The following letters appear in this week’s Australian Jewish News:
Unhelpful to whom? Jeff Halper, (AJN 03/04), the recent visitor from Israel to our shores, seems to judge Diaspora Jewry’s relations towards Israel according to his own views of his country.
A quick lesson in our Diaspora-Israel (not Israel-Diaspora) relations before his visit would have helped him not be shunned by our community.
The general rules for all visitors on speaking tours on sensitive political issues to a foreign country are obviously similar.
1. Check the credentials of your hosts.
2. Check the credibility of your hosts in the communities you want to address.
3. If, in spite of your hosts’ unacceptable credentials within a community, you still wanted the opportunity to address it, then make your own contacts within the community, even via The AJN or on various communal websites, and tell the community exactly what you intend to inform them of that they don’t already know from reading your articles in Ha’aretz and other publications.
4. All foreigners representing minority views and trying to effect “regime changes” overseas are quite frankly not welcome here or anywhere else. This is the same for our community if some Australians would be speaking in Israel, bent on interfering in Australia’s internal affairs from there.
5. Protecting Israel, irrespective of which government is in power at any one time, is very much on our community’s and all Jewish Diaspora communities’ agendas.
Yes, Jeff Halper: the kind of nation Israel is and will be in the future is dependent on those who live and will live there.
At the moment, from abroad, the tilt is very much towards Australian and other Zionists, as well as Brooklyn Chassidim, not the anti-Zionists, the “one-democratic-nation-for-everyone-don’t-need-a-Jewish-State” group who hosted you for their own (nefarious?) purposes.
South Yarra, Vic
Steve Brook from the Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS) asks at what point does reasonable criticism of Israeli actions morph into an anti-Israel position (AJN 27/03).
Well Mr Brook, it depends what is the person’s agenda criticising Israel and if they are impartial. If it were, say, Pilger, Saikel, Fisk or Loewenstein, their criticism of Israel would have to be taken in context of their anti-Israel bias.
None of these people have ever singularly criticised the Palestinians or Arabs for their part in the conflict. They obviously have an anti-Israel position. The same would apply to groups that advocate for the Palestinians.
Some typical examples of criticism of Israel that can be taken as an anti- Israel stance are: equating Israel’s response to Palestinian terror attacks condemning Israel for its retaliatory actions against Palestinian aggression objecting to the security barrier, ignoring its purpose and the reason for its construction and success rate in saving lives arguing for all alleged Palestinian refugees right of return or a one-state solution objecting to a Israel as a Jewish state while reaming silent to the Hamas charter calling for a “Islamic State of Palestine” or holding Israel to higher moral standards than its foes.
All the letters and articles I have read that have been published in the media and online by you Mr Brook have been highly critical of Israel, while ignoring all Palestinian and Arab transgressions.
So this would be an example of taking an anti-Israel position. Furthermore, I guess the fact that you are a signatory and supporter of Antony Loewenstein’s dissident group of Jews, the Independent Australian Jewish Voices, doesn’t add to credibility of reasonable criticism of Israel.
Conversely, left-wing academic Philip Mendes, a former AJDS member, is quite prepared to criticise Israel and also singularly criticise the Palestinians and Arabs publicly and without hesitation.
This would be a good example of a critic of Israel without being accused of taking an anti-Israel position.