Wednesday, February 07, 2018

On January 22, I answered this question on Quora:

I responded as follows:
The question is by way of asserting an untruth: that there is some sort of mutuality to the Arab war against the Jews (see: The Arab War Against the Jews). Jews don’t attack Arabs. The opposite is true: Arabs attack Jews.
This fact has nothing to do with settlement, which has only to do with housing. There is nothing wrong with housing, by the way, unless you believe that Jews have no right to live in homes. Which would be an extremely racist position to hold.
This project you mention is total anti-Israel propaganda because of the question it asks, which, like the question you ask, asserts an untruth, and there is no balance to the assertion. The project cannot quell what does not exist.
Even the terms used in your question assert untruths and spread bigotry. The term “West Bank” for example, asserts that Jordan is the rightful owner of Judea and Samaria (their proper geographic labels), though only two UN member states (Britain and Pakistan) accepted Jordan’s occupation of these territories between 1948 and 1967 as a legal one. The use of the word “settlers” as if it were an epithet, when all these people are doing is living on land that was acquired during a defensive war, land that belonged to their people for thousands of years. Land that shares the name of these people (Jews/Judea).
Why use the word “Zionist” in tandem with the word “settler”? Because the question asserts the untruth that there is some sort of reciprocity to the violence, using the words “Zionist” and “settler” tells anyone who reads the question to equate “Zionist” and “settler” with gratuitous violence against Arabs. Of course, there is no truth to this, as Jews are not attacking Arabs. The opposite is true and has been so for thousands of years. Arabs attack Jews. Period. There is no equivalent violent action toward the Arabs by the Jews.
The term “Palestinian” is also a piece of propaganda, as there has never been a sovereign Arab state known as “Palestine.” The term is used only to delegitimize the State of Israel, the Jewish State and in reality has no meaning.
My answer received 15 upvotes and may have received many more, except for the fact that the moderators collapsed my answer, and requested an edit, suggesting that my response violated Quora’s “Be Nice, Be Respectful” (BNBR) rule. Here is an excerpt from the official Quora explanation of its BNBR policy: 

Do your best to see the world from the perspective of the person who posted the question (the original poster ["OP"]) or answer. It is often not helpful to criticize or challenge the fundamental beliefs of the OP (in an answer) or answerer (in a comment). For example, in responding to the question "Is it OK to only go to church on Easter?", the following answer would be considered disrespectful and is not allowed: "There is no God and religious rituals are a waste of time." Use good judgement and be empathetic. Answers and comments that challenge the fundamental beliefs of an OP or answerer will be held to a very high standard re: Be Nice, Be Respectful.

I knew what was bugging the Quora moderators here, I won’t pretend I didn’t. They didn’t want me speaking of “Jews” and “Arabs” but of “Zionist settlers” and “Palestinians villagers” as the OP did. They didn’t want me to challenge the assertions of the poster, but see things from his or her point of view.

Now sometimes I will edit my responses when challenged by Quora, because the whole reason I’m on this forum is to spread the truth. Why cut off my nose to spite my face? Would it have killed me to go politically correct?

Here, for instance, I might have changed the language to “Israeli Jews” and “Arab terrorists.” That might have mollified the moderators.

But this one really bugged me. The rebel in me was screaming: Since when is the truth not “nice” or “respectful?” I was only telling the truth: except for the rare exception, Jews are not attacking Arabs, but Arabs are attacking Jews. Not all of them, but a large percentage of them, and often.

It is what it is. What it isn’t, is bigotry. I used Professor Ruth Wisse’s excellent presentation, The Arab War Against the Jews, to back my assertion. I did not say that “all Arabs” attack Jews.

I believed, strongly (still do), that my answer was both fair and factual. And the curmudgeon in me was refusing to bend to an anonymous moderator’s will. To me, “Palestinian” is a propaganda term (see: Israel is Engaged in a War of Words) and it goes against my personal ethos to use the word.

So there I was, confronted with a choice of editing my answer, or appealing the moderator’s ruling. I decided to appeal, offering to edit whatever it was that was dishonest or offensive. I wrote:
My answer was factual. I see nothing in my answer that abrogates the Be Nice, Be Respectful rule. I was careful.
I would edit my answer to suit your guidelines, but see nothing to edit. If the moderators disagree, perhaps they could point to something specific in my answer that was rude or disrespectful so that I might make edits, as requested. Otherwise, I think my answer should be reinstated.
I really hoped to receive a reasonable response, explaining how I might edit my response. I must confess to feeling shocked at the ruling I instead received:

Hello Varda,

Your content was in violation of our Be Nice, Be Respectful policy. This core Quora principle requires that people treat other people on the site with civility, respect, and consideration. To learn more about this policy, please visit:

More specifically, your content contained what we consider to be hate speech:

Users are not allowed to post content or adopt a tone that would be interpreted by a reasonable observer as a form of hate speech, particularly toward a race, gender, religion, nationality, ethnicity, political group, sexual orientation or another similar characteristic. Questions and question details about generalizations in these topics should be phrased as neutrally and respectfully as possible.

Our decision is final, and your content will not be reinstated.

If you see content that is objectionable, we suggest you either report or downvote it. You can report questions, answers, comments, and messages by clicking on the "Report" link which is located underneath the content.

We appreciate your understanding. 


User Operations
At this point, I was upset. Hate speech?? But okay, I was willing to try to edit my response. I didn’t want anyone to think I was spreading hate. The option to edit, however, had disappeared with the moderator’s ruling. I could no longer edit my answer, which remains collapsed to this day.

One bright note in this uncomfortable episode, a comment left by Brenda Newman:

This is what gets collapsed these days? Answer may need improvement? I thought it one of your best. Apparently, decoding the language used in the propaganda war isn’t allowed.

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