The risk and financial cost of speaking honestly about Israel/Palestine

Crikey is one of Australia’s best independent news websites. I… contributed extensively over the years from 2009 – 2012. Its current departing editor, Marni Cordell, with whom I worked when she edited another great Australian site, New Matilda, has written a revealing article that interviews previous Crikey editors and their experiences. It contains this anecdote that proves once again that being… critical about Israel/Palestine is full of political and financial risks:

Misha Ketchell (2005-2006) says he felt sick “pretty much every morning” as… Crikey… ed. “I don’t miss the sheer terror of being on that tight morning deadline, or coming home at the end of the day a shell of a human being. I’ve never since worked under the same sort of compressed time pressure that we did at… Crikey… in those early days.”
One of the most awkward, however, was “probably when I published a poem that Guy Rundle wrote as a tribute to Antony Loewenstein, called ”˜Ballad of the self-hating Jew’.
“When the poem arrived I realised it was genuinely affectionate tribute to Loewenstein, but it was riffing in a typical Rundle edgy way and I was worried that some people might not get the satire and think it was anti-Semitic,” he says.
“I rang Antony and asked him to vet the poem. He liked it and said we should publish it, so we did. Then the calls started to come in accusing us of anti-Semitism. Some very important advertisers pulled their advertising. Eric Beecher was great about it”‰—”‰he never said a word”‰—”‰but I knew it hurt… Crikey… commercially.”

For the record, I still like the poem so here it is (this will make most sense for people living in… Australia):

by Guy Rundle (for Antony Loewenstein):
He was trucking down Carlisle St
With a bagel in his hand
Someone said to someone
Who is that awful man?
Him? Oh my dear I thought you knew
That’s the neurotic, self-hating Jew
He thinks it’s not impossible
That Israel is in error
And even if you’re airborne
Terror is still terror
Mass killing might be wrong!
Gosh even torture too?
Yes, amazingly, cos he’s a neurotic quite
psychotic, self-hating Jew
He believes peaceful neighbours
Can’t be built from rubble
And it’s possible that Begin
Was Arafat sans stubble
That Dershowitz is crazy
And Danby might be too
He’s a neurotic, psychotic, ingrate
third rate, self-hating Jew
He’s pretty sure that AIJACS
Will get a surface clean
(sotto voce: Gaza for example)
But you shouldn’t inhale it,
If you know what I mean
He disagrees with Leibler (gasps)
So alas it must be true
He’s a third rate, ingrate, simple inexplicable,
Utterly despicable, neurotic, quite psychotic, blue meanie party pooping self-hating Jew
He thinks that Eretz Israel
Needs someone to restrain her
Says he likes chopped liver
But not if it’s called “Qana”
He’s a yarmulke-wearing mullah
And once we’ve whacked Hezbollah
(any day now)
We’ll settle his hash too
Ingrate third rate, neurotic, quite psychotic
Vanunu in a muu-muu, self-hating Jew.

Text and images ©2023 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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