Following my recent article in the Australian newspaper about the role of the Israel lobby, and the response by Zionist lobbyist Colin Rubenstein, the Australian Jewish News (AJN) last week featured a round-up of the debate (not available online.) This week, the AJN publishes a number of letters criticising my work:
Before the Shoah, before the establishment of Israel, arguing that Zionism jeopardised assimilation and integration was respectable. Antony Loewenstein’s anti-Zionism (AJN 21/4) is out of date and invalid.
Professor Judea Pearl — the butchered Daniel’s father — contends that anti-Zionism is racism. Denying self-determination to Jews is racist. Supporting the demand of 3.5 million Palestinian Arabs to dismantle the democracy of 5.5 million Israeli Jews is undemocratic.
Natan Sharansky’s three “D”s of antisemitism are: demonisation, delegitimisation and double standards. None question the loyalty of Australians who participated in the Iraqi or Italian elections, yet Zionists are suspect.
It is unacceptable to accuse Israel of apartheid when Arabs don’t tolerate Jews in a future Palestine and of terror when it exercises self-defence against illegal combatants, or to accuse Jews of stifling debate when they point out hypocrisy and prejudice and of being an antidemocratic pressure group when they participate in the democratic process.
When Israel is demonised, so too are all supporters of that democracy. Loewenstein cannot use his Jewish birth to legitimate pressure groups that seek the reversal of Jewish rights in Israel or the exercise of democratic rights of Jews in Australia.
Antony Loewenstein was given prominent editorial space in the Australian (18/4) to endorse the recent controversial academic study produced in America on the “Jewish lobby”.
Loewenstein also took advantage to have a go at his adversaries in Australia, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), and in particular criticised AIJAC’s Rambam program, which sends journalists and politicians to Israel to see for themselves the problems Israelis are up against.
Having personally heard the feedback from some of these politicians on their return from Israel, the one thing they are all amazed is how small Israel is and how close her Palestinian and Arab neighbours are to Israeli towns and cities, facts which put into proper context how important the security fence and other security issues are.
With the majority of the Australian media against Israel, surely this program of allowing politicians and journalists to see for themselves can only be positive, and these politicians and journalists are mature enough to make up their own minds.
I am amused that Loewenstein is all for lobbying for Palestinian rights as are Julia Irwin, trade unions, Islamic organisations, humanitarian organisations, the Greens and the many Palestinian and Arab lobby groups, including his own anti-Zionist blog where he lobbies for Palestinian rights and continually criticises Murdoch’s media, including the Australian, but begrudges AIJAC, which is the only effective organisation that lobbies for Israel and her rights.
I was greatly surprised by the article “AIJAC and Loewenstein lock horns, again” (AJN 21/4). Its author puts on equal footing Dr Colin Rubenstein, a luminary of our community, and Antony Loewenstein, a bitter enemy of our common heritage — the Jewish State.
I think that in today’s critical situation, with thousands of terrorists at the gates of Israel, people such as Loewenstein do not deserve the benefit of a tribune for the spread of their vitriolic stand.
The AJN also publishes a column by Dvir Abramovich, director of the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Jewish History and Culture. An extract is below:
In an op-ed published in the Australian last week, Antony Loewenstein criticised the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council while referring to the recently-published paper titled “The Israel lobby” as a “carefully-reasoned study”.
Written by professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer and published in the London Review of Books, the essay (an abridged version of a 15,000-word report) has been labelled as a latter-day Protocols of the Elders of Zion and International Jew.
White supremacist David Duke has applauded it; the Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical Review has published it on its website; Hamas, the PLO, Iran’s press service, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Jazeera have all been giving the paper heavy airing.
This propagandist, polemical, blatantly one-sided screed argues that US support for the Jewish State has endangered American domestic security, leading to terrorism and hatred against the American nation. And why has the most powerful nation in the world been willing to neglect its own security for the sake of another state? You guessed it, because of the all-powerful, nefarious Israel lobby (referred to ominously as “The Lobby” — their capitalisation) comprised of American Jews who “make a significant effort… to bend US foreign policy so that it advances Israel’s interests”.
The report argues that the “unmatched power” of the Israel lobby has hijacked American foreign policy, noting that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) “is a de-facto agent of foreign government and has a stranglehold on the US congress”. They write that American lawmakers are so fearful of “The Lobby” they cannot vote according to their conscience. Other assertions are that the US invaded Iraq because of Israel and a cabal of mostly Jewish, neoconservative intellectuals who coerced the administration into the war: “Within the US, the main driving force behind the war was a small band of neoconservatives, many with ties to the Likud.”