Harry through the looking glass

Update just to clarify (I thought it was clear, but that’s possibly because I read too much science fiction) Ali’s Place only exists in an alternate universe.

In the alternate world I described previously in this post there are few blogs more critical of the UCU’s anti-muslim bigotry than Ali’s Place, a group blog which includes several Muslim contributors.  Although Ali’s Place covers a range of political and cultural topics two of its main preoccupations are Islamophobia and the situation of the Palestinians.  It runs many pieces critical of Israel’s policy with regard to checkpoints, the security wall and prisoners, as well as analyses of the difficulties faced by Arab-Israelis.  However it is also pretty critical of the PA and, particularly, of Hamas.  It completely rejects the Hamas agenda, and regularly posts articles criticising its actions and policies.  Similarly, although its real beef (in a UK context) is with Islamophobes, it is particularly anxious to avoid the charge of antisemitism, which it realizes contaminates much pro-Palestinian advocacy, and its bloggers regularly condemn figures such as Gilad Atzmon. It also rejects any treatment of Israelis as a monolithic bloc, and is careful to target only specific groups, parties and individuals.

It attracts a good many commenters, not all of whom are fully in tune with its agenda.  Naturally it attracts criticism from those on the right, particularly from some of Israel’s more zealous supporters such as Melanie Phillips.  Its relationship with those to its left is more complicated.  Up to a point, they rather value Ali’s Place as a source of up-to-date information about Israel’s shortcomings and about instances of Islamophobia in various countries.  Yet at the same time many on the pro-Palestinian left are provoked by its attempts to be (comparatively) even-handed, by the way it shares their concerns but not their prejudices, and they sometimes accuse its bloggers of being Likudniks (which slightly confuses them).  Such commenters are particularly grumpy about any reference to the ‘new antisemitism’ – they say that Zionism is an ideology and shouldn’t be mixed up with the quite different issue of racism. Those on the right, by contrast, persist in describing Ali’s Place as apologists for Hamas even though they run regular posts condemning Hamas unequivocally.


When I began to think about this alternate blog, I worried briefly (thinking about sites which focus with obsessive scrutiny on Israel in our real world) that Ali’s Place was bigoted, a finding which would have rebounded on Harry’s Place.  But then I realized that I was assuming it would have to be exactly like the many sites HP has criticised – the Palestine Telegraph or Islamophobia Watch.  Such blogs do cover issues of real concern, and expose genuine instances of injustice and bigotry, but they are too often infected by a different sort of bigotry.  But there is no reason why Ali’s Place need be like that – it could represent a kind of cross between a Muslim CST and the sort of pro-Palestinian advocacy I said we needed more of here.