Courting controversy on emotive issue

The following article appears in this week’s Sydney Inner-West Courier:

Inner City Author generates fierce debate.

Annandale freelance journalist, author and blogger Antony Loewenstein has attracted controversy for his work on the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Since Mr Loewenstein wrote his first major article on the conflict for the Sydney Morning Herald in 2003 he has received hate mail, abusive phone calls and threatening emails. The condemnation continued after he contributed a chapter about Hanan Ashrawi’s visit to Australia in last year’s best-selling book, Not Happy, John!

His first solo book about Australian attitudes towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is months away from publication, yet Federal MP Michael Danby has already called for it to be banned. Mr Loewenstein said he started writing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after becoming concerned that the debate in Australia was one-sided.

“There are few people in the mainstream media discussing what the Israeli occupation really means,” he said. “Everything is always framed in terms of what is good for Israel. So the idea behind the book is to ask why and to hear different voices, both in Australia and overseas, about the conflict that may not have been heard before.”

Mr Danby wrote to the Australian Jewish News in August suggesting Melbourne University Publishing should drop the book, describing it as a “disgusting project”.

But Mr Loewenstein is determined to continue exploring the issues and has already signed a book deal with Random House to write about the state of the Australian media.

Talking about the criticism Mr Loewenstein said: “You try not to let it get to you. The way I see it is the more people attack you the more you are doing your job well. My position is not to bash Israel because it is Israel – it’s simply to examine Israel’s role in the region and the impact of the West’s attitude towards Israel”.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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