Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Don't you dare "Talkback" to me!

It seems that there's a bit of a "talkback" controversy brewing over at Ha'aretz.

"Talkback's" are, of course, the feature found on many websites (including blogs) that allow readers to offer their response on a particular article.

This is Ha'aretz's official "Talkback" policy:

The Talkback feature is intended to enable our readers to respond to articles, voice their opinions, and discuss them with other readers.

Political orientation will have absolutely no bearing on whether a comment is posted or rejected.

Comments containing the following will be automatically disqualified:

1. Personal attacks, vulgarities and profanities directed at other respondents.

2. Statements terming Israelis or Palestinians and their leaders Nazis, or accusing them of genocide or ethnic cleansing.

3. Statements which may be construed as urging attacks on Israeli or Palestinian leaders, officials, security forces or civilians.

4. Comments of an anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-Arab or other racist nature.

It seems, however, that at least one writer on the Ha'aretz website has sought to offer his own set of "talkback" guidelines, which can be found at the end of this article.

The following "talkback" guidelines, set by Bradley Burston for his weekly "A special Place in Hell" column, are, for the most part, consistent with the original "talkback" guidelines set by Ha'aretz - with the glaring exception of guideline #5.
Actual Talkback Guidelines

The guiding principles of the talkback forum for this article will be mutual respect and openness to dialogue. Participants, even if they rule out, dismiss or oppose coexistence, must, within the confines of this forum, practice it.

Censorship will be unapologetic.

Political orientation will have absolutely no bearing on whether a comment is posted or rejected.

The following will be grounds for deletion:

1. Racist remarks, as well as slurs on the basis of religion, ethnicity and gender.

2. Use of the terms Nazi, Hitler, ethnic cleansing, to describe the actions and policies of Israelis, Palestinians or other parties to the Israel-Arab conflict.

3. Disparaging remarks, personal attacks, vulgarities and profanities directed at other participants in the forum.

4. Advocacy of violence against individuals or religious, ethnic or racial groups, including statements which may be construed as urging attacks on leaders, officials, security forces or civilians.

5.Use of the phrase: "There are no Palestinians" or derivatives thereof.
Based on Bradley Burston's guidelines, former Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meir would have had this comment of hers about the "Palestinians" censored:
There were no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state? It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.

Sunday Times, 15 June, 1969; The Washington Post (June 16, 1969)
Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Zahir Muhsein would have had his comments deleted, for the following remarks, issued on March 31, 1977 in an interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw:
"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct "Palestinian people" to oppose Zionism.

For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan."
On the whole, there are two basic problems with Burston's talkback guideline forbidding 'Use of the phrase: "There are no Palestinians" or derivatives thereof.'

The first problem with guideline #5 (the "Palestinian guideline) is that it seems to conflict with the opening line of the "talkback" guidelines that states: "Political orientation will have absolutely no bearing on whether a comment is posted or rejected".

One can only assume that when Burston wrote those words, he was only referring to the political orientations that he, himself, agrees with, and that he was not, in fact, interested in fostering genuine debate.

The second problem with Burston's "Palestinian" guideline, is that he is basically silencing the truth.

An inquiry seeking to clarify Ha'aretz's "Talkback" guidelines has been submitted, and as soon as a response is issued, I will publish it here.

JBlog Me




4 Comments:

The first time and last time I read what that guy has to say.

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