You are currently viewing Binders groups on Facebook accused of deporting Jews – The Forward

Binders groups on Facebook accused of deporting Jews – The Forward

Binder groups — a secret network of Facebook communities to help writers who aren’t cisgender men find writing jobs — are meant to be safe spaces.

But recently, Jews feel like they’ve become just as undesirable as men.

In recent weeks, a group of approximately 12,300 members, Binders Full of Global Freelance Writers, muted and expelled several Jewish members without explanation or warning following a dispute in the comments of an article on a book club on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Jewish members expressed discomfort with the political discussion in a group that was supposed to be focused on work – especially since the post included a map of Israeli and Palestinian borders that they said distorted occupied Palestinian territory.

Group moderators, they say, responded by tagging, calling out and kicking users with Jewish names in the chat.

Alyssa Schwartz, a travel writer, had simply liked some of the comments from other Jewish members when she was blocked, meaning she’s no longer a member of the group, can’t see it in search results and cannot apply for membership again. . She said several non-Jewish friends, who had expressed support for the Jews in the group, told her in a group message that they were also banned without warning.

Schwartz heard “absolutely nothing,” she said, from administrators that would explain her ban.

Amid the fray, moderators released a statement of support for the Palestinians that allegedly included the assertion that Jews are not an ethnicity, which one Jewish member called “factually inaccurate” in a discussion on the situation within a private group of Jewish writers. The comments on the moderators’ statement, which were edited and shortened after it was originally posted, have all been deleted. In another post, the moderators announced that they would archive the group following the controversy.

However, the group came back online a few days later, with a message from the moderators aimed at asserting the safety of Jewish members. He did not recognize the members who had been stranded during the previous chaos. A comment on the post asked moderators to clarify that they “do not equate support for the Palestinians or criticism of Israel and Zionism with anti-Semitism”; in a response they wrote that it was correct.

Linker groups, as a rule, operate under strict internal standards intended to make groups transparent and inclusive. These standards include promises not to delete comment threads or ban members without warning. Generally, debates and arguments take place in the groups’ public forums, rather than through private messages, for the sake of transparency as well as for political reasons.

Deleting comments in particular, said Amanda Kreklau, a member of several Binders groups, “works powerfully as a tool to silence marginalized people who speak out.” For groups founded specifically to help marginalized writers, this action is seen as a huge transgression.

Since the controversy erupted, several members of Binders Full of Global Freelance Writers have posted asking why the group’s comments were deleted, or expressing general unease over the incident.

One, Lori Silberman Brauner, who is Jewish, told the Forward in a post that she privately messaged the moderators directly to express that she did not feel safe in the group. She was then kicked out without warning, she said — or so she assumes, given that she can no longer find the group. The only message she received from the moderating team in response to her requests was a “thumbs up” emoji and an auto-reply saying “the workbook has been archived until further notice. Please bear with us during this time.” Brauner received this message twice, including after the group was restored to normal operations.

Another Jewish member commented publicly under the moderator’s statement, saying that Jewish members had been harassed. The moderators responded, asking if she was Jewish herself or simply speaking on behalf of the Jewish members of the group. She replied saying she was Jewish and after about 30 minutes found herself unable to post. She believes she has been muted, she wrote in a post from the Jewish Binders group which discussed the events.

Rosie Schwartz, a dietician who writes about nutrition, travel and lifestyle, attempted to address the blocked users in a comment thread in the Global Freelancers Binder. The moderators responded in a comment visible to all members of the group, telling her she was speaking “in bad faith” and redirecting her to private messages. Schwartz asked to keep the discussion in public view. According to a screenshot she shared, she was then muted for a week, ending July 1, which meant she couldn’t post or comment.

In a Binders group for Jewish writers, members passionately discussed the turn of events in the Global Freelancers group.

Many groups, such as Global Freelancers, have thousands of members. The umbrella group for all Binders, called The Binder, has 46,000. There are countless specific groups, including for writers from certain places, writers who cover food, poets and memoirists.

Prior to being banned, Alyssa Schwartz had been a member of Global Freelance Writers since at least 2016. “It was one of my most helpful, helpful, insightful, helpful group of writers,” said she said, and to which she frequently contributed with advice and tips. “For a full-time freelancer, this was one of the most useful destinations online or offline.”

But a year ago, Schwartz said, the administrative team changed and the group became less useful and more political. “The vibe there started to feel like landmines,” she said.

Similar scuffles, including the blocking of Jewish members, were reported in other Binders groups around the same time as the Global Freelancers incident, including one for comedy writers. Jewish users say the incidents were often prompted by a post from the same person who posted about the book club in the Global Freelancers group. According to screenshots, the same person questioned Kreklau’s leadership in an anti-racist Binder she founded due to posts she posted on her personal Facebook page explaining the historical roots of Zionism and her own complicated relationship with the term; the complaint implied that Kreklau’s beliefs were at odds with anti-racism.

Kreklau said she left the group voluntarily after being harassed and then blocked after leaving.

Members of the private Jewish group wrote there that they had attempted to post in The Binder to draw attention to anti-Semitism in other Binders, but that their posts had not been approved by moderators. Some members took screenshots documenting their attempts to engage moderators through comments; moderators have so far responded with a statement of intent to investigate.

Kreklau said she was outraged that a network created to advocate for underrepresented groups was silencing Jewish members. Jews, she said, are not allowed to define anti-Semitism or talk about their own experiences of discrimination.

“White people have no right to define racism, and straight people have no right to define homophobia,” she wrote in a post about the Binders group on Medium. “Yet this fundamental left-wing ideal is often thrown out the window when it comes to Jews.”

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