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Vastleft hysteria watch

vastleft's picture

My response to Paul Rosenberg at Open Left:

First if not foremost, Paul, writing a post slamming me after I specifically promised not to read or comment on your future posts seems like an awfully boorish use of the bully pulpit that is Open Left.

I had concluded, evidently with very good cause, that we don't play well together. Your decision to pillory me as an "hysteric" is especially dispiriting given that I consider [Open Left] a must-read destination.

In any case, you have successfully dragged me back in for the moment. I guess this is the way truces end. Well played, sir!

Anyone with the barest familiarity of the I/P discussions in lefty blogs is well aware that they skew toward outrage about Israeli wrongdoing rather than Palestinian wrongdoing. To observe that is neither to indulge in a fiction nor to suggest moral equivalence of any particular actions or of the whole of the I/P conflict.

One who gets his or her information about the conflict from lefty sources would get a huge dose of news and opinion about Israeli misdeeds, and very little about Palestinian misdeeds (likewise, as I noted numerous times in our prior discussion, I see a profound bias in the other direction in the MSM, rightwing blogs, and in mainstream political opinion [I haven't yet read your comments thread, but doubtless these observations will be ignored as I'm painted as some kind of Zionist propagandist chasing phantasms of anti-Semitism]). There may or may not be good reasons for the left's bias, but said bias is the nature of I/P commentary in the left blogosphere.

Paul makes great sport of the notion that it's just my "feeling" that Palestinian attacks on Israelis get scant coverage in the leftysphere.

Do you know who turns out to be aware of this tendency which I "feel" exists? One Paul Rosenberg, who explains in great detail why that, um, fact, would be:

...here are a few actual facts to keep in mind that help explain why certain sorts of discussions go on here and elsewhere in the blogosphere:

(1) We're Americans.

(2) Many of us are Jews.

(3) America supports Isreal to the tune of several billion dollars a year.

(4) As Americans we have both the influence (however small) and the obligaiton to participate in changing our country's policies, which support the murderous acts of the Israeli state.

(5) As Americans we have no such parallel influence over Palestinian violence.

(6) As Jews, we have the moral obligation to object to immoral acts done in our name.

(7) As Jews, we have no such moral obligation to object to immoral acts done against other Jews. In fact, the only way to have moral credibility in objecting to such acts is to concentrate the bulk of our attention on the immoral acts of other Jews. That way, when we do denounce Palestinian violence, we are not guilty of special pleading..

A man who has chosen to publicly vilify me for having the temerity to suggest that lefty blogs have a certain bias on this topic provides seven reasons for the fact (or, if it's me saying it, "feeling") of that bias.

This fellow even calls his opus "Sometimes 'Bias' Is Called For." The "Bias, What Bias?" argument appears to have gone out the window.

He also notes:

You see, I think it's pretty obvious, and quite rational why a progressive blog, particularly one with a significant Jewish presence, would focus much more attention on Isreali state violence rather than Palestinian violence--reasons in addtion to the obvious fact that Israeli state violence is so vastly more extensive than Palestinian violence, however indiscriminate violence on both sides may be.

The reason we focus more on Isreali state violence is that we are morally, legally and politically responsible for that violence in ways that we are not responsible for the Palestinian violence. And if we truly wish to end the violence on both sides, then the way to do that is to work strenuously to end the violence on our side--and that will give us moral standing and credibility to call for ending violence on the Palestinian side as well.

So, then, we agree that lefty blogs are relatively uninterested in discussing any Palestinian role in the conflict.

You could simply have said, "Well y'know, Vastleft, there's a good reason why that is..." instead of taking such a snotty tone with me — a snotty tone I'd come to know and love this past weekend as you found my lack of deference to organized religion "deeply embarrassing."

You can't imagine how much it stings to be a source of embarrassment to someone who trades in Yoda-eqsue smarm like:

"So we must teach them. And the first act of such teaching is, we must remember how to be ourselves."

And

"So the first thing I would say is we should listen for a change in ourselves."

Pardon me for getting a little churlish. In our recent interactions, I've found you to be awfully defensive and uninterested in engaging in the substance of my arguments, so I felt it was better to stay out of your orbit, and it's rather annoying to be dragged back in so unceremoniously.

When I find the time, which is in short supply at present, I will expand at my site on why I think it's problematical for the left blogosphere to be one-sided in its focus on I/P.

I can be sure that no matter how fair and rational a case I make — and no matter how explicit I make it that I'm not passing judgment on the relative moral weight of the sides' actions — it will be greeted with unfounded cries of false equivalence.

And it is because of this, well, hysteria, that I blog. Because groupthink — no matter how well-meaning — is dangerous stuff.

When a group of people who respect each other's opinions arrive at a unanimous view, each member is likely to feel that the belief must be true. This reliance on consensual validation tends to replace individual critical thinking and reality-testing, unless there are clear-cut disagreements among the members. -- Irving Janis, Groupthink

The first edition of Janis's book was called Victims of Groupthink. I'm not sure whether "victims" meant those who fell under its spell or those who were harmed by them.

Seems to me that the Middle East has been home to many victims of groupthink, one way or another. Your feelings may vary.

Update: My closing thoughts at Open Left.

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amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

mistreatment of one side by the other--continually--that makes people blame Israel.

Only one side has the power in this--and only one side calls itself a democracy. Only one side is funded by us. Only one side is killing the other with weapons we paid for.

Who the hell are we supposed to be interested in?

Blaming the ones that make our lives less safe (which Israel does)? Or blaming the ones who are being oppressed for decades without end?

Or do we have to blame both everytime we talk about this? Why? Only one side holds all the cards and has all the power.

England didn't bomb Belfast when the IRA did things. Spain doesn't bomb Bilbao when ETA does things.

We don't blame Iraqis for fighting us in Iraq. We blame our govt--the ones who invaded and occupy the country.

We blame the ones who hold all the power--and who are committing massive crimes and violating human rights and decency and international law too.

Why do we have to blame Hamas for fighting there?

Civilized democracies--unlike Israel and US--are better than that--and are supposed to be--and say they are. Let Israel show it's better. Let us show we're better too. Otherwise blame is the least we should do.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

My issue is not about who should be blamed, but about how we should seek to understand (an act that surely can and willinclude doling out blame, as well as, perhaps, proposing solutions).

Being an echo chamber for reflexive "Israelis are evil" rhetoric is IMHO a disappointing alternative to mainstream/rightwing, reflexive "Arabs are evil" rhetoric.

Core progressive values for me include: nuance, fairness, and abhorrence of all violence against innocents.

Focusing exclusively on the sins of Israel falls short of these ideals.

And, as I must say ad infinitum, none of that is to say that the blame is equivalent or that any particular action on Israel's part is justified or smart.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

(your mileage might not vary).

Still, Open Left is a great site....

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

I always avoid discussion of this issue with activists from either side because it always has to be a one sided discussion. Ironically, I think the best discussion of this issue to be mainstream is from the sixth season of "24" (See Wayne Palmer and Hamri al-Hassad). Reconciliation will only happen when each side takes the time to see the world from the other side's eyes and agree to put past differences behind them. But since every discussion I've ever had on this issue (with pro-Israeli folk or pro-Palestinian folk--as if you can't be both) has been one sided, I have found the discussion to be unproductive.

I see no progress on this issue until the onesidedness is dropped. Onesidedness allows the generalized demonization of an entire people and once that demonization and dehumanization takes root, you stop considering the means you use to pursue your ends.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

But its interesting how it is so inconceivable to some to even attempt a minute of empathy for people "on the other side". Its not just the issue of IP, either. I've commented before how I thought that the dehumanization of Hillary Clinton during the primary is responsible for some of the most horrific treatment of her and her supporters. When you see her and her supporters as "monsters" (or, in other words, "racists") you feel completely justified in tearing her down, much like Kos stated he didn't think Hillary deserved fairness. I'm personally not surprised that many of the bastions of bile and propagators of hate during the primaries use the same mind-set in other areas.

Oh, BTW, my writing may be too sweet and fit for infants, but the honest innocence of children often serves as an example to me. They are so much less violent and hateful. I'll take that "naivete" over learned hate and misplaced notions of infallibility any day.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

who are simply being rewarded and bestowed with more power, is not at all appropriate in any way.

people who overtly do evil and harm others don't always deserve empathy. They most often don't, as a matter of fact. They need to be stopped, and deserve demonization because of what they do.

people who are victims and react to that harm -- whether in ways you approve of or not -- don't always deserve to be blamed when they react. We would react in any way we could as well.

seriously.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

this is decades of harm, oppression, and containment -- treatment roaches don't deserve.

Palestinians have it much much worse than our American Revolutionary "terrorists" had it. They have it much much worse than South Africans too.

(much much worse than the Maccabees, who were terrorists too, and they were only being prevented from using the temple and living under occupation.)

there are millions of examples of this situation, yet people call for "balance"? We should always remember that everyone's human?

it's because everyone's human that people react so strongly to this -- not because blaming one side alone means you don't see them as human.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

You know and I know and everyone else knows that I was pointing out how a specific mindset leads to a compromising of principles: if you don't view someone as fully "human", the means you take to get to an end don't matter, even if your means don't get you to the desired ends you are pursuing.

Lecture me all you want on well known history if you must, but please spare us the lectures on the value of human lives. No one here is denying that or pretending that there isn't a whole shitstorm of "evil" happening. Parading around like no one else values life is silly and does not contribute to a discussion.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

all are human -- always.

blaming Israel for their actions, and our own part in them -- and not blaming the victims, or having balance when you look at this -- is not about dehumanizing one side in favor of the other. That's not how people who are upset by this are seeing it.

It's entirely about humanity, and the responsibility we all have towards others. And about right and wrong.

we see Israel treating Palestinians as not fully human -- for decades -- but we're the ones not seeing all as humans? not. it's the opposite.

you demonize those and try to stop those who do evil. if you don't see it as evil, that's fine. if you see both as evil, that's fine too. if you see us as dehumanizing the evildoers, that's fine. Evil is being done by powerful actors -- against those purposely kept without power and contained for decades.

until Israel--who holds all the cards--stops how they alone treat Palestinians, and changes entirely the things they alone do, nothing good can happen and nothing bad can stop. The ball is entirely in Israel's -- and our -- hands.

Submitted by hipparchia on

but this particularly sums it up for me:

until Israel--who holds all the cards--stops how they alone treat Palestinians, and changes entirely the things they alone do, nothing good can happen and nothing bad can stop. The ball is entirely in Israel's -- and our -- hands.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Israel's neighbors hold some cards. Palestinian terrorists hold some cards. The U.S., of course, holds some cards. The U.N. holds some cards.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

Yes, yes, yes, "Arab Terrorists" = bad, but what to do, what to do? Apparently a professed modern, western democracy must bomb the city they live in (never mind the attendant "collateral damage") which was proven to be such a successful tactic in Lebanon in 2006 (or in Iraq in 2002-20?? for that matter).

If you are trying to argue for some kind of equivalence between the Israeli government and "Arab Terrorists", then maybe you should step back and consider that.

Please note that what I have said here is far from "Israel-bashing".

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

If you are trying to argue for some kind of equivalence between the Israeli government and "Arab Terrorists", then maybe you should step back and consider that.

Throughout these threads I've assiduously avoided appointing myself the One Great Scorer of Holy Lands sins.

I've argued, instead, that the leftysphere is squandering an opportunity to be an honest broker, by filtering its vision to focus exclusively on the wrongs committed by one party.

I'm seeing this behavior occur over and over, where people who support one party and have a visceral revulsion for a directly or indirectly opposing party are deeply afraid of honest comparisons between the two.

If the comparisons are as stark as they believe -- and perhaps they are -- why should they fear a comprehensive accounting?

One recent example was the four-alarm freak-out when I juxtaposed Hillary Clinton and Caroline Kennedy and asked for help comparing and contrasting. The mere notion that one might dare to compare the two — one who currently has the job and one who seeks it — set off a flame-fest.

And, of course, there was the honest-to-goodness hysteria throughout the blogosphere triggered by fear of having Barack Obama face an honest comparison to the selfsame Ms. Clinton. What were they afraid of? If he was so all-fired awesome, what harm would there be in looking at Clinton the Senator and the person, instead of turning her into a monstrous fiction?

That's not to say that where there's widespread fear of comparison there is equivalence. But it is to say that where there's widespread fear of comparison there is groupthink.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

No your Honor!

I provided linky goodness as evidence

Augmented below:

Again Firedoglake, with thumb ever, ever so very slightly on the scale.

Kevin Drum, straignt reporting, but sounds "confused". Definitely no "drumbeat" of reflexive anti-Israelism.

Ezra Klein offers an opinion, but I wouldn't call it "reflexive", or rabid, or even anything beyond measured but stern. Clearly his viewpoint is "what is in Israel's best interest".

How many more links do I need to provide to disprove this theory?

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

If I provided several examples of lefty bloggers putting in a good word for Hillary Clinton's candidacy, would it negate the fact that the leftysphere overwhelming put its thumb on the scale for Obama? Of course not.

If I linked to the handful of articles where the media got it right in the run-up to the Iraq war does that prove Gwen Ifill's "problem, what problem" thesis? Of course not.

Let's not talk past the obvious reality, OK?

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archive...

As with the conflict itself, punditry is heavily dominated by extremists on both sides. I normally take my cues on subjects I'm inexpert in from people whose sensibilities are similar to mine, but it's nearly impossible to figure out who those people might be in this case.

...I'd add that liberals have a bigger problem here than conservatives. As near as I can tell, most conservatives simply take the uncomplicated stance that Palestinians are terrorists and that Israel should always respond to provocation in the maximal possible way. The fact that this hasn't worked very well in the past doesn't deter them. Liberals don't really have a similarly undemanding position that's suitable for the quick-hit nature of blogging.

IMHO, the prevailing lefty blogging shows the limits of trying to reduce the complexities of the conflict into rooting for a preferred side, or rather, rooting against a designated demon.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

Seriously. And the intellectual lazy way of equating a single person harming one's self with the situation of multiple parties not really representing all people is precisely why I avoid these discussions--deliberately dishonest at worst, intellectual ineptitude at best.

But what do I know? The demonization of both sides by both sides (as if there can only be two sides) seems to be working peachily!

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

ones oppressing the others. The reaction to oppression we see there is wholly a result of that oppression -- it's not demonization to look at honestly.

it's based on hope. it's based on honestly looking at who hurts who, and how. it's based on looking realistically at our own investments in one side alone there, and how that also compounds the harm done.

because we are invested in one side alone, we have to speak up -- "Not in our name" counts here as well as in Iraq, you know.

no one was complaining about balance, and not trashing Saddam enough and trashing Bush alone then -- why now? It was understood that invading and occupying Iraq was evil.

empty's picture
Submitted by empty on

Thank you for your articulate debunking of the "balance" excuse.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

I'm arguing for being willing to tell the whole truth. Since lefty blogs will reliably write only about Israel's sins, even when there are substantial wrongs committed against them, the blogs cannot be relied on to tell the whole truth.

They can only be relied upon to condemn Israel. At a certain point, their judgments aren't judgments, they're reflexes. That's not to say that Israel doesn't deserve condemnation, just that lefty blogs are an echo chamber for anti-Israel sentiments, morning noon and night. If Israel is unremittingly evil, that approach is just fine, I guess. If the situation is something more complex than that, then maybe it's not so fine.

One reason why it's refreshing to read someone like Somerby is that his world doesn't collapse if he defends a Sarah Palin or a John McCain against an unfair attack. He can still stand foursquare against their conservative politics while criticizing a faulty criticism of them.

I don't pretend to be the most astute judge of the sins of the Middle East (though I'm pretty damned sure that our culture of respecting religious superstition is a huge contributor), but I know when I'm hearing a one-sided argument. And that's all one can get from most any liberal blog about this topic.

If Israel is indeed as bad as or worse than apartheid-era South Africa, let that be shown in a context that recognizes the fears and prejudices and over-reactions of people who face Intifadas and hostile neighbors. If the arguments about Israel as a tyrannical, genocidal oppressor are sound, they ought to be able to withstand being seen in such a context. Yet such a context does not exist in these blogs, and it makes me wonder why.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

"If Israel is indeed as bad as or worse than apartheid-era South Africa, let that be shown in a context that recognizes the fears and prejudices and over-reactions of people who face Intifadas and hostile neighbors. If the arguments about Israel as a tyrannical, genocidal oppressor are sound, they ought to be able to withstand being seen in such a context. Yet such a context does not exist in these blogs, and it makes me wonder why."

I don't wonder why, and I'm glad they AREN"T making that context, since all you need to do is replace "Intifadas and hostile neighbors" with "Uprisings and black hordes" to actually complete the comparison. I'm not being cute about it, I know where you are coming from, but that is a really poor argument.

For example I don't think this is the "context" you want. Some very disturbing current events are occuring in southern Africa which could easily be seen to rationalize apartheid in hindsight, which I know is not your intent.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

That's why it is a bad argument to make the comparison or demand the same context.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

What's the bad argument/context?

It's wrong to compare I/P to SA?

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Was a troll from here. Also, your prose was no worse than some of the words coming from the author of that article.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

that's exactly what Israel has done and is still doing today -- and there's no lack of people to help them by calling all Palestinians and/or Arabs terrorists -- even here. That's actually the official position of the Israeli Govt, by the way.

and certainly no lack of that anywhere online or off.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

I did not comment at all about specific views or policies from either group, but immediately the discussion turns to the evilness of Israel as a whole. No reconciliation can ever happen if that is the starting point. While each side continues to "prove" their moral superiority, people are dying.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

reconciliation is impossible until they're both on a more level playing field. Especially because this whole thing has been created by one side alone to keep the other down.

when evil is being done and we're helping, "reconciliation" is not the point.

"reconciliation" can only start to be an issue after the evil is stopped. We didn't reconcile with South Africa -- we helped stop them doing evil first-- we harmed them until they did stop.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

On my own nobody-reads-blog I never call out Palestinian use of terror because the news media pounds away on that 24/7 and have been doing so for 50 years.

Once I called out shergald on one of his Booman Tribune diaries, but otherwise I have confined my criticism to Israel because I think they are engaged in a sustained campaign to steal land.

The Israelis have valid concerns about security and the Palestinians have gone about their struggle exactly wrong, but that does not alter the essential equation that the Israelis are engaged in a sustained campaign to push Gazan's into the sea.

US policy would be very different if ordinary voters knew what the Israelis are doing in Gaza and the West Bank. Lefty bloggers are just trying to bring that information to the attention of their readers.

Besides, on Daily Kos the pro-Palestinian view was banned years ago, it was one of the first signs that Orange was a place for bullies.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

"Palestinians have gone about their struggle exactly wrong."

I know it's a flaw, but I just can't feel good about terrorism, even when it's in the face of oppression. So, I seek a progressive blogosphere that's completely honest and uncompromising about the injustices of both Israel's and Palestine's methodologies, neither of which seems like a proper source of pride.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

the minute anyone posts anything critical of Israel, they are accused of anti-semitism and flame wars erupt. Ratings war erupt and the administrators have always let the pro-Israeli enforcers get away with it. A very famous Israeli peace activists was banned. I forget all the details now and am too lazy to provide linky goodness, but essential the Israeli supporters shut down all meaningful debate.

Until this week, it seems there has been a shift.

pie's picture
Submitted by pie on

avoided the P/I issue and asked fill-ins to avoid it also. There certainly could be no positive results in the last eight years.

That Morning Joe interview with Brzezinski certainly was interesting. What a slapdown. The Bush administration abdicated the mediation role. Of that, there is no doubt. There's nothing the Bushies didn't eff up, and yet, its apologists continue to defend the criminals.

The MSM pontificates. Their questions demand certain answers and their knowledge of history and important issues is pitiful and embarrassing. I thought it particularly humorous that Joe said he got his info from WaPo and the NYT. How hilarious is that?!

As far as being the font of information is concerned, the MSM has become irrelevant.

Why bother watching anymore?

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Wasn't a main deflection argument, here during the pie fight, is that Corrente isn't obligated to write good things about Obama, because everybody else already was? So going to OpenLeft, to say you aren't writing enough nice things about Israel, and their response being pretty much, "Everybody else already is", the same thing.

Yet, all criticism of Obama was well reasoned criticism, just as all praise of Clinton was well reasoned. Whereas all blogospheric critique of Israel, isn't always reasoned, or at least written with the acknowledgement that Israel is dealing with its defense issues that we don't face.

But, yeah, I feel the blogs should always provide truly balanced coverage, especially where the M$M doesn't. It doesn't always necessarily mean balancing the M$M with the opposite stance they take, but providing a balanced look at both sides of the issue.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... the similarities and differences between Corrente/Obama and PB1.0/IP.

If I catch a few available minutes, I'll scribble my thoughts on it. There are many differences, it turns out.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

we should have a "balanced"discussion of this? we should tolerate evil committed with our money and sanction, and we should always remember to insuilt both sides? and reasonably assess the situation?

why? the situation is inherently imbalanced and we have our thumbs on the scale, helping one side oppress and bomb the other.

there's a reason i brought up the IRA and ETA -- what they want/ed is what Palestinians want and they also act/ed violently -- the difference tho, is the response of the stronger party they are dealing with. Furthermore, the stronger never treated the weaker the way Israel has Palestinians.

this is not a reasonable situation -- and we're not objective viewers -- no American is. Blood is on all our hands everytime Israelis block another shipment of aid or food, or make pregnant women stand at checkpoints til they lose their babies, or grab more water and arable land for illegal settlements, etc.

There is great evil being done here. And there is a violent response to that evil as well, but that pales in comparison. The response wouldn't exist but for the actions over decades of one side alone.

there is right and wrong and both can commit wrongs without needing to ensure that you blame both.

caseyOR's picture
Submitted by caseyOR on

doesn't really hold up. Britain actively worked to crush the Irish for nearly 400 years before any semblance of peace broke out in Ireland. While it is true the Brits didn't fly bombers over Ireland, they accomplished quite a bit of terrorizing when they sent in the British army. Their response to IRA bombings was hardly benign.

As to the P/I mess-- there is plenty of blood to go around. Nobody has clean hands there; not the Israelis, not the Palestinians, not the USA, not other Arab countries and not Europe. Nobody has clean hands.

There will be no resolution until all the principals stop demonizing each other and decide, finally, to find a solution.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

powerful ones oppress powerless ones and harm them.

the powerless ones do whatever they can to not be oppressed, violent or not.

rinse and repeat.

it doesn't matter that no one has clean hands -- no one ever has clean hands--anywhere. That's not the point.

The onus is on the powerful to not do these things that harm and kill others -- first and foremost. Always. They must not create and exacerbate the evil in the first place -- and when they intensify the suffering, it is not about who has clean hands -- it's about stopping them.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

Some call for balance on this truly imbalanced situation in that region, yet when other issues comes up, we tell everyone that they are entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. This isn't about Israel=bood, Palestinians=bad or vice versa, this is about calling things as they are, which is something our media hasn't done.

I'm, quite frankly, getting tired of the cop out "they all have blood of their hands" and the silly moral equivalence argument some take towards this. The fact is that one side has exponentially more blood on their hands than the other. Please, count the bodies. That is not up for debate and never will be.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Though, since reflexes are so set on both sides of the I/P argument, it always descends into an argument about the body count.

It is about whether the lefty blogs will be honest purveyors of information and knowledge. It's really that simple. By being reflexively against the Israelis, we(and this doesn't mean Corrente, it means the left in general) are not being honest.

I've been reading blogs since the runup to the Iraq war. I've seen a lot of 1's & 0's written about Israel, but hardly anyone talks about Israel's actions, in the context of the security threat they face. This is not the same as defending Israel or being an apologist.

My former job was as a news monitor, so I am well aware of the context of Israel's actions. But others are not so informed, and even I could stand to get a great deal more information. I don't trust the media, so I count on the blogs to give me that information. And with the obvious bias they are showing against Israel, I feel like I can't trust the information I'm getting. And that's is bad in a representative democracy where our education decisions set the course for our nation(allegedly).

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

"It is about whether the lefty blogs will be honest purveyors of information and knowledge. It's really that simple. By being reflexively against the Israelis, we(and this doesn't mean Corrente, it means the left in general) are not being honest."

"It is about whether lefty blogs will be honest purveyors of information and knowledge"? That is a sentence which has no internal congruety. "Lefty" blogs are "lefty" precisely BECAUSE they have a viewpoint, BECAUSE they pick and choose the facts to put forth the context they want to put forth. You don't like the facts they chose to portray? Get opposing facts elsewhere, which portray those facts in "the context" of your choice.

What you are bridling against is your own perception that NO "lefty" blog EVER provides information EXCEPT when reflexively anti-Israeli.

So I tested that theory, and here are the links I can find in PB and even PB1.0:

At Digby.

At Talkleft (1)

At Talkleft (2)

Matt Yglesias

At Firedoglake (first one that seems "weighted")

This at TPM (always apparently "reflexivly anti-Israel"), which I admit must feel like hell (even if it's not).

At Eschaton, zippo.

At Huffpost here are the headlines today (below a picture of an Israeli warplane at right next to a photo of palestinian militants wearing black ski masks):

"Israeli Warplanes Continue Bombing Gaza... Target Smuggling Tunnels That Are Lifeline Of Hamas... Egyptian Official: 120 Tunnels Destroyed... Gaza Militants Fire Over Two Dozen Rockets Deep Into Israel... One Lands 20 Miles From Tel Aviv"

But mostly I agree with Greenwald.

Anyway, if "balance" is really your concern, sleep peacefully, it is found on the intertoobs.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

For believing that the facts validate my viewpoint. Too often, especially recently, too many on the "left" have let ideology trump facts. I thought those I was allied with were supposed to be better than the reality deniers on the right.

So, yeah it is disheartening to see, that what I believed was so, just ain't so. And since I've always been the type of person who believes that the facts should also force people to change their viewpoint, recent behavior has forced me to conclude that my side isn't any better, they just agree with me, the facts be damned.

And yeah, I agree with VL in his response to you above, a few examples do not an exception make. The prevailing feeling among lefty blogs is "Israel=bad, Palestine=good", and it makes those who try to get their facts from them concerned. Like I said, I was a news monitor for 2 1/2 years, one of those years during the drumbeat to go into Iraq, I know bias when I see it.

So, yes, the majority of lefty blogs are biased against Israel, which makes all their information suspect. I wish it weren't so, but it is. And the only people who can fix it, are the ones who create the content, so why don't you harp on them(what VL is trying to do) instead of telling those who are concerned that they just need to get over it.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

I'm sure there's a heartwarming story or three somewhere about Israelis painting a Palestinian schoolhouse. That means there's no oppression, right?

In fact, there are large numbers of "refuseniks" among Israelis who detest the country's strong-arm tactics. Problem solved, then, eh?

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

"a few examples do not an exception make," since you are talking about exceptions.

Perhaps you mean something more like "a few counter-examples don't negate the overwhelming tendency"?

Great comment, I just wanted to point out a small quirk that might be used to undermine your meaning.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

Not me.

Provide links to prove YOUR characterization of the wild one-sidedness of the "lefty" blogosphere. I'm sure you can find an idiot or two but I chose from the most recent posts at the "leading" blogs. Hardly "a few counter-examples" of "an overwhelming tendency".

And comments don't count.

If it is as overwhelmingly bad as you say, there should be no problem matching the 10 rather even-handed links that I provided above.

Evidence to show truth, rather than truthiness or impressions, I thought those characteristics were what PB2.0 was supposed to be built on?

Anyway, what the hell is an "overwhelming tendency"? Is that the same as a demanding request? A tsunamic ripple?

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Let's not make Paul feel bad for making long lists of reasons why the leftysphere leans so heavily pro-Palestine / anti-Israel by pretending away the reality that it does.

This is just lawyering. Please stop it.

If you want to call obvious conditions into question, be my guest to do some extensive citation analysis. Waste your own time, not mine.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

and won't apologize for him, nor am I interested in taking sides in what is basically a blogwar cat-fight.

But puh-leeze right back.

You yourself posted Chris Floyd's take above approvingly. That would make 11 examples against your thesis, my ten plus your one. I have seen you produce one that backs up the "overwhelming, reliably, unqualified anti-israel" meme, that would be this Rosenberg character and even in that example he makes pains to not excuse Palestinian terrorism, which seems like the issue you are most concerned with.

You ask me to do the work of proving your thesis.

No thanks, not my job.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

... Why is it Paul or the lefty blogosphere's responsibility to provide you with a "holistic understanding of I/P"? What does that even mean? Is it really that surprising that a group of people with a certain set of shared principles would tend to analyze this issue in similar ways?

This quest for an unbiased opinion is mystifying. I have no idea what such a thing looks like, and, if I were to find one, I don't know what I would do with it. As far as I can tell, every opinion I've ever had has been biased.

-- by: dmd76 @ Tue Dec 30, 2008 at 17:31:20 PM CST

Were people online balanced or holistic about Iraq? About anything Bush has done since 00? About Abu Ghraib? About spying? About Plame? About bailing out Wall St? ...

About anything the powerful has done against the less powerful?

Isn't it also the absolute and total lack of principles and ethics that we're overwhelmed with -- by the govt and media -- every single day?

When there's no more rule of law or attention to common decency -- and in fact an officially orchestrated and coordinated attempt to normalize horrors like spying and torture and preemptive wars, etc, the response is not to be "honest brokers" against that, or to step back and assess -- here or abroad -- the response is to show that these things are absolutely not normal or ok -- and totally are a result of our money, power, and actions.

The common response is to stop all these wrongs -- because they hurt us -- and them. Even Israel's actions now. They all are hurting us enormously.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Even when the the GOP has been a filthy exploiter of its power, I have stood against misogynistic attacks of its VP candidate and rhetorically vacant attacks on its presidential candidate.

Also, understanding the impact of 9/11 on the decision to go to or to support the Iraq War was an essential part of the analysis of the run-up. It made for a much better case to explain how 9/11 was twisted into a rationale for war with an unrelated country than to ignore 9/11 as a factor.

Likewise, looking into the rationale for Iraq War I shows how the incubator babies story was fabricated. We make smarter arguments by looking at the broader context, not dumber.

If I were resolutely biased against power, I might have held with those who felt honor-bound to support upstart Barack Obama vs. the evil Clinton machine.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

I'm losing patience for doing it on the blogs.

As if online Obamania weren't bad enough, I've seen full-on freakouts here because:

* I dared to ask — with no bias toward what the ultimate answer was or should be — how similar or different HRC's and CK's Senate candidacies were
* I dared to suggest that the left blogosphere would be a more legitimate source for I/P analysis if it told the whole story, instead of writing nearly exclusively about Israel's acts of aggression

It's all reminding me of the plot of many '60s and '70s TV episodes, where a character visits a southern town to check on a friend who disappeared. The protagonist pulls into a gas station, where an ominous local responds to his inquiry: "Listen, mister, we don't like people comin' around here, askin' a lot of questions. Why don't you turn your car around and head back up that highway?"

I'm beginning to think it's advice worth listening to....

Submitted by lambert on

Yep. Hard to imagine how we could go wrong with that policy.

We don't have any money, so we'd better be sure to stay true. It's the only weapon we have, and we can't let it lose its edge.