The other side

The following letters appear in this week’s Australian Jewish News, in response to Federal Labor MP Michael Danby’s attempt at censoring and bullying my publisher, Melbourne University Publishing and my forthcoming book on Israel/Palestine. He has failed, of course and will continue to do so. Perhaps he’s forgotten we live in a democracy. Michael, your motivations are both transparent and utterly predictable.


I HAVE not had a conversation of any substance with Michael Danby either prior to 1972 or since. It was a surprise therefore to find him slandering me in the AJN (26/8) with views that are pure invention and palpable nonsense.

Whatever conventions one might expect a politician to adhere to — accuracy might be presumed to be basic. These statements are malicious and derogatory. Irrelevance is the fate of local politicians who remain locked in to a dogmatic, insular and ultimately self-serving view of the world. Smear campaigns are normally the stuff of the gutter press.

I am surprised therefore that the AJN reproduces character assassinations without following the standard journalistic practice of checking the facts.

As the CEO and publisher of Melbourne University Publishing, I am proud of our 80-year history of independent publishing. MUP’s mandate is to publish books of public interest.

That venerable tradition continues with the publication of such titles as Jacqueline Rose’s The Question of Zion and Antony Loewenstein’s forthcoming book Voices of Reason.

I am dismayed that a fellow publisher such as the AJN gives space for proposals to boycott ideas. Condemning a book prior to publication is appalling.

Perhaps the AJN should review the book now, nine months out from publication. Danby’s proposal is inimical to the central Jewish values of tolerance and open debate.

CEO & publisher,
Melbourne University Publishing


IT is obvious that Michael Danby, insecure in his stance on Israel and the ALP’s position on it, believes in some sort of pre-emptive strike against a position or view which might directly challenge what he espouses.

Leaving to one side what makes Danby believe that he has the right to dictate to my publisher what they should or should not publish (astounding for an MHR, and more so especially as the book is nine months away from publication), let readers of the AJN consider for themselves the questions which were posed of Danby (see the entries for Friday, August 26, on about which Danby appears so intimidated and which has prompted his outburst.

I have no doubt that mature readers of the AJN are more than capable of making up their own minds on what to read — without Danby’s dictates!

Sydney, NSW


HOW extraordinary! (“Disgusting project” AJN 26/8). Here is an MP who is a) dictating to MUP — a highly-regarded publisher — not to publish a forthcoming book; b) slamming the author of the book because the questions asked of Danby are not to his liking; c) telling the Jewish community not to buy the book, when published; and d) “urging” the AJN to have nothing to do with the book.

How democratic! And how prescient of Danby to slam a book nine months away from publication.

Melbourne, Vic

What is Michael Danby on about? His diatribe of a letter in the AJN (26/8), about a forthcoming book on the Jewish community in Australia only guarantees sales, and his sad attempt at character assassination of publisher Louise Adler and political censorship of Melbourne University Press is outrageous.

Perhaps the problem is this: I suspect the book will be critical of the predominance of conservative views in the Jewish community about the current state of Israel, Danby included.

LARRY STILLMAN [ALP member and Melbourne Ports electorate resident]
Elwood, Vic

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