The following letter was submitted this week to the Sydney Morning Herald but remains unpublished:
It seems that we are again witnessing a distortion of facts in Australia when it comes to the Palestine/Israel question. I refer to the visit of Israeli Professor Jeff Halper and the refusal of the Australian Jewish News to print an advertisement promoting his speaking tour. Robert Magid the publisher, gives a long explanation in his letter (SMH 18/3) that is disingenuous and provocative.
The ad listed the speaking engagements of Jeff Halper in Sydney. To suggest that it was offensive in the same vein as an ad promoting “female genital mutilation” insults the reader’s intelligence. However, it leads the reader to make an unsavoury connection between Jeff Halper’s ad and hatred of Jews because of a huge rally in January condemning Israel’s attacks on Gaza. Magid associates Antony Loewenstein – who spoke at the rally and is a promoter of Jeff’s Sydney events – with some of the fringe elements who then compared Israel to Nazi Germany. Magid draws a long and tenuous bow: Loewenstein, like other fair-minded Australians present, had no control over that public crowd.
As for Jeff Halper’s views on Israel, he has been explicit in his assessment of the current situation. Where once Israel could have lived as a Jewish state side by side with a Palestinian state (the Palestinians accepted a two-state solution in 1988), Israel’s expansionist policies, in defiance of international law, have driven the Palestinians into Bantustans à la South Africa with little or no hope of them ever having an independent and viable state of their own. All that is left now is a bi-national reality that will require a reconciling between the two peoples in a political entity that will have to be decided between them if this conflict is ever to be resolved.
Judging from Magid’s spurious speculations, he has no interest in providing diverse views, but rather favours one failing political ideology that can only be sustained through the use of force, intimidation, character assassination and baseless accusations.
Australians for Palestine
Women for Palestine
Organisers of Jeff Halper’s tour