Those of you who’ve followed this blog over the past two years may remember my crusade against the Jewish and Israeli Blog Awards (see the many posts I wrote) which were at the time run by Aussie Dave and sponsored by the Jerusalem Post. Among the criticisms I had were that Aussie Dave was running the competition as a committee of one which might allow personal whim or political prejudice to enter into his decision making. I also noted that Jerusalem Post’s sponsorship skewed the competition toward a heavily partisan political agenda represented by that Likud-oriented publication.
A new effort is underway in which a committee is running JIBA through a new blog called JBlogosphere (not to be confused with the Jewish blog aggregator Jblogosphere.com). The blog for JIBA says there are four sponsors but I haven’t seen who they are. There are also a few other heartening changes that indicate they may have taken some of my criticism to heart.
Two years ago all the categories and nominees were heavily skewed to the political right. As a result, Little Green Footballs and similarly oriented blogs won many of the categories. This year, there will be left, right and center blog categories which actually gives one of us an opportunity to compete on a somewhat level playing field. There were few progressive blogs nominated and only one or two won any awards in JIBA last time. So I was heartened by this posting at Jblogosphere:
“Perhaps we could bring in more left-wing bloggers on the “team” to make the teamwork a bit more diverse. After all, if we want to highlight Jblogs, promoting unity among Jblogs should be one of our absolute priorities.”
But will they promote unity by including progressive Jewish bloggers not only in competition but within the organizing committee?
Having “pro-Israel advocacy” categories as the organizers are proposing isn’t the best way of making us feel more included unless they can in good conscience include progressive Jewish blogs like mine within that rubric. I consider myself “pro-Israel” but I’m as much an advocate for Israeli-Palestinian peace as I’m an advocate for one side or the other in this conflict.
And in case the JIBA organizers are sincerely interested in being truly inclusive they should take a look at the Jewish/Israeli peace blogs featured at Israel-Palestine Blogs. All of those blogs should be encouraged to participate & included in the nomination process.
In short, I believe JIBA should do its best to be non-ideological in running this competition, voting, nomination & creating competition categories. They may not even realize it but JIBA was highly ideological & I worry that the upcoming competition will reproduce the worst offenses of that process.
This snarky comment leads me to question just how sincere the organizers may be about being truly inclusive of diverse political views:
“We’ve discussed the tension between being open to feedback and criticism from bloggers and the flame wars, which have erupted in the past because of a few individuals, who, um, offered less than constructive criticism. Well, trolls are just a part of life.”
Just like Robert Duvall’s character in Apocalypse Now who said: “Oh I do love the smell of napalm in the morning;” I do so love it when pro-Israel bloggers get so defensive that they have to accuse some of their fellow Jewish bloggers of being “trolls.” Since Aussie Dave and I engaged in some hot & heavy disagreements 2 years ago about his pseudo representative version of JIBA, I can only assume this passage refers to me.
They can flame me again if they choose to ignore my legitimate arguments. But this time I think they’ll be a few more of the progressive Jewish blogs watching what they’re doing and letting the rest of the blogosphere know if something’s not kosher in the land of blogs.
UPDATE: I received a personal e-mail from Chaim Rubin, who’s helping organize JIBA this year. Clearly, Chaim and I do not see eye to eye politically. But I was impressed that his reply lacked all the defensiveness and truculence of Aussie Dave’s replies to me during my contretemps with him 2 years ago. I know I’m probably going to disagree with some or perhaps even much of what happens at JIBA this year. But I’m convinced that in Chaim there is a person of good faith helping run the show. He’s offered to add me to the committee, which I didn’t think was a good idea since many of the substantive decisions have already been made regarding the competition. But I did think such an offer was a very good sign of openness to diverse points of view.