Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

A debate on how to manage a virtual network

Posted by worriedlebanese on 29/03/2010

I tried to access Palestinian Mothers a couple of minutes ago but couldn’t do it. The site’s introductory page announced that “this Ning network has ben taken offline by its owner”. It was a bit surprised by this announcement even though things haven’t been going very smoothly on that network. Its owner and main animator Iqbal Tamimi had informed all members that she will be terminating a certain number of accounts. And soon later she started implementing her new policy. I voiced my objection to such proceedings and a rather animated debated was launched surrounding Iqbal Tamimi’s policy and my complaint.
Oddly enough, Iqbal Tamimi had problems publishing some articles two weeks ago (on her own network) and today the network was shut down, for reasons I don’t know. I though the debate that my comment launched was rather interesting, so I will publish it here (the discussion is found in the first comment).

Blogging under Damocles’ sword
Posted by JC|WorriedLebanese on March 16, 2010 at 10:40pm

As I write this entry, I cannot help but think of the sword of Damocles that hangs over my head. Like all members of this network, I’ve received of late two emails from the creator and animator of Palestinian Mothers threatening the following categories of members of expulsion:

  • Anonymous members (people who do not share a “real name” and “personal picture”);
  • Old members with false identities (because they cause the creator and animator of Palestinian Mothers a great distress);
  • Passive members who do not participate (because they do not take the Palestinian cause seriously) ;
  • Peepers (a sub-category of passive members who are busy with other stuff but who indulge in their voyeuristic urges from time to time);
  • Spies (people who are here to eavesdrop on other members’ activities).

I have a problem with this type of “spring cleaning” or screening, and not only because I’m very likely to fall victim to it. I believe the logic behind it is flawed. Doesn’t everyone find this compartmentalisation impoverishing? What is great about the internet is that if offers us the opportunity to hear voices that we are not likely to hear in our every day life. It allows us to interact, argue, learn, teach, inform, question our certainties. I’m not sure all this is possible in a network of totally “like-minded” people. The reason I came to Palestinian Mothers in the first place was precisely because it offered a different voice that was no longer heard on MEpeace after several members were either excluded or driven out because their views were different. And I followed them here so as not to loose their voice.

One Response to “A debate on how to manage a virtual network”

  1. Comments left on Palestinian Mothers under my blog posting:

    Comment by Ron 13 minutes ago
    I reply to your post and your response is to call me a liar. Where’s the lie? Name calling is not journalism; it’s editorializing. It’s propaganda.

    If you only want sheep here to adore you and your written word, not have an opinion different from your’s that’s your right, it’s your group. You write you have been doing this for 17 years; how successful has your work been for Palestine? Are things better for Palestinian Children or worst? What’s your mission? What’s your purpose?

    Palestine needs the help and support of the world; calling people liars who care but don’t agree with your tactics is a very strange way to help Palestine. Clearly that isn’t your purpose. So, if you are not interested in helping Palestinian children, what is your purpose?

    Comment by Iqbal Tamimi 2 hours ago
    I had the impression that I am being surrounded with colleagues who understand the ethics of journalism and what that means to me and why I have created this virtual news source, but it seems that I have misjudged many.
    Those who are frightened of airing their views using their real identities can still do so in OTHER forums.
    My journalism project is clear … it is for those who dare to stick their necks out and say ….I believe what is happening is wrong….
    I never had in mind to have a big number of contributors and I do not mind working on my own.
    For those who are worried about their identities please leave this virtual space and read our Twitters from your comfort zones.

    Comment by Nephilim70 3 hours ago
    I do understand Gulamhuseins’ point that some people prefer to be anonymous when posting on sensitive issues of this nature, however, the curious thing what most people do not seem to not understand is, HOW HARD IS IT to make up a name and identity and place that on their profile. IE: to use an image ANY image to protect their REAL identity if they so wish?

    Not hard at all. Yet some people take offence to even do that. Ask yourself. WHY>?

    Comment by Hajja Romi Elnagar 7 hours ago
    Dear Gulamhusein,
    I stand corrected. You are right to say that this discussion is not just about Gaza, but all of Palestine. When I said that this discussion was about Gaza AND ITS SUFFERING, I was not attempting to restrict the discussion in terms of geography, but in terms of the sentiments expressed in this blog. I do not think this is a place where the relative merits of the claims of Zionists and the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine can be discussed and disputed.

    Rather, it is a place to honor PALESTINIAN MOTHERS, and–by extension–the Palestinian people. I personally do not welcome people who seek to muddy the discussion by concerns for their own egos, elaborate philosophical rhethoric spun by people who wish to impress themselves with their legalistic sophistries, or for the tender sensibilities (NOT!) of apologists for Zionism.

    I am frankly appalled at the direction this blog and this website is taking. People are starving and dying in Gaza–AND throughout Palestine–and people who want to focus the discussion on their silly “rights” to express themselves and waste our time ought to be ashamed of themselves. Not to mention using this site for social interactions of the type Iqbal has indicated.

    Comment by Iqbal Tamimi 8 hours ago
    Dear Gulamhusein

    I did not want to bring that up but, the network was swollen with people who had a number of accounts for reasons I did not know of, they never participated …not even once in 3 months or since they joined two years ago.
    It took few members some courage to reveal to me that a certain women figures ( I doubt they were) were contacting males privately therough this and other pro Palestinian networks, ending up with personal interactions outside the network which progressed to claims of sexual harassments and other things.
    Then they all came back running to me, but this certain woman figure was exposed in other networks and I had to take action.
    This network is not a fan club, there are facebook groups and many other networks that are created for the purpose of reading and informing only.
    This one is to feed those who are interested in being active ( a two way) project….
    For example JC who was complaining and he seems to write very well and he claims he knows about the law and the Palestinians in Lebanon he never wrote one word at all about them.
    I have written posts about the Palestinian refugeese in Iraq, on the borders of Syria, in Jordan…..he never said a word or wrote a line to start a discussion…
    To cut the story short…my project is for exchanging information and whoever does not like the idea they can go to a cafe and have a capaccino.

    Comment by Gulamhusein Abba 10 hours ago
    Both, JC Worried Lebanese and Ron have put through their views constructively and have made some valid arguments and useful comments. I have no doubt they mean well and it would do us good to think calmly and dispassionately about what they have written.

    It is for the editor-in-chief to decide what is the purpose of the site, what are its aims and how best to achieve them. When I organize a public talk, or am producing a TV show and the speaker/s is/are expressing pro-Palestinian views, I am almost always asked to give equal time to the “opposition”. And my answer is that if the opposition wants its voice to be heard they should organize their own talk or produce their own TV show. My purpose is to give exposure to a particular point of view – a point of view that is not given a voice in the main media.

    From that point of view, if the purpose of this site is to put out information and facts and points of view that are not found in the main media, then it is legitimate to discourage contrary views.

    That having been said, we must ask as to why we are putting out these facts and for whose beneit are we doing it? Here again, if it is to inform activists, then it is legitimate to shut out all other posts that tend to distract and confuse and clutter up the site. But if the purpose is to make our voices heard, then surely we would be defeating our purpose if we keep all those who are here to listen, not necessarily to participate.

    Many are the cases where people have come to scoff but have remained to admire!

    I disagree with those who have claimed that the only purpose of this discussion is Gaza and nothing else. I do not believe that even this siteis about Gaza and Gaza alone. I believe it is about all of Palestine and about the illegality, unjustness, cruelty and violations of human rights and international law being committed on a daily basis by the Israelis. However, the topic of this discussion is about membership and how it should be regulated.

    Persons who do not want to reveal their own identity or do not want to put their photo on the site have their own reasons. Some of them are very legitimate. They have something to say but do not want to jeopardize their career or their job for saying it. Others do not want to face the harassment death threats and even physical harm as a result of their expressing their views.

    And there are those who are genuinely concerned about what is happening in Gaza and Palestine and Israel and want to learn about the situation. They may not be camp followers or activists or writers, but they are sincere. students. To expel them just because they do not “participate” is to deprive ourselves of potential converts.

    Whom to keep, whom to exclude is a complicated and difficult issue and Iqbal, I am sure, has a hard time grappling with it. As a co-producer of a TV show and as an editor — both in the past — I have had to face this struggle and well know how difficult it is to deal with it.

    At the end of the day, it is Iqbal’s site and it is Iqbal who decides and that decision is final. All we can do is offer our comments, our advice, our views. It is for Iqbal to process them and make a decision. My fullest sympathies are with Iqbal. It is a tough and thankless task.

    If I may be allowed to comment on something that is NOT relevant to this particular discussion but which is important, I would like to urge members and all activists to consider what Ron has written: “Work for peace, Work for understanding…. or work against it…. Israel is very happy when Palestinians insult Americans. Makes their propaganda against Palestine very credible…..average Americans get their information from media controlled by pro-Israel sources. It’s up to Palestinians to fix that; to tell your story (without alienating people). If you remove people from this list because their only fault is they want to learn about Palestine’s issues from Palestinian Mothers’ perspective; you are hurting Palestine’s ability to tell her story… leaving it up to Israel and her supporters to tell the story. Tell the Palestinian Story to anyone, and everyone who wants to learn the Palestinian Mothers’ viewpoint.”

    Personally I became a member of this group, firstly, to LEARN (and I have benefitted a lot in this particular and have used what I have learnt here), and, secondly, to contribute material which would be helpful, whenever I felt there was something useful I could contribute. I do not write just to see my words in print. I have had more than my share of that. And so I may not contribute for days, or weeks or months. If I am cut off from the group for that, then I will be deprived of benefitting from a very informational and useful site.

    I hope this is taken in the spirit in which it is writtem

    Comment by JC|WorriedLebanese 12 hours ago
    @ Hajja Romi Elnagar
    Please put things in perspective! I’m not throwing sand in anyone’s eyes. This is one little blog entry, not a major diversion. I’m not hacking the site. You could simply choose to ignore the discussion if you are not interested in it!

    As for Gaza being the only issue, I beg to differ. It’s obviously an important issue (the blockade, the severance of all ties with the West Bank, the violence within), but it’s not the only issue. There are Palestinians elsewhere who are also deprived of rights and who are suffering. Personally, I’m more concerned about the displaced of Nahr el Bared (in Lebanon) because in this case I can have a direct influence on things.

    But again, this is not the topic of this discussion. It is quite obvious that my arguments are not being heard (although they are clearly stated and sound), so if anyone has been wasting his or her time in this discussion, I believe it’s me. I will not pursue this discussion any further. Come what may.

    Comment by Hajja Romi Elnagar 13 hours ago
    Good for you, Nephilim! Great video. These pro-Israel people are psychopaths!

    Comment by Nephilim70 13 hours ago
    I came out with my identity a long time ago, and recently restated it for the owner of this network. THATS all that’s really needed in fact. JC|WorriedLebanese is going a bit overboard with his concerns.

    Obviously none of these people complaining own a YOUTUBE channel. If they do, I doubt they get the level of intimidation faced by someone like myself. In fact I get so many death threats, I get enough to make my own youtube clip about them…

    So when YOUTUBE fails to act to remove these clowns, the problem gets worse and worse and the threats and hate keeps flowing.

    What sister Iqbal is doing here is what YOUTUBE are failing to do. REMOVE THE TIME WASTERS.

    I support that action 100%

    Comment by Hajja Romi Elnagar 13 hours ago
    You have a legal background … ?!

    well, that explains it.

    And, yes, the issue in this discussion is and should be Gaza and its suffering.

    Everything else is throwing sand in our eyes to cloud the issue, and hot air…

    Comment by JC|WorriedLebanese 14 hours ago
    @Hajja Romi Elnagar
    What I don’t understand – to put it simply – is your aggressiveness.
    All I did in this discussion was simply express my point of view, and I believe I did that without disparaging remarks or unwarranted sarcasm. The issue in this discussion isn’t Gaza or its suffering. It’s about membership and participation in a Ning network.
    Sure, it’s not a life or death question, but then let’s all be a bit realistic and realise that all our discussions have a very little effect on lives in Palestine. Sure I could discuss human rights over here, I have a legal background and some experience in this field, but do you think this would alleviate the suffering in Palestine? I don’t think so. It’s through direct action that things are done, and that’s what I try to do whenever I can. The rest of time, I try to keep informed, listen and understand.

    Comment by Hajja Romi Elnagar 15 hours ago
    JC/”Worried Lebanese” [Worried about WHAT?],

    “Sword of Damocles”???!!!

    Don’t make me laugh. The people who have a “sword of Damocles” over their heads are the men, women and children of Gaza, who just had another day of attacks by Israelis.

    Stop feeling sorry for yourself and GET REAL!!! If you really ARE Lebanese, why don’t you understand?

    Comment by Iqbal Tamimi 17 hours ago
    I have no time to keep going in circles trying to explain things to you or keep answering your same questions, you are wasting my time…instead of all that you could have wrote something about human rights, you might help someone.

    Comment by JC|WorriedLebanese 17 hours ago
    @ Iqbal Tamimi
    I don’t believe you’ve heard my argument.

    Comment by Iqbal Tamimi 17 hours ago
    Do not twist all facts, you NEVER contributed in anything about Palestine or Palestinians. You only contributed twice in criticising me only. Is that what you are here for?

    Comment by JC|WorriedLebanese 17 hours ago
    @Iqbal Tamimi
    Complaining? Is that what I have been doing?
    I believe I’ve tried to engage in a discussion. I put forward arguments and counter-arguments. I try to formulate them clearly so as to be understood and try my best not to be confrontational (even if sometimes I regretfully fail to do that). I agree with you that my comments have been critical, but as Beaumarchais wrote “without the freedom to criticise, there is no true praise”. So critical comments like mine or Ron actually serve a forum like yours.

    As creator of the network you can absolutely claim and assert your ownership and the rights to do whatever you want in it. I never disputed that. You can set the rules you want and silence those you want. It’s your prerogative to animate, encourage, discourage or dictate. If you see this Ning network as a media project with an editor-in-chief, then I do not ask to be a fellow journalist writing under your authority but a simple reader.
    My aim here is to listen to certain arguments and understand the dynamics behind them. My comments are obviously not welcome (judging from the reactions I witnessed after my two attempts to participate), so I can refrain from making them if you so like. But I don’t see what anyone will win by depriving me or people like me from being members of Palestinian Mothers.

    Comment by maria victoria 18 hours ago
    jC|WorriedLebanese
    No now I am sure that I don’t miss your point , and is very simple what she said …the road is wide and long If for some one is hard , they can live it …. very simple but making trouble remind me that around every we can find a lot of hasbara web brigades ….

    Comment by Iqbal Tamimi 18 hours ago
    I am the Editor-in-Chief here and this place is a virtual newspaper and I do not see how can journalists and reporters working together in the same place come to work wearing masks, or set at their desks for a long time and never sharpen their pencils. This is not a club.
    Anyone who does not agree with the way I run my project please feel free to leave my form, there are hundreds of forums swelling with fake numbers, where one can get in and out without having to say even Hi…this is my territory and I make the rules here to make the most of this media project.

    Comment by Richard Jones 19 hours ago
    PS don’t waste time arguing with them. That’s what they want.

    Comment by Richard Jones 19 hours ago
    This sounds like people with an agenda ie. tying you up in empty arguments. The movement is plagued with them. I trust you absolutely to remove anybody who you consider to be misusing or attempting to divert the site.

    Comment by JC|WorriedLebanese 19 hours ago
    @ Maria Victoria,
    I’m sorry, but I believe you missed my point. I was just illustrating the result of the flawed logic behind his argument. I am not of a suspicious nature and actually respect people who hold to their anonymity (as I do) because I believe that they must have a valid reason for doing so. I wouldn’t hold that against anyone. On the other hand, I believe anyone who has a disruptive attitude in a forum should be invited to go. A disruptive attitude doesn’t mean holding different views. A forum is not a chorus, and even if it were a chorus, a bit of polyphony would only enrich it!

    There are many different ways of envisaging interaction. I personally support a liberal one, it seems other members of this forum prefer an authoritarian approach that expects the same behaviour from all members and is in search of the enemy within (people “spying”, “lurking”, having an “alternate agenda”).

    Comment by Iqbal Tamimi 19 hours ago
    JC, since your membership you have never participated except once when you again complained through a comment about my article ‘How has Israel contributed to the education in Egypt?’
    Have you ever done anything or contributed in any way to give you the right to complain?

    Comment by maria victoria 19 hours ago
    JC|WorriedLebanese sighhhhhh I think you came here to make troubles…If you check better Nephilim70 make his statement yesterday… read it !!

    Comment by Hajja Romi Elnagar 19 hours ago
    Maybe YOU find such “compartmentalisation impoverishing.”

    That is because YOU have something to lose. You have your identity, your pride.

    Try thinking about people in Gaza. They have nothing to lose.

    But, then, perhaps that would expose you to the risk of being in a group with “like-minded people.”

    Would that be so bad?

    Comment by JC|WorriedLebanese 20 hours ago
    well, Nephilim70, if you check out the list of members that are likely to be expelled, you will realise that you fall under the first category because you don’t share your name nor your photograph with other members. To use Ms Tamimi words you belong to the category of people who “do not want to share their real identities”.

    So Nephilim70, Why are you hiding you real identity? Do you have something to hide? Doesn’t that makes you suspicious? Could you be here to spy or to mislead?

    This is the logic that you are advocating when you base the “spring cleaning” on wanting to avert another Dubai operation and “hasbara and sayanim activity”. Are you comfortable with that?

    Comment by Hajja Romi Elnagar 20 hours ago
    Nephailim, You are absolutely right.

    I think Iqbal might be trying to remove “lurkers” from the group. These are people who don’t agree with the purposes of the group, but are here to “spy” and cause trouble. While it seems that Ron fancies that he understands the problems of Palestinians, his understanding is not very deep if he cannot sympathize with the difficulties Iqbal–and any Palestinian–faces when trying to bring some measure of Truth to the West and open peoples’ eyes. While he may or may not be happy with her methods, nowhere in his ego-tripping did he indicate that he understands Iqbal’s problems.

    Comment by maria victoria 20 hours ago
    Nephilim70, well done !! I am more than agree with you

    Comment by Nephilim70 20 hours ago
    My comment is directed to @ RON ….
    http://palestinian.ning.com/profile/Ron

    You are missing the whole point of this removal process.

    You said: If you remove people from this list because their only fault is they want to learn about Palestine’s issues from Palestinian Mothers’ perspective; you are hurting Palestine’s ability to tell her story…

    That statement is a gross fallacy and shows you are either naively missing the point or deliberately misrepresenting it. People who wish to learn about PALESTINES’ issues are very welcome to read here or on twitter ..AND STILL CAN READ EVERYTHING about it ….

    However this group is NOT a fan club. There are plenty of facebook fan clubs for you to read exactly this same material online if a fan club is what you are really looking for..

    This forum is indeed a “reporters collective.” A place for independent researchers and online journalists to add the stories they find, and add the article(s) they write to the archive database. The purpose is to maintain that database of an accurate history of the political deviance of the illegal state of israel.

    What sister Iqbal is doing is removing the less committed people whom join and do not ever comment or write to make way for more dedicated people who have the time and energy to participate on a regular basis. I do concur with her that it is a smart move.

    Considering the volume of members that sign up and NEVER EVER comment or post anything to add to that database, I personally consider this to be a wise move in light of the Dubai fiasco exposing a ring of spies from mossad recently and the increasing amount of hasbara and sayanim activity that infest internet sites PURELY to report back to Tel Aviv on activities of their political opponents.

    In fact I myself do not post every week, sometimes not even once a month, however I post when something is absolutely vitally important that I Simply must share with those whom DO have an interest in reading it and commenting on it, or when I have made a cool phone call video and I wish to have it archived for posterity on this fine website forum.

    Honestly the only ones who would see this as a threat are those with an alternate agenda to the free flow of important information about the apartheid state of Israel and their continuing agenda of ethnic cleansing of the semitic people of PALESTINE.

    By merely commenting you are showing your participation which is all she even asked of you ANYWAY. That is all that is required and being asked from the owner. Now was that really honestly SO HARD>??? Grow up dude. Please. such winging is hypocritical of you after such a long winded comment.

    Comment by Iqbal Tamimi 22 hours ago
    Ron, you have no right whatsoever to complain. You have joined us on Jan. 29, 2009 and since then this is the first time ever you participated in anything at all, when you wanted to say something you started by criticising the way I handle my network. I have been in this business 17 years.
    What rules are you complaining about? who did redicule anything you have said as you claim since you have never said anything? who did libeled you? show me one example of such unfair comment on your behalf.

    If you were insulted somewhere else do not get that out on me, and on the first time ever you participate since over a long year of membership you do not tell the truth.

    Comment by Ron 23 hours ago
    I will also most likely be thrown out of this group because of rules established after joining. I emphasize with Palestine… however, I haven’t participated in this group because if people don’t agree with someone’s opinion, you get libeled, ridiculed, insulted by members here and on other sites online. Some Palestinian mothers don’t seem to be interested in solving the problems of Palestine and her children but seem to enjoy complaining, whining and criticizing people who do support them for sport and ego. As a example, a group of us in the USA had put together 3 fundraisers for the children of Palestine.. we were going to show the movie Billboard from Bethlehem in Greenville SC, Charlotte NC, and Atlanta. However, the fundraisers were cancelled because of online attacks and insults against us personally, America and Americans by Palestinian supporters such as Emman Chehade Randazzo and her friends. Ok, they insulted the very people who were working to help Palestinian Children… they successed in insulting us, and costing the children of Palestine somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000. BUT; they felt good with their insults. and clearly, insulting people is more important to some Palestinian supporters then creating allies, understanding and more friends of Palestine in the USA.

    Palestine needs and deserves better leadership and representation than that.

    With this current angst between Israeli and USA Government leaders, Palestine is in a great position to win friends and influence Americans to their cause. Will they make friends, advance the cause of Palestine or continue to insult and alienate the very people who could make a huge difference for benefit of the children of Palestine?
    We’ll see… I suspect they’d rather continue with hate and insults then work to get friendly support for Palestine…. and again, they will feel good for a moment with the insults, and another generation of Palestinian children will live as they are living now.

    Work for peace, Work for understanding…. or work against it…. Israel is very happy
    when Palestinians insult Americans. Makes their propaganda against Palestine very credible.

    This is going to surprise a lot of Palestians I suspect; but average Americans get
    their information from media controlled by pro-Israel sources. It’s up to Palestinians
    to fix that; to tell your story to friends rather than alienate people more… but then,
    how important are the children of Palestine to Palestinians? Continue doing the same
    thing and you are going to continue getting the same results.

    If you remove people from this list because their only fault is they want to learn about Palestine’s issues from Palestinian Mothers’ perspective; you are hurting
    Palestine’s ability to tell her story… leaving it up to Israel and her supporters to
    tell the story.

    THAT is NOT what a journalist would do. Tell the Palestian Story to anyone, and everyone who wants to learn the Palestinian Mothers’ viewpoint. Or not.

    Comment by maria victoria 1 day ago
    well….. finally what is your point!?…. I don’t get it

    Comment by JC|WorriedLebanese on March 17, 2010 at 2:43am
    I agree with many of your points Sarasmom.
    Creators of a Ning networks have the power to do do whatever they want. But I think it’s a pity to reduce this issue to a power game. It’s not because one can do something that one should do it.
    Sure I can set up a Ning network so as not to subject myself to the rules of others, as you put it. But I honestly don’t see the point of doing that. I’d rather follow some interactions on existing networks so as to have a better understanding of some dynamics. And I’m really not happy about being deprived of that, and don’t understand why people should be excluded from a network when they are not engaging in disruptive behaviour.

    Comment by Sarasmom on March 17, 2010 at 1:57am
    Speaking for myself, those who are courages enough to show their identities have little to lose obviously because as Jimmy Carter learned, their is a price to pay. Some can afford to get flagged, some cannot. For others it’s not an issue. It’s as simple as that. Zionists are not good sports! So I guess this is for those who do not have to worry about it. Or don’t care or whatever is their cercumstances. That’s totally cool. On mepeace, they created a platform according to their wishes and they don’t have to listen to anyone else about it. They sure did not want to listen to me! Ning operators are the King of their Ning and everything goes according to their wishes! Why not? Anyway, you can be King of your own Ning, you don’t have to be subjected to the rules of others.

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