By Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss

Here is an important matter that I have been sitting on for days and that people who care about American support for Palestinian oppression need to be aware of: the extent to which Firedoglake, a leading progressive site, suppresses criticism of Israel. The battle demonstrates that even inside the left, the Israel lobby is a strong force. Indeed, the founder of the site, movie producer Jane Hamsher, has dismissed concern for Palestinians as a “pet issue.”

As I have said often, our country cannot make progress on this critical policy issue until people who care about Palestinian freedom find one another and make a political combination to take on the Israel lobby. And one way we will find one another is by taking on the corruption inside the left when it comes to human rights in Palestine.

The latest evidence of FDL’s entrenchment is an exchange yesterday at Firedoglake’s community site, The Seminal. An FDL author whom I follow– Kathleen Galt, who writes under the name Leen and for whom Palestine is front and center– did a post called “Change?” saying that Israel/Palestine continues to be off limits for the liberal mainstream media:

Does the Israeli Palestinian conflict, expanding illegal settlements, humiliation of Palestinians, bulldozing of Palestinians homes, destruction of Palestinian olive trees, continue to be off limits to so called progressive MSM host like Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Dylan Ratigan, Ed etc? I think this critical issue is still off limits to most MSM outlets.

Galt did a search of several progressive broadcasts and found not a peep about Palestine.

“So my question is this. Do folks think that anything has changed about the amount, depth, honesty of coverage by our T.V. MSM over the last several years? Has anything changed?”

In the subsequent comment thread, Galt complained that leftwing blogs were also blindered. And she specifically mentioned Rayne, the moderator of The Seminal.

I am also very interested in which so called progressive sites were blocked to discussing this critical issue, which sites drug their progressive feet on the issue, demanded higher standards of definitions of terms “zionism” than they demand of other over used general terms? Selective discrimination etc of certain issues but not others. Avoid having their heavy hitters or bringing on a heavy hitter to blog about this critical issue every week? Blog clogs of sorts specifically clogged on this issue.

Crooks and Liars has been closed down to this issue from the beginning, Huffington Post has opened up…

Still wondering why Rayne has specifically targeted this topic and is demanding higher standards for this issue more so than any other issue?

Rayne responded with a sharp rebuke:

…Let’s make this perfectly clear again that you are not an editor, moderator, site owner or host at this site, and that simply because you personally feel an issue should be handled in a particular fashion doesn’t mean it’s going to happen as you demand.

Give some thought to the possibility that your constant harangue about the manner in which this site operates drives off others — readers, commenters, diarists alike — who may not want to encourage your posts and posts like yours by recommending them.

Inside the last several weeks you’ve already attacked the owner/founder of the FDL family of sites for not fulfilling your personal expectations. You did not take the hint at the time about your behavior. And don’t think I haven’t seen your terse comments directed at me, either. This is yet another warning to you that you need to focus on subjects of your choice, stop haranguing the site’s policies and operations, or risk moderation….

Galt responded in her typically thoughtful manner:

Many of my posts have been recommended. There have been times where folks have come out of the woodwork and folks who regularly make comments here and stated that they greatly appreciate what I have posted here…. [I am] just suggesting that having a qualified individual do regular post[s] about the I/P conflict might just might be a path for FDL to take on this critical issue. This is not just my issue. You may personally [be] in the dark about this issue. For decades middle east leaders, former Presidents, former heads of the IAEA, former and present weapons inspectors, former and present CiA analyst etc have stated that the I/P issue is the most critical issue to resolve in the middle east. Now you can keep attempting to minimize the importance of this conflict but that does not change the situation. You can attempt to close down the discussion, debate etc here but that in and of itself says a great deal…

Beautiful, huh? And obvious.

Galt then asked about the process: why there was no one in the FDL wheelhouse working on the issue. Rayne smacked that down.

Leen, you’re off your own topic again, in your own thread. This was supposed to be about change or the lack thereof in mainstream media coverage, and your last several comments have drifted further and further from that.

There will be no detailed discussion about process. In my 14+ years working in online community management, such discussions are often used to game the site.

Now some back story. On August 14 at The Seminal, Galt criticized Jane Hamsher, the author, producer, and founder of Firedoglake, for appearing on Washington Journal on CSpan and talking leftwing politics for 45 minutes and saying nothing about Israel/Palestine. Galt wrote:

This interview with Jane Hamsher (Firedoglake) on Washington Journal is fascinating. Jane was on discussing the stance of the Obama administration on many issues and how the left feels about those stances.

While I appreciate Jane’s willingness to touch upon and her hard work on many issues. Her willingness to call Dem Reps and the Obama administration out on so many issues. And I also know she cannot make all issues her “pet issues” But why does she avoid bringing up this critical issue when she so clearly has the opportunity? How is this any different than our MSM talking heads? She brought up Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet she completely avoided this humanitarian crisis and decades long conflict and how the Obama administration is dealing with it during these 45 minutes. Did not even whisper about it.

At one point on this blog she called my efforts to bring up this issue here at Firedoglake my “pet issue”

This is one of the most critical issue[s] in the middle east. The issue that the 9/11 commission even mentioned. The decades old conflict that many leaders in that part of the world have endlessly referred to as the most critical issue to resolve. The issue that former head of the CIA Bin Laden unit Micheal Scheuer, Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern and many many others state is the most critical issue to resolve. Jane and others will not touch it. She even criticizes others who do make an effort to shed light on this conflict.

She had a prime opportunity to shed some light on this issue during her 45 minutes on Washington Journal.She did not. Silence. Not any different than talking heads in the MSM.

During this interview Jane referred to herself as “left of the left” on many issues. How is avoiding even mentioning this issue progressive?

When Jane was asked who her favorite Reps were she mentioned Rep Grayson and Rep Barney Frank. Both of these Reps support Israel no matter how many UN resolutions they are in violation of, how many illegal settlements they keep expanding and building, how many Palestinian homes are bulldozed etc. They both support more aggressive actions towards Iran. Can anyone tell me how these stances are progressive?

Now remember Jane takes pride in calling others out on the mat. But is incapable of taking the same kind of criticism from others.

Go ahead Jane and others knock me out. I know you are smarter etc than me. I appreciate all you do but why do you keep avoiding this critical issue when you have a clear and totally appropriate opening to bring it up?

Hamsher quickly responded to Galt in the comment thread:

I didn’t mention it because THEY DIDN’T ASK ME ABOUT IT.

I didn’t mention marijuana legalization either, because they didn’t ask me about it. I didn’t mention Social Security privatization, because they didn’t ask me about it. Both of these are issues I’ve been writing about extensively.
If I was going to inject anything into the conversation, it would have been the subjects I’ve been writing about and have some knowledge of. I didn’t. I followed the format and responded to the interviewer’s questions, as most civil guests do.

This paddling was soon followed by others. Seaglass made it clear that Zionism is part of the left:

It seems that Leen and many others here have drawn a clear line in the sand on who they consider Progressives and if you in any way support Israel’s existence these days here your treated with contempt and I’ve found @ times sneering hatred. Who are these people to judge those of us who differ with them on this issue? Why does it make us any less Progressive then they are? They can support obviously radical Islamists like Hamas or Hezbollah and support the odious theocracy in Iran ( that abuses and treats it’s women as animals , and they seem to think that these aren’t directly in conflict with progressive principles for some unknown reason? The hatred of Israel and Jews here is very off putting to some of us who have been Progressives long before the title was even bandied about. The Israeli , Palestinian struggle /war clearly splits our ranks, but it saddens me that it cause such rancor and ill will. Don’t we get enough of that from the Right and it’s Blue Dog Demo. allies?

Then moderator Rayne stepped in:

Leen, make a more constructive case for promoting your research and content further. As it stands right now:

– Siun has covered the Gaza flotilla at FDL and that wasn’t enough*;

– You’ve had a platform to use to cover I/P and the Gaza blockade, and that’s not enough; – You’ve demanded the site’s owner/operator speak as you demand, without making reasonable requests in advance and without real concern for the site’s owner/operator’s projects and initiatives;

– In spite of repeated efforts on the part of the community to teach you how to use this platform more effectively, you pointedly ignore learning how to do so. This is hardly a pattern of cooperation and collaboration which might earn more attention. I think the community has been more than fair with your persistent biting-the-hand-which-hosts-you; it’s time for you to assume full responsibility for the topics you want to cover and do so in a reasonable fashion…

So FDL is progressive except when it comes to Palestine– PEP.

I asked Galt about her background as a blogger and she wrote to me that she does not consider herself any great shakes as a writer. I disagree. Judge for yourself:

“My history at FDL (a good four years or more) has been to persistently bring the I/P issue up. I met Jane and the team at the Libby trial although I had followed FDL for a while before that. Jane posted something I had written for her at the Libby trial. And again I totally respect what she has and is doing. I just find this avoidance of the I/P issue confusing. I never demanded anything. I only suggested…. that the heavy hitters write about the I/P issue periodically.

“My challenge the other day was not demanding that Jane take this issue on– just mention it for instance in her 45 minutes on Washington Journal when it would have been perfectly appropriate for her to include the I/P issue in the lineup of issues that the left was not so happy with the Obama administration on. All I asked was to include this issue, whisper about it.

“I’m really not sure what Jane’s avoidance is about this issue. I just do not know how one can not consider this issue progressive. How is this avoidance any different than what Rachel Maddow, Ed, Dylan Ratigan, Keith avoid? These characters completely avoided covering the Goldstone Report. Silence on the settlements.

“And it seems the efforts to intimidate are working. They are closing the small opening over at Firedoglake to actually discuss, link etc about this critical issue.”

Philip Weiss, author of the blog MondoWeiss

See also:

Philip Weiss: Let the apologies to Goldstone begin


  1. Debbie on the 07. Sep, 2010 remarked #

    The bloggers are the real soldiers in this I-P mess. Some day, if this apartheid ends its going to be mostly because of the bloggers.

    Todays times biggest un sung heroes.

  2. Jay C. on the 07. Sep, 2010 remarked #

    As per the zionists’s belief: “WE CONTROL AMERICA !” http://100777.com/node/500 http://HOLYWAR.org/S11.htm

  3. Dawoodi Morkas on the 07. Sep, 2010 remarked #

    The focus is Palestine and the media blockage of their suffering. We are fortunate, that the Internet, is a substitute, otherwise people with the conscience for righteousness, would have had daily heart attacks, as there would be no news of these issues, but only which the Zionist controlled media projected.

    Debbie has rightly said, Blogs and bloggers are a community that has given a hard time to the organized media and are the un sung heroes of Todays Times.

  4. Rehmat on the 07. Sep, 2010 remarked #

    Based on my personal experience, MondoWeiss is another of those Jewish blogs which while faking to be supporters of Palestinian rights – are in fact supports the illegal creation of Israel on once Muslim-majority land. These guys are only against the US foreign policy and the Zionist regime. If you post comments that the US foreign policy is controlled by the Jewish Lobby groups – you’re bowled out.

    The Moderators are very allergic to the Jew writers like Gilad Atzmon and Roger Tucker, who calls for the return of the land to its native Palestinians and make the pre-1948 Palestine as “one democratic state” with equal rights for both Palestinians and the foreign Jews.

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