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Friday, July 23, 2010

A roadmap to the hate bloggers

Lee Smith takes us on a tour of the anti-Israel blogosphere - specifically the four pictured at left (clockwise they are Phil Weiss (Mondoweiss), Stephen Walt, Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Sullivan).
If not quite as popular as adult-content sites, the anti-Israel blogosphere is a dirty little thrill that major U.S. media outfits have mainstreamed for the masses, the intellectual equivalent of the topless “Page Three” girls that British tabloids use to boost circulation. Among the dozens of blogs and websites obsessed with Israel and the machinations of the U.S. Israel lobby, Phillip Weiss’ Mondoweiss (a project of The Nation Institute), Glenn Greenwald’s blog on Salon, and Stephen Walt’s blog on ForeignPolicy.com (owned by The Washington Post Company) sit atop the junk-heap.

“Whenever one of these guys writes about me, I can tell without having looked at their blogs, because my inbox quickly fills with anti-Semitic invective,” says The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, a Tablet Magazine contributing editor and a frequent target of Weiss, Greenwald, and Walt. “Whenever I see a subject line with something like ‘You fascist Zionazi,’ it’s pretty much assured the link in the email will lead back to a post from one of these guys.”*

Some of these bloggers, like Weiss and Andrew Sullivan, were widely published journalists prior to their careers as Jew-baiters. Walt is a different case: A tenured professor of international relations at Harvard, his reputation extended no further than academic circles until The Israel Lobby put him in the middle of the national debate over U.S. Middle East policy. “I wouldn’t consider it a Middle East blog,” Foreign Policy’s managing editor, Blake Hounshell, says of Walt’s work for the site. “He writes about a lot of other things. It’s a regular foreign-policy blog.”

While it is true that Walt covers a wide range of international subjects in his blog, nothing provokes the same amount of reader feedback as his posts about Israel. Last week, a post on the Russian spy scandal received 14 comments; another post during the same period, enumerating what Walt considers the “five big questions about contemporary world politics,” fared a bit better, garnering 53 responses. In the eyes of Walt’s readership, however, those five major issues are dwarfed by the significance of his post concerning the Emergency Committee for Israel, a new pro-Israel organization founded by William Kristol, which was commented on 378 times.

These numbers suggest that the purpose of Walt’s blog is to act as a magnet for the animus of a readership hostile not only to Israel but also to American figures friendly to Israel, especially American Jews. Whether that bothers the owners of The Washington Post or thrills the advertising staff is another question. Jeffrey Goldberg believes that big media companies have morally blinded themselves to the ramifications of using anti-Semitism to attract readers. “I suppose that to the managers of Foreign Policy, traffic is traffic,” Goldberg says. “But in the course of building that traffic they’re surfacing some fairly dreadful invective about Jews. I don’t think they’d be comfortable surfacing the same kind of invective about African-Americans or other groups. But there seems to be a high tolerance for hosting a Jew-baiting blog.”

One explanation for the open sewer of hate that runs through the most prestigious foreign-policy websites is that their editors have become desensitized to opinions they read every day—and that are widely echoed throughout the Arab world and in Europe. In the view of such people, anti-Semitism is simply another common inconvenience of the medium. “As with other sites on the Internet, we certainly don’t feel as though we’ve found a good solution yet to dealing with offensive speech—or, though undoubtedly less importantly, for the annoying spammers who are for some reason insistent on selling our readers ‘Tiffany’ watches, jeans and shoes,” says Susan Glasser, editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy.
The only one of the four I read regularly is Sullivan. On this one, he tries to change the subject.

Read the whole thing.


At 5:21 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

I check Mondoweiss at least once a day. Its an anti-Zionist blog. From the subjects posted on Philip Weiss' and Adam Horowitz's blog, one would never guess its not Israel that is holding up peace. Anti-Semitism has been made fashionable, by of all people, Jews estranged from Israel. And its not going to disappear any time soon.

At 12:56 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

They are all hookers for nazis.


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