Saturday, March 10, 2007


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."

Get it?

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 (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".


Anonymous said...

Kol Hakavod.

The motives of the promotors of the Loewenstein manifesto are now very clear.

The baying pack of robots have followed them while our enemies keep repeating in a shrill voice -

"exterminate, exterminate"

See the Hamas Charter

Gulliver_on_Tour said...

You're so right about Steve Brook's response to the Foster letter.

It really sums up how focussed this group is on criticising Israel while it ignores the existential threats of some of its neighbours.

Anonymous said...

Is it still possible to sign the Danby petition?

Anonymous said...

One of the signatories to the letter Dennis Altman said in the Age that "we would all agree that Israel's survival is threatened by denying justice to Palestinians."

He's right. The problem is that the majority of Palestinians - and certainly all of its armed groups believe that justice can only come to them with the destruction of Israel. This proposition can be demonstrated by a reading of the charters and constitutions of the various Palestinian groups including the Palestine National Charter (there was a vote in the late 90's to change it but the validity of the vote has been questioned and in any event, the change was never made) - not to mention of Hamas the currently elected Palestinian government party.

This leaves the IAJV people in the same conundrum as the people of the State of Israel. How do they attempt reconciliation and the dispensing of justice when their own survival is not guaranteed? Can they do so when PA promises to disarm terrorists are not honoured? Can they do so while Israeli homes are under rocket attacks and suicide bombers lurk ready to kill and maim innocent civilians?

This is the part of a debate which many in the IAJV won't take part in despite the fact that they claim they're being deprived of the chance to speak in the community.

Anonymous said...

Without doubt, many of those who signed the IAJV letter did so sincerely believing in the principles it encompasses.

Problem is that by signing on to something promoted by Loewenstein and these other charlatans, they are now tainted. They might just as well have had breakast with Brian Buke or Osama Bin Laden.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday's Australian contained 5 letters on the topic. Four of them discussed the issue at hand while the fifth was from an ignoramus who thinks he can reinvent history.

Most Jews support Israel but they're still free to criticise


LOUISE Adler ("Driven to mute voice of dissent", Opinion, 9/3) writes: " . . . the important issue is that critics of Israel's policies are reflexively characterised as anti-Semitic" and that "Criticism of Israel is not the same as disputing Israel's right to exist."

But the fact is that criticism of Israeli policies is an everyday occurrence in the Israeli media and nobody is accusing those critics of anti-Semitism.

Adler writes that she was proud to have published Jacqueline Rose's book The Question of Zion. She complains that the book was met with hostility. But Rose wrote that "Jewish nationalism will come into being only if it abolishes itself." Which means that Rose denies the right of the Jewish people to political self-determination and statehood. Rose also urged understanding for suicide bombers "without condescension". She also compares Israel and Zionism to Nazi Germany. Rose is a typical example of a critic of Israel who advocates its dismantlement and considers its establishment a mistake. Such a critic, Jewish or not, by opposing the existence of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, while not opposing any other nation-state, exhibits a clear racist attitude and can be rightfully called an anti-Semite. One wonders how Adler would have reacted to somebody who denies, say, the legitimacy of Canada?

The overwhelming majority of Jews in the world support Israel, just like the majority of people of Irish descent support Ireland. It does not mean that they do not criticise Israeli policies. But there is an enormous difference between criticising policies and advocating Israel's dismantlement.
Jacob Amir
Jerusalem, Israel

LOUISE Adler wonders why Jewish community members have used "pejoratively" the term "Jewish-born individuals" to describe signatories to this week's declaration by Independent Australian Jewish Voices. Perhaps because Antony Loewenstein, as IAJV's founder, wrote that he "didn't want a bar" of the Jewish community.

Individuals are free to distance themselves from the Jewish community. But it seems hypocritical that the only time some of them advertise their Jewishness is to use it as insurance against criticism when they vilify Israel or the Jewish community.
Daniel Tang
Coopers Plains, Qld

LOUISE Adler implies that only she and her fledgling Independent Jewish Voices group have been presenting a moderate and balanced Jewish voice on Israel/Palestine. In fact, many of us have been supporting a two-state solution for more than two decades. This has meant opposing Jewish right-wingers who advocate a Greater Israel at the expense of any Palestinian national rights, and similarly confronting anti-Zionist fundamentalists on the Left who favour creating a Palestinian state via the destruction of Israel. It has also meant copping abuse and threats from both the Right and Left. Adler has never previously been a participant in any of these debates. If she had been, she might have realised that the debate within the Jewish community is far more complex and nuanced than the absurd caricature she presents.
Philip Mendes
Kew, Vic

FIRST he said he'd been gagged, but when he got more publicity than anyone, he changed the charge to the Jewish community is blind to his truths. It seems to me that Antony Loewenstein and Independent Jewish Voices have a paternalistic attitude that they are the only ones capable of independent rational thought in the Jewish community. When their ideas are rejected, they get angry and create some conspiratorial scenario. Actually, most informed Jews simply don't agree with IAJV on the basis of the evidence.
Paul Rozental
Melbourne, Vic

GEOFFREY Zygier (Letters, 9/3) says Australian Jewry and the majority of Israelis support a two-state solution, yet Israel's settlement policy is doing everything possible to prevent it by destroying the territorial contiguity of Palestinian areas in the West Bank, thereby rendering impossible the creation of a viable Palestinian state.

The claim that Israel offered the Palestinians 95 per cent of the West Bank in 2000 is false. Check the website of Israeli peace group Gush Shalom for maps of what Israel really offered.

In contrast, the entire Arab world has repeatedly offered Israel peace based on the two-state solution. After Israel's rejection of the Arab League peace offers in 2002 and 2005, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, decided to speak directly to the Israeli people. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post last year, he made a clear and unequivocal peace offer based on Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories and Golan Heights, border adjustments and land swaps to include the major Jewish settlements within Israel, and acceptance that any return of Palestinian refugees must take into account Israel's desire to maintain a substantial Jewish majority. So, an Arab peace offer based on a two-state solution is on the table, yet I see no sign of Israel or the Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council accepting it.
Paul Dixon
Fraser, ACT

Andrew Lamb said...

This is part of the editorial from today's Australian newspaper. It's brilliantly entitled "Blaming the victim - Cheap 'dissent' enables global anti-Semites":-

"All of this is useful to bear in mind given news of the formation of Independent Australian Jewish Voices, which claims to 'dissent' from the supposed uniformity of opinion among high-profile Australian Jews on the subject of Israel. Yet even as IAJV purports to take the moral high ground it promotes a dangerous moral equivalence between Israel, a legally sanctioned state created by the UN, and its neighbours who have since its birth repeatedly tried to push it into the sea. And we wonder what controversial Israeli actions they feel they are not allowed to disagree with. Yitzhak Rabin's signing of the Oslo Accords, which enshrined the principle of land for peace only to be roundly violated by the Palestinians? The growth of the Kadima party, which was formed by no less a hawk than Ariel Sharon and is predicated on giving up territory for security, and which is now the largest party in Israel? Likewise their wilfully naive analysis of Israeli-Arab relations ignores the reality of Middle Eastern geopolitics and the bloody struggle between Sunni and Shia Islam. Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's antagonistic comments towards Israel have failed to provoke uproar in Europe. But Iran's nuclear ambitions have lifted tensions throughout the Middle East and forged a new level of co-operation between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Certainly, Israel is not without sin. But it is a democracy that has voted repeatedly for peace and coexistence. This will not be possible until its enemies come to the same conclusion.",20867,21368936-7583,00.html

Anonymous said...

Here's another petition you might like:
Australians Who Reject Antony Loewenstein.

Anonymous said...


My apologies for taking so long but I have just returned to my computer following the death of my mother Z"L.

I would appreciate a reference to the allusion to me as "Sol (I cringe at the swastika but still march under it) Salbe." It would be difficult to reposnd otherwise.

Sol Salbe

Wilbur Post said...


Firstly, my condolences on your loss.

I wish you a long life.

Secondly, below is the full transcript of your letter which appeared in the Melbourne Age on 25/7/2006.

I'd be interested to know how the possibility that many of the crowd had lost family or friends in a war is an excuse for not (a) demanding that this symbol of Nazi evil be taken down or failing that (b) removing yourself from the demonstration.

Swastikas on parade: dumb, but not illegal

LIKE Michelle Gold (Letters 24/7), I also cringed at the swastika sign being carried by that demonstrator on Saturday. While some may not see it as rational, as a son of two Holocaust survivors, I find that symbol objectionable regardless of the grievance.

Unlike Ms Gold, I thought of approaching the organisers rather than the police. But as it turned out, the organisers had already asked the person in question to remove the sign, but he declined. Recognising the fact that many of the Lebanese crowd had recently lost friends and relatives in the bombing they chose not to force the issue. It is unfortunate that one or two people can spoil such an occasion. It was very much a pro-peace rally.

The popular chant of "peace not war" was taken up by the whole crowd - including even, incongruously, those people who turned up to the occasion in their military fatigues.

As an Israeli-Australian I was so pleased to note that not a single person booed when Bob Muntz of the Greens reiterated the right of Israel to exist and live in peace with its neighbours.

As for the Hezbollah flags and the swastika being placed on other nations' flags, these have been commonplace in some demonstrations that I have observed. My understanding is that while it is dumb and in bad taste, it is not illegal.

Sol Salbe, Maidstone

I await your response.


The Gharqad Tree said...

I also share Wilbur's wishes and hope you get over your loss Mr Salbe but I have to say that your letter was a callous piece of writing.

"Recognising the fact that many of the Lebanese crowd had recently lost friends and relatives in the bombing they chose not to force the issue."

What bullshit!

You consciously made a decision to continue to march in a crowd that carried banners with swastickas on them.

You're right about it not being illegal but what about acting morally?

The way I see it, whoever does this and calls themselves a Jew does great dishonour not just to the memory of the murdered 6 million Jews but to the countless other victims who suffered as a result of the Nazis.

michael said...

If anybody went to The Age writers festival to hear Richter, Adler, the ex Australian ambassador to Israel [another virulent Israel hater] appear with and defend Loewensteins anti Zionist book it is quite amusing to hear Jews like these who often say they are doing Israel a favour by taking the Palestinian side and demonising Israel in the public.

Like wise it is amusing when salbe editor of Aust. Jewish democratic society who claims he has being demolishing Zionist myths and fighting for Palestinian human rights for 35 years tells all he is a Zionist. With friends like Salbe who needs enemies!