Some of my recent articles, as published in this blog, caused quite a ruckus in terms of comments. What I found particularly interesting was that out of dozens of comments, only one or two related to the actual substance of the particular article and even then only to marginal facts. Every other comment related to my persona or to issues I’ve written about elsewhere or in response to others. And of course, I am not alone. Some fellow contributors receive similar treatment.
I don’t know if any of you have noticed, but there are some “top commenters” who really run amok and have absolutely no problem swinging unpleasant terms (“people of your ilk,” “leftist wimp,” “brain dead assimilated Jew,” “useful idiot” are just a few samples — sorry if I missed a juicier one). As a politician, I am pretty thick-skinned and can take the abuse. I just don’t understand where it’s coming from. None of these people, who on the face of it seem to be educated (?), know me personally; my background is as public as can be and fairly honorable; my writing is pretty blunt, sometimes a bit cynical but not abusive; and I do not hide my political agenda.
What is it that turns any criticism of Netanyahu and this abominable government into a veritable slug-fest of personal attacks and innuendo questioning motives? Is there any reason why he and his government should not be subject to criticism? I know that criticism alone doesn’t bring down the government; that will come about through elections, of which I am in favor.
I would be happy, however, if before the elections and in between the insults, there were some cogent arguments. Isn’t there any person out there who can comment on liberal op-eds without regurgitating sound-bites, citing questionable facts (in the best of cases), quoting the bible, and/or putting out loads of abuse?
Most contributors who are based in Israel have done their share for this country (or, at the very least, know reasonably well what they are writing about) and have gathered experience about how this country works. Some, me included, have opinions that do not jive well with those of quite a few other people. My intuition is that the reason for this is not that people really do know better (they may, of course), but that many people — perhaps most people — are not really knowledgeable about the facts and about the long-term consequences of many of Israel’s present policies. Most Times of Israel bloggers argue reasonably well and are open to other opinions, provided that the opinions are backed by arguments based on something beyond the bible.
So by all means, you people-bashers out there, if you decide to bring it on, stick to what it says in the original article you comment on, cite facts (not fantasies), and please try to keep it decent. If you don’t, people are going to get the wrong impression about what the right wing is all about or might actually end up believing what I think: that the political right doesn’t have a viable vision for the future of this country as a Jewish and democratic state.