A heckler who ranted that the holocaust never happened failed to disrupt a lecture by journalist and author Antony Loewenstein in Adelaide yesterday.
Mr Loewenstein, in town to talk about his controversial book My Israel Question – which tackles Israel’s occupation of Palestine – was harangued by a man who said the gassing of Jews during World War II never happened.
The 50-strong audience [editor: for the record, the crowd was at least 120 people] at the Rendevous Allegra Hotel shouted the man down.
In his speech Mr Loewenstein told the audience that Israel would cease to exist unless it develop stronger ties to the Arab world.
He was also critical of the media in Australia for not providing an Arab voice.
It was a wonderful event – and this was after giving many interviews to South Australian media and lecturing at the University of Adelaide – despite the lone, ranting individual in the corner. I was humbled by the hundreds of individuals, from a diverse range of backgrounds, who wanted to hear and discuss the Middle East conflict.
It was a strange feeling, as an Australian Jew, for many members of the Lebanese, Muslim community in Adelaide (including some Druze) to say I gave them a voice in the current, toxic, media environment where discussing Arabs, Palestine and Israeli policies is almost taboo. I was very happy to receive the praise, but also wondered about the young, articulate Lebanese people sadly absent from our media landscape.
What strikes me as I travel around the nation is the ability of the Israel/Palestine issue to cross all religious, ethnic, environmental and political lines. This affects the young and old, devout and atheist, Australian and overseas-born. The status-quo no longer works and the political and media elite ignores this at its peril.