The following is an article by a guest contributor, Ronald Green, author of 13 ESL books who lives in Ramat Hasharon, Israel. His cousin, Antony Loewenstein stayed with Ronald at his home in Israel last year while doing research for his controversial book "My Israel Question". The Blank Pages of the Age recommends that you don't waste your money buying the book and will let you know why in an article to appear shortly. You can reach your own conclusion as to how our guest would like you to spend your money...
THE LOEWENSTEIN SYNDROME by Ronald Green
The recently published book "My Israel Question" by Antony Loewenstein is an auspicious event - for the author, obviously, but perhaps more so for the rest of us. It is not the book itself that is important, since any book endorsed by John Pilger and Robert Fisk will not leave any surprises as to its contents. And in case we are in any doubt, the front cover showing a temporary Star of David about to dissipate in a pristine blue sky leaves very little to the imagination as to the author's wishful thinking.
But it is a good time to ask WHY? Not about Pilger and Fisk, for we have been dealing with their ilk for as long as there were Jews in the world. The question is: Why is Loewenstein the way he is? How did a Jewish boy, whose grandparents escaped from Germany in the 30's and who grew up in a warm Jewish house in Melbourne become obsessed with turning against his past? Loewenstein, after all, was always aware of the centrality of Jerusalem to the Jewish people, and long before "Zionist" became a dirty word for him, he read about yearnings for the return to Zion countless times in his prayer book. Did this only child take teenage revolt so far as to turn over all the tables and cross every red line? And what is he still proving?
It is serious to label someone a racist. Loewenstein is a racist. In that he is not unique, of course. The phenomenon is interesting in his case not only because it is something of which he accuses others (very common among the righteous left), but because his racism manifests itself in a self-loathing that finds its outlet in his obsessive ravings against Israel, Israelis, Zionists and assorted other Jews.
Every Jewish community has its Loewenstein, some have even a number of those suffering from the Loewenstein Syndrome.
What is the Loewenstein Syndrome and what distinguishes it from your common or garden racist? A racist is generally defined as a person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others. A Loewenstein Syndrome sufferer is a person with a prejudiced and obsessive belief that his race is inferior to others; "inferior" in this case means more evil, more inherently wicked than others. Since it is obsessive, there is virtually nothing the sufferer won't do in order to prove that he is right.
In the Loewenstein Syndrome, Israel cannot do anything right or be condoned for any behaviour whatsoever, even in defence of its very life, because the country was born in original sin. The very fact of Israel's existence is an affront. It's not a matter of withdrawing to pre-67 lines, for example, for even that comes with provisos that mean dismantling of the Jewish state.
It is clear from Loewenstein's writings that Israel is some sort of aberration as far as he is concerned. His book (as stated on its website) mentions that "Israel asserts the right of the Jewish state to exist". Note the wording: not that Israel has the right to exist, but that Israel asserts it has that right. But Loewenstein also has his humanitarian side, as attested by Sarah Smiles in WILLING TO CRITIQUE ISRAEL (The Melbourne Age – 20 August, 2006), who informs us that "while he supports Israel's right to exist" (thanks; we also support Loewenstein's right to exist, but we don't think we need to state it as if it is a great concession), he has a problem with the concept of a Jewish state.
Strangely - but not so when we take into account the Loewenstein Syndrome - he does not have a problem with the concept of Islamic states.
A symptom of the Loewenstein Syndrome, one that is soothing for the sufferer, is the simplicity of the world's problems as seen through his eyes. So here we have Loewenstein's definition and example of racism:
"If an Israeli marries a Palestinian from the Occupied Territories - they can't have the same rights of citizenship," says Loewenstein."That's racism, pure and simple." (Sarah Smiles, ibid)
Loewenstein needs to pass on that simple message to countries in Europe, for example, where marriage to a non-citizen does not grant automatic citizenship. Racists all?
And so Haifa being bombed is not as bad as Beirut being bombed. And we all know who started the last war, don't we? This is Loewenstein's take on it:
"At base, this war has never been about the retrieval of the Hizbollah-abducted Israeli soldiers. That was just the trigger. Washington's key proxy in the Middle East is attempting to decapitate the two nations not under Western control, Syria and Iran, and in the process prove to the Arab world that any military conflict with Israel will result in overwhelming force against its people." (Courier Mail, 7 August 2006).
Note the subtle last few words, where Israel's action always results in overwhelming force against innocent people.
Of course Israel always breaks international law, as far as Loewenstein is concerned. But what about when it doesn't? Loewenstein, never one to let facts come in his way, says:
"Nasrallah has become a symbol of Muslim pride, a man unafraid to stand up to Israeli aggression." (Courier Mail, 7 August 2006).
Loewenstein, who quotes UN resolutions with alacrity, does not, this time, mention that Israel withdrew to UN-recognised borders. How does he define "aggression" when it comes to Israel? Obviously the way Hizbollah does: Israel's very existence.
"Total victory, as outlined by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, is impossible to achieve because Israel is fighting an opponent that was born to challenge Israel's provocations."
Which provocations, one wonders, are those?
Although those with Loewenstein Syndrome don't necessarily have to be particularly intelligent, they do suffer from the illusion that they can fool all the people all of the time, so that even when they are unable to deny what is being said by Israel's enemies, they can mitigate it through sleight of hand. Even when Loewenstein cannot ignore Iran's president calling for Israel to be wiped off the map and a denial of the Holocaust to boot, he does call the remarks "both unacceptable and repulsive" ("Spinning us to war in Iran" - Znet, March 8, 2006), only to immediately question why wiping Israel off the map would be genocide.
"Rather than focusing on leaders who have actually caused death and destruction - take Bush, Blair and Howard in Iraq and the estimated toll of over 100,000 dead - the Jewish group wanted the world to focus on a country that poses no direct threat to anybody."
Leaving aside Loewenstein's canard that it was Bush, Blair and Howard who killed 100,000 people and not Muslims killing Muslims, he states that Iran "is a country that poses no direct threat to anybody", i.e. the same country that he had quoted a few sentences earlier as "calling for Israel to be wiped off the map." It gets even more muddled. A few sentences later Loewenstein has Iran merely as a "perceived threat to the Jewish state" and that "Israeli generals and politicians know Iran is not a serious threat", but two sentences further on tells us that "Iranian influence now stretches through Iraq, through the Kurdistan region into Turkey, a weak Syria and through into Lebanon's Hezbollah-dominated south, on Israel's border. Iran's reach also extends into the Arabian peninsula through Shiite communities scattered in the Persian Gulf countries." This is not just bad writing, unacceptable even for a first-year undergraduate, but a lame, albeit clumsy attempt to deny the obvious.
Racism and demonisation go together, and George Orwell would have been proud of Antony Loewenstein. It is interesting how the word Zionism has gradually and relentlessly been given an evil connotation. Like Pavlov's dog and the bell, if you hear the juxtaposition of Zionism and Nazism enough times, people will have a knee-jerk reaction to Zionism even when mentioned on its own. How evil does "the Zionist state" sound when used by Loewenstein! Almost as odious is "The Jewish state". And there is, of course, the "Zionist lobby" in the USA, in Australia, in fact everywhere. This is not anti-Semitism, of course, but anti-Zionism.
Those with Loewenstein Syndrome don't multi-task. They can only concentrate on their one obsession: the evil that is Israel. Nothing taking place in the world is as bad as what Israel does. Not Darfur, not Ethiopia, not Chechenya, not massacres in Sri Lanka, not China's suppression of Tibet.
In "THE JERUSALEM SYNDROME" , Andre Glucksmann asks: "Why do the 200,000 slaughtered Muslims of Darfur not arouse even half a quarter of the fury caused by 200 times fewer dead in Lebanon?" Where was the Organization of Islamic States when the Russian Army razed the capital of Chechnian Muslims (Grosny, with 400,000 residents) killing tens of thousands of children in the process. More to the point: Where was Loewenstein? He has an excuse: the Syndrome, which cause him to be horrified only when a Muslim is killed by Israelis. We should also ask why Palestinian refugees are relentlessly kept where they - physically by the Arabs and spiritually in the world's gaze by the Loewenstein Syndromers. Jewish refugees from Arab countries in the '40s and '50s? Not important. Whose fault must it be that Arab refugees have been left to rot in camps for 58 years? The Jews, of course. Sorry, the Zionists that support the original sin that is Israel.
The most heinous of acts by those with Loewenstein Syndrome is the insidious and relentless subliminal message that the misfortunes of the world are due to Israel's existence. As Glucksman puts it:
"As long as four million Israelis and as many Palestinians are facing off against one another, 300 million Arabs and 1.5 billion Muslims are condemned to live in hate, bloody slaughter and desperation. And the rosier version:We just need peace in Jerusalem to put out the fires in Tehran, Karachi, Khartoum and Baghdad and to set the course for universal harmony."
Just as the Germans wrote at their rallies in the '30s "Die Juden sind unserer Unglück" (The Jews are our misfortune), so the world is led to believe that every bad thing that has happened and is happening, from the deadly Khomeini Revolution, the bloody Baathist dictatorships in Syria and Iraq, the decade of Islamic terrorism in Algeria, the Taliban in Afghanistan, none would have occurred if it hadn't been for the founding of the Zionist state. The conclusion is that if only Israel were to disappear, there would be peace on earth with all living in harmony.
For those who have Loewenstein Syndrome, Israel is guilty. It is guilty if it defends itself, it is guilty if it builds a wall to stop suicide bombers killing its children, it is guilty because it is. It is guilty because it exists.
Those with Loewenstein Syndrome do not threaten Israel and neither do they threaten Zionist organizations. The problem is not ours. The problem is theirs.
The ubiquitous Sarah Smiles, whose article is referred to above, certainly gets around. In recent months she's been to Lebanon twice chasing ambulances and on top of that, is one of the Age's literary writers covering young Antony in a section of the Age headed "BOOK REVIEWS".
I don't know if others are quite as pedantic as I am but I was impressed with the lady's versatility until the following paragrah from her warm and fuzzy piece on the lad caught my eye (as I mentioned above, I'll have more to say later):-
"While Loewenstein's book has been criticised for historical inaccuricies and for being far too pro-Arab, he has nonetheless triggered a debate in Australia about Israel and the control of discourse of the Arab-Israeli conflict."