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I was suspended from this website for a period of one week starting on 25 January. I am concerned that my suspension was due to a latent pro-Israel bias among this website's moderation team contrary to the principals of political neutrality this site is supposed to be based on. I want to be clear that this website is far from the worst on this matter and many posts critical of Israel remain up. However, the instances of biased moderation are frequent enough that I believe they warrant a post.

I'd like to cite three clear-cut demonstrations of pro-Israel bias.

Exhibit A:

I'd like to begin by discussing the exchange which prompted the suspension. It pertained to this answer where the answerer makes a number of questionable claims. The first is that Hamas targeted Jewish civilians on October 7th. The second is that Hamas uses human shields and links a Wikipedia article to substantiate this. I disputed each of these claims in what I thought was a reasonable manner. With respect to the first claim, I argued that there was no evidence Hamas targeted Jewish civilians as Arab-Israelis and Thais were targeted too. With respect to the second claim, I argued that the claim of Hamas using human shields is contentious, and the cited Wikipedia article (in the lead sentence) does not claim that Hamas uses human shields as a matter of fact but only that Israel alleges this. The allegation in general is highly disputed by pro-Palestine activists see e.g., this as well as human rights organizations like Amnesty International.

My comments were deleted. I attempted to re-post them a couple of times, but they were deleted again and I was ultimately suspended.

Certainly, the claims that Hamas uses human shields or specifically targets Jews is a legitimately debatable topic. These are politically contentious matters. The concern I have is that the moderation team is actively taking a side in these contentious matters and indeed suspending users (like myself) with opposing views thus violating the principal of neutrality.

Here is the exchange I had with moderators. As you can see, the arguments given are standard pro-Israel talking points. For instance, the moderators cite the Hamas charter and claim that Hamas' use of human shields is beyond dispute. But each of these are disputed and highly contentious topics. The moderators uncritically accept the pro-Israel view as a basis to suspend thus violating the principal of neutrality on this site.

Exhibit B:

My question Why does the US view Iran as its principal geopolitical adversary in the Middle East? was closed but another similar question Why does the Islamic Republic of Iran view the US as its principal geopolitical adversary in the world? was not closed. This is despite the fact that the latter question was clearly much more of a "push" question than my own. For instance, notice the tone of the latter question e.g.,

Other than preventing the people who chant "death to America" from acquiring the capabilities to do so, has the US done anything that poses a threat to Iran?

This does not give the impression of neutrality or a good-faith desire to know an answer.

In contrast, my question was significantly less pushy or sarcastic in tone. Despite this, it was closed as attempting to "promote or discredit a specific political cause." I strongly suspect that the reason for this is that I mentioned the Israel lobby in my question description.

I recognize that close votes are by the community and not the moderation team. However, moderator Philipp voted to close my question but viewed (and did not vote to close) the latter question.

Exhibit C:

This pertains to the same question Why does the Islamic Republic of Iran view the US as its principal geopolitical adversary in the world?

I provided the following answer to this question.

The US supports, to an unprecedented degree, a criminal apartheid state oppressing and genociding Iranians' coreligionists. That, and staging coups in Iran in the past. It is only natural for the Iranians to detest America for that.

This answer was deleted for reasons not shared.

Now, one can certainly argue that my answer was biased or pushy. However, considering that the question itself was biased and pushy yet it was not deleted, there is clearly a double standard happening here.

Although the rhetoric used in my answer might seem harsh, it is not particularly incongruent with mainstream opinion. Israel has been widely accused of war crimes and genocide. This is a mainstream accusation and indeed there is ongoing litigation in an international court. Israel has also been widely accused of apartheid by various human rights organizations (1, 2, 3) and even leading Israeli politicians.

However, for whatever reason, my answer was deemed beyond the pale. In contrast, questions referring to Hamas members as "terrorists" are considered acceptable. To be clear, I have no disagreements with that. But if calling Hamas a "terrorist" organization is okay and not pushy, then why is calling Israel an apartheid state unacceptable? I don't see any substantive distinctions between those two claims. It is strange that we can use "harsh" terminology for one side but not the other.

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    Regardless of the topic going against moderator actions by doing things such as reposting deleted comments is always going to result in action being taken. If you believe that they are doing the wrong think you should be using the contact link to reach out to Stack Exchange and explain what is happening instead of reposting deleted content.
    – Joe W
    Feb 2 at 19:58
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    I am not someone to jump to accusations of bias, but I must say that exhibit B is odd. The open questions stinks of being a push question.
    – Ben Cohen
    Feb 3 at 21:19

2 Answers 2

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You can consider me biased since I've voted to delete your "Exhibit C" answer, but here's my reasoning for why I did that: besides a brief rant about Israel (and US support for it), you failed to provide any argument why Iran should care so much about mostly Sunni Palestinians, and why doesn't Pakistan or even Saudi Arabia consider the US their main geopolitical adversary, as a result of the same facts.


I see that I've also had voted to close your "exhibit B". I honestly don't recall precisely why did that, but probably because of

This is despite Iran and its proxies not having significantly targeted the US or its military assets, or engaged in terrorism against American civilians.

OTOH I see that the Q generated significant answers, and "not having significantly targeted" is disputed/refuted in (at least one of) those. As such, it makes little difference if the Q is closed or not, so I've voted to reopen. Generally, we don't want Q&As to be back-and-forth partisan bickering, and assessments like "significantly targeted" can be somewhat subjective. But the horse was out of the barn on this one [due to how long other voters took close the Q, a diamond mod wrote like 6 comments on the subject matter of Iran's attacks etc.,] so... it seems a lot of people wanted to have that discussion (and closing the Q doesn't close the comment torrents, while reopening makes it easier for people to write their substantive points as answers).

And if you look at the history of the other question that you compare it with, that was also closed and reopened "for great justice"--which is somewhat par for the course here for this type of question. But while its premises are stacked in one direction, that one is [IMHO] more objectionable by what it omits, but then it's essentially asking to fill the gaps in that regard, so one might more easily give it the benefit of the doubt.

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    Why wouldn't a downvote suffice for this? Why a deletion? That seems rather disproportionate. Feb 3 at 1:48
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    @MathematicsStudent1122: There are number of more detailed answers there that already mention Israel and US support for it. So I felt that your answer added little to the overall picture, besides--you know--ranting against your favorite anti-hero. The Q was not primarily "why does Israel suck, according to Iran". Feb 3 at 2:29
  • @againstverylongusernames redundant answer is not a valid reason for deletion. May 18 at 10:55
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I find Exhibit A and the exchange with the moderators troubling for a number of reasons:

  • The moderators take a political stance in a debated issue, namely whether Hamas use human shields or not.
  • As evidence to support their stance, they cite a Wikipedia article. Given the fact that Wikipedia suffers from many of the same issues that this site suffers from, it seems highly unprofessional to cite it as evidence. This is particularly so when it appears that the op had cited major human rights organisations such as Amnesty International in support of their stance.
  • Citing the Hamas charter from 1988 when much has changed since politically, and the charter itself has been updated, is highly problematic. Groups and people change and evolve. So again, given the lack of evidence put forward, it appears that the removal of the comment was a political decision.

For these reasons, given the information available, it seems that your ban was unfair. The moderators owe it to you, and the wider community, to either explain their actions more thoroughly or provide an apology and review their practices moving forward.

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    I'm not on your side, I'm on the side of justice.
    – Ben Cohen
    Feb 3 at 22:00
  • As this is meta, and the purpose of meta is to discuss issues relating to the actual website, it would be great if the downvoters could actually explain why they have downvoted this answer. Then we could discuss and perhaps come to a consensus of some sort.
    – Ben Cohen
    Feb 4 at 13:44
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    Regardless of if you disagree with the moderators actions it isn’t permissible to keep reposting deleted content and there are documented ways to handle those objections. Repeatedly reposting deleted content is going to lead to punishment regardless of if you think it was wrongly deleted or not.
    – Joe W
    Feb 4 at 23:58
  • "in a debated issue, namely whether Hamas use human shields or not." - debated by whom? That's a fact that not even Hamas denies.
    – littleadv
    Apr 14 at 23:59

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