I should not have been so staggered to learn of the decision by the Age Business Editor to publish Michael Backman's racist tome against the Israeli people in its business section on Saturday 17 January 2009 - Israelis are living high on US expense account.
The Victorian Jewish community has responded to this hate filled piece of vitriol based on supposition, questionable anecdotes and twisted logic with this media release:
18 January 2009
VICTORIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY CONDEMNS AGE’S ANTISEMITIC ARTICLE
John Searle, president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV), and Dr Danny Lamm, president of the Zionist Council of Victoria (ZCV), today jointly called on Melbourne’s The Age to apologise for publishing a blatantly antisemitic article (attached) in the Saturday Age yesterday.
Searle and Lamm stated:
"Sometimes criticism of Israeli foreign policy becomes so irrational and so hate-filled that it spills over into antisemitism. Yesterday Saturday’s Age (17/01) published such a piece wherein its columnist Michael Backman encapsulated centuries of hate speech against Jews in a few hundred words.
Among other things, Backman wrote:
Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians caused the London, Bali and World Trade Centre bombings.
Israel has united the Islamic world against Western nations.
The historical persecution of Jews constitutes punishment for Jesus’ death.
Israelis and Jews are disinterested in the welfare of others, and do not invest financially or socially in the broader community.
It is inexplicable why The Age would publish such a pernicious article, and why by one of its business columnists, a man whose field of expertise is Asian business and art, a man apparently without credentials on the Middle East, international politics or contemporary religion.
Each of the above statements is demonstrably wrong as are other assertions in the article. It is sheer nonsense to claim, for example that "The enmity many Muslims now feel for Israel has nothing to do with religion". Really? Perhaps Backman should read the hate-filled Hamas Covenant which explicitly talks about extermination of all Jews, not merely Israelis.
It is unacceptable that The Age gave a platform to this man’s hatred of Jews and Israelis and incitement against them. The Victorian Jewish community’s experience is that such commentary rouses violence and hatred against local Jews. Indeed, the JCCV and the ZCV made this very point to The Age only two weeks ago. We were assured by acting editor Mark Baker that its reportage was totally even-handed. And yet its editors saw fit to publish this vile piece. We are outraged with The Age for publishing Backman’s disgusting falsehoods.
The JCCV and SZC have complained to The Age today in the strongest possible terms on behalf of the Victorian Jewish community. We have further committed ourselves to further steps, including possible legal action. This is not 1930s Germany. We will not accept this hatred."
I couldn't possibly imagine a similar article about any other group of people gaining publication in any normal news outlet. The Age however, is not "normal" when it comes to Israel and the Jews. Mark Baker should be asking himself whether he would allow such a piece to be published about Muslims, Chileans or any other group. I can tell you now, that it just wouldn't happen.
Unfortunately, in the case of the Age and the Age alone, it came as no surprise whatever that this racist trope was allowed to see the light of day.
I will add nothing further other than to add an anecdote I recently heard about an Australian woman who was badly injured while bike riding on a tour of Argentina. I was told that she was full of admiration for the Israeli tourists - the only ones among her group who took the trouble to look after her and her sister during the woman's hospitalisation. I can vouch for the fact that this is a true story. I can't do the same for a lot of what I read in the Age these days.
PARLIAMENTARIAN JOINS IN THE CONDEMNATION
Age responsible for bigoted stereotypes
by Michael Danby MHR Monday January 19, 2009
Local Al-Qaida franchisee Abu Bakar Bashir insisted Australians were murdered in Bali because "the Crusaders took Muslim lands (he was referring to Australian's intervention in East Timor)".
It is offensive for Age writer Michael Backman to use the blood of 80 Australians for his bigoted theories. Crass stereotypes about young Israelis not paying bills in Nepal feeds into offensive & primitive prejudice about ‘penny- pinching' Jews. Backman's poisonous article in Saturdays business Age has no place in serious commentary, I call on Backman to apologise.