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RAWK Statement on the war in Gaza and discussing the conflict on the platform


This forum has in recent months decided not to host discussion on the war in Gaza. It goes without saying that this was a difficult decision, and one which not all posters agree with.

The more sensitive and contentious a topic is, the more carefully it needs to be moderated due to the significant scope for posters to post things that are misleading or offensive, either to other individual posters or to wide groups of people. At the same time, the more sensitive and contentious a topic is, the harder it is to moderate for the very same reasons. We like to think that everyone who goes into a thread like that, or posts on a subject such as that, will do so in a considered way, reflecting the sensitives of the subject matter and responding thoughtfully and carefully. But this is the internet, so that doesn't happen.

Ultimately the site is moderated by a small group of volunteers who cannot be expected to be instantly responsive to the reporting of posts - and that's when users actually report posts, rather than just engaging in abuse. Due to the political and religious complexities, it's also expecting moderators to be on top of news and current events when they will invariably have numerous other commitments in their personal and professional lives.

This decision has been criticised by those who have suggested that this is inconsistent with the site hosting discussions on the war in Ukraine, or the activities of states such as Qatar or Saudi Arabia. Everyone is entitled to their opinion on this, but suggestions by some posters that by not hosting debate on the topic RAWK is turning a blind eye to a humanitarian crisis or, in the words of one poster, 'complicit' in an ongoing genocide are deeply unfair. Those running this site are all deeply affected by the ongoing suffering in Gaza.

So, for the avoidance of any doubt, RAWK and its moderation team condemns the violence perpetrated by Hamas against Israeli citizens on 7 October 2023, the taking, mistreatment and execution of hostages, and any other acts undertaken by Hamas against Israeli civilians. RAWK also unequivocally condemns the scale of the response by the Israeli state, the indiscriminate attacks on civilians by Israeli forces, and the humanitarian crises caused by the ongoing operations in Gaza, which have justifiably drawn near universal political condemnation. This criticism is directed at the actions of states and political entities - it is explicitly no criticism of any ethnic or religious group.

This conflict obviously plays out against the background of one of the most complicated ethnic, religious and geopolitical situations in history, which makes nuanced and reasoned conversation exceptionally difficult for the reasons set out towards the start of the post. Hence with regret and for the time being the site wonít be hosting a discussion topic on the subject, and will moderate discussion spilling out into out threads very carefully. This isnít indicative of the site's position on the conflict which is set out unambiguously above, but reflects the complexities of the modern internet and the challenges of a small group of volunteers moderating a site visited by many thousands of people, which could in an instant be thrust into broader public attention by screengrabs of comments being posted on social media platforms in a way which doesn't accurately reflect the views of the site or the majority of its posters.


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