Muzzlewatch finalist for Jewish Israeli Blog Awards- not without controversy

Muzzlewatch is a finalist for 3 awards over at the Jewish and Israeli blog awards. Vote here for best new blog, here for best left-wing blog, and here for best anti-establishment blog. Better yet, just go to JIBA and check out all sorts of interesting Jewish blogs-right, left, center, personal and more. Each category has a nominees list that has a range of interesting choices.

Hat tip to Richard Silverstein at Tikun Olam (who is nominated for best music post, vote here) who let me know about the debate over Muzzlewatch’s inclusion in the awards.

Over at The Baleboostah (gotta love the name-plus a Jewish woman blogger, finally!), a blogger named Aussie Dave offers a number criticisms of the JIB Awards, including this one:

David does have some valid points about this year’s JIBs, though. Especially the decision to allow anti-Israel blogs like Muzzlewatch to compete, in the spirit of “inclusiveness.” This needs to be changed if the JIBs are to achieve their purposes.

Interestingly, Akiva, who is apparently part of the team running JIBs this year and who identifies himself as a “right wing Zionist”, defends the inclusion of Muzzlewatch on principle:

Dave – We polled a number of Jbloggers for their category opinions in advance, as well as solicited community input (on the site).

If the JIBs are the zionist right wing Jewish blog awards, then I agree with you. If they are the Jewish & Israeli blog awards, then those with various viewpoints on the matter are welcome.

The rules spell it out reasonably well I think… “1. What Blogs May Be Included?

Jewish & Israel Blogs (and/or those frequently dealing with those topics) of course! Blogs qualify for nomination if they are operated by or have significant contributions from Jewish and/or Israeli bloggers or frequently deal with Jewish topics or Israel/Israeli topics. A blog does not have to have Jewish bloggers nor be pro-Israel to be included.

Anti-Semitic and/or blogs advocating the destruction of Israel are specifically excluded. For this purpose, being critical of or advocating a major change in Israeli government structure, operation, policies or political positions is not considered ‘advocating the destruction of Israel’.”

Is there some part of that you disagree with? I’m a right wing zionist who spends significant time in the Shomron, but I advocate some major changes in Israeli government structure and stand on things. So, would I be excluded?

You have to be awful careful about filtering, you never know who might get caught up.

As Richard says, “Good for him.”

As we’ve reported before, bloggers offer different reasons for the traditional dearth of progressive blogs among the awards finalists. Whatever reason makes sense to you, it’s clear that the current group of independent bloggers that has taken over the awards process is doing a tremendous job, and under difficult circumstances. Many suggest that more can and should be done to make it a fair playing field, and I think we all can agree.

As JIBA team members Akiva writes about the fair playing field issue:

This is a very valid point that we didn’t consider. There are now professional blogs, organization blogs, and blogs as an accessory of another major activity (web site, radio program, etc).

It’s going to be hard to figure out how to segregate them, but must be done in the future. As far as this year is concerned, I think we’re too far in to be making that kind of change.

(Examples in this years awards, not all of which did well, we have 1 blog that runs on the Jerusalem Post web site, 1 that runs on the Israel National News web site, 2 by people who have radio programs, 1 associated with a magazine, and 3 associated with organizations.)

Muzzlewatch is one of the blogs that benefits greatly from an organizational affiliation. By any standard, we have done well for a new blog. We’ve gotten feature media coverage across the US (and even overseas). We have over 400 subscribers between email and RSS feeds, plus another 500-700 or so unique visitors a day.We have over 1,800 real comments in less than 4 months.

I have no illusions about the priceless advantage of being associated with an organization with supporters and detractors (who comment on the list frequently) and a large mailing list. It’s simply not an advantage enjoyed by small independent bloggers. It’s also true that we put out a quality and interesting product, and that ultimately, our success or failure depends on maintaining that quality. No amount of organizational backing can make people come back time and again to a terrible blog.

Whatever can be done to even the playing field is a good thing.

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