On Monday I discussed last week’s conference in Sydney on the media and Islam that was attended by any number of prominent politicians, journalists and academics. There was robust debate and healthy disagreement on issues of Islam, religion, Israel/Palestine and the “war on terror.”
This week’s Australian Jewish News (AJN) continues its slide into ever-greater parochialism by highlighting a talk by an inconsequential Jewish leader:
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff offered a “brave” defence of the Jews following his address last week at a conference about the media’s coverage of Islam.
Titled “The journalist and Islam”, the two-day conference at NSW Parliament House, convened by Macquarie University’s Centre for Middle East and North African Studies, was opened by former NSW premier Bob Carr.
The audience of almost 100 people fired most questions at Alhadeff during a panel discussion following his presentation, in which he showed a rash of antisemitic cartoons published in the Islamic media.
“Speaking as a Jewish Australian, we have a concern that a great deal of the media coverage that comes out of the Middle East lacks context and lacks balance,” he said.
“The assailants are drawing a dotted line, blaming the Jews living in Australia, the Australian Jews, for what is happening over there.”
He said the proliferation of anti-Zionist and antisemitic material in the Islamic media “sends an unambiguous message that hatred of Jews is not merely permissible, but is endorsed and encouraged”.
Alhadeff’s speech contained any number of references to anti-Semitic media in the Islamic world – and such attitudes are inappropriate, racist and counter-productive – but refused to engage with the audience on the Israel/Palestine question, as if the conflict was completely separate to media representation of Jews and Israel. In this worldview, anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. Nobody said Alhadeff was particularly nuanced.
He saved his most delusional comment until the end of the talk:
“If you pick up any copy of the Australian Jewish News you will not find vilification of the Muslim people. We as a Jewish community and you as a Muslim community, we are all in this together. We have a shared interest.”
No vilification of the Muslim people? He’s got to be joking. Week after week the paper features letters written by racist Jews decrying the inherent violence of Arabs and stereotyping of Palestinians. Numerous editorials are content vilifying the Palestinian people and leadership as terrorists and worse. Many articles report the racist ramblings of yet another Israeli expert on something. For Alhadeff, Jews are inherently caring and open-minded while the Arab world is filled with Jew-haters. When he was editing the AJN, such positions were regularly expressed and endorsed.
The AJN had more to report, however:
But the other Jewish speaker at the conference, rookie anti-Israel author Antony Loewenstein, told the audience that Israel is a “rogue state” engaging in “ethnic cleansing” and described the Australian Jewish community as “terminally insecure”.
“As a Jew I am ashamed of my homeland,” he said.
The paper seems content to continue describing me as a “rookie author”. They hate the fact that my book has broken through their editorial grasp and no longer relies on whatever coverage the paper deems to provide. I shouldn’t be surprised that being critical of Israel means I’m “anti-Israel.” Again, the Zionist talking points are hardly sophisticated. Perhaps the writer of the article or the editor would like to let me know how many books they’ve written and how successful they’ve become. One colleague said such descriptions are common in student newspapers or community rags. Let’s not forget that the AJN is very good at providing space for marriage notices.
But the article had more to say:
The Macquarie centre, run by Professor Andrew Vincent, was last year forced to dump a Mid-East simulation for high-school students it designed, after allegations of “anti-Israel bias”.
We shouldn’t be surprised that the rag ignored the laughable charges against the simulations or the political reasons behind them. After all, the paper, like so many Zionists, is content parotting the line that the mainstream media is anti-Jewish, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. It’s encouraging that the community is investing so much time, effort and money into something so worthwhile.
The AJN ends the year with a predictable record of dishonesty and parochialism. Next year will be no different. They’ll be happy to know that more surprises will greet them in 2007. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, Israel’s long-term future remains in serious jeopardy – due primarily to its inability to make friends in the Arab world, expanding the occupation and refusing to recognise Palestinian demands – and the AJN wants to focus on “media bias.”
Tick tock, Zionists.