An Israeli weapons manufacturer has produced a new, smart robot (above) that "can fight its way down dark alleys, through caves and over rubble, seeking out bombs and booby traps along the way and warning human foot soldiers of enemies and danger ahead."
Ironically, the manufacturer’s first order came from an Australian group which plans to use it to combat an opposition group of robots who recently signed on to the Independent Australian Jewish Voices manifesto promoted by prominent Jewish luminaries Antony (I believe that Israel's right to exist must be recognized) Loewenstein, Peter (I'm no longer a nobody because I got a death threat) Slezak, Louise (I wasn’t born a Jew basher) Adler, Sol (I cringe at the swastika but still march under it) Salbe and Avigail (One State) Abarbanel.
The IAJV people complain that they are constantly vilified and intimidated by their opponents and their views are stifled within the Jewish community (even though some of the signatories are among the most prolifically published letter writers in the Australian Jewish News).
Strangely enough, like robots, they remain eerily close to silent when someone with Hamas-like views attacks them. This letter was published in the Age earlier this week:-
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
To my knowledge, the best any IAJV person could do with this sort of vilification was a response from a signatory Steve Brook:-
"No, Mr. Foster (The Age, 7 March) the state of Israel is entirely legitimate, and its existence is not open to question. It is attitudes like yours that have helped create the fortress mentality which governs so much of the posturing over the Israel-Palestine question. The chief sin committed by those who signed the IJAV statement, and I am among them, is that they broke ranks with those who have a my-country-right-or-wrong attitude to Israel. For the latter, IJAV is washing dirty linen in public, and this, while unpreventable, is impermissible."
Brook’s reponse to the Foster attack is to weakly re-iterate that the state of Israel is "entirely legitimate and its existence is not open to question" and that's all!
The rest of his response is to parrot the standard IAJV line about breaking ranks with those "those who have a my-country-right-or-wrong attitude to Israel".
Which is not right either.
In fact the IAJV is breaking ranks with the majority of Jews in the Australian community who openly debate a multitude of issues concerning Israel, Palestine and Zionism – often critically. The problem is that the IAJV people simply refuse to recognise this as a fact and then continue to whine on about alleged "freedom of speech" issues. This "my-country-right-or-wrong" business is a total furphy.
And talk about playing the victim!
Mr. Brook and Larry Stillman's views are regularly published in the Australian Jewish News letters column. Stillman is another who wrote to the Age this week to present his gripe on the issue.
The Age didn't publish the Brook response but it did print a letter from one of his co-signatories who certainly broke ranks with many of the others on the two state issue:-
Why this Jew signed
I AM a former citizen of Israel and a signatory of the Independent Australian Jewish Voices petition. I have been an activist for Palestinian rights and an outspoken supporter of a one-state solution. The mainstream Australian Jewish community has been working hard to silence such anti-Zionist views. I signed the petition as an expression of protest against this attitude — not because I am a supporter of a two-state solution.
Avigail Abarbanel, Canberra
As you can see, the IAJV is becoming a rabble. Abarbanel has signed as an anti-Zionist while other signatories insist that they would not have joined this group if they thought IAJV was arguing for a position that was "against the Jewish State" and they believed that "Israel has no right to exist". Certainly, that's the case with Abarbanel and, as for Loewenstein - well, I'll let him do the talking:-
"Jews against Jews
As a Jew who doesn't believe in the concept of a Jewish state - a fundamentally undemocratic and colonialist idea from a bygone era - reception to such ideas within the Jewish community is usually vitriolic, bigoted, racist and downright pathetic.
Australian Jews, generally speaking, are incapable of hearing the true reality of their beloved homeland and its barbaric actions."
I think we're getting the picture now and so are some of the signatories who have begun to realise that they've been callously manipulated. This is what one of them says:-
"Why I have withdrawn my signature from the Slezak petition
When this petition came around I signed it because I thought it was all about affirming even-handed and fair values in the Middle East, but on listening to the ABC PM programme tonight, I have come to the conclusion that is actually a bit of a tanty by a few people who would manage to feel aggrieved and excluded for purely personal reasons in any society.
I must say I haven't heard the 'self-hating Jew' furphy applied to anyone for decades but apparently some nostalgic individuals are still furiously shadow boxing with this bogey.
A moment's thought locates the idea of the 'Self-Hating Jew' in a 20th century modernist psychoanalytic tradition that is in every other respect dead in the water.
So let's not waste any more energy arguing over something that is hurtful, unprovable, and unfalsifiable.
It's a creation of pure panic and we should stop bandying it around and hurting each other.
If you have signed this petition as I did in the false belief that you are doing something for ME Peace.
I suggest you withdraw and join the original 'Jewish Voices for a Just Peace' which has been going for years, does not rely on 'celebrity signatures' and has dedicated people like Lyndall Katz and Donna Sife in it whose record in concrete peace-making between Jews Christians and Moslems is unquestionable.
What a relief to hear Donna's voice on the radio bringing some balm and balance to this painful debate.
You can withdraw your signature at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/remove_me.html?key=610949694/e7584c35116bae91659cd86a64c4fea9/796861076 (possibly this will point you to my signature, so if thats the case, apologies - keep looking) I am now ready to sign Michael Danby's petition which seems much more practical, even-handed, and rooted in a the real world, instead of in the pious waffle of the Slezak petition, if only someone will tell me where to sign it."
The link to Judy's letter is here and it also gets you to the Danby petition, which I fully endorse.
I congratulate Judy for coming to the realisation that you don't have to be a robot to hold a truly independent and responsible view on Israel and Palestine and in particular for recognising that the IAJV letter is nothing more than "pious waffle".