My Israel Question

Actually, it’s not my question – it’s Antony Loewenstein’s question – but it’s a good one. To what extent does the extreme [tag]zealotry[/tag] of [tag]zionism[/tag] contribute to the intractability of the conflict in the [tag]middle east[/tag]? For asking it, he’s been called a self-hating jew. This prompted a response in Crikey, in the form of a cute bit of doggerel. Apparently Dr. Hanan Ashrawi said, when she came to Sydney to talk a year or so ago, that the jewish lobby in Australia were more vitriolic than any others around the world. Now Antony has been on the receiving end of that for daring to question the received wisdom of zionism.

The book launch was tonight although, impressively, the book is in its second print run, due to the publicity garnered for it by the those railing against its publication. Federal Labor MP Michael Dandy who called for the publisher to not print the book – based simply on a whiff of the subject matter and said that publishing it was “like commissioning Pauline Hanson to write a book about multicultural Australia”.

David Marr was the guest speaker, and he related the fury from the [tag]jewish lobby[/tag] over the ABC’s screening of the Panorama documentary on Ariel Sharon’s involvement with the civilian massacres in Sabra and Shatilla in 1982. The lobby didn’t report a concern with anti-jewish bias through proper channels. Instead, Colin Rubenstein called a mate on the ABC board who then collared those in charge of current affairs programming, asking what they were going to do about the blatant anti-semitic content. Marr said that there was something lke 47 pages of complaint, from which only one item had any slight substance. However such abusive complaints act in themselves as a chilling effect on rational debate, or even mention, of the issues.

Both David and Antony talked of the need to have a frank and open discussion of middle eastern topics, unencumbered by zealotry. Also, Antony talked about the long history of debate from jewish scholars on innumerable subjects, and of deep self-examination that has been largely absent since the rise of the zealots. The Australian had a good piece from Antony explaining his point of view.

Finally, here’s a review from Israel, which I like.

‘This is one of the best treatises which presents in the most lucid way possible why anti-Zionism can not be equated with anti-Semitism. Interweaving personal trips, most valuable information and clear analysis, My Israel Question will serve as an essential guide for those who dare to criticise Zionist wrongdoing in the past and Israeli policies in the present, without being deterred by false allegations of Anti-Semitism.’ –Dr Ilan Pappe, Senior Lecturer at the University of Haifa, Israel, and author of A History of Modern Palestine

[tags]censorship, free speech, Israel, Palestine[/tags]

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