Haveil Havalim & The JBlogger Conference

Many of you know that I was supposed to attend the Nefesh B’Nefesh International Jewish Bloggers Conference in Jerusalem. Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond my control I was forced to back out at the last minute, and I do mean the last minute.

Much has been written about the conference. Jewlicious has a roundup of the roundup that is worth taking a look at. I may provide my own feedback in a separate post, but for now I’d like to focus on a few comments made by Rabbi Gil Student of the Hirhurim blog.

I don’t have a clear transcript so this is going off of what was seen in the feed, which means it may be off a bit.

The good rabbi said that he does not like Haveil Havalim because he is uncomfortable with some of what is presented within. Presumably he doesn’t want to appear to be endorsing positions that he disagrees with

For those who are unfamiliar, Haveil Havalim is the Jewish/Israeli Blog carnival. It is a weekly roundup of posts from the Jewish/Israeli Blogosphere. I am the administrator for said carnival, having taken over the post from the founder Soccer Dad. You can find recent examples of Haveil Havalim by clicking here.

That is not entirely unreasonable. One shouldn’t be forced to pretend to agree with positions that he/she finds disagreeable, especially if you are looking at issues that are not classified as being benign.

So you might ask what the official position is for submissions to Haveil Havalim. That is simple. If it is anti-semitic or anti-Israel it is banned. The hosts have latitude to ban submissions that fall into these categories and frankly can bounce other posts that they find to be offensive.

However I strongly encourage them to construct a carnival that is not limited solely to their own perspective. Legitimate criticism of Israel is welcome also welcome, provided that it is legitimate.

While I respect Rav Student’s belief, I have a problem with his boycott. Maybe it is because I am a believer in the Marketplace of Ideas or maybe it is because I have long enjoyed challenging my own. But I think that it is a mistake on his part to do this.

If your beliefs are strong and based upon logical and rational thought then they should hold up to being challenged. They shouldn’t just crumble because you see/hear an opposing view. Much as I hate to admit this, I learned long ago that I am not always right. I am wrong more often than I’d like to admit.

The second part of my disagreement with him is based upon his assertion that we are not part of a community. I disagree. We’re part of the JBlogosphere, we are all Jews. Now I won’t get into a discussion about Halacha or how we should act as Jews. That is a separate discussion that will never end.

I suppose that one could try and define the Jblogosphere a bit. We could spend more time trying to determine what you have to blog about to be a member. Maybe it is as simple as saying that if you sometimes blog about being Jewish and or Israel you’re part of it.

I don’t know, have to think about it.

But if you’ll forgive me for sounding like a fearmonger, this I am sure of. The people who hate Jews will not distinguish between those who are Torah observant and those who aren’t. It doesn’t matter if you are an FFB who fell off of the derech, a BT, a ger, Conservative, Reform, whatever. Jewish blood is Jewish blood and those who hate us do not discriminate based upon how we think of ourselves.

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