In the latest Lerman thread, a self-confessed anti-Zionist commenter stated “[p]lease remember that the Israeli Foreign Office pays people to post here. This means that any pro-Israeli view is more than likely to be yet another instance of Israeli propaganda.”
While unfortunately one has come to expect this kind of “conspiracy theory” discourse from commenters on CiF, it is quite another to hear this from a member of the Guardian who holds a senior position there. But that is precisely what happened today and this is not the first time.
Brian Whitaker, commissioning editor of ‘Comment is Free’, fueled the “discussion” by, among other things, linking to a Ynet news article on “Israeli government’s internet activities”. When a ‘pro-Israel’ poster pointed out that this is a “serious, ugly, and counter-productive allegation, (should I add slanderous?) which unfairly taints any comment favoring Israel”, Whitaker responded by saying:
“I was just providing some supplementary information. Israel’s efforts to organise and co-ordinate internet “talkback” have been widely reported, though some commenters here seem to be sceptical.”
Given that the phenomenon of “nation branding” is nothing new and many other countries engage in other similar endeavors to improve their image abroad, what is it that motivates a member of the Guardian’s senior editorial team to specifically interject himself into the comment thread and slur pro-Israel posters in such a manner? And come to think of it, why is it that pro-Israel posters are specifically being singled out?
Because of CiF’s obsession with Israel and Whitaker’s prominent position with the Guardian, the upshot of his uncalled for intervention is to lend credence to the notion that there indeed is a Jewish conspiracy, whether or not this was actually his intention.
Meanwhile, Tony Lerman injects his own poison into the debate by stating:
“As for references being made to Cifwatch, I think its only fair to point out, before anyone gets too excited, that its basically a smear site, happy to make repeated unsubstantiated allegations about the views and biographies of people the sites initiators disagree with. And they fearlessly fight the good fight for truth and openness – by hiding behind pseudonyms.”
So I ask, who precisely is being smeared here? And what precisely are the unsubstantiated allegations that Lerman is referring to?