A while back, I did an email interview for an article about progressive Jewish bloggers, to be published in the UK journal Jewish Socialist. I'm not a socialist, myself, but I'm always happy to talk about blogging -- and it was fun to do an interview with someone I could safely assume was at least as lefty as I am!
Jewish Socialist is a print journal, but selected articles from the current edition are online -- including the one about J-bloggers:
Online but off-message
Dissenting Jews are finding a direct way to broadcast their views without being censored. Clifford Singer reports from the Jewish blogosphere.
The Jewish and Israel Blog Awards announced its winners on 7th February. Despite promising to 'showcase and increase awareness of the community's vast spectrum of bloggers', dissenting, left-wing or even moderately liberal sites were scarce among the nominees. This was perhaps unsurprising, since the awards were sponsored by the Jerusalem Post and the right-wing blog israellycool.com, but some progressive bloggers have taken to their keyboards to challenge the bias and the inclusion of anti-Arab hate sites...
The JIBs are something of a framing device for the article. In the body of the piece, Clifford talks about (and with) several terrific J-bloggers, about their work and their words. Richard Silverstein of Tikun Olam is in here; ditto Andrew Schamess of Semitism.net, and of course Daniel Sieradski of Orthodox Anarchist (and Jewschool and Radical Torah.)
When the question of the JIBs arises again toward the end of the piece, Dan has smart things to say about why the awards trend rightward:
Sieradski says the real problem isn't bias in the awards, but in the online Jewish community. He told Jewish Socialist: 'I get riled up because I have a hard time accepting that the Jewish community - which is primarily liberal and progressive - should appear to be so overrepresented by the religious right...'
"Religious right" is a loaded term, but I think he has a point that the J-blogosphere has a right-ish skew (both liturgically and politically). There are more conservative Jewish blogs than there are liberal Jewish blogs; it makes sense that, on the whole, folks vote for sites that share their perspective. (I'm honored to have been nominated in the JIBs' "best religion blog" category the last two years, but I wasn't surpried when I didn't win, for exactly the reason Dan cites.)
I also think the J-blogosphere's liberal/conservative balance is shifting, gradually,
but we've got a ways to go before the blogosphere fully
reflects the range of Judaisms. That's one of the reasons I'm pleased to see this article; it's written for a progressive audience, and at the end of the piece Clifford urges readers to begin blogging themselves. What better way to celebrate the progressive Jewish blogosphere than to add your voice to our chorus?
Though only one anecdote from our email conversation (about this post) made it in to the article, I'm delighted to be a part of it. It's a nifty piece; read it here. Thanks for the good press, Clifford!