Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Friday, 1 March 2013

Antony Loewenstein Interview Regarding Ben Zygier: The ECAJ Alleges "Grave Breaches Of The ABC's Code of Practice"

Regrettably, as outlined on the ABC's "The Drum" here, and described in graphic detail elsewhere, Australian prime minister Julia Gillard is often subjected to demeaning sexist abuse, one of the chief culprits being an odious political cartoonist whose portrayals are grotesquely obscene and misogynistic.

The following depiction of Ms Gillard is not offensive in the same sense, but it is repellent and obscene for a different reason, one that hardly needs to be spelled out.


The provenance of that image is not clear, but it surfaced in 2010 and was posted approvingly by Sydney-based anti-Israel campaigner Antony Loewenstein on his blog, prompting the disgust of even some of his usual supporters, so that, chastened, he eventually apologized and removed it. (See more on this incident below.)

Loewenstein, a freelance journalist from Melbourne, achieved publicity in his own country when – to the chagrin and amazement of mainstream Jewish communal opinion –  a respected academic publisher, Melbourne University Press (headed by a Jewish critic of Israel) published his non-academic polemic, My Israel Question.  He has gone on to be a "star" of the anti-Israel movement worldwide.

About a fortnight ago, Elizabeth Jackson of the ABC (Australia's answer to the BBC, and just as leftist in its mindset) interviewed this enfant terrible regarding the "Prisoner X" or Ben Zygier case.

Ms Jackson introduced the segment thus:
'The revelation this week by the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent program that Melbourne man Ben Zygier was Israel’s “prisoner X” have thrown light on some of the most secretive workings of the Jewish state.
There are many perplexing elements to this story; one of them is the deafening silence.
Silence and gag orders from Israel, silence from the Australian Jewish community, and perhaps most perplexing of all, silence from Ben Zygier’s family.
Co-founder of Independent Australian Jewish Voices, Antony Loewenstein, says he believes the Jewish community in Australia is embarrassed.
The journalist says the case involving Ben Zygier should be a wake-up call to the community in Melbourne and Sydney to re-examine the way young Jewish youths are educated at religious schools in Australia.
He says Australian Jews need to re-think the wisdom of a culture which encourages young men and women to join the Israeli military."
Both interviewer and interviewee made assertions that have been challenged by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (through its executive director, Peter Wertheim) in a formal complaint to the ABC, alleging grave breaches of the ABC’s Code of Practice:
'.... The themes of the interview are encapsulated in a series of assertions in the introduction and in the interview itself. The principle assertions are itemized below. Our comments in response to these assertions appear in square brackets after each item.
 1. “The most secretive workings of the Jewish state”. [Every State, including Israel, has “most secretive workings”. But to juxtapose the words “most secretive workings” with the word “Jewish”, instead of referring to “Israel” by name, appeals subliminally to notorious anti-Jewish stereotypes about the supposed power of Jews as a collective, and about Jews supposedly being engaged in a world conspiracy. Later in the interview other stereotypes are introduced impliedly accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations. These stereotypes are internationally recognized as among the hallmarks of anti-Jewish racism and prejudice – see Working Definition of Antisemitism as adopted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights
(http://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2011/working-definitionantisemitism) and the UK All-Party Parliamentary Committee on Antisemitism (http://www.antisemitism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/AllParty-Parliamentary-Inquiry-into-Antisemitism-REPORT.pdf) among others].
2. There are many perplexing elements to this story; one of them is the deafening silence.
Silence and gag orders from Israel, silence from the Australian Jewish community, and perhaps most perplexing of all, silence from Ben Zygier’s family. [The claim of “silence from the Australian Jewish community” was a blatant falsehood.
In point of fact, the previous day presenter Fran Kelly had conducted a detailed interview of the President of the Zionist Federation of Australia, Philip Chester, on ABC Radio National about the entire subject.... Ms Jackson should have challenged Mr Loewenstein, with the fact of that interview, which also aired on the ABC. Further, silence from Ben Zygier’s relatives is a dignified and understandable response from a grieving family. To describe their silence as “perhaps most perplexing of all”, implies that the family’s response is in some sense aberrant and unnatural. In our view this was an unwarranted and disgraceful attempt to reflect adversely on a family in mourning.
3. Co-founder of Independent Australian Jewish Voices, Antony Loewenstein, says he believes the Jewish community in Australia is embarrassed. [The reference to Independent Australian Jewish Voices implies that Loewenstein has some kind of constituency within an identifiable section of the Australian Jewish community. On its website, Independent Australian Jewish Voices admits that it is not an organization with membership, decision-making procedures and a political platform, and that the small number of people who signed their original statement in March 2007, “probably won’t agree on anything else besides that statement they signed”. It is therefore misleading to suggest that Lowenstein has any constituency at all. Nor does he have any academic or scholarly credentials whatsoever, or any particular real-life experience that might explain why the ABC seeks him out so frequently as a commentator about Israel. Indeed, Antony Loewenstein published a grossly antisemitic ‘poster’ on his website on 11 and 12 July 2010.... [This is the poster reproduced above - D.A.]
The ECAJ sent an informal complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission at 1:00pm on July 12.... Later that day, Loewenstein removed the ‘poster’ from his website and published a retraction ....
4. The journalist says the case involving Ben Zygier should be a wake-up call to the community in Melbourne and Sydney to re-examine the way young Jewish youths (sic) are educated at religious schools in Australia.
[Without evidence or substantiation of any kind, or indeed any attempt to examine what “young Jewish youths” are in fact taught at Jewish schools in Australia, the assertion is made that there is some connection between the Ben Zygier case and what they are taught. Not only is this inaccurate, it feeds into the propagation of anti-Jewish stereotypes as referred to in our response to 1 above. I understand that Loewenstein never attended a Jewish school, “religious” or otherwise, and has no direct knowledge, let alone expertise, concerning their curricula or teachings.] [In fact, Mr Loewenstein did attend a Jewish Sunday School, that of Temple Beth Israel, Melbourne's largest Progressive congregation - D.A.] ....
5. He says Australian Jews need to re-think the wisdom of a culture (sic) which encourages young men and women to join the Israeli military.
[Again, without evidence or substantiation of any kind, or indeed any attempt to examine the “culture” of the Australian Jewish community, the assertion is made that that culture encourages young men and women to join the Israeli military. Not only is this inaccurate, it feeds into the propagation of anti-Jewish stereotypes as referred to in our response to 1 above].
Then, in the body of the interview, Loewenstein makes the following assertions without contradiction or challenge from the presenter:
6. The Jewish community in Australia has taken the position of complete lockdown, where there has basically been virtually no comment about the details of the case. [See our response to 2 above].
7. There’s been virtually no comment about the relationship between the Jewish establishment in Australia and the Israeli government, and indeed Mossad, and indeed Israeli intelligence and the Israeli embassy.
[Yet again, without evidence or substantiation of any kind, the implication is made that there is a relationship between “the Jewish establishment in Australia” and “the Mossad, and indeed Israeli intelligence”. Not only is this inaccurate, it feeds into the propagation of anti-Jewish stereotypes as referred to in our response to 1 above].
8. The “Jewish communities in Sydney and Melbourne” facilitate and encourage Jews from a young age “to not just be involved with Israel, visit Israel, [but also] incredibly often fight with the IDF (Israeli Defence Force)… and indeed for that matter sometimes joining Mossad. [Yet again, without evidence or substantiation of any kind, the assertion is made that Jewish communal organisations in Australia facilitate and encourage Jews from a young age to join up and fight with the IDF and the Mossad. Not only is this inaccurate, it feeds into the propagation of anti-Jewish stereotypes as referred to in our response to 1 above].
At this point in the interview, the presenter, Elizabeth Jackson, chimes in, not to probe or challenge the interviewee, but to add her own unsubstantiated innuendo:
9. “perhaps it even happens in the synagogues, I don’t know – but how do they facilitate this kind of mentality”.
[Apparently not content with her interviewee’s denigration of the Jewish community, Ms Jackson now invites him to denigrate observance in synagogues generally of the Jewish faith. This is a particularly disturbing and disappointing feature of the interview.
Not only is the assertion inaccurate, it invites uninformed speculation by Loewenstein,who has more than once admitted that he does not attend synagogue, and it feeds into the propagation of anti-Jewish stereotypes as referred to in our response to 1 above].
Loewenstein then continues:
10. Many Jews are sent to Israel, often after school, for a year or six months or whatever. Not that many Jews are moving to Israel – some do. There’s definitely an encouragement to do so – in other words, to be the best kind of Jew you can be, so the thinking goes, some people argue the only way you can do that is to go to Israel and live there.
If you’re a young Jew, you’re likely to have to do military service, it’s compulsory in Israel for three years normally. And you potentially – although this is obviously far less  people – could be recruited by Mossad.
Now this sort of stuff I’m not saying is regularly discussed openly in synagogues in Sydney or Melbourne – it’s not.
[Nowhere does Loewenstein attempt to explain how programs in which young people travel to Israel and live there for a short time actually work. No-one is “sent” to Israel. Those who wish to visit are given assistance by Zionist organisations in Australia. Nor was Loewenstein asked whether he has any direct personal knowledge of these matters. Not only are his assertions unfounded, they feed into the propagation of anti-Jewish stereotypes as referred to in our response to 1 above. In point of fact these programs are primarily aimed at educating young Jews about their heritage and about contemporary Israel, and have never had anything to do with recruiting people for military or intelligence organisations].....'  [Emphasis added.]
The transcript of the interview, and the full text of Peter Wertheim's complaint, can be read here

3 comments:

  1. Loewenstein is one of the main reasons I got into blogging almost ten years ago now. My visceral disgust for the man is absolute. I hope never to meet him for both our sakes.

    The man is of course a coward as you would expect.

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    1. While I deplore his attitude I'd never suggest he's a coward, and personally he's a nice guy by all accounts.

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  2. I've heard the same thing from people who have met him. It is after all so easy to be a "nice guy". Aren't they all? Steven Sizer is a "nice guy". Father Dave is a "nice guy." Eichmann was a "nice guy".

    Frankly Daphne, your definition of "cowardice" varies radically from mine.

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