Israpundit stands accused

By Ted Belman

Oliver Kamm thinks Israpundit is worth taking on. I like that. Here is his recent post but first I want to stress that the opinions expressed on israpundit are the opinions of the authors, not of Israpundit and not of me. I never remove opinions with which I disagree nor do I always express my disagreement. I also post many opinions from the left so that we are aware of the arguments of the other side.

Free speech and reckless charges

It’s amazing what a little persuasion can accomplish. I wrote a couple of days ago of remarks on a major far-right Zionist and pro-Milosevic site, in which – mirabile dictu – my support for Tony Blair’s position on Kosovo had been magically transmuted into support for Nazism and genocide, for which I was labelled an enemy of the Jews. I have never remotely considered threatening – let alone actually threatened – legal action against a blogger, to which I would be opposed on libertarian grounds. But I commented, in the case of this website that presents itself as an advocate for Israel:

I looked recently and in another context at the issue of the Internet and libel law. I remarked that, for my part, I could not conceive of realistic circumstances in which I would threaten legal action against a blogger. But I confess I hadn’t considered at all a circumstance in which I might be depicted as a supporter of Nazism, genocide and ethnic cleansing…. Given the recklessness of IsraPundit’s charges, the repulsiveness of its politics, and the gracelessness of its non-apology, I did consider the possibility of referring this one for legal advice. On grounds of my belief in free speech and of the evident stupidity of the charges, I am very unlikely to take that course even in this case.

So I was, and so I did not. The editor of the IsraPundit site has belatedly said the right thing, even so. He has today posted on his site a long comment, of which the important part is:

    The more I read and the more I reflect on [his contributor] Nathan’s attack on Oliver Kamm, the more I want to distance myself and condemn it. Nathan has lost it. He has become hysterical in his zeal. His attack was egregious and greatly defamatory. And those that endorsed his attack are equally wrong…. To further call into question [Kamm’s] friendship of the Jews is outrageous. Oliver Kamm has a long history of protecting Jews and Israel and nothing in his position on Serbia tarnishes that record.

I am close to being an absolutist on grounds of free speech, and would always interpret the issue of libel very narrowly. (I am not quite an absolutist, though. I have referred before to one case where I believe a libel writ by a large media organisation to defend the reputation and integrity of its journalists was absolutely justified.) So when I raised this issue with the editor of IsraPundit in the first place, I specifically said that I did not wish to see the offending comments removed; I asked only for an additional editorial comment dissociating the site from those judgements. That has now happened, so the matter is satisfactorily closed.

I’m pleased, moreover, to have looked a little more closely as a result of this altercation at the murky world of pro-Milosevic apologetics, and will return to this issue. I would stress – as one well known author on the Balkans has rightly reminded me today, and as I ought already to have said – that American Jewry was on all the available evidence overwhelmingly supportive of the victims of Milosevic’s aggression in the 1990s. The sort of xenophobic and conspiracy-minded sentiment represented by the site I have taken issue with is an extreme and minority view, just as that site’s opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are far out of line with the views of Israeli voters and political leaders.

UPDATE: I must move on, especially because I don’t usually write about web commentary – but for sheer nuttiness the IsraPundit circle really is difficult to match. It is not quite the first time – strictly, it’s the second – that I’ve ever been accused of being an agent of Noam Chomsky. But at least one regular has the right idea: “If anyone is slandering anyone it is Kamm who is slandering Israpundit as extremist and warmongers.” That is indeed my judgement of these people, who are a complete liability for the cause of Israel’s security and the vibrancy of her democracy.

So Kamm considers our politics repulsive and extremist and considers us warmongers. He also thinks we are a liability to Israel’s security and democracy. OUCH.

In another post referring to us he said

    The views of these people on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are of course, in their rejection of a two-state territorial settlement, far removed from those of Israeli voters and the Israeli government.

Considering that the GOI no longer remotely has the support of the people and the people overwhelmingly reject the Saudi Plan, I would suggest our views are supported by Israelis especially Jewish Israelis and his views are the ones rejected.

To him it is beyond the liberal pale to reject the peace process and the two state solution. In fact such a position is to him “reprehensible”. It reminds me of the left calling anyone who believes Islam is a danger, a “racist”. It is name calling and bullying to suppress free speech and contrary opinions.

To me the left has proven to be a far greater danger to Israel and have caused them much harm by their policies. Who would argue that the Oslo Accords did not harm Israel or the withdrawal from Lebanon and Gaza didn’t harm Israel. Or that the last Lebanon War managed by the left wasn’t a disaster. Or who would argue that the abandonment of our history and our rights orchestrated by the left didn’t harm Israel. Only the left.

I have noted that we are entitled to differ on what’s in Israel’s interest. But Kamm it appears rejects our right to have an alternate view by rejecting it as reprehensible.

The only thing that he could advance to support this view is to argue in support of the Palestinian narrative, the poor Palestinians and their humanitarian plight. This is liberal mantra.

It is a mantra I reject.

February 13, 2007 | 1 Comment »

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1 Comment / 1 Comment

  1. Ted, Kamm writes the following on his blog:

    On the issue of Srebrenica I’d point my readers to a recent article by the writer Peter Lippman on very recent evidence pointing to the scale of the massacre, and also to an article by the Guardian journalist Ed Vulliamy, a close family friend and a courageous reporter of the Bosnian catastrophe, on the tenth anniversary of Srebrenica.

    Kamm has just admitted that he happens to be “a close family friend” of Ed Vulliamy, the guy notorious for fabricating the Trnopolje “death camp” hoax back in August,1992 along with Penny Marshall of ITN.

    But it get’s worse. MUCH WORSE. Kamm also quotes British former EU dictator of Bosnia, Paddy “Pants Down” Ashdown. Funnily enough, Ashdown was such a “highly reputable witness” that he got exposed as a brazen liar at a “court” set up to “try” NATO’s enemies(the Stalinist “show trial” of Milosevic: otherwise known as The Hague ICTY).

    Unfortunately for Kamm and NATO, Ashdown would have had to possess X-Ray vision to have seen what he supposedly saw when he described “witnessing” “Serbian atrocities” from across the border in Albania.

    There just happened to be a mountain in the way .

    But no problem for Ashdown. After he get’s exposed as a liar,suddenly he’s no longer in Albania. He is all of a sudden in Kosovo, so the mountain that was previously in the way is now no longer a problem!

    These are Kamm’s “highly reputable sources” and “eyewitnesses of Serbian atrocities in Kosovo”.

    Kamm’s so-called “sources” – just like his whitewashing of Izetbegovic’s WW2 Nazi background – are an absolute joke.

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