The Tikvah Fund has launched a Jewish webzine called, "Jewish Ideas Daily." I became aware of its existence when one of its contributing editors requested permission to link to an article I had written. I wasn't familiar with JID, but I gave my consent. In my naiveté, I thought that the webzine would host a spectrum of opinions, albeit one within the Zionist consensus (My naiveté has limits.) After all, Prof. Moshe Halbertal, who is associated with the Zionist left, and often attends the Sheikh Jarrah protests, is the director of the Tikvah Fund's Center of Law and Jewish Civilization at NYU.
Then somebody sent me a link to an opinion piece by Prof. Allan Nadler defending the building of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance on the site of the Mamilla Cemetery in Jerusalem. There was a place for comments, and a note saying that "comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive." When the author claimed that Israel "has been extremely painstaking in its treatment of old Arab cemeteries," I disputed this by linking to Meron Rapoport's article in Haaretz, "History Erased," that documented the widespread and deliberate destruction of Arab villages, mosques, and monuments by the Israeli government, much to the consternation of some Israeli archaeologists, in the period following 1948.
When my comment was published, the link to Rapoport's article, and the reference to 1948, disappeared. I submitted the Rapoport link again, this time with a justification for it; once again, that part of the comment was cut. I left a third comment just with the link, and that wasn't published at all.
Hmm, I thought, maybe Rapoport's article wasn't "on-topic" enough; the cemeteries in those Arab villages had indeed been destroyed, but only mosques and monuments were explicitly mentioned in the article. But now I was on the JID email list, and I began to receive links to other articles. One was "The Romance of Gush Etzion", which expressed the emotions of a settler returning to the pre-1948 Jewish West Bank settlement that had been destroyed by Arabs in the 1948 war (and now has been enlarged threefold, much of which is through the expropriation of Palestinian private land). I left a comment calling the article "well-written" and "moving," but pointed out that "moral consistency and fairness dictate that anybody who supports a Jewish right to return to pre-48 Jewish settlements should also support the Palestinian right of return to their pre-48 villages. Both peoples were uprooted and were civilian 'collateral damage' of war." Nothing abusive or off-topic, albeit not popular. The comment was not printed.
So I tried again. This time the article was by JID's managing editor, Elliot Jager, who wrote on Ramadan. Never having heard of Jager, I thought he would write an article about the place of Ramadan in Islam, or, perhaps, an article on how Palestinian Muslims in Israel celebrate Ramadan. Then I read the sort of Islam-bashing-David-Horowitz-style article that one has been accustomed to read on rightwing Jewish and Christian websites. So I left a comment criticizing the Islamophobia, and pointing out that contrary to Jager's claim that "Israeli authorities have gone to great lengths to facilitate access for West Bank Muslims to their shrines atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem," Israeli authorities had in fact forbidden access to the Temple Mount during Ramadan for all West Bank males under the age of 45. Women aged 30-45 needed a special permit.
This time, my criticism of the author's take on Islam made it in. But the bit about Israel refusing to allow Muslims under 45 to worship at the Haram ash-Sharif was cut. I submitted it separately. Again, not accepted. Apparently, any critical reference to Israel that did not pass JID's litmus test was censored.
Look, I run a blog. Once you have a comments section, you will get all sorts of comments. Not all need to be included, and a moderator has a right to publish what he or she wants. "Jewish Ideas Daily" can certainly filter comments according to its published criteria. I have told some people who leave comments on my blog that they have to shorten their comments, and nasty and abusive ones should not find their way in.
But what is JID afraid of? Three times they censored my comments, removing unflattering opinions about Israeli policies. Had the comments been published, one of the JID's readers could have responded.
I have the impression that "Jewish Ideas Daily," perhaps like other projects supported by the Tikvah Fund, is so paternalistic that it will not allow anything "treif" that deviates from the old school Zionist consensus to be published, unless it is immediately contested. God forbid that a target audience of Tikvah -- bright young Jews -- should be exposed to "radical" folks like me, an orthodox Jew, American-Israeli, and a Jewish Studies professor.
So much for the ideological diversity that supporters claim for Tikvah. See my article here. But JID is a fairly new 'zine, and this is the period of repentance. Who knows? It's never too late for them to do teshuvah. In the meantime, I won't be reading it.