A Grapevine service announcement Be patient: That eruption is expected to last until 2015
Mag
Opinion
The Shouting Match

The Shouting Match

Published July 8, 2011

As many are aware, over a year has passed since a flotilla bound for Gaza with humanitarian aid was intercepted by Israeli commandos, the result being nine dead and 30 injured. In commemoration – and to get badly needed aid into Gaza – a second flotilla was recently organised, but thus far Israel has been more on top of their game in terms of blocking people from entering the region. Among their tactics is threatening and intimidating journalists.
Reading the Guardian story rang very familiar to me. You see, any time the Grapevine runs a story about Israel and/or Palestine, it seems to bring out a strong reaction in a very tiny but very vocal portion of our readership. This latest story, wherein we reported that the Foreign Minister has expressed his support for Palestine, has led to me, our paper, and the country as a whole being called anti-Semitic, as well as slurs made that the Palestinian people are violent and uncivilised, both in the comments section under the story and on our Facebook page.
Yesterday, I received a phone call from a private number, from a man claiming to be from Denmark, who wanted to know why I thought anti-Semitism didn’t exist in Iceland. I, of course, never said this and never would – it’s something I’ve experienced firsthand, albeit very rarely. As he made clear that he had no intention of having a conversation but simply wanted to hurl accusations at me, there was a brief bout of shouting before I hung up the phone. The caller then contacted the Grapevine offices to inform them of my rudeness.
I can personally attest that we have only had to delete comments left under stories we’ve run on Israel. The only time we’ve been forced to ban someone from being able to comment on our site was because of their behaviour with regards to stories we did on Israel. The only time I’ve had profanity-laden Facebook messages sent to me or, now, have had my personal number called so that accusations and strawmen could be tossed my way, it’s been over news we’ve run about Israel. On no occasion have we ever run an opinion piece or editorial that takes a stand on the Israel/Palestine question, either.
The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is a complex issue, and so of course tensions are going to run high when reporting is done on it. We would love to get letters or articles from people who disagree with our reportage on Israel. Unfortunately, the people who resort to name-calling, baseless accusations and tactics of intimidation don’t write letters or articles. They don’t care that they would reach far more readers, and be taken more seriously, than they would simply dropping comments under an online article or on Facebook. Because they’re not interested in discussion; they just want to shut people up.
I’m not big on conspiracy theories, as I don’t like to believe in things I have no evidence to support, so I’m going to go ahead and assume that these individuals are acting on their own behest when they behave this way. I don’t believe that being called an anti-Semite for criticising the policies of the Israeli government warrants a response. The reason why I’m writing this piece is that I want our readers to be aware of the fact that this is a form of intimidation that we face any and every time we run news on Israel.
I want you all to be aware of this. We ask that you make a note of this, and if you see this sort of behaviour on our site or on our Facebook, drop us a line and we’ll take care of it. We believe these tactics go against the spirit of freedom of the press, and that it is unfair to our readers as well, who often face the same insults and false accusations when they step in to voice their own opinion.
In other words, open and honest discourse is welcome; slurs and intimidation are not, nor will they be tolerated.



Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

Brotherly Love

by

My brother is a fourteen-carat, stone cold wanker. At age twelve he spoke fluent French, at fourteen he was the fastest 100-metre runner in Ireland for his age, at eighteen, he captained our school choir and won a scholarship to university for academic excellence, by nineteen he spoke fluent mandarin. My name’s Tom and I’m his older brother. Yesterday I started putting raisins into my porridge. Raisins contain polyphenolic phytonutrients that can improve your ability to see in the dark, and in Iceland around this time of year I reckon that it’s a shrewd bit of thinking. But society wouldn’t notice.

Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

Lost In Mucous

by

The first time I heard it, I did what all good girls do and politely ignored it. The second time, I shot him a look of disgust. By the third time, I couldn’t handle it anymore. I felt like I was going to be sick. I cast a crazed eye around the room, but to my shock nobody else seemed bothered by the fact that a certain member of the Grapevine team, let’s call him Bill (because we have a Bob), has a penchant for sniffling and snorting large globules of mucous down the back of his throat. HAD HIS MOTHER

Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

Audiomilk And Book Mafias

by

In short: Only the privileged few A large number of Icelandic books are available as audio books at the audio books library. Available, in this case, however, means available to those who need them rather than those who would merely enjoy them. The audio book library is publicly funded and to some extent exempt from copyright restrictions, to serve blind and dyslexic audiences. Last week saw a mild debate involving non-blind and non-dyslexic readers who would nonetheless like to be able to buy these audio editions; the manager of the library who explained how absolutely nonsensical and futile not to

Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

Accidental Iceland

by

I don’t have the sharpest social skills but I know when someone is making a joke at my expense. My travel agent was clearly making a joke at my expense: “I know you won’t fly through Heathrow or JFK and I know you will ‘never get on another Delta plane as long as you live,’ but of course you want the cheapest fare possible. The cheapest roundtrip ticket from New York to London is Icelandair with a slight layover in Reykjavík.” I had several pertinent questions for my travel agent and she answered with an exaggerated patience that made me

Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

You’re Wet, And You’re Cold, And You’re Miserable

by

You’ve just come in for the day. Your clothes are strewn across the radiator. Your anorak is hanging in the bathroom. It’s creating a giant puddle on the floor. Oh, and you’ve just stepped in it with your last pair of dry socks. It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s gray. It’s late October in Reykjavík. You’re kicking yourself for not choosing to visit during the summer, but as some Pollyanna told you, at least this way you’re getting the authentic Icelandic experience. Well, you should know that it wouldn’t have made much difference if you had come during the summer. It

Mag
Opinion
<?php the_title(); ?>

So What’s This Men’s Only UN Gender Conference I Keep Hearing About?

by

On Monday, September 29, the Icelandic Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson gave a speech to the United Nations General Assembly. In between talking about things that few present cared what Iceland thinks about, he mentioned that the governments of Iceland and Suriname had decided to plan a conference on gender equality only open to male political leaders. Because what is needed to achieve gender equality is men with political power telling others what to do? It is hard to do justice to what he said without quoting his speech in full: “Iceland and Suriname will convene a ‘Barbershop’ conference in

Show Me More!