expressed myself (like whether or not I’m upset I wasn’t nominated). In the two posts I’ve written about JIBA I’ve never expressed any opinion about whether I would’ve liked to be in competition or not. So how would you presume to know my feelings? Unless you’re an international clairvoyant/psychic.