Like an Old Dog with a Bone

109

Despite the fact that I explained in great detail why he is barking up the wrong tree, Silverstein has decided to ignore all good sense, and continue in his quest to gain attention. Which is all well and good, and even understandable for someone who is admittedly “ever-ambitious and hungry for recognition of my blog.” Problem is, he is besmirching my name, and that of the Jerusalem Post, and spoiling the fun atmosphere of the JIBs.

Let me just preface this post by stating that Silverstein knows about my previous response, but just chooses to ignore it. I commented on his site, alerting him to my post, to which he did what he has been known to do: deleted any evidence of it. A convenient way to avoid substantive arguments.
Here is Silverstein’ latest exercise in futility.
After publishing my critique of the JIB Awards competition last night, it seems I struck a raw nerve among many of the right-wing bloggers whose material was quoted here. They came at me with both barrels blazing in the comment thread.
After publishing the post, I also asked the Jerusalem Post to comment on it. Derek Fattal provided some interesting background information about JIBA which, while attempting to reassure me, raised red flags regarding the fairness and openness of the nomination process.
JIBA? Now he is inventing names for the awards? I guess Silverstein has watched Return of the Jedi one too many times. In any event, this should be good.
My first post on JIBA noted that Aussie Dave’s Israelly Cool was a co-sponsor (he, in fact, created JIBA). It also noted that in the only two JIBA political categories almost all the nominees reflect a similar ideological slant to Israelly Cool (hardline anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, pro-settlements, etc.). I questioned why a competition calling itself the “Jewish and Israeli Blog Awards” couldn’t do a better job of representing the rest of us who are slightly to the left of Ze’ev Jabotinsky.
Well, now Mr. Fattal has provided some of the answer. Apparently, there IS an ideological criteria for being allowed into the process. Getting nominated isn’t the only hurdle. You have to pass a litmus test of sorts. Here’s how Derek described it:
Israellycool set up the JIB Awards on the basis that they would not include blogs whose raison d’entre was to criticize Israel. I was assured by Israellycool that blogs that included criticism of Israel would not be barred from the nomination process.
Which begs the question: when does a blog cross that threshhold from being one which criticizes Israel to one whose “raison d’etre” is to criticize Israel??
It actually doesn’t beg the question at all. As the rules state (and as I mentioned clearly in my previous post):
4. A blog is ineligible for being nominated if, although it is written by a Jewish blogger, the content of the blog is virulently anti-Israel, or even anti-Semitic. The test is “Is this [blog] considered anti-Israel/anti-Semitic by the layperson, regardless of his/her political orientation?”
Pretty simply really. And for the record, in the two years of the JIB’s existence, I have never had to exclude any blog for these reasons.
By the way, Derek Fattal has taken exception to being quoted out of context. This is a screenshot of his reply to Silverstein (which I felt the need to provide, given the latter’s proclivity to delete comments):
Besides, if the process is as democratic as the Post claims, why should they exclude any Jewish or Israeli blog? Anti-Zionist Jewish blog? So what. Let the democratic process winnow out the cranks and extremists.
Umm…because that would defeat the whole idea behind the awards, bugalugs. Allow me to repeat (once again) what everyone who has bothered to read the first paragraph to the JIBs introductory post already knows:
The word JIB, besides being an acronym for Jewish and Israeli blog, also represents the small triangular sail of a sailboat, as compared to the main sails. The jib’s role is to direct the wind into the main sail, just like a role of Jewish, Israeli, and pro-Israel bloggers is to direct world opinion in favor of Israel. And to really stretch the metaphor, the object of these awards is to direct new readers towards Jewish, Israeli, and pro-Israel blogs.

While weblog awards of this kind mean little in the grand scheme of things, they are a fun way to increase blog readership, and, in the case of the JIB Awards, promote Jewish, Israeli, and pro-Israel blogs.

But feel free to start up your own awards highlighting anti-Israel blogs. Or perhaps blogs written by dense, attention-seeking relics from the Sixties, with really bad taste in aprons (sorry, couldn’t resist).
Here’s an even more distressing fact from Derek noting that none other than Aussie Dave is the enforcer of these ideological criteria:
The nomination side was handled by Israellycool.com‚ I have not received any complaint from any blogger that their nominations have been rejected on political grounds. As far as I can see your blog would have been included had it been nominated.
You’ll note that Derek grants that my blog would’ve been eligible if he were the judge. But he wouldn’t be, now would he? Aussie Dave would be the judge. So let me throw out a challenge to him. Since I know he despises me and my progressive Zionist perspective on the conflcit, would he deem me eligible? Further, has he disqualified any blogs on political or ideological terms? And what level of criticism of Israel would be impermissible in JIBA?
Not much of a challenge, since I already provided the answers in my last post. I challlenge Silverstein to actually read it. For now, allow me to repeat my answers for his benefit.
1. As I have already mentioned:
In fact, if Silverstein had nominated himself, he may have even progressed to the voting rounds. Although it would have been a close call. As the rules state:

4. A blog is ineligible for being nominated if, although it is written by a Jewish blogger, the content of the blog is virulently anti-Israel, or even anti-Semitic. The test is “Is this [blog] considered anti-Israel/anti-Semitic by the layperson, regardless of his/her political orientation?”

I think that Silverstein has shown enough in the few posts of his that I have read that a layperson might consider him “virulently anti-Israel.” But I would have deferred to the Jerusalem Post’s opinion in case Silverstein had been nominated.

2. As already mentioned countless times, I have NEVER disqualified a blog on ideological or political terms. If you don’t believe me Silverstein, why don’t you compare the nominees with the list of blogs in the voting rounds. You will see that the only blogs not included were the incorrectly formatted ones (almost all right leaning), and the blogs not fitting their nominated category (such as Best Designed blogs which were nothing more than blogs utilizing a standard blogger template).
3. As already mentioned countless times, the test is “Is this [blog] considered anti-Israel/anti-Semitic by the layperson, regardless of his/her political orientation?” This is a hard test to fail, and no nominated blog ever has.
I’d also like to know if Aussie Dave nominated blogs himself and whether he voted in the competition. In my opinion, if he did either he further eroded the openness and fairness of the competition. I’d have no problem with his involvement in this fashion if he were just another blogger. But he’s a full co-sponsor and in fact the founder of the event. I think that sponsors have an obligation to allow others to judge such subjective questions as whether or not a blog is eligible based on political or ideological grounds.
Needless to say, I have not nominated blogs myself, nor voted. And I have always made it clear that blogs of all political persuasions are welcome, as long as they are not virulently anti-Israel or anti-Semitic, as mentioned above.
So my problem with all this is that the Post tells me that Aussie Dave doesn’t control who gets nominated or wins. Maybe so. But theoretically, he controls which nominees get into competition by having veto power over that aspect of JIBA. Even if he hasn’t used it (note that Derek says he does not know of any such disqualification which is different than saying definitively it hasn’t happened), he could and that alarms me.
Notice how Silverstein is subtly changing his tune. He has gone from blatantly accusing me of corruption (like his bizarre accusation that I included LGF because Charles Johnson invited me to join Pajamas Media) to having the potential to corrupt the process. So he doesn’t even have the balls to stick to his albeit misguided argument.
Finally, Derek says “the call for nominations was openly publicized to all readers on the Jerusalem Post site.” All well and good. But this competition is not called the “Jerusalem Post Blog Awards.” It’s called the “Jewish and Israeli Blog Awards,” indicating its pretension to embrace the broad diversity of the Jewish-Israeli blog world. Does the Post believe that its readers constitute a broad enough cross section of Jewish opinion regarding which are the best Jewish and Israeli blogs? What would be wrong with publicizing the event to readers of say, Haaretz.com, Nytimes.com or readers of progressive Jewish blogs? My suggestion that the Post make an effort to recruit broader participation in future met with this response from Mr. Fattal:
I believe that the spirit of the competition is open and democratic, and that our conduct has been correct.
What more need be said? The Post is perfectly happy with a skewed, unrepresentative competition. Who are we to carp about it?
Yes, who exactly are you to carp about it? I mean, besides an attention-seeking, spiteful old man lacking basic comprehension skills.
Update: Mobius, with whom I have had many an online duel, has this to say:
I do not for even a moment believe, as Richard Silverstein suspects, that the nomination or voting for the JIBs is rigged in any way. The simple proof is the fact that Jewschool, a site which often presents incredibly controversial views on Israel, won second place for Best Israel Advocacy Blog last year, much to others’ chagrin (third place -ed.)
Aussie Dave may write and believe things which I think are just awful (and I know he feels the same about me), but there is no doubt in my mind that the JIBs, however flawed I think the nomination and voting system may be, are an entirely legitimate operation.
This year’s nominations and the poll leaders so far, speak much more, I think, to Jewish blog readership than towards the interests of Aussie Dave and his friends at Pajamas Media or the interests of The Jerusalem Post. The right-leaning blogs simply have a more committed readership, and I argue, a more obsessive and cocky readership than more secularly-oriented Jewish blogs like Jewschool.
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It is to this group who The JIBs most matter. They are the most active voters. They are the ones who race to make nominations. They are the ones who vote to vote against Jewschool. They are the ones who have voted LGF to the top of the Israel Advocacy list.
Update: ‘Tom Paine’ rips Silverstein a new one on the latest SNN podcast. He also raises an interesting point: Silverstein is questioning the inclusion of non-Jewish bloggers in the awards, exhibiting the same kind of racist behavior of which he is accusing others (if you are not already listening to SNN, you really should be).
Update: My comment is back up on Silverstein’s site.
Update: Don’t let Silverstein’s claims of promoting Tikkun Olam (reparing the world), “through doing mitzvot or acts of lovingkindness” fool you (nor his demented, grandfatherly look). As this comment on blog Jesus’ General (which has unreservedly accepted Silverstein’s accusations) indicates, Silverstein is quite the nasty character.
Thanks mon Generale. The enemy is at the gate about to overrun my comments thread: my how those JIBA righties hate to be uncovered for who they really are.
Anyway, I’ve come up w. some new dirt on JIBA at the blog post linked to this comment. Notably, that a nominated blog will be excluded whose “raison d’etre” is to criticize Israel (whatever the hell that means). And that Aussie Dave has power to determine which nominations are kosher and which treif. Sound like a transparent process to you?
He is also obviously feeling the heat (I guess if he can’t handle the heat, he should step out of the kitchen).
And should anyone care to lv. a comment on either post I’d be grateful. It’s tough when you’re the only person supporting yr point of view among a snarling group of detractors.
Richard Silverstein | Homepage | 01.15.06 – 7:04 am | #
So far, no takers. Oh, why have you forsaken me, mon Generale!

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