Arabeyes: What's Happening at the Daily Kos?


Pro-Israel and pro-Palestine bloggers have been battling it out at the Daily Kos for quite some time.
And then came Al Nakba, or the catastrophe, as the pro-Palestinian camp refers to it – when Pro-Palestine diarists were allegedly banned from cross-posting their diaries on the DKos.

Banned Diarists

Palestinian Haitham Sabbah, one of the banned bloggers, gives us his take here.

Yesterday, which marked the celebration of the Nakba, Daily Kos blew the last bridge it had with the Palestinian voices. Midday GMT, the news started coming. They first banned Umkahlil, later on they banned me, and last but not least, they banned Anna Baltzer. Why? Nobody knows. No reason is given. No warning or any notice from the ‘busy’ Kos administrators to let any of us know the circumstances under which the decision was taken and what valid reasons they gave for throwing these poisoned donuts at us. All that we heard from unofficial sources: we are associates of Shergald, again!

It is sad to believe that Daily Kos administration based its decision on such meaningless illusions. It would not have taken them more than a minute to check the history of each of us and see that we all are established pro Palestine peace activists, just by looking at our blogs and websites. We don’t have to have any association with anyone, not even with other banned Kos members or other groups that might also talk about the plight of Palestinians. Our blogs and our work, online and offline, have their own merits and stands on its own.

Desert Peace, from Tel Aviv, who has also been banned from the Dkos weighs in.

In their continuing ‘War Against Truth, Justice and The American Way’ Daily Kos banned two other writers who dared to speak the truth. My dear Brother Haitham of Sabbah's Blog and my Sister Nancy of Umkalil.

Desert Peace
posts another article on the situation at the DKos here.

The link provides an explanation from Hunter, another diarist and apparently a site administrator, on why Sabbah and UmKahlil were banned. An email to Hunter from GV went unanswered. However, here's Hunter‘s two cents on the banning:

A word about ‘Shergald’, (27+ / 0-)
to set up the background here. Shergald is, short version, an unapologetic and pathological liar — towards friends and enemies alike — and has increasingly slid towards anti-Semitism. Worse, as he falls out with his old friends he finds solace in new and very much more hardline ones of his own rather more racist bent: he has recruited individuals for his cause, in people like Ben Heine and others, who have been even more transparently anti-Semitic. And, as time goes on, his posts (on other sites) have edged towards more and more transparent defenses of terrorism against Israelis.
At least on this site, these things are showstoppers. Anti-Semitic statements and conspiracy theories are right out. And any defense of terrorism against civilians counts as an argument so vile, so loathsome, that it will not be tolerated in any shape or form.

That's the backstory. Now (apologies for that, but I think it's important to understand the recent history, here) on to the actual point…

The ‘annainpalestine’ diary included the words of a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist organization by any objective measure, i.e. one that targets civilians and murders them for the sake of its cause. A statement from their group was presented in such a way that multiple administrators thought it clearly crossed the line into advocacy for their group.

Now, this should not need to be spelled out in the rules. That this would be a problem should be, to put it tersely, Really F—ing Obvious.

Sabbah and umkahlil were banned because they recommended that diary, with those statements. There were only a few others who recommended that diary, but for these two particular users and their history of being a little too involved in similar arguments, it was the last straw.

This particular action may be unfair. Or it may not be. But like it or not, there is an escalating history among the newer I/P posters, the ones with various connections to the vivacious and batshit insane Shergald, of anti-Semitic remarks and remarks that ‘defend’ terrorism, or come close to it. There is ZERO tolerance on this site for anything that even HINTS at being supportive of terrorists or terrorist groups, regardless of cause: if some posters find that iron-clad requirement too restrictive, then those posters are roundly encouraged to leave.

We will remove any posters that come within a stone's throw of that line, or who have histories of edging up to it. I note that other sites on the right and left do not have such restrictions — to their distinct shame and detriment.

I sympathize with your side of the debate losing some voices, but I don't see any way around this decision. There was ample warning given that we were going to start cleaning up these threads, and I thought mcjoan's note was quite blunt as to the reason for the decision in this case — as I said, there was agreement among multiple admins that the diary crossed a very big line. There is no ongoing effort to remove pro-Palestinian posters, but there is an ongoing effort to remove the posters who get in the most fights, step across the most lines, or radicalize the debates via over-the-top or offensive rhetoric, on either side.

I don't like talking about the reasons people were banned. It doesn't sit right with me. But lots of people have been asking, so there it is.

Shergald, who is accused of being a troll on the DKos, has the following to say:

If Daily Kos’ banning of Steve Amsel and Eileen Fleming, two peace activists who support the rights of the Palestinian people, a few days ago, and three other peace activists that preceded them, were not enough, today Daily Kos banned two Palestinian peace activists. This action was taken in an apparent attempt to appease a small group of right wing proIsrael supporters who have invaded Daily Kos. If anyone believes that of course they should probably take ownership of the Brooklyn Bridge. The true source of all of these banning is not yet evident, but no one is ready to believe that Daily Kos is getting ready to be sold to an AIPAC subsidiary.

Possible Compromise

Despite this grim picture, diarist Heathlander, hopes that a compromise may be possible.

We would like to emphasise that we are truly sympathetic to the difficulty of successfully moderating a subject which so frequently generates an astonishing degree of venom and vicious personal attacks. In highlighting what we feel to be a serious error in administrative policy, we are not impugning the motives of the admins or minimizing the difficulty of their task. Our aim is simply to correct an injustice.

It appears that Sabbah and umkahlil were banned because it is thought that they were initially invited to post at DKos by He Who Must Not Be Named. If this is indeed the reason, it is perplexing, to say the least. If a diarist's behaviour whilst on the site is fine, then what does it matter how he/she first came to be here? There appears to be a failure to recognise the clear and, we would've thought, self-evident distinction between being shergald – i.e. a sockpuppet – and knowing shergald. The idea that Sabbah, who is one of the most popular Palestinian bloggers on the internet, and umkahlil, who has run her own blog for years, are mere puppets at the mercy of some all-controlling, all-powerful demon-shergald is an insult to both of them, and an unfounded one at that. It is the product of frustration and paranoia as opposed to evidence.

New diarists, especially new Palestinian diarists, should be welcomed as valuable additions to the site. Instead, they are a priori feared and reviled as sockpuppets or trolls. This stifling of the Palestinian voice is to the detriment of the entire community, and in fact represents a serious abdication of moral responsibility.

We hope that, as a gesture of goodwill and in an effort to repair what harm has been caused, posting rights will be promptly returned to both umkahlil and Sabbah. At the very least, we think an apology should be made for getting it wrong. Failure to do so will result in a Daily Kos that is all the poorer for it.

Rules of Engagement

Eternal Hope, on her part, has also posted proposed rules to end the stand off.

Hunter has given an ultimatum saying that those of us on the I/P issue must either come up with a way to work together and lay the groundwork for a healthy debate on the issues, or face a complete ban on the topic here at Daily Kos.

These rules will have the following purposes:

1. Provide a framework for discussion and debate without getting out of hand;
2. Provide a framework for this community to come up with a collective solution to the I/P conflict;
3. Provide a framework for people to use the most accurate information in this debate.

The rules are as follows:

1. Fresh slate. All persons would be required to wipe the slate clean. Persons could not make reference to any actions done by any other user before May 18th, 5:00 PM Central Time. If we want to start over and do this right, we have to forget about anything that happened in the past.

2. Follow the KOS FAQ. All rules of the KOS FAQ would apply. These rules would be in addition to the KOS FAQ.

3. No racist or inflammatory remarks.
The definitions of racism would be used to define racist or anti-semetic remarks.

4. People will be expected to enforce the rules on people on their own side. In other words, people are not to uprate people on their side if they were in violation of these rules.

5. Persons are expected to stay and defend their own diaries. If you write a diary, you should defend it from people who disagree with it strongly. Drive-by diaries are a sure way to incite conflict.

6. Copyright. All diarists and posters would be required to follow normal Fair Use standards. If a particular piece is reprinted with permission, persons writing these diaries would be required to post such permission.

7. All debate must be on the merits of the diary. See below. If someone writes about the Israeli expulsion of the Palestinians, complaining that they did not write about something else is not an argument. It is a smokescreen which does not address the argument on the merits.

8. No repetitive arguments. If you claim that Hamas is still launching rockets into Israel, WE HEAR YOU. That is an argument that has been made a million times. Same goes with calling the “Generous Offer” of Israel a myth — that has also been gone over a million times before.

The goal of any new I/P diary should be to cover new ground, not go over the same old stuff that has been argued over a million times.

Hope also has rules for Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestine bloggers – which if adhered to may usher in a new peace deal between bloggers from the two camps.


  • Phil

    Someone got payed off. Zionuts aren’t going to allow any form of media to provide equal coverage of anything that goes against their interests. If they can’t have it, they’ll pay for it.

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  • Golden Eagle

    I was banned from KOS today for getting into 911 issues.

    At best, KOS and MoveOn have been taken over by the Democratic party, money being the main corrupter, and a seat at the table being a close second.

    At worst, KOS is some kind of Republican front- it seems to me that many Republican frames are being enforced.

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