CiF/CiFWatch Sense of Humour Failure

CiFWatch is a website which “monitors and exposes antisemitism” on the Guardian’s Comment if Free blog.

I don’t always agree with CiFWatch’s criticisms of Comment is Free. However, it is certainly fair to say that CiF has had something of a fixation with Israel, and that its articles tend to be – on balance – hostile towards that country. As a result, as well as defenders of Israel, the website attracts a great number of people who are quite simply unhinged on the subject of the Israel-Palestine dispute. Some of these commentators are, quite clearly, racists.

I do think that CiF makes an effort to keep the antisemites under control, and on one occasion, sacked a commentator who had previously been moderated for antisemitism in comment threads.  I’m sympathetic to CiF, to a certain extent, because I know how difficult it is to moderate a thread on a “hot” topic. Do you delete the bigots? Or do you allow others to out-argue them? The Guardian has resources to devote to moderating, and therefore perhaps could be doing more than amateur blogs to keep the nutters at bay. Do they do enough?

It is a tricky question.

As far as CiFWatch is concerned, the Guardian should be doing more. It says so, in a forthright manner. I suspect that gets under the Guardian’s skin. Indeed, I would imagine that the Guardian is furious with CiFWatch for its coverage of the “BellaM” affair: where editor Alan Rusbridger’s daughter was reprimanded for saying of Melanie Phillips:

I imagine she’s like that character in Little Britain who is violently sick every time she hears the words ‘black or gay.’ Except for Melanie, the word would be ‘Muslim.’

Quite how angry the Guardian is with CiFWatch I didn’t appreciate until today.

Professor Geoffrey Alderman takes up the story:

Last August, “CiF Watch” was launched. Its primary aim is to monitor anti-Jewish content appearing on CiF.

In November, I accepted an invitation to write for CiF Watch a piece on Peter Oborne’s Channel 4 documentary Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby and on Tony Lerman’s defence of it on CiF.

I can now reveal that, within days of the publication of my critique, I received an email from the Guardian telling me that, if I dared to continue writing for CiF Watch, I would no longer be able to contribute to CiF. It was, I was summarily warned, “an either/or choice”.

I can further reveal that I have now been placed on a special list of persons whose CiF comments will be reviewed in advance of their online publication.

Well, I have never taken kindly to threats. I have certainly never been deterred by them. I can additionally reveal that I intend to continue posting on CiF but — regrettably —under an alias.

As for C P Scott; he must surely be turning in his grave.

That really is quite a remarkable response. It appears petty and vindictive. The Guardian ought to be “big” enough to shrug criticism off. To treat a respected academic as they have treated Professor Alderman is really very shabby indeed.

As thing stand, it appears that writing for CiFWatch is enough to bar you from contributing to the Guardian. However, being a Hamas supporter is a qualification.

That can’t be right.