Hello dedicated readers of Haaretz. I am one of several moderators that read your comments and decide whether they are appropriate for publication. My job is to ensure that there is lively debate and open dialogue on the site and that readers have a venue to express their opinions. But part of my job is also to reject comments that are incendiary, vulgar or incoherent from publication.
To maintain Haaretz’s self-stated purpose of providing a platform for many perspectives on Israeli life, it is our policy to also remove all comments that seek to end discussion via racism, sexism, dehumanization and other forms of xenophobic arguments. The following are rules of thumb that, if followed, will ensure your thoughts find a place on Haaretz.com.
1. No comparisons with the Holocaust or Nazis. The scale and organization of the Holocaust and the degree of malicious intent thankfully cannot be found today. Unless referring to people who revere Hitler and/or call for another Holocaust, using these analogies is simply offensive.
2. Be accurate with your accusations and explanations. Similar to the rule above, accusations of genocide and ethnic cleansing are usually uncalled for. However awful you find the murder of dozens, hundreds or even thousands of civilians, this does not justify the accusation of genocide, which is about a deliberate, systematic attempt to rid the world entirely of a people and its culture. When accusations are inaccurate and unexplained, they can lead to the over-simplification of dialogue and the undesirable escalation of conflict.
3. Back up your claims. Calling someone a liar or a view false without proof undermines reasonable discussion. Ad hominem attacks, such as pointing to someone’s tag-name –Mohammed or Canadian for example – as evidence that the writer is dishonest or uninformed, are vilifying rather than edifying. A proper argument points to counter-incidences, other articles and facts. Feel free to tell someone to “go study history,” but providing a history lesson will better get your point across.
4. Civility is key. Don’t call people idiots, monsters or other terms that we can’t publish. Such acts of defamation bring an end to all dialogue. Haaretz’s talkback page will not be an arena for virulent accusations and monologues. Comments which incorporate personal attacks, incitement to violence and even calls to kill people are rejected without a consideration of their content. Those comments, which seek to deligitimize fundamentally another’s identity, whether it is based on nation, religion or gender, are also rejected. Putting the word ‘Palestinian’ in quotation marks or dismissing Israelis as out-of-place Europeans who have no connection with the land – in direct contradiction of how these groups self-identify – is not worthy of an open platform. Just as civility is a condition for open dialogue, respect allows it to flourish.
5. Refrain from repetitively posting the same text, week after month after year. Tony Silver’s “Israeli nukes are holy cows,” Noam Chicago’s “Islam is a religion of murder for virgins,” Big Bad Jew’s “the Pals are a fake people" and “build baby build,” among other often-repeated posts, drown out discussion. If an article or comment has been published, it deserves a thought-out, idiosyncratic response. Besides, no one likes a broken record, whether it playing an Arab, Jewish, right-wing or left-wing tune.
6. Please stay on topic. While the violation of this rule will not prevent the comment’s publication, it is surely disrespectful to the other readers on the site. Please let the other readers engage with the article they are reading. If you wish to get your point across, I suggest you say it to those who are listening. If the article is about the invention of a bicycle made out of cardboard, the talkback page is not the place for comments on the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Thank you for reading Haaretz and sharing with us and the other readers what you think. I encourage you to continue sharing your opinions as long as they do not prevent others from doing the same. If followed, this advice will be instrumental in getting your responses published expediently.
Victor Isaac Taranto lives in Tel Aviv and is a recent graduate of philosophy from the University of California: Santa Cruz
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