How to get removed from The Guardian’s “Comment is Free’

Posted on January 21, 2009


Tell the truth about Israel.

A friend had her comment removed from the Guardian’s “Comment is Free”.  I can’t imagine what was so offensive about what she said, apart from the fact that it was all true.

Below is a note she wrote about it on facebook.


Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation (1995) wrote a piece for The Guardian on January 16 titled ‘Standing against a tide of hatred’. Then comes the by-line: It’s not Israel’s action, but the vitriolic reaction to it that has been disproportionate. There’s only one explanation: antisemitism’.

As you would imagine, the article elicited much response. In fact, 1130 comments were posted on the ‘Comment is Free’ online edition of The Guardian. I don’t tend to post comments, but in the last 3 weeks I have posted 2 comments. One in The New York Times (about the wonderment of why women in ‘post-liberation’ Iraq are invisible!!) and this one below responding to Wurtzel’s self-absorbed soliloquy. What to do when your post gets removed from the left-leaning Guardian?

I think it was probably the last line that did it, but I just couldn’t help myself. If you feel brave enough to stomach the full article, you can find it @

If not, then here is a copy of my comment as it appeared for about a minute.

There is so much wrong with Wurtzel’s thinking, it’s hard to know where to start. Foremost is the ever-constant conflation of anti-semitism with anti-zionism. The differences between the two could not be more distinct (not false as Wurtzel claims), and in my experience of working for nearly 2 decades in human rights work, most people who feel for Gazans and Palestinians are emphatically anti-zionist. They feel for Palestinians because they have engaged with their humanity and their story.

It is both an intellectual and moral laziness, and a casual arrogance that afflicts Wurtzel as she reduces criticism of Israeli atrocities to a racism. No one doubts there are anti-Semites in the world, but Arabs are Semites too and it seems to me there is more anti-semitism in Israel against Arabic-speaking Semites than just about anywhere in the world today. So it is time to face up to the cold facts rather than hide behind a rhetorical shield intended to shut down critique.

Israel is a state that was borne out of another people’s suffering. It is a colonial settler state still in a process of expropriating land and bringing the Indigenous people to heel; it is a state that demands recognition from Arab states but refuses itself to recognise the inalienable rights of the people they the Israelis have conquered. Those rights include the right to resist, the right to return to their land, the right to live without a jackboot on their neck, the right to move freely.

I know it might be hard for Wurtzel to move attention away from herself for a minute, but this is not about her. This is about human rights. This is about speaking against atrocities whether they are in Gaza, Dafur or Rangoon. This is about how we as individuals speak up for what we believe is wrong in the world. Wurtzel has failed to convince that she has a capacity to think beyond her own immediate sensibilities.

She has failed to register the inhumanity of what is happening. She can wail from the comfort zone of not being forced to live in a ghetto with 1.5 million other refugees. What a privilege. Spare a thought for the Palestinian woman who can’t feed her children; who can’t get clean water or essential medicines let alone a script for prozac so she can forget about her troubles.

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