So here’s the story. Jonathan Hoffman is the Vice-President of the Zionist Federation in the UK. Last month he wrote on Harry’s Place of his experiences at Ben White’s book launch in the Houses of Parliament. At the event, Hoffman noted that his friend with a Jewish name had been roundly booed, and he was told that the Nazis ‘should have finished the job.’ In addition, Jonathan Hoffman wrote a review on the American Jewish Committee’s blog Z-Word, in which he took White to task for, among other things, including doctored Ben Gurion quotes and ignoring Nelson Mandela’s own rejection of the Israel-South Africa apartheid analogy.
Seemingly affected by the criticism of the negative book review, Ben White posted a response to Hoffman on his blog, and brought it to the attention of ModernityBlog and Z-Word. Z-Word refused to publish his comment, with Ben Cohen explaining:
‘White needs to understand that the ban on Jonathan Hoffman attending the launch of his ridiculous excuse for a book means that he is, as a direct consequence, not welcome here.’
Anti-Zionist blogger Philip Weiss then complained that ‘American Jewish C’tee enjoys slagging off critics, then refusing them a platform to respond.’ Weiss included a comment from Ben White in the main body of the article, complaining:
‘So the ‘range of comments’ includes the claim that I am the ‘reincarnation of Goebbels’, but not my link to a response piece which points out that Z-Word have published untruths about a published work. ‘
Jonathan Hoffman has since published a response to White on Z-Word, noting:
‘Turning to White’s comments on my review, there are several points which he concedes, either explicitly or implicitly.’
But let’s ignore that for now. According to Ben White and Philip Weiss, the AJC refuses its critics ‘a platform to respond.’ You’d think, judging by that, that Ben White’s blog would be an ocean of free speech. Not exactly. You will notice that comments are off.
Ben White received plenty of negative comments for a blog post in which he claimed that the arrest of antisemites in New York threatening to blow up a synagogue was ‘a fully controlled threat to our freedoms.’ Ben White, who claims to understand why some people are antisemites, could not understand why the U.S. government would want to arrest antisemites planning antisemitic terrorist attacks. I took him to task for this on Harry’s Place, prompting people to leave comments on his blog. White refused to answer questions about this, with one commenter asking him to specify the freedoms threatened by these arrests. White didn’t respond.
A few weeks later, on his blog, White criticised a Harry’s Place article on antisemitism at UNISON. (Like the NYC synagogue piece, White was criticising those who falsely cry ‘antisemitism’. One wonders if White is capable of writing about antisemitism without claiming to understand it or denying clear examples of its outworkings.) As you can see by the comments on both Ben White’s blog and Harry’s Place under those articles, White deleted, edited and restored comments from his critics, whilst failing to respond the questions asked of him and his ethics. A few weeks later, White turned off the comments option on his blog pieces.
A commenter at Harry’s Place recently noted:
Getting back on topic…
Ben White is the administrator for the ”Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide” Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=99988957924
Until about 15 minutes ao it was an open group which anybody could join, so I did. I took the liberty of posting links to Jonathan’s article on each of the threads on the site. Within minutes, my posts had been deleted, I had been expelled from the group, and it is now a closed group.
I have requested to join the group and await Ben’s response with interest!
Last week, White had an article at The Guardian’s Comment Is Free (also published in the Tehran Times) in which he argued that the Israeli security fence (or as he prefers “Israel’s separation wall”) should be dismantled (not, interestingly, moved back to the Green Line, as most critics of the fence would prefer). As Modernity noted twice, many critical comments on Ben White’s article were censored for no good reason. We heard no complaint from Ben White.
So to summarise: Ben White has edited, deleted, and then restored comments on his own blog. He has turned comments off for his own blog. If you leave a critical comment on one of his articles on Comment Is Free, it may go into moderation and/or be deleted. And now he is complaining on Philip Weiss’ blog about other people censoring his comments!
Perhaps Philip Weiss was unaware of Ben White’s own censoring of comments, which would explain the Mondoweiss article accusing the AJC of censorship. Otherwise, what point was Weiss really trying to make?