Tuesday, March 11, 2008

AND SPEAKING OF VIRUSES

UNPOPULAR: Antony Loewenstein has alienated many of his former supporters who were original signatories to the IAJV Statement of Principles for what they regard as his unprincipled and duplicitous conduct. Based on this photograph he could also be in trouble with the fashion police.

Antony Loewenstein is not a popular young man at the moment after his latest efforts have left signatories of the original Independent Australian Jewish Voices campaign turning on him with accusations of intellectual dishonesty. Loewenstein is one of the founders of the IAJV and he co-wrote its Statement of Principles of March 2007 (click here for the Statement), which included the following wording:-

"We believe that Israel’s right to exist must be recognized and that Palestinians’ right to a homeland must also be acknowledged."

These words in this motherhood statement enticed many well meaning people to sign on in the belief that the IAJV stood for two states living side by side in peace but they were wrong. Within a month, Loewenstein had written his introduction to the second edition of his not so best selling book "My Israel Question"; a book so replete with factual errors, twisted logic and some, well ... borrowed ideas that it beggared belief why some IAJV followers failed to see the warning signs there and then (i.e. a month after the Statement of Principles first saw the light of day). Loewenstein was quite open about his views - he supported a one state solution, euphemistically meaning an end to the Jewish State and, in all probability, an end to Jewish existence in the original homeland for Jews. If that wasn't enough, one only needed to go to the Antony Loewenstein website to ascertain where he stood on Israel and the Jewish people.

And still, the faithful believed because they wanted to believe that you can mix rabid, radical politics of an overpowering hatred of the West, remain not just a staunch critic of Israeli politics but a hater of the nation, even embrace some of the nastier regimes in the Middle East and still be speaking with a Jewish voice.

A little more than half a year into its existence and the IAJV was promising a lot but delivering very little. It had almost 500 signatories (a minute proportion of Australia's 100,000 plus population), some of them quite dubious and decidedly unkosher sounding but was otherwise doing nothing. Come October and Ant had developed enough chutzpah to pen a letter to the Australian newspaper signed as representating the IAJV. The problem was that the views presented in the letter weren't in accord with those incorporated in the Statement of Principles. Although he apparently acknowledged this fact and was "profusely apologetic to individuals who wrote to him" he failed to publicly correct despite repeated urging from other fellow signatories.

In the meantime, the man who plied his trade on the annoying complaint that the mainstream Jewish community was denying him a voice with which to air his views (while remaining more or less ubiquitous), was banning those whose views differed to those of his own from the Antony Loewenstein blog. The megalomania was spreading at an ever-increasing rate.

So there should have been no surprise among IAJVniks when an email was circulated to signatories urging them to sign up for a Nakba Advertisement scheduled to appear in the Australian on the morning of March 12, 2008 to coincide with a government motion in the House of Representatives in Canberra and even to contribute to its cost of $20,000.00. The proposed advertisement was enclosed with the email and to the surprise of many it was so hostile, so hateful and so inflammatory to the Israeli people and constituted such a revision of the history of the conflict with its neighbours as to be unacceptable to even some of Israel's most trenchant Jewish critics.

Here is an example of the proposed wording: "We as informed and concerned Australians, choose to disassociate ourselves from a celebration of the triumph of racism and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians since the al-Nakba (Catastrophe) of 1948."


T
his marked a total change in direction from the motherhood statement that explicitly supported a two state solution but for reasons already mentioned above, they should have seen it coming. The email was sent around and began to find itself on the screens of non-IAJVniks. In no time at all, ordinary members of the Jewish community were reading the email and many on the current list of IAJV signatories which included Zionist youth group Hashomer Hatzair were rightfully spitting chips.

Refugee rights activist professor Linda Briskman was quoted as follows: "Even for an old radical like me I thought the wording was extremely inflammatory and can't bring myself to sign it." while Miriam Faine, wrote: "While agreeing that the situation in Gaza is appalling, I don't think your letter is at all constructive and in no way addresses the complexities of the situation.

"It will, however, put IAJV well and truly outside the Jewish community in Australia. People like me who signed your original statement in good faith - because I agreed with it - will now be associated with your current position, which is extreme.

"Your letter will bring much joy to the right wing voices within the Jewish community who construct all criticism of Israel as anti-semitic and promoting the destruction of the State of Israel. And it will inhibit other members of the community from publicly expressing views about the nature and future of Israel which could have a positive effect of softening Australian government policies of support for Israeli expansionist policies."

Actually, the right wing voices within the Jewish community didn't react as predicted at all. It brought them little joy but they were upset and angry. So too were the moderates amd left wing voices (including some of the radicals) who were entitled to be livid about the duplicitous attempt to hijack some well meaning activists into a cause so full of hatred that Australian Jewish Democratic Society figure Sol Salbe pointed out would simply not "help the Palestinians in Gaza or anyone seeking peace and justice for that part of the world." He also raised the issue of intellectual dishonesty in that while it was proposed to include the IAJV as a group supporting the petition, it had no input in the text which had been put together by a number of Palestinian groups whose key individuals are said to "take the attitude of no cooperation with Israelis or Jews except on the basis of 100 per cent endorsement of their narrative." (Ironically, this is exactly what many non IAJV Jewish supporters of peace initiatives have been complaining about for years!)

It was clear that Loewenstein was seeking to ambush Jews to join in a Palestinian initiative hostile to Israel that, in any event, was not really serving the cause of peace for either side.
Loewenstein's duplicity was finally coming out into the open and, in the end, his attempt to hijack the IAJV was being thwarted from within.

This should not surprise those who have read his book and his blog and it certainly does not surprise Loewenstein's cousin Ronald Green who opened up his home for his young relative 2005 while he was researching his book. I'll leave it to Green to tell the rest of that tale:

"Antony Loewenstein doesn't rest for a moment in his relentless attacks about Israel and anything that has to do with Israel. It's surprising, in fact, that he sleeps at all, as I must assume that he is also active in other world evils, occupations and the like, such as Tibet, Chechnya, Sudan, Chad, Zimbabwe, and others. Unfortunately we haven't yet heard about those from the intrepid Lowenstein, fighter for good over evil. In the meantime, he has his work cut out in chasing the compounded evils of Israel, so much so that his facts - never a strong point with him - still leave much to be desired. Coming to think of it, though, wouldn't we expect that after so many years of being an expert on Israel and the Middle East that he would get better with facts?

"Or could it be that he does know the facts and just isn't interested in letting others know? Here's an example, from his blog of 8 March 2008, headed "This is how the Australian government grovels before Israel and its local propagandists SMH" in which he gleefully reprints a hatchet piece from the Sydney Morning Herald in which the hilariously named "Australian Committee for Truth in the Middle East" is quoted as referring to the Hamas rockets as "the relative pinpricks of [homemade] Hamas rockets fired into territory illegally occupied by Israeli settlers …

"Now, now. Are the inhabitants of Sderot and Ashkelon "Israeli settlers"? Are those two towns in "territory illegally occupied?" Is all of Israel now "illegal", not only the lands captured in 1967? Surely everybody knows that Hamas rockets are landing in Israel proper, recognized as such by the world (apart from, of course, that so-called truth committee)

"Perhaps nobody noticed the extent of the 'truth' spewed out by that website. Perhaps the SMH didn't. Or perhaps it doesn't care. And Loewenstein? Does he know where Sderot and Ashkelon are? He certainly didn't visit them during his one sojourn of 2 weeks in 2005. Does he care where they are? Or does he actually consider all of Israel a bone in his throat?"

POSTSCRIPT: In a victory for common sense the Loewenstein camp buckled under and failed to add the IAJV brand to the endorsement on the Nakba Advertisement which was printed on Page 7 of The Australian of 12 March 2008. It a horrible piece of advertising and, based on both its content and appearance, I believe it represents $20,000.00 well and truly pissed down the toilet along with what's left of the Independent Australian Jewish Voices. At least the prospects for a decent dialogue both within the Jewish community and with others is enhanced now that LAntony Loewenstein has been sent in disgrace to his own little patch of Hamastan somewhere well outside the Jewish community where he belongs with the handful of Jews who shamefully put their names to this piece of bilge - (click here).

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why would LAntony Loewenstein know where Sderot and Ashkelon are? In his book My Israel Question he placed Israel's Galil region in Lebanon (perhaps it was wishful thinking).

How his publisher Louise Adler keeps getting kudos for her work is more than a mystery.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Loewenstein still managed to attract 45 IAJV signatories (i.e. less than 10%) to sign the Palestinian Nakba petition. These are the names of the Jews of Shame:-

Abarbanel Avigail
Asoulin Eran
Bach Willy
Beauchamp Alice
Bender Lyn Estel
Bilander Berish
Binder Geoffrey
Bush Jenny
Carleton Jenny
David Goodman
De Saxe Mannie
di Suvero Henry
Dowse Sara
Edwards Julie
Furolo Joseph
Ginges Hal
Gold Suzie
Heller David
Horsburgh Jennifer
Horsburgh Maurice
Joe Rich
Kaye Margaret
Loewenstein Antony
Loewenstein Jeff
Loewenstein Violet
Lublin Peter
Matt Grant
Nimni Ephraim
Nissen Alex
O’Conal-Prinz Judith M
Oppenheim Dennis
Pettitt Annie
Philips Michael
Romer Marta
Rothfield Andrew
Samorzewski Meika Loofs
Singer Esther
Slezak Peter
Sztrajt David
Walker Ross
Wand Leslie
Winston George AM
Witton Emil
Witton Nic
Witton Ron

Mike said...

Two of the 45 signatories are his parents, so it's nice to see that Loewenstein is supported by mum and dad. I suppose they need to indulge their son, despite the fact that he is on record for stating that he was brought up in a racist house.

Sweeney said...

Mike,

You really should have some compassion for his mummy and daddy. Little Ant is their only child and they probably have only one way of trying to hold onto him. A lot of parents would probably do the same thing.

Mike said...

I do have compassion for them, Sweeney. There is a difference, though, between supporting one's wayword child and actively joining a cause that is destructive, vicious and self-defeating. By signing that ad, they did more than support their child. No, not all parents would do that.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure there were 45 IAJV names on the advertisement that appeared in the paper?