This week’s Australian Jewish News contains some letters that really don’t need an introduction, or explanation. Just pity:
IAJV signatory Lewis Rassaby (AJN 18/5) claims that “whatever the merits of his opinions”, Antony Loewenstein is “at least brave enough to stand up for what he thinks”.
And this is brave – why? Loewenstein lives in a modern democracy and Jewish people don’t issue fatwas, Mr Rassaby. Although Loewenstein and IAJV partner Dr Peter Slezak repeat (at every possible opportunity) their claim of receiving “death threats”, I doubt very much whether anyone (including themselves) takes such things seriously. Certainly neither Loewenstein nor Slezak have gone into hiding or required police protection.
I also doubt whether they are checking under their cars each morning – as if there would be any such need. What exactly are they in fear of? Eighty-five-year-old Mrs Goldenbloom is going to “whack them”? Woody Allen might bust them? Quelle horreur!
Real bravery is that shown by Muslim dissidents, in Australia and overseas, who face real physical danger or even murder for speaking out, rather than the completely imaginary bogeyman that Rassaby and Loewenstein claim to be standing up to.
Loewenstein is no Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Theo van Gogh or Salman Rushdie. Australian Muslims who have spoken out against Sheikh Hilaly have also required police protection for their comments. It is they who deserve real support from Rassaby. In contrast, such posturing doesn’t make Loewenstein “brave”, it makes him an attention-seeking nebbisch.
Rushcutters Bay, NSW
LEWIS Rassaby’s letter (AJN 18/5) should not go without retort.
1. Since when is being a young voice a criteria for being taken seriously? In Loewenstein’s case, it is my opinion that he is wholly wrong and doing great damage to the wider Jewish community.
2. Loewenstein is, according to his newsletter, a board member of the Macquarie University Centre for Middle Eastern and North African Studies. If one claims academic kudos, it is reasonable to be criticised for lack of academic rigour.
3. I think Rassaby may have confused Loewenstein’s speaking “from the heart” with another part of the anatomy. Be that as it may, his critics also hold heartfelt views, so Rassaby’s dismissal of them as “haters of youth, freedom and change” is nothing less than bigoted.
4. If Rassaby wishes to turn his back on the Jewish community, so be it. I’m sure we’ll all feel the loss deeply.
5. There is no censorship of Loewenstein in the AJN. His views have been widely canvassed and the gullible have had their support of him published. But as many of us think those views are quite odious, there is no obligation on the AJN to sponsor them. The right to state such views has not been impeached. But the right of the majority to debunk such nonsense is as important more so, when it is so terribly offensive to most of us.
THE Kassam rockets that Hamas is indiscriminately firing on the Israeli border town of Sderot is a clear and unequivocal unprovoked attack on innocent Israeli citizens. The Israeli Air Force’s reply of force is exactly what Hamas wants – to draw Israel into the mire of clashes that is taking place between Hamas and Fatah.
So these Aussie Jews who were signatories to that divisive petition against Israeli policy – are they sorry now that they were hoodwinked into believing that the Palestinians are capable of any peaceful coexistence with Israel? Does it take a relative nobody and obscure little writer such as Loewenstein to convince Jewish well-known identities to be a part of a misguided statement pertaining Israel’s wrongful treatment of the Palestinians?
Israel did not start this latest skirmish. It was the Palestinian firing of the Kassam rockets into Israel that started this latest bombing of Gaza by the IDF. So to all those signatories who have foolishly been led astray, I say: it’s not too late for you to retract and remove your signature from a worthless piece of paper designed to divide the Australian Jewish community’s undying support and love for Israel.
Crows Nest, NSW