Take two Jews and you’ll get three opinions

The following letters appear in today’s Age newspaper:

I am not sure which planet the “Jews with diverse opinions” have been living on, but they seem to imply that the mainstream Jewish community has an unswerving and uncritical attitude towards Israel regardless of whatever happens in the Middle East — a premise that is patently false. The Jewish community is comprised of people who routinely articulate a diverse range of opinions, but if it seems that this community is united in its support for Israel then it is probably because there is almost universal rejection of the notion that Israel should lie down and roll over while her enemies plot her destruction.

These “Jews with diverse opinions” are encouraged to express their views when and where they like — but if they don’t receive the support their fragile egos expect, it is not because they are silenced, but because most of the Jewish community essentially does not agree with them.
Alan Freedman, East St Kilda

Who’s being ‘silenced’?
Antony Loewenstein is at it again, being printed in every major daily with the self-disproving argument he is silenced. Meanwhile, the names of many signatories to his petition appear weekly in the letters page of the Australian Jewish News. Some silencing! As for his claim that there has been an “overwhelming” response to his initiative, thus far, he has amassed fewer than 150 signatures, out of a Jewish community in excess of 120,000. His views aren’t silenced at all, just unpopular.
Daniel Lewis, Rushcutters Bay, NSW

The right to criticise
The dismissal by Colin Rubenstein, of the Australia Israel Jewish Affairs Council, of critical voices in the Jewish community as “the usual suspects” is a diversion from why more than 100 people have signed a petition calling for more open, and respectful debate on the crisis in Israel/Palestine. As Australians, we are entitled to have views and take actions that are critical of the Israeli Government. Such views do not threaten Israeli security and should not be manipulated for McCarthyite purposes within the Jewish community or in Australian debate on the Middle East. Our views are by and large based on the criticism of Israeli policies and actions which appear in the free Israel press itself. Finally It is a canard that critical supporters of Israel are uncritical supporters of Palestinian terror or duplicitous anti-Semites — as can be seen by the letters and opinion pieces which many of us have had published in the Jewish media and elsewhere.
Larry Stillman, Elwood

Just more of the same
While it’s all very nice to read about this new group, Independent Jewish Australian Voices, aiming to open up debate within the Jewish community, in the broader context this is pretty much more of the same. What is really needed is prominent voices in the wider community arguing the real Palestinian cause — which means putting the case against the legitimacy of Israel, rather than just supporting the kind of two-state cop-out that Antony Loewenstein and his comrades still cling to. Then we might have a genuine public debate about Palestine and — who knows? — maybe one day even some genuine justice for the Palestinians.
Jason Foster, Windsor