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The Loewenstein Aficionado Test

September 15, 2009 – 7:39 pm25 Comments

a-lo challenge

By Anthony Frosh

Antony Loewenstein (A-Lo) is launching the 3rd edition of his book, “My Israel Question.”  So unfortunately we can expect to hear and see him in the media ramping up his own publicity.  He’ll be telling the audience that Israel is not really a democracy but is an apartheid state, while at the same time vouching for the democratic credentials of Hamas (as he did on ABC radio recently).  No doubt, he’ll be touted by organisations such as the ABC and Fairfax as a Middle East Expert.

So how expert does one need to be touted as such by these organisations?

It turns out the answer is: Not very!  Of course, this is on the proviso that you fulfil the role of useful idiot.  Can you imagine that someone would be touted as an expert in Australian politics on the BBC or CNN, if they were not even aware that John Howard was a male?

Below is a quote from A-Lo which reveals that above absurd scenario is being paralleled in Australian media coverage of Israel.

Yet more evidence of Israel speaking the language of ‘peace’ but acting entirely differently came from a senior ally of Sharon, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. He told a legal conference in early December that, despite years of Israeli denials, Sharon himself imagines the 425-mile separation barrier as the future border between Israel and a potential Palestinian State.

‘One does not have to be a genius to see that the fence will have implications for the future border,’ he said  (my emphasis).

The above redefines what it means to be called an expert, at least on the Australian media landscape.  So on that note, I’ve prepared a little quiz for our readers so they can see how they measure up on the expert scale.

The A-Lo Aficionado Test – 1st Edition

The following individuals have been deemed to be of similar relative obscurity to Tzipi Livni.  Please identify their gender

1)      Barack Obama

2)      Hillary Rodham Clinton

3)      Kevin Rudd

4)      Julia Gillard

5)      Golda Meir

6)      Queen Elizabeth II

7)      George W Bush

8)      George H.W Bush

9)      Vladimir Putin

10)  Margaret Thatcher

For answers, please ask any reasonably educated 8 year old.

How to evaluate you score:

10/10: Well done, you are not ruled out from being a contributor on Galus Australis (sorry about that folks at The New Matilda)

7-9: You’ll probably never write for Galus, but at least you can take comfort from the fact that you are doing better than A-Lo.  The ABC or Fairfax will probably offer you a full-time position as a foreign correspondent.

5-6: Please contact us to let us know if you have ever heard of any Jewish males named Tzipi.

Less than 5: Contact Louise Adler at Melbourne University Press – she wants to offer you a book contract.

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25 Comments »

  • rose says:

    Um, I didn’t find this clever or funny… was it supposed to be?

  • r says:

    An easy target you have picked here.

    Does ‘My Israel Question’ contained errors and mistakes? Sure does, but if that is all you can make of it – it misses the core of Loewenstein’s arguments and positions.

    Rather than dismissing the claim that Israel is an apartheid state outright, or that Hamas might be democratic outright – it may pay to engage with the ideas that he is advancing.

    You might not agree with the claims, but at minimum, dissent should be treated with respect.

  • frosh says:

    R, you miss the point. A-Lo is not the principal target of the article. The principal targets are the media and publishing organisation that use him as their expert.

    Answer the question put forward in the article: Can you imagine someone who was not even aware that John Howard was a male having a book published on Australian politics (or appearing on foreign current affair programs as an expert on Australian politics)?

  • frosh says:

    Rose,

    I’m guessing by your tone that you achieved a low test score..

  • Erica says:

    ah, frosh, before you get stuck into someone for what might be a typo, you might want to read over your own writing… you seem to answer a question you never posed, and you repeat the same sentence twice.

  • eli says:

    Rose and r (and that’s if you are not one and the same)

    A quote from Benjamin Pogrund (author and member of the Israeli delegation to the United Nations World Conference against Racism)

    “The difference between the current Israeli situation and apartheid South Africa is emphasized at a very human level: Jewish and Arab babies are born in the same delivery room, with the same facilities, attended by the same doctors and nurses, with the mothers recovering in adjoining beds in a ward. Two years ago I had major surgery in a Jerusalem hospital: the surgeon was Jewish, the anesthetist was Arab, the doctors and nurses who looked after me were Jews and Arabs. Jews and Arabs share meals in restaurants and travel on the same trains, buses and taxis, and visit each other’s homes. Could any of this possibly have happened under apartheid? Of course not”

    Further

    “In any event, what is racism? Under apartheid it was skin colour. Applied to Israel that’s a joke: for proof of that, just look at a crowd of Israeli Jews and their gradations in skin-colour from the “blackest” to the “whitest”… Occupation is brutalising and corrupting both Palestinians and Israelis… but it is not apartheid. Palestinians are not oppressed on racial grounds as Arabs, but, rather, as competitors — until now, at the losing end — in a national/religious conflict for land.”

    Finally John Strawson, (professor of international law at the University of East London)

    “Israel…lacks the features of an apartheid state. The Palestinian, Druze and other minorities in Israel are guaranteed equal rights under the Basic Laws. All citizens of Israel vote in elections on an equal basis. There are no legal restrictions on movement, employment or sexual or marital relations. The universities are integrated. Opponents of Zionism have free speech and assembly and may form political organizations. South African apartheid denied non-whites the right to vote, decreed where they could live and work, made sex and marriage across the racial divide illegal, forbad opponents of the regime to express their views, banned the liberation movements and maintained segregated universities.”

    Perhaps you should look to the surrounding Arab neighbors and see if they afford their citizens similar rights. Jordan recently revoked all citizenship for Jordanian Palestinians

    Many of the laws governing Palestinian movement are security issues brought about by constant suicide bombings and terror threats. They were instituted as response to acts of violence not as some underlying superiority complex desiring the separation of a people.

    Perhaps you should look in your own backyard as to the treatment of indigenous Australians before pointing the finger of judgment.

  • Ditto to Erica. The first sentence of your second paragraph doesn’t make any sense in context, and your fourth paragraph is an adaptation of the third. That said, you haven’t actually said anything in your article against “A-Lo” (is that like “Yoshke”? A way of dismissing somebody by familiarising their name?) except that he didn’t know Tzipi Livni’s gender. Eh. I am surprised by your assertion that he is being treated as an expert in anything but if you say he is, I believe you. It shows remarkably poor judgement on those who treat him as such, but not because he doesn’t know that Livni is a woman.

    Eli, who’s pointing the finger of judgement? R merely said that dissent should be treated with respect. Loewenstein’s an empty shirt, in my opinion, but I think it pays to address his arguments.

  • eli says:

    Simon, r and yourself suggest that it might pay to engage Loewenstein’s ideas and treat them with respect. Perhaps i would agree if his position had any tenable arguments worthy of engagement.

    I agree that i might have been somewhat over judgmental in my comments. But Loewenstein always raises a raw nerve , because his views are blatantly designed for maximum revulsion.So my apologies to r and r.

  • Chook says:

    We all know Loewenstein is a non-starter. He has made a living out of vilifing Israel. No critical analyses no real facts or arguments, just plain vilification. As we know when arguing with other maniacs, particularly from the extreme right, you can’t argue with them. The pro-Palestinian lobby loves him because he talks the talk and being Jewish that talk is louder. So although he grates and irritates and makes your blood boil especially when he puts on that Jewish all-knowing accent, please ignore him. Don’t give the p…k any oxygen.

  • TheSadducee says:

    I would like to address the issue of addressing Loewenstein’s arguments with an example:

    http://antonyloewenstein.com/2009/09/08/gaza-may-be-becoming-a-tinder-box/

    The significant issue is the fact that he advises that “we shouldn’t preclude black-ops by the Israelis…”. Note that this is done without actually providing any basis of evidence or fact of them occuring or as to why we shouldn’t preclude them in the first place.

    How is one meant to engage an argument where an unsubstantiated position is put forward as a requirement of engaging in the argument?

  • ariel says:

    And here we all are giving Lowenstein oxygen he doesn’t deserve…

    Simon, I feel your statement “Loewenstein’s an empty shirt, in my opinion, but I think it pays to address his arguments” is contradictory.
    If Lowenstein is an “empty shirt” then it pays to respond to him with silence…or a grunt at best.

  • frosh says:

    Hi Erica,

    To make a typo is human, but it seems highly unlikely that it is a typo, as the pronoun “he” is used twice in the same section.

    Furthermore, neither A-Lo nor Louise Adler (his publisher) have ever stated as such.

    Nevertheless, feel free to clutch at that straw if it makes you feel better.

  • Jon says:

    Dismissing Loewenstein on the basis of a few errors here and there strikes me as the type of things AIJAC or Danby would do (and from recollection is what Ted Lapkin did on Lateline when Loewenstein’s first edition came out). One really needs to attack some of the ideas and facts he puts foward as ‘alternative’ discussion ie – support for one state solution, divestment from Israel, support of Hamas over Fatah etc.

    In terms of media exposure, other than on-line publications, like New Matilda and Crikey (where he seems to be its journalist for things related to Australia and the middle east), I haven’t recently seen him given any space in the Mainstream Media, except for promotion of his books. Not to say he won’t be given that space in the future.

  • ariel says:

    Jon,

    You say that “[o]ne really needs to attack some of the ideas and facts he puts foward as ‘alternative’ discussion ie – support for one state solution, divestment from Israel, support of Hamas over Fatah etc”…

    The issue is that to argue these ideas is to give them legitimacy. If one can successfully (and rightly) prove that Lowenstein’s ideas are a product of his ignorance rather than deep intellectual investigation, then he will run out of oxygen. As you point out, this appears to be the case in the mainstream media at least.

    The Lowensteins of this world need to be convinced that – as I pointed out in a comment on another article – if he had his way and Israel were G-d forbid destroyed, then the Lowensteins would be the first to be arrested and/or shot by Hamas.

  • philip mendes says:

    Folks: funnily enough the unfortunate reference to Tzipporah Livni as a bloke didn’t actually appear in his book. But in a review of the first edition of My Israel Question published in the Sydney Morning Herald in 2006, I did provide a short summary of some of the worst errors:

    “There are also a number of serious political and historical clangers in this book. The former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin was the leader of the Irgun not the Stern Gang; the Australian Jewish News actively promotes diversity, and does not suppress Jewish views critical of Israel; former Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam lost popularity in the Jewish community because of the open hostility he expressed towards Jews as well as Israel; the former Australian Jewish leader Isi Leibler was a hardline anti-communist rather than idealistic moderate in the early 1960s; the mid 1970s Australian Union of Jewish Students campaign was not anti-Palestinian, but rather defending a moderate two state position against the anti-Israel extremism of the Australian Union of Students; the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission is an inclusive and moderate rather than hardline lobby group; and Noam Chomsky did provide a political character reference for French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson”

    Philip Mendes

  • frosh says:

    To the ‘engagement’ crowd,

    One doesn’t engage with David Irving (Or do you? Feel free to let us know if you do). Now, I’m not equating A-Lo with David Irving; rather, I’m demonstrating that engagement is not always the most appropriate response.

    There comes a point where someone’s statements become so absurd that ridicule becomes the most appropriate response.

  • No, one doesn’t necessarily engage with Irving, but one does respond to the claims that he presents. Crossing your arms and pretending that they’re not there won’t actually make them go away. I’m not saying that you need to respond to every idiot who thinks the Holocaust didn’t happen, that Israel is engaging in a policy of genocide, or that a global consortium of Jews is taking over the world, but individuals like Irving and Loewenstein (להבדיל) who are educated and who do have something to say need to be corrected for the benefit of those who don’t know better. You don’t correct them by ignoring them (“starving them of oxygen”?) or by ridiculing them for the little, unimportant things that they get wrong. If you want to really shred Loewenstein’s argument, you first need to acknowledge that he has one.

  • frosh says:

    Simon,

    We seem to have a different working definition for the word “educated.”

    Be that as it may, I’ll accept that these people may need to be argumentatively refuted once; but not continually. For example, after the Deborah Lipstadt trial, would you still feel the need to engage and refute David Irving?

  • Since the Lipstadt trial, nobody has needed to refute Irving. If you can argue against somebody well, you shouldn’t need to do it more than once.

    Loewenstein, on the other hand, is a whole different kettle of fish because the manner in which he has presented himself has made him a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. As a good friend pointed out to me, he arrived on the scene and nobody had ever heard of him. All that he wanted to talk about was how he had been ostracised by the Jewish community for his views, and yet the community couldn’t remember who the hell he even was. Now, however, after all of his insistence that he has been ostracised, he is being ostracised as a result.

    I don’t think that he requires a response every time he opens his mouth, but if there’s a microphone in front of it when he does then it’s probably a good idea. I realise that your article was just a bit of fun; I only made my initial comment because the guy is such a pinata, and poking him with sticks is getting too easy. You want to ridicule him, be my guest. But I think you should focus on the substance of his book, rather than claiming that there isn’t any and mocking him on the little things instead.

  • Daniel says:

    All those insisting we should ‘engage’ with Loewenstein, despite the fact he makes things up, might wish to consider something.

    When he is called on very basic errors by other bloggers and commentators, he never admits it, and covers it up. It’s actually a running joke for some of them. Interestingly, two of Loewenstein’s biggest critics, JF Beck and Tim Blair aren’t Jewish. Apparently you don’t have to be Jewish to regard him as an idiot.

    In fact it is Loewenstein who has no interest in engaging with his opponents. For if he did, that would defeat his core argument, that he is censored for his views. Why do you think he has never written a letter to the Australian Jewish News? Anyone who reads it knows they’ll print whatever dreck they are sent. That would include his, but he’ll never do it because then he can’t complain.

    If anything, it is Loewenstein who is the one doing the silencing. He routinely censors comments to his blog, with which he disagrees. So he’s clueless, and a hypocrite. But he’s plenty good enough for Crikey, New Matilda, The Age and ‘our’ ABC. That’s the real problem. They take him seriously, when his scholarship is so embarrassingly shoddy. It is clearly only because he suits their horrible agenda.

    Other talentless authors could only dream of such a hand-up.

  • Chook says:

    Philip, if you have that character reference by Chomsky, please post in.

    Regards

    Chook

  • Chook says:

    A mate of Loewenstein’s, I am sure, Prof. Saree Makdisiis is in town. Now I do not know what sort of Professor he is but on ABC 774 World Today programme on the 17th, September,he said some pretty awful things about Israel about how dare they defy the USA, and how Israel is an Apathied state, and so on. As an acedemic he sounded more like Hamas’ minister for propaganda. He also promoted the idea of a one state solution, like Loewenstein does. Yeah right, imagine Jews in a future Palestinian state, which is what it would be, getting a fair go, let alone staying alive.

  • philip mendes says:

    Chook: see my “Noam Chomsky and the Holocaust Denial Controversy in Australia” in Political Expressions, Volume 1, No.2, 1996, pp.111-126. I no longer have a disc copy, but there is probably a copy of the journal in the Monash Uni library.

    Philip

  • Jon says:

    Chook – I recall watching on Youtube ages ago a debate between Makdisiis and Benny Morris, and Madisiis was singularly unimpressive. He is after all a Professor of Literature, not politics or history.

  • Henry Herzog says:

    I’ve got no where else to express my anger about so-called Jews like Michael Brull, Alexi Sales and Antony Loewenstein. Thank goodness that people like Brull are such a minority and their views so abhorent to any person who sees what is going on. Even Amin Shaikel says that Iran has nuclear weapon ambitions, but Brull has his own views and a warped sense of reality. I reckon Ahmadinejad could sell him the Sydney Habour Bridge. Then last night on ABC’s Q&A Sales makes out that only western Jews came in un-opposed established Israel, created a western colony and started occupying Arab land including the west bank, home to 3 million Palestinians. Never mind that Israel’s neighours have need trying to drive the Jews in to the sea since the early 1930’s. Never mind that there always has been a Jewish presence in Palestine when it was Ottoman and British colonies, never mind that more than half of Israel’s Jewish population has come from Arab lands because of persecution in those places. Never mind that the Palestinian population in the West bank is more like 2 million. He calls Israel an Apathied state. Never mind that the Palestinian population in Israel have full rights like any other citizen. Israel keeps the Palestinians out because their terrorists want to blow up Jewish kids. Again someone born to Jewish parents or parent who distorts facts, demonizes Israel and only sees the Palestinian narritive. And by calling on boycotts of Israeli Jews is, in affect, racist.

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