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Anti-Semites Under the Bed

January 6, 2013 – 5:55 pm123 Comments

It is arguable that people like Abe Foxman (pictured) have devalued the power of the term “anti-Semitism” through overuse.

By Andrew Wirth
Michael Leunig, Jake Lynch and Chuck Hagel have recently been accused of anti-Semitism because of their critical views or actions in relation to Middle-East politics. “Of course” criticism of Israel need have nothing to do with anti-Semitism. However, when criticism appears to be grounded in anti-Semitism it understandably causes anger, and the desire to respond. Some Israel defenders believe that publicly identifying someone as an anti-Semite is sufficient to discredit them and their political views. But increasingly this appears to be ineffective or even counter-productive in the “war of ideas”, even if the accusation appears well founded (indeed even if it is true).

By focusing on alleged anti-Semitism, rather than specific anti-Israel statements, one can be accused of avoiding the substantive issues. It may even give the impression that the issues cannot be successfully argued on their merits, hence the choice to “play the man.”

An allegation of anti-Semitism can simply be denied, as Michael Leunig did with wounded self-righteousness (and the hint of possible litigation). The allegation can be portrayed as an attempt to shut down debate, which feeds into the often-expressed view that Jews use personal attack and media manipulation to discredit reasonable criticism of Israeli policy. Worse, apparent victimization may create sympathy for the alleged anti-Semite, and a more sympathetic hearing for his views.

It is hard to establish an allegation of anti-Semitism beyond reasonable doubt, and the effort can consume intellectual and emotional energy and precious column inches. Motivation for anti-Israel comment may be ill defined, and even unrecognized by the commenter. Unless “the accused” is a paid up member of a neo-Nazi group, or has been quoted saying that he/she hates Jews, the accusation of anti-Semitism is ultimately a judgement call. In recent instances, citing offensive use of holocaust imagery (Leunig), unsavory connections with alleged anti-Semites (Lynch) and edgy allusions to Jewish political power (Hagel) all raise troubling questions, but may not convince the general reader of anti-Semitic intent, as opposed to a passionately critical view of Israel.

Finally, even if an allegation of anti-Semitism can be established beyond reasonable doubt, it doesn’t automatically invalidate the anti-Israel critique/act in question, which ultimately stands or falls on its merits. At the end of the day, the offending comments on Israel will remain in the public domain awaiting a response.

There may be satisfaction in outing anti-Semitic bad guys. There is also an inherent value in simply speaking the truth. However, Israel critics have become very adept at trumping the anti-Semitism card with the free-speech card (see here, here, here and here). Such is the reluctance in some circles to acknowledge anti-Semitism that after acts of terror targeting children at a Jewish School in Toulouse, Tarik Ramadan can write  “He … killed Jews, Christians and Muslims without distinction… (not) driven by … anti-Semitism.” And Haaretz can editorialize against overreacting to the Toulouse killer because his hatred of Jews was … “mingled with a violent revolt against the West in general.” Apparently diluted anti-Semitism doesn’t count!

Putting such egregious cases of “political correctness” to one side, there is a real need for Jews engaging the media to carefully evaluate the efficacy of their communication. Perhaps this was an aspect of Harold Zwier’s recent opinion piece, although unfortunately by characterizing the Jewish community as “weighed down by its collective memory …(rather than)… informed by it”, Harold diminishes the community’s capacity to respond to distorted views of Israel, and even genuine anti-Semitism. The left, academia, some media and likely now the broader community have become sensitized, and perhaps allergic, to cries of anti-Semitism. Even hinting at anti-Semitism is now taboo according to Paul McGeogh, who says: “…recently, a new arrow has been added … to head off unwelcome debate on Washington’s Israel policy – an allegation of  ‘borderline anti-Semitism’… It’s a nice smear, isn’t it – not alleging an explicit offence but, what the heck, here’s a guilty verdict that sounds like anti-Semitism.” In light of this situation, a deft hand and a bit of sophistication may be far more effective in public debate than ponderous rebuke- in this spirit, the response to Leunig by Nick Dyrenfurth should serve as a compulsory study-text for Jewish communal advocates.

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  • Otto Waldmann says:

    From the comforts of perfunctory, obligation free, speculative and carelessly intuitive mood of one Andrew Wirth we are regaled with a strangely morphed pearls of lazy wisdom and happily indiferent effect on an audience acutely conditioned to arrest any rational and factual transgression. For what we have been regaled this hot summer holiday are seriously negligent comments, consistent, however, in not balancing exhuberant dismissals of everything that is well known by all of us with any alternative rationale.
    So, the anti Semitism that we have been encountering for, say, a couple of milenia, still alive and kicking solidly must not be elicited publicly with the more or – actally – less intensity and frecquency as it is observed, lest the effectiveness of the rebuttal is compromised. Some, such one of the international Jewish leaders Abe Foxamn was even derelict of his duties by reminding all and sundry “too often ” that the scurge on anti semitism is still functioning.
    While we are all suposed to be supportive of Israel, addressing its prejudicial criticism from the verified stance of a larger anti Jewish platform would prejudice, according to Andrew Wirth, the veracity, indeed entire construct of the necessary Jewish retort.
    The alternative offered by the enthusiastic wholesale critic is:……………………………….. followed by more of the same. It is the deafening sound of the voluptous void. The inevitable declivity of Andrew’s torrent of unhappiness with everything Jews attempt at presenting decently their case/cause arrives at a sad spot of gurnischt, unless having a go at those seriously affected by the very existence of anti Semitism in such a pervasive way, PARTICULARLY in the political world ( yes American “friendly” ones included ) while enjoying a cool martini or cricket or both is an innocent pastime one should be allowed to undertake without the top heavy excessively verbose comments some cannot do without…………

  • Andrew Wirth says:

    Thanks Otto Waldmann, ahh… if only I could write “speculatively” and “intuitively” as you suggest I would be churning out poetry, but unfortunately my piece is just a prosaic series of relatively straightforward propositions. It is obvious that you dont like the piece, but it entirely unclear which elements you are disputing, so it is hard to respond meaningfully. You seem to imply that I write from a position of indiferrence to anti-semitism, or that I aim to muzzle the Jewish responses to anti-Israel commentary – whereas the truth is precisely the opposite. If you have specific concerns with the content of the peice I would be happy to try to address them.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    I really feel for Michael Leunig and even Chuck Hagel. Leunig in particular has been unfairly hounded and attacked by Shylock nosed letter writers to the Age who complain about his harmless caricatures. As Harold Zwier and others have rightly pointed out, as we a community need to do some self reflection on how we can better respond to someone like Leunig.

    I suggest rioting, arson and murder. Our religious leaders need to issue fatwas that call for the death of anyone who draws a carcature of our prophet Moses and blasphemes G-d (see the Leunig cartoon from a month ago).

    This approach has worked well for our peaceful cousins. Want proof? How many caricatures of Mohammed have been published in the Fairfax press? I’m sure this is the type of response that Leunig and his bosses and Fairfax would like from the Jewish community. After all there is nothing worse than been accused of antisemitism by Jewish letter writers.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Thanks Andrewi Wirth for inviting further comments. As a compliment, seeing you sighing for the realm of poetry, by mine you deserve a chaiselongue in Parnas, room service icl.End of compliment, basically because we have serious business to clarify.

    I’d like to stretch this foray in one of the most sensitive Jewish issues, anti Semitism to areas – and lands – as vast as the millenary space it so “rightfully” claims. I shall refer only to two major pillars, Adorno and Richard J. Evans. Both present anti Semitism as a pervasive phenomenon, one anlysing from the sociological cum psuchological points of view, the Adorno group even offering a Moreno type measurement whereas Evans simply presents facts, as a historian should. Neither use the cathegory of ALLEGATION. Both rely on measured and documented data.
    In both cases the evidence of anti Semitism brings to the fore the serious phenomenon of a phenomenon that can be “varnished” into a type of behaviour that evades immediate perception. I shall stop this incursion right here because now I must traverse to…Andrew Wirth.
    In your lyrical approach you take umbrage in the constant use of the term “alleged” anti Semitism. This may look reasonable, cautious, even objective to SOME, but to this overtly hypersensitive anti Semitism 24/7/365 human detector, it looks far more like an excessive attempt at criticising everything that moves in a decisive manner along the Jewish identity defence lines just for the sake of disagreeing with one’s fellow Jews. Reccomended and a staple cannon among our yeshiva bochurim, not so laudable in the case of aiding unintentionally the cohorts of REAL anti Semites dressed in apparently respectbale garb.
    Please revisit your: ” It is hard to establish an allegation of anti Semitism beyond reasonable doubt.” Really and what sort of real reactions are you really inviting with that blanket statement ?!
    Further I’d be happy (!!!) if the only ostensive anti Semites would be neo nazis or the vast variety of creeps responsible for unambiguous anti Semitic statements, the type that does not require deeper personal investigation. More subliminal, refined anti Semitism does not get a lookin and background research unearthing dependancy to that revealed pervsiveness our mentors Adorno and Evans have offered may get the feeble “allegation” status.
    These are just a few matters worth discussing……….and I get that feeling that we will get there.


  • Otto Waldmann says:

    hey “Levi” whoever you are, your drek infested mind reeks of filth and sheer hatred toward those for whom this forum is intended. 1st you have as much to do with the USSR as I have with Patrice Lumumba, and 2nd nothing you say makes any sense. The only way one may not ignore you is to cal you a ##*)(// or better still &^%)+@!

    Any reason blatant, offensive anti Semitic slurs such as ” Shylock nose” allowed here !!???

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Otto you need to 1. Re-read what I wrote (you’ll find that you misinterpreted my message) 2. Take a deep breath & relax

  • andrew wirth says:

    Otto, my comments are predicated on the notion that, when confronted with lies or unbalanced criticism regarding Jews or Israel, one wants ones public responses to be effective. When an anti-Semite presents a false or unbalanced account of Jews or of the Israel-Palestine conflict, you don’t prove the account false by demonstrating anti-Semitic motivation, you prove it false with evidence and argument. Similarly, if an anti-Semite presents a valid account of the Israel-Palestine conflict, it is no less valid simply because he is an anti-Semite. If the goal is to prove that there are anti-Semites in society, then you may be on the right track. If the goal is to effectively counter disinformation about Israel I am suggesting you may need to focus differently.

  • Otto Waldmann says:


    you are right and I apologize.
    Can’t blame the heat, but my arrogance in believing that I am the only one good at being cynical………

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    So far I haven’t seen nor read any valid accounts of the Arab-Israeli conflict from ant-Semites. Have I missed something?

    As for taking a different approach or direction – I’m working over time to get our community leaders to issue fatwas, get the Fairfax office fire bombed and ensure that Leunig ends up like Theo Van Goeth. That way Leunig can rest assure that he won’t ever be annoyed by those irritating Jewish letter writers.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Andrew, I believe that, when dealing with conflicting cathegories, such as anti Semites and well intended, constructive assessments of matters Jewish – including matters pertaining to the Jewish State -, enlisting a recognised anti Semite as valid critic of Jewish matters, incongruities eventuate. Simply put, an anti Semite cannot be accepted as a suporter of any matter Jewish, by definition.Valid contributions to the welfare of the Jewish fold may not come from anti Semites. On the other hand anti Semitism cannot be accepted as a matter of incidental disposition, contradicted at the same person by contradictory behaviour.
    This is formal logic. In terms of realpolitik, for instance, entities known for their anti Semitic propensities may be seen as useful, necessary under certain circumstances. Also formal behaviour at ceratin general entities may contradict intimate dispositions. Example: generally Germans harbour even today to a grteat extent dislikes of Jews, officially, at Government level, Germany has been on many occasions a reliable suporter of Israel. My personal experiences regarding Germany, confirmed by reliable personal sources, Jewish old friends living in Germany for decades, confirm this aparent contradiction. This, however, does not apply purely to our discussion.
    Mind you, we all must subscribe to the virtues of teshuva. If an anti Semite renounces his beliefs in a manner acceptable by the notion of teshuva he ceases to be an anti Semite, ergo the contradictory phrase “anti Semite contributing to the Jewish argument” no longer applies to the redeemed anti Semite.

    Regarding effective replies to unfair, anti Semitic attacks, if anything, most Jewish communal leaders outside Israel are seriously deficient in developing reliable strategies, excessive zeal NOT being their main fault. Occasionally we do see, mainly in the US, excellent campaigns and solid individuals.
    Australia does have such an excellent advocate, fortunately for him he lives in …Israel. Isi Leibler. Since him we have been saddled with…………………

  • Harold Zwier says:

    I’m reading Jonathan Sack’s book “Future Tense” at the moment and came across this:

    “Often Jews, and Israelis, have not effectively made their case in the court of world opinion. This is surprising. In the past, Jews lost many things – their property, their homes, their freedoms, sometimes their lives – but one thing they did not lose: an argument. They were the world’s great debaters; their culture encouraged it. Yet in the twenty first century, on many key issues, they have lost the argument. Encountering this time after time, I was forced to conclude that Jews had, perhaps unconsciously, internalised the conviction: ‘We have no friends but ourselves. The world failed us in the past, and it will fail us again when we need it most.’ Jews today tend to protest in shrill terms, without subtlety or nuance, without taking account of the arguments on the other side, failing to notice that the terms in which they construct the argument speak to other Jews, not non-Jews. They fail to follow the first rule of communication: first seek to understand, and only then seek to be understood. Having failed to persuade the general public, they conclude: ‘We told you so. The world hates us. We are alone.’

    I think Rabbi Sacks articulates what I meant, when I said that the Jewish community is weighed down by its collective memory rather than being informed by it. Being aware of an instance of antisemitism isn’t an “aha” moment – it shouldn’t be seen as an opportunity to swing into action with all guns blazing. A more thoughtful response is to use the awareness of antisemitism to inform that response – not to frame the response.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    In my conversation with the Age opinion editor Paul Austin, he echoed a smiliar sentiment to your own, that the power of a cartoon lies in the many ways that it can be interpreted. Therefore his interprtation of a cartoon where Moses and G-D were killed off by a fanatical Jew and other cartoons where holocaust imagery and symbols were invoked to make a point are different from someone like myself whose prophet and religion are being caricatured and whose grand parents survived the holocaust. Fair enough – it’s all in the spirit of encouraging free speech in an open and egalitarian society and I’m all for that…

    but when I asked Austin what prevented the Age so far from publishing caricatures of Mohammed, he stated that the Age did not want to offend a portion of it’s readership. What happened to the power of the cartoon and the many ways in which it can be interpreted? Harold, perhaps you can explain what goes on in the brain of a modern chardonnay socialist.

    I’ve always wanted to sit around a table in some trendy cafe in brunswick with an Age newspaper in one hand and a latte in the other discussing what my interpretation of such a
    cartoon is, yet have been prevented from doing so. Why?

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    The danger of invoking a certain causistic element where it is not overtly stated, but in my view strongly suggested, is that it can be immediately dismissed, if seen uncomfortable, by twisting the argument to a favourable, tendentious direction. Here I want to introduce the notion of INWARD LOOKING as an obstacle to comprehension by Jews of certain phenomena. Could Arnold Zwier agree that this is what Jonathan Sacks alluded to !!?
    I shall not wait for a confirmation or denial, simply because what I read from A. Zwier quote implies that plenty. Levi also alludes to the same in what he relates in terms of a non Jew addressing the same issue, of causes to Jewish “incapacity” to be “objective”. Same cathegory of thought, Jewish specificity in approaching a reality that concerns them so directly and acutely. This definitory fallacy has pesisted since, I’d say explicitely described approx. first quarter 19 Century, mainly Germany, inspired, of course by centuries of anti Semitism.
    Anyway, this kind of Jewish DNA detected inability of comprehending, of all things, their own condition, one caused by blatant realities determinant in the very survival of the same Jews, shall be treated here with the kind on cynical amazement more or less affordable this day and age and…locum, simply because down here in Sydney’s Eastern Subburbs I feel that I earned the questionable luxury of indulging in humoring serious incongruities.
    Not for long, but……….

    Next instalment shall carry the theme: Why would we embrace a notion that can only poison our condition ??!!

  • andrew wirth says:

    Otto – so you agree that “most Jewish communal leaders outside Israel are seriously deficient in developing reliable strategies” – so ifexcessive zeal is not the prblem, what do you think is the deficiency?
    Harold – I agree with Sacks’ sentiment (and in part yours) – I do question the benefit of publicly casting doubt on the credibility of Jewish communal responses to antisemitism at the time of active public debate in the very journal accused of publishing the allegedly antisemitic piece.
    Levi, the point of my piece was not to deny media bias, especially in The Age – this is beyond reasonable dispute – the question was how to improve the way we respond to bias

  • Harold Zwier says:


    There are 2 reasons why I won’t respond to the contents of your postings. The first is that your arguments are largely incomprehensible to me. The second is that you quite deliberately distort my name.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    HAROLD Zwier, sorry but I did not distort your name deliberately. What was to be gained by me calling you Arnold instead of Harold. I must put it down to the actual FACT that, while writing my opinion ABC FM were mantioning Arnold Schomberg. If the mere name Arnold is offensive to you, then trust me it was not intentional……….
    Second, read my text again, it is incredibly intelligible, very clear, however concise in presenting certain complex terms. Your confession is, I presume one of kind modesty,……me being also very kind.
    C’mon HAROLD, you can do it !!

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Harold – when you stated that “the power of the cartoon is in the many ways that it can be interpreted…” does that concept apply to all cartoons or some cartoons? I had an awful lot of trouble understanding Paul Austin and seeing that he echoed a similiar sentiment to your own, I was wondering if you could help clarify this in the interest of having an honest and open debate.

    Anrew – it’s interesting that the same usually the same israel “critics” who claim that there free speech is being trumpted by anti-semitism use the Islamobia/race card to shut down any opinion that might be dissenting to their ideological world view.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    oops I’ll try again –

    …it’s interesting that it’s usually the same Israel “critics” who claim that their free speech is being trumpeted by cries of anti-Semitism, simultaneously use the Islamobia/race card to shut down any opinion that might be dissenting to their ideological world view.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Andrew, of course I agree with you on that score.
    Australian Jewish communities ahve serious problems in locating and appointing qualified PR proffessionals in major positions. We have been regaled lots of lawyers, some dentists, some busines entrepreneurs, one former journalist and soem non descript enthusiasts. We do have some kind of a think tank which produces certain pedestrian sounds of PR semblance, but when it comes to major fora and occasions, such as ABC and SBS TV important events, Qanda, most of the Jews taking the podium are those renegades, actors, writers, political activists sellected specifically because they go into bat for the other team. In certain cases Jewish important leaders were invited to these fora and they collectuvely decided NOT to show up !!!! Consequntly the floor was abandoned to those who knew pretty well how to floor Israel.
    It is up to this kind of platform to develop ideas and initiatives, as long as personal ambitions don’t cut across the good intentions, as long as contributions are genuine and generous, unlike HAROLD Zwier pretence that ” me no understand nothin’ of you Oto what you say and wont talk toya and this how me right and you wrong, so there !”.
    So in this case me right and you also right, Andrew. But in the other cases me right and you slightly wrong. ( just received jolt from me ego as not to ignore it !!)

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Harold Zwier, the mission statement of the AJDS (quoted directly on their website) is “to promote free discussion on Jewish and general social and political issues” and a
    …”pluralistic Jewish community, by encouraging contributions from a wide range of viewpoints and perspectives.”

    Since you’re an executive member of the AJDS and given your unwillingness to respond to my query and engage in an open and honest discussion, would it be fair to the say that the AJDS is not interested in promoting free discussion on Jewish issues and encouraging contributions from a wide range of view points and perspectives after all?

  • Otto Waldmann says:


    it is fair to say that HAROLD Zwier is still digesting the convoluted challenge you put to him and he has exhausted his supply of ” I can not comprehend your question” with my earlier posting.I suggest you try calling him Arnold or William , that may jolt him. It worked with me.
    Otherwise why would any reasonable person elicit the kind of stuff only AJDS can excrete !!

  • Paul Winter says:

    I am appalled that so many words have been written around Leunig’s blatantly antisemitic excuse for cartoon(s). It is antisemitic at several levels. It insinuates that Jews are acting like Nazis and that the “Palestinian” experience equals that of Jews during the Shoah. It is antisemitic in that it robs Jews of their history (and in so doing kills the memory of the victims), it inverts facts and urges the world to show the remorse for genocide due to Jews to the Arabs. It is antisemitic in that it argues that there is pressure – and one can assume that it is from Jews and their supporters – to silence the criticism of Israel.

    Talking around the issue of when a Jew may call something antisemitic or when it is wise to do so misses the point. That point was made years ago by Tom Friedman before he went feral. He said that it was vile to describe fair criticism as antisemitic, but that to not describe real antisemitism for what it is, is dishonest. Too many of our leaders have been dishonest. And fearful. And diplomatic. And practitioners of sha shtilism, deluding themselves that “denying oxygen” to the Jew haters is the best way of eliminating it. They failed.

    Interpreting Leunig’s antisemitism at several levels is mere burial of the issue under several layers of manure. Leunig is not merely partisan, he is deliberately offensive. A failure to call him out and to allow the unFairfax press to call Leunig’s Jew hatred free speech is sophistry: it would be free speech if that mob gave an adaquate right of reply. And if it allowed comment on groups other than the Jews. In the name of free speech (for them) it ignores our racial vilification laws and the contempt urged on Israel supporters and consequently of incitement against them.

    Our leadership has been too tolerant of all the Jew experts our society throws up. They all know what is best for the Jews and they have the right and the wisdom to tell Jews what may of may not offend them. That attitude reminds me of an event during WW2 when a group of Jews were hanged by the Nazis, because they had wept too loudly on the previous day at the hanging of some Jews. But note, nobody would dare tell homosexuals, feminists, Aboriginals, Muslims or boat people what they may or may not regard as offensive. But Jews need to wipe the spittle of off their faces and bravely, respectfully and thankfully soldier on. No thanks! The time for silence is well past. We must denounce Jew hatred somewhat more vigorously than our leadership denounces visceral bigotry against others in our society. We and our children are here by right, not under sufferance. We deserve far better than to PC protected advocates of politicide (the destruction of Israel) and of jihad.

  • Harold Zwier says:

    I am in Jerusalem at the moment, wandering through the Old City amid the rain and wild weather. Attending 2 barmitzvahs at the Kotel and talking to people about Israel. I am therefore active on the internet at times that Melbourne is asleep, and asleep when Melbourne is awake.

    Levi wrote: “Harold – when you stated that “the power of the cartoon is in the many ways that it can be interpreted…” does that concept apply to all cartoons or some cartoons?”

    I can’t speak for Paul Astin. You don’t need me to tell you that some cartoons are more blatant in their meaning than others.

    Otto, I accept your words regarding distorting my name. You wrote: “The danger of invoking a certain causistic element where it is not overtly stated, but in my view strongly suggested, is that it can be immediately dismissed, if seen uncomfortable, by twisting the argument to a favourable, tendentious direction.”

    I did reasonably well at mathematics. I read a wide variety of articles from both the left and right. I study Gemara on a Shabbat afternoon. I enjoy the ideas which permeate the writings of Rabbi Sacks. But try as I might I cannot understand the meaning of the sentence of yours quoted above.

  • Andrew Wirth says:

    Paul, thank you for your comment and for actually responding to my piece! I agree with most of your points.
    I agree that Leunig’s cartoon embodies a grotesque lie – a lie that is offensive to many Jews, and more broadly to anyone who values the truth – and a lie that was intended (or could have been predicted) to cause pain to the many in Australia’s Jewish community who have been affected by the Holocaust.
    I also agree that Leunig (and others who mis-represent Jews or Israel-Palestine issues) should be called out in a strong and effective manner.
    I think where we may disagree is over what constitutes an effective response? I suggest that in responding to Leunig, Jewish communal representatives need to more carefully consider:
    1. what demographic are they trying to reach
    2. what “effect” do they wish their public statements to have
    3. how can that effect best be achieved
    As you quote points out, “it is vile to describe fair criticism as antisemitic, but that to not describe real antisemitism for what it is, is dishonest”. I am suggesting that we may more effectively reach more people by vigorously responding to the content of unfair criticism of Israel (or in Leunig’s case the offensiveness and dishonesty of his cartoon) than trying to establish anti-Semitic motivation.

  • Andrew Wirth says:

    Harold, reading some of these posts might be compared to skiing down a steep slope with big moguls. You can’t think to hard about each bump – just use your instincts, “bend zee knees” and try to get to the bottom of the mountain in one piece!

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Harold – put your thinking yarmulke on, even a knitted one will do and read my decomposing version :
    Sentence precludes the notion of “inward looking” which I wanted to introduce as underlining the statement made by Sacks. I opened with the cautioun that what is alluded to by Sacks and, obviously, not overtly stated, may be denied by those who would like to dismiss my argument frivolously,unfairly, for the sake of “compromising” me personally, not the argument itself, some call it ad hominem.
    I, then, continued by invoking, indeed, the “inward looking” element which, in my view – a tested and proven one – is highly anti Semitic, something that, obviously would not sit well with Sacks or even yourself etc. Once I have proven that “inward looking” at Jews is anti Semitic you and all concerned would have attacked me by saying that IT was not suggested, contained accepted at all, ergo back to unfairly attacking me…………Got it now !!?? I shall ask a mathematical logician to express it in his/your lingo, but I reckon that the “plain” verbal explanation was quite adequate. Otherwise give Yerushalaim my golden hug and eternal love !!!
    Mind you both lexically and as syntax my initial phrase was correct.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Paul’s opinion is so impeccably expressed, considering the space one may afford himself in a forum like this, that one may not attemp any criticism. Your suggestions, however are valid, yet they do NOT contradict at all what Paul managed to suggest and overtly state in that short space. As such I cannot see you disagreeing with Paul.
    The generic suggestions you are offering – again very, very succint – are implied and opennly offered by Paul and even poor me.
    You would be the 1st to agree that what you gave us is just an off the cuff editorial quip, not a grand plan of action.
    Now that we have established motherhood, I reckon more intrusive, corosive suggestions are required. Intrude into was eliminate the veneer of what ??!!
    Let’s watch this space for the next incredibly, no doubt, extraordinary episodes !
    See HAROLD Zwier accept in a voice almost sufocated by tears of humbleness that Otto was majestically right, resign from those “Jewish Democrats ” , design a webstite called “Yerushalaim showed me the OR – light – ” and change his name to ARNOLD.

    On a slightly more serious note, we have all been genetically modified by our own history to detect with absolute accuracy anti Semitism in its most insidious forms. What some are trying is “re-modifying” that valuable shield of survival and be more like those who always wanted us to become one of…………them !!

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Harold, thanks for taking the time out to respond & mazel tov on your family simchas. Since you last stated that you were not prepared to respond to Otto in addition to the long 12 hour pause, I assumed you were also going to extend that to my comments & that was going to be the end of our discussion.

    I know you don’t speak for Austin. However, since Austin did quote a portion of your column verbatim to me and was also responsible for publishing your column, I’m curious know what your own thoughts are. Could you expand on “…some cartoons are more blatant in their meaning than others?” And what are your thoughts around the Age being sensitive to some of it’s readers in not publishing certain cartoons that might be deemed offensive to them? Do you think the Age is taking the correct approach?

  • TheSadducee says:

    I tend to agree with the article in that the criticisms are themselves not being addressed by referring to anti-semitic interpretations of the criticisms, irrespective of their substance.

    Often the comments/criticisms which are deemed offensive, anti-semitic etc are made within a context of their total view on the conflict. Some people are clearly ignorant (for a whole number of reasons) of the total detail involved, others are ideologically influenced, some are malicious and there are also other reasons that could apply.

    The offensive comments, within those explanations, determine their intent – i.e. are they merely ignorant, foolish, insensitive, or are they malicious, racist, anti-semitic?

    Ideally, another factor concerns questioning what critics want to see happen with regards to the conflict. This can help determine where they stand vis a vis racism, antisemitism, delusion, realism, etc.

    If they are articulating solutions which are going to detrimental to Jews then that should be tackled – why are they suggesting this?

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Like it or not Paul Winter has summed up the root cause of the problem in a nut shell –

    “Too many of our leaders have been dishonest. And fearful. And diplomatic. And practitioners of sha shtilism, deluding themselves that “denying oxygen” to the Jew haters is the best way of eliminating it. They failed.

    & more importantly –

    “nobody would dare tell homosexuals, feminists, Aboriginals, Muslims or boat people what they may or may not regard as offensive…”

    This is pretty much understated. Our sages (Pirkie Avos) state:

    “Who is wise?
    The one who learns from every person…”

    the Muslims take great pride in their religion and prophets and are uncompromising in their beliefs. If we had at least a quarter of their pride & uncompromising stance, instilled this on to our children who attend schools like Scopus & Bialik, I can guarentee that a lot of the animosity and hatred that is thrown are way would dissapear.

    Otherwise you can spend a life time trying to figure out all kinds of “thoughtful” and “intellectual” ways of responding to anti-semitism, and just keep banging your head against the wall.

  • Paul Winter says:

    We do not disagree and that is good. I would however like to address your final comment that the best way of countering antisemitism is to respond to unfair criticism rather than to seek motivations for it. It is imperative to respond to unfair criticism; no argument on that score. While I am certain that you were not implying that we should not become paranoid, there are two points that must be made by way of clarification. (1) The saying “Just because I am paranoid, doesn’t mean that you are not after me”. (2) When actions or comments follow a trend, ignoring motivation is wrong, impedes an understanding of what is truly going on and can be dangerous inasmuch as it eliminates proper analysis and appropriate responses.

    I am 100% with you on the need for Jew to take pride and to adopt an uncompromising stance in support of our religion. I am sure that you do not mean fanaticism or sectarianism. But what we must teach our children (and professional Jews who promote their own into leadership positions) is that Western civilisation is based on the vision of our forebears. We owe much to the Greeks for their philosophy and science. We owe much to the Romans for laws and engineering. But the “Christian” values on which our society is based and the values given lip service by brutish regimes (most of whom are our enemies) are actually Jewish. To be true to our heritage we must be free, proud, honest, bold and as fair to ourselves as we are to others.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    “I am sure that you do not mean fanaticism or sectarianism.”

    Of course not.

    On the flip side it’s good to be mindful that the most extreme & vile form of anti-Semitism occurred 70 years ago in a country where Jews were the most assimilated and secularised. A country where Jews were totally devoted to serving their fatherland.

  • Sam says:

    Levi has made an excellent point which is illustrated extremely well in Ben Elton’s latest novel,(Two Brothers) which although fiction, is based on historical research of Jewish life in Berlin in the 20’s and 30’s. It is a dramatized story of his own ancestors in Germany and is worth reading both as a novel, as well as a graphic account of the gradual deterioration of living conditions for Jews in Germany. Most striking was the cognitive dissonance employed to justify “just accepting” the situation, and not getting out when it was still possible.
    The seeds of antisemitism were clearly sown well before 1933, the year that Hitler became the Chancellor.
    A phrase that re-appears a few times throughout is: “The Nazis have now done —- to us, surely there is nothing worse that they can do.”

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    As a historin I’d be delighted to dwell ad infinitum on the origins and varied manifestations of anti Semitism in periods and places.
    A careful look at the phenomenon in Germany, with some variations between states prior to 1880-1890, but with predilection in Prussia, in France before and after the Napolonic Codes, in Austro-Hungary and the n Hungary, why not Russia and then Romania, we can go forever.
    The most pressing issue is anti Semitism POST THE SIX DAY WAR !!!!
    There is an element of redundant effort in aducing causality factors of the historicity kind into the realpolitik of the current concerns.
    German historical determinants pre and during WWII shall find NO afinity at all with the anti Semitism instigated by the Islamic front of today. Paul Winter’s active, almost obsessive concern with the force of Islamism in the current anti Semitic international momentum elicits precisely the fact that introducing European traditional traits in the specific contempiorary discorse forces to the forefront a secondary factor. To this extent the consistent denials of anti Semitism of a civilised citizen of a 21 Century civilised Australia could be seen as an efective distraction. Most pertinent is the actual EVENT that an Anglo found it comfortable and even necessary to join in the totally non-Anglo demo in the melbourne CBD organised by Paul Winter’s “charges”. Thus, my conclusion and advice is that, instead of accusing the cartoonist of anything akin to whatever happened in Prussia or the Third Reich, we should relate his ostensive anti Semitism to the contemporary determinants and there are no more viciously anti Semitic offensive capable of influencing public and private figures these days than the Islamist Jew hating batallions.There are more Der Sturmer publications in the Islamic world today that Dr. Goebels could have possibly conceived. I cannot pinpoint the influencing factors conducive to anti Semitism in Leunig’s private profile, but I can surely quote the vast “literature” of , indeed Der Sturmer type, wallpapering all Islamic publication with glee even as we speak and debate the issue. They are a cartoonist’s paradise a Parnas of inspiration. Leunig is jigging to the Islamic pipers and delight and, for all his alusions to nazi germany, I am sure that, just as the funny line in “The Producers” he might not even know that the Third Reich meant Germany. To this extent we can comfortably state that if we witness anti Semitic manifestations in Western Europe today they are mainly the direct result of the….external factors – as much as Islam could be seen as external to Western Europe these days. I would leave out Hungary and Russia – which is not Western Europe anyway.
    This is why it is only logical and necessary to associate anti Israel manifestations with anti Semitism, why there is an undisputed organic relationship between the two elements, a relationship that must be evinced at all times !!!!

    There is a dermined school of thought that claims that the very departure by a sizeable portion of the German Jewry in the 19 Century from traditinal Judaism was responsible for the increase of anti Semitism in the same society. Within a pure transcendental approach it has serious merits.

  • Vardit says:

    Andrew, your article is spot on. But because you are copping flak, I will try to paraphrase and tell Otto and Levi and to some extent Paul how I understand your words.

    When we learn good parenting skills we are told not to tell a child that he/she is naughty, just to point out the error in her/his ways. In learning debating skills we are also told not to be personal in our arguments but to have good logical arguments. When we respond to what we know is antisemitic, we don’t have to call it antisemitic, we can respond with facts countering the antisemitic arguments. After all Leunig has many fans, they do not understand the background, if we call him (what he says is) name-calling, then they are immediately on his side. Whereas if you present the facts they may be led to think.

  • Harold Zwier says:

    Vardit, I agree. Responding to perceived antisemitism in an effective manner is best done, in my view, by explaining the offense felt and countering the argument – not throwing a label.

    Andrew, I’m not sure I agree with your argument “You can’t think to hard about each bump – just use your instincts, “bend zee knees” and try to get to the bottom of the mountain in one piece!”. My cousin, who is a much better skier than I, told me that picking your path is an important element of skiing through a mogul field in control (and looking good).

    And talking of snow. We did a tour of the Old City today with an ex-Melbournite, through the rain and sleet and snow flurries. The word on the street is that it will snow significantly overnight, but I’ll believe it when I see it. School children finished school early today and shops closed early because of concern about snow on the roads. It has been raining since Monday (that’s now 3 full days) with freezing temperatures only today. As much as the weather was wild, it was, as always, a pleasure to wander around ir ha’atika (the Old City). The weather just added another level of interest.

    Andrew, you wrote: “I agree that Leunig’s cartoon embodies a grotesque lie – a lie that is offensive to many Jews, and more broadly to anyone who values the truth – and a lie that was intended (or could have been predicted) to cause pain to the many in Australia’s Jewish community who have been affected by the Holocaust.”

    As much as you believe that Leunig’s cartoon embodies a grotesque lie, it is possible to value the truth and still see it in a different light. I visited Yad Vashem yesterday and our guide (Mindy-yes, we picked up on that too) pointed out and read the Niemoller poem, written on the wall of one of the galleries. In that context, the poem both spoke of the evil perpetrated by the nazis and provided a universal message about evil. While many Jews see the nazi / Israel connection as the underlying message of Leunig’s cartoon, that may not be the primary response of most people outside the Jewish community. The issue of naming and name calling touches me at the core – I don’t know exactly why. It is lazy if inadvertent and offensive if deliberate (in my view) – and that is why I reacted to Otto as I did. Paul Winter also did it when he referred to Andrew as “Henry”.

    When you said that Leunig’s use of the Niemoller poem was “a lie that was intended”, I hesitate. I am reluctant to start ascribing a particular intent when there is more than one reasonable option open. And I have explained (whether you agree or disagree) why I see other options as reasonable. But I have no hesitation in airing the view of many people in the Jewish community about the offense felt – hence my quote of appropriate parts of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission’s press release in the article published in the Age newspaper.

    Levi, I didn’t deal with Paul Astin on this occasion and you are asking me to comment on the position of The Age as reported by you. I am reluctant to comment on what you have heard. Nevertheless, my comments to Andrew in this posting also apply to your question:

    ‘Could you expand on “…some cartoons are more blatant in their meaning than others?”’

    Leunig’s cartoon can be read in a number of ways. A cartoon of a hooked nose grotesque looking person with the caption “the Jews are our misfortune” doesn’t really have more than one meaning.

    You also asked: “Do you think the Age is taking the correct approach?”

    There are many issues about which there is no definitive right and wrong – just different opinions. The Age publishes a variety of opinion articles around what I believe is the mainstream. Some I agree with. Some I disagree with. Some I am indifferent to. I don’t believe that the Age is antisemitic. Others think differently.

    I value the opportunity to engage in civil debate.

    As for Otto who must by now think that I wasn’t going to mention him in this overlong posting…..hello Otto. But, more seriously, I think that my comments here and in earlier posts responds to your points.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Harold, thanks for the response. And I don’t envy you for being stuck in that weather! I also value the opportunity to engage in a civil debate that is also open & honest.

    “…you are asking me to comment on the position of The Age as reported by you. I am reluctant to comment on what you have heard”

    You’re absolutely right. To get you to comment on something that I have heard & that you were not privy to (i.e. hearsay) is unfair to both you as well as Paul Austin. So allow me to quote an Age editorial on the Danish cartoon controversy from 2006 –


    “The Age has not published these cartoons as a matter of editorial judgement, a position supported by this newspaper’s cartoonists. The Danish cartoons were neither insightful nor effective, just stereotypical smears. At the level of content, there was little justification to run them. Even given their curiosity value, such material carries a responsibility to consider whether the point of publication outweighs any likely offence.”

    This editorial policy – i.e. refraining from publishing “sterotypical smears” for the fear of offending a minority – has not changed & no Mohammed cartoons have been published.

    “There are many issues about which there is no definitive right and wrong – just different opinions….”I don’t believe that the Age is antisemitic.”

    I’m curious to know what your opinion is on the above editorial policy. Just your own. And for arguments sake, let’s take any alleged motives of anti-semitism out of the equation.

    You also state –

    “While many Jews see the nazi / Israel connection as the underlying message of Leunig’s cartoon, that may not be the primary response of most people outside the Jewish community.”

    “A cartoon of a hooked nose grotesque looking person with the caption “the Jews are our misfortune” doesn’t really have more than one meaning.”

    So there is a bench mark? The concept of “the cartoon has multiple meanings” does not apply to all cartoons after all?

    Many people may not deem the hooked nose “misfortune” cartoon to be offensive either or see that as an attack on the Jewish community. It might just be light hearted humor. You’re right, often people not on the recieving end of a particular political message, caricature or joke usually don’t find it offensive. For example, a light hearted cartoon featuring over weight women at a Buffet or swimming pool won’t be offensive to most men, etc, etc.

  • Alex Summery says:

    ‘And indeed there will be time
    To wonder, ‘Do I dare?’ and, ‘Do I dare?’

    Apologies to Elliot for the appropriation and use of his words out of context, but I add my bit with some ambivalence; I am fearful of being seduced into an endless but important debate for which I have inadequate time….

    In his initial blog and clarifications Andrew Wirth expressed the opinion that issues should be addressed without overuse, of or even use, of the term ‘anti-semitic’, in part to maximize discussion and minimize rhetoric and conflation of issues/ideas. Apologies if I have misunderstood or over- simplified, Andrew.
    Ten Jews, twenty opinions, all articulate, with interesting ideas. But the initial, central and vital thread seems to have been lost, despite lengthy, fascinating and possibly even necessary discussion.
    If I may throw a cat amongst the pigeons may I suggest (do I dare? ) that this matter – how to best represent and debate in the public domain is vital and should not the waylaid.
    There has always been a battle for hearts and minds. This is the central issue which needs to be addressed.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    @Vardit – “When we respond to what we know is antisemitic, we don’t have to call it antisemitic, we can respond with facts countering the antisemitic arguments. After all Leunig has many fans, they do not understand the background, if we call him (what he says is) name-calling, then they are immediately on his side. Whereas if you present the facts they may be led to think.”

    To be honest, I think that in the majority of cases concerning the Jewish community or Israel, the counter-responses to criticism of Israel are usually based on fact. I think relative to other minorities or groups, Jews don’t trump the “race” or “discrimination” card as much.

    I’ve already pointed to a certain phenomenon & I’ll repeat it again – while being accused of silencing criticism of Israel with the “anti-Semitism” card, Israel’s critics & detractors have become very adept @ silencing any perceived dissent to their ideology with shrill cries of “racism” or “Islamo-phobia.” So in other words, they have developed a double edge sword where on the one hand, they can play the “free speech martyr” & claim that their opinions are being stifled with the anti-Semitism/discrimination card while simultaneously trumping the discrimination & race card to shut down dissent. What a brilliant strategy. What a great way to dominate the debate. As Andrew Wirth pointed out, we have now reached the bottom of the pit – our detractors are now saying that a massacre of a Jewish father & his children cannot be called anti-Semitic. Well as Paul Winter stated, we shouldn’t allow other people to define what is offensive or what is anti-Semitic. The Muslims certainly don’t allow other people to define what is Islamo-phobia. No other group does.

  • andrew wirth says:

    Just to add some topicality – there is an article (http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-news/jewish-leaders-in-australia-say-media-not-so-fair-and-balanced-on-israel.premium-1.492862) on this very issue in today’s Haaretz- The Australian Jewish battle with the media has made the press in Israel… and here are just two of the letters in response, many of which share the same tone (both letters had lots of “likes”)

    Critizing Israel By Joe

    “Why is every criticism of Israel condemned at anti-semitic? What convention states that an independent media must treat Israel with kid gloves? The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has no business dictating to Australian television what it can and cannot broadcast. That is the right and duty of any democracy. The rhetoric of those who condemn the Australian media for supposedly demonizing Israel and being part of the ‘new anti-Semitism’ is really an expression of fear by Jewish lobby groups of a deteriorating reputation that Israel is experiencing across the world for its aggressive policies throughout the occupied territories.”
    Aussie media By An Ozzie
    “I live in Australia and the media is not anti Israel it is anti Israels brutal occupation and treatment of the Palestinians.people here are sick of it and want it to stop Itis not a big mmystery”

  • andrew wirth says:

    …my point being that distaste for, and a tendency to reject, labels of anti semitism appear to be widespread in the Australian community. More so, no doubt, amongst the left, academia as well of course as Palestinian solidarity/advocacy groups. Like several posters on this thread I dislike this situation – it is unjust, and may itself reflect distorted attitudes to the Jewish community. However given this reality, we must make the best choices as regards communication. To those who disagree, please describe how “calling an antisemitic spade a spade” will win hearts and minds-and whose hearts and minds?

  • andrew wirth says:

    it is “possible” to read Leunig’s cartoon as not offensive to Jews, and it is possible to read the Hamas leadership as genuinely seeking peace with Israel – such is the power of the mind.
    What I said was the Leunig’s cartoon is a lie that was intended to cause pain- can I mind read Leunig’s intent – no. But how likely is it that an artist who draws parallels between Nazi Germany and Israel, in a newspaper in a city with a large holocaust-survivor population could not anticipate the emotional pain that would cause. Leunig may be many things, but insensitive to the emotional impact of his cartoons he is not – plaing with his readerships emotion and imagination is his stock in trade.

  • andrew wirth says:

    and a similar debate in the UK over a Guardian cartoon
    “Elsewhere Bell has said that he can’t be held responsible for “whatever cultural precepts and misapprehensions people choose to bring to my cartoon”. This is a view rejected by one of the complainants: “Like it or not, he works in a cultural context and must be aware that people will bring frames of reference external to his work.”

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Forgive me for being naive but I doubt that pro Palestinian activists, academics, the ABC, the Age, (which has a dwindling readership) or even people who leave comments on Haaretz (which like the Age is also very unpopular in it’s home country) are representative of views of the wider Australian public. In contrast, the Herald Sun (the most popular and widely read news paper in the country) is unashamedly pro-Israel. The second most longest serving prime minister of this country – John Howard- was unashamedly pro Israel and so is the opposition leader. I would say that their views are representative of a large portion of Australians. The type of attitude toward Israel that you claim is wide spread, is actually wide spread in many EU countries but not so much in Australia or America. I understand that there are many Jews in this country who would describe themselves as left-wing, are part of academic circles and read the Age or watch the ABC. Naturally many of them are quite hurt about what goes on in their inner social and work circles and are therefore devising strategies of how they and their pro Israel views could be more “acceptable” to their colleagues and friends, especially around “communication.” fair enough. I understand your hurt and frustration at being left out in the cold and your desire to fit in.

    However, personally with my encounters with many hard core leftists/pro-
    Palestinian activists and academics, I have found that they have a hatred of Israel which is not based on anything rational. I’ve witnessed many discussions and debates where despite there being no accusations of anti-semitism being made and nevertheless the pro Palestinian person would play the victim and claim that their freedom of expression was being stifled by jews and the Jewish lobby. Seeing that their hatred is largely irrational and not based on any facts, nothing you will do -no matter how diplomatic you try to be will – actually pacify their hatred and contempt of Israel.

  • andrew wirth says:

    Levi – this is not about my feelings but about what works (I certainly have no desire to “fit in” in left wing circles)
    Regarding the demographics of public attitudes/newspaper readership ( and here I base my comments on impressions only, I apologise in advance for the generalisation, I and am happy to be corrected) I suspect that for most readers of the Herald Sun, Israel-Palestine is a non issue (despite the paper’s editorial position)- they are unlikely to vote or take any political action in respect of this topic – so the newspapers position is moot.
    Yes we have had pro-Israel political leadership, but political leadership has to be elected. Israel may never be a vote winner or loser, and I imagine this is why our Zionist organisations are more concerned with direct lobbying than public opinion. But demographics change – it was only recently that it was alleged that pressure on Labour back benchers in Western and Southwest Sydney contributed to Labour’s UN vote.
    I agree with your last paragraph – no argument, no matter how measured, will change the views of those with a hatred of Israel. I am not suggesting that carefully calibrated argument will change these views, but I do suggest it might influence the views of people of good will, with a less committed position, who are tuned into the debate.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    You’re right, by and large the Israel-Palestine Israel is probably a non issue for the majority of Australians, however there is a large portion of Australians who are very sympathetic to israel. I’ve read many letters to the editor from Herald Sun readers with very non Jewish names who come from parts of Australia where there are no Jews, who make very passionate arguments for Israel. Very Popular and widely read commentators like Andrew Bolt, Tim Blair, Gerg Sheridan etc and popular top talk back radio hosts like Darryn Hinch and Alan Jones are all passionate supporters of Israel. I know that a lot of people here would cringe at just hearing their names – but love them or hate them, they make better arguments in the defense of Israel than the majority of Jews – whether they are our communal leaders or otherwise. No only do they have a wide audience…but people listen to them.

  • andrew wirth says:

    the fact that Bolt, Hinch, Jones and the likes of Glen Beck support Israel is enough to make me reconsider my Zionism!

  • frosh says:

    Of course, Andrew, if you think there’s some undesirable people supporting Israel, wait to you see the list of Neo-Nazis and Salfist terrorists on the other side:-)

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Sure, for you just mentioning their names would be the equivalent of mentioning Haman’s name at a magillah reading. Nevertheless they get a much wider audience than the ABC, the Age etc (sources you used to prove that the “wider” Australian public is fed up when the Jewish community allegedly tries to use the “anti-Semite” card to stifle any precievd criticism of Israel).

    I would rather have the above group on my team than have the likes of George Galloway, David Duke, Margo Kingston or even Michael Leunig. In short there is no shortage of fruit caked on the otherside.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Since I have started calling Zwier “names”, my only retort his his incredibly original quip is : “Hello Louie !!”. To be slightly more generous, Harold aka Arnold, aka Louie, your long and thin soup comments lead to a generous attempt at pouring good wine in the sand. An interesting subject treated with a fence sitting impersonation of Solomonic justice. Hello Sol !!
    Vardis, sorry but the educational advice contains the same sand Harold was using in wasting the good wine, the only difference is that you are trying to build a castle with it. What sort of suggestion is it NOT to attach an appropriate qualification to a certain type of behaviour. Why use some type of gentle euphemism when the right expression was conceived for a “use with confidence”. If confidence is the issue, the study harder, practice dialectics more often and the right word, such as calling a bloody shtinkene shaygetz anti Semite a bloody shtinkene shaygetz anti Semite shall roll on you goldene tongue with unequaled glee !!! Trust me, I know what ( and how often ) I am taling about. As about educating kids, I found that using the radical expression “You are WRONG !!” and with a radical facial expression prompts the child’s immediate attention and that is WHEN you roll out the magical lecture full of funny stuff, euphemisms, excentric vocatives, coagulated information and, most importantly, AFFECTION !!! How do I know it, my “little” one treats me, after 25 years, excatly the same. Lesson learnt.
    This is also valid for all those who reckon that calling a spade what it precisely is is counter-productive.
    On the same hand, sorry Andrew and even Levi ( this time adiffernt sorry ) but your assertion that most Australians ( not politicians ) are sympatethic to the Jewish causes or Jews in general is so W R O N G, that I really wonder wjre do youzed guys really, really live !!! From pubs to work places of ANY description the ANTI SEMITIC flavour of the Australian vernacular, general comments, casual humor, down to despicable reactions reeks of an anti Semitism of the worst kind. You should travel to 95% of Sydney’s subburbs in typical Jewish garb, but make it really looking typical Jewish and try mingle with the folk in crowded places. Spend a few hours roaming in most shipping centres or, why not , enter a pub and attempt a typical casual chat with anyone…………see who comes out wiser !!
    I am the very up front guy and in my experience 99% of cases I witnessed a shocking pervasive anti Semitism. I shall not mention the migrant complex community where the same can be multiplied by varibles quantums fro 3 to 10, including vile threats and physical violence, unprovoked attacked and seriously. In the businesses I worked, rejection of Jews was immediate upon my presence and, for a while I was a top executive in Sir Peter Abeles’ TNT and a good friend of the man, somethig that did not spare the more gently type of the same.
    John Howard is, indeed, a trusted friend of Israel and the Jewish community and so is Christopher Payne, and, more by circumstances, Malcolm Turnbull, but these people are of higher intelectual calibre in practicl intellect, gounded on necessary ethics. They DO not represent the electorate in all aspects, and John Howard WAS never elected , and how often, on account of his affection for Jewish causes, something which is never mentioned even by his admirers outside the strict Jewish confines.
    So, statistics of the intuitive kind sound comforting and easily digestible, but I cannot see their nutritional value.

  • Paul Winter says:

    If I called you by the wrong name, please accept my apology.

    The people who hate Jews and the Jewish state are not children. The method you suggest to eliminate emotional diversions in disputes i.e. (1) say: when you say/do (describe objectively)…(2) I feel (unemotionally describe feelings)…(3) If you would instead say/do…(4) Then the result/would be…(something win-win) does not work with bigots, sadists and liars. Your patronising remarks about parenting and dispute resolution are inappropriate. Following your line people like Leunig would respond by either stating that one is trying to stifle comment by pretending to be hurt or that the way to stop the hurt is to admit to your guilt and to join them in their condemnation of the evil they accuse you of. You and people like you must realise that the psychological formula for dispute resolution is predicated on honesty, the ability to face facts and the desire for good relations. None of that applies with haters. Antisemitism is as irrational as is the mohammedan/Jewish dispute being played out with regard to Israel. Your method is reality based and the dispute is emotionally/ideologically based.

    I trust I have your name right and you are not Ralph. Your long winded attempt at diverting the argument through sophistry – there are many ways of interpreting a cartoon – falls flat. Leunig is obsessed with Jews and Israel; he is of the “my mind is made up, don’t confuse me with facts” type. By all means state the facts on which you base your objection to comments (and drawing) by such people, but don’t tell us that it would open their closed minds. And if name calling touches you to the quick, why are you so insensitive to Leunig’s anti-Jewishness? Perhaps its minor slurs that you can’t tolerate. Or you can’t tolerate name calling of anyone, Jews excepted. Leunig’s cartoons are name calling at several levels, all of which wash off you because it could be something else. Or you wish it could be because then you would either have to do something about it or face the horror of horrors -that comrade is your enemy. Now clearly one does not stand in the middle of the street and scream “antisemite”. Clearly one has to be unemotional and describe the action/words that identify the antisemitism. Bur one also has to be firm and stand up for one’s beliefs, one’s people and truth and decency. One must listen to the other side and respond appropriately. What one must not do is to spend all of one’s time in debating what is the best method of countering hate and end up doing nothing about it.

  • andrew wirth says:

    Paul- just to be clear
    1. The issue I ram raising is not what to say to anti-semites and Israel haters that might change their minds – the issue is what to say publicly to anti-semites and Israel haters that might influence the decent, open minded people observing the “dispute”.
    2. I dont believe anyone is saying one should do nothing to “counter hate” – whether because of fear, delicacy or intellectual paralysis. Indeed, as you say, you cant eradicate the hate of the anti-semite/Israel hater. However, you can try to demonstrate the irrationality and hatefulness of their words and actions.

    We should consistently and vigorously point out the distortion, inconsistency, lies and stereotypes of the Jew/Israel hater, thereby potentially raising questions in the mind of the interested observer, and weakening the propaganda value of the words or images in question.

    The sophisticated Jew/Israel hater wants nothing more that the opportunity to divert the discussion to an analysis of their motives, rather than their hate speech. This diversion usually works in their favour for all the reasons I articulated above. Most of all it perfectly dovetails with another of their pet anti-Jewish slurs- the all powerful, manipulative, debate silencing, media controlling Jew – one simply ends up doing their propaganda for them.

  • andrew wirth says:

    Frosh, when you look at the pro Zionist opinions of the Alan Jones and Glenn Becks of the world, and consider their broader world view, do you think their support of Israel really reflects positive views on Israel/Jews or does it simply reflect antipathy to Arab world and the leftist agenda in general?

  • Harold Zwier says:


    My comments below commenting on your comments are rhetorical. They don’t require a response from you.

    “I trust I have your name right and you are not Ralph.”

    Is this part of a serious discussion or is it there for another purpose?

    “Your long winded attempt at diverting the argument through sophistry – there are many ways of interpreting a cartoon – falls flat.”

    That’s merely a statement of opinion.

    “Leunig is obsessed with Jews and Israel; he is of the “my mind is made up, don’t confuse me with facts” type.”

    Mere opinion.

    “By all means state the facts on which you base your objection to comments (and drawing) by such people, but don’t tell us that it would open their closed minds.”

    None of my comments have been about changing the attitude of people like Leunig and I have not claimed that they have “closed minds” that need to be opened. The discussion Andrew initiated was about effectively articulating a response to material which some are offended by. The target audience is not the “perpetrator”, but the “perpetrator’s” audience. I have put “perpetrator” in quotes because in my opinion a more effective response starts with a recognition that the “perpetrator” is merely someone with whom you disagree.

    “And if name calling touches you to the quick, why are you so insensitive to Leunig’s anti-Jewishness?”

    That Leunig is anti-Jewish is mere opinion. It’s not fact. Leunig has not labelled me or named me.

    “Perhaps its minor slurs that you can’t tolerate. Or you can’t tolerate name calling of anyone, Jews excepted. Leunig’s cartoons are name calling at several levels, all of which wash off you because it could be something else.”

    This is an expression of opinion – not fact.

    “Or you wish it could be because then you would either have to do something about it or face the horror of horrors -that comrade is your enemy.”

    Unless people are being quite deliberately offensive, I don’t generally think of most people with whom I disagree as being the “enemy”. Merely having a different opinion need not be seen as a declaration of war.

    “Now clearly one does not stand in the middle of the street and scream “antisemite”.”

    But that is exactly what the ADC and others are doing. Which is the point Andrew has addressed.

    “Clearly one has to be unemotional and describe the action/words that identify the antisemitism. But one also has to be firm and stand up for one’s beliefs, one’s people and truth and decency.”

    Let’s not get carried away with “truth and decency”. What is primarily being discussed is a difference of opinion – even when you are offended by that opinion.

    “One must listen to the other side and respond appropriately. What one must not do is to spend all of one’s time in debating what is the best method of countering hate and end up doing nothing about it.”

    Galus Australis has provided a forum for endless debate. It is a site for discussing the problems of the Jewish world (and other things), rather than doing anything directly about those problems. But maybe your point is valid and we have finished articulating our respective views and are now just repeating ourselves.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    mate, I know it is going to be a hard job for you, with all the passion for being immersed in studying Torah etc., but you must give up this sententious way of addressing specific issues with the detailed speficity of a buldozer. And yes, unlike the romantics ( see I gave you a poetic licence !!) we, concerned Yids, are not here just for palaver, but we reckon that, in the old tradition of the majestic shtetl, we talk and act. You may not think that the ideas ( and fantastic jokes picked up from some 1962 Jewish comedy LP )should become effective tools in dealing with tachles, but , luckily , Galus seems to allow its contributors to be a bit more than armchair – or retired travelling buffs – speculators in the eitzes market place. And for that I am grateful.Otherwise you left me shtumm as there is nothing I could hang me yarmulke on what, once again, you offered us. See ,if they are not selling some Israeli guts in the shuk, I reccomend the “Chutzpah” brand.

  • Otto Waldmann says:


    re your question/proposition to Frosh I will cut in and say that from what I know about Allan Jones, he is a decent bloke with a very good disposition toward the Jews and, as it has been developing in the recent years, the kind of dinky dy that feels a bad anti mulsim taste in his huge mouth.
    If you are leading to the in principle point that anti muslim does not necessarily mean a more sympathetic view of the Jews, I reckon that there is NO logical transgression. One may harbour both aversions, conflicting as may – falsely – seem. Jonesy is a rare case among the Australian non Jews.

    I know someone incredibly close to me – married at the Great to someone I also happen to know very well !!- who knows Allan Jones very well, has worked very closely with Allan and he has been unbelievebly supportive, helpful selfless, a “legend”.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    “decent, open minded people observing the “dispute”.”

    Andrew, as I’ve stated, observe most debates & you will see that by & large the arguments presented by ppl with pro-Israel views are based on fact & reason & usually steer well clear of shrill cries of “anti-Semitism.” Take a look @ a recent forum on Antony Loewenstein’s column for the Drum. Interestingly, on the forum, most if not all of the shrill cries of “racism” came from the other side where posters used terms like “lebensraum” to describe Israel’s policies. It’s within the context of Israel’s detractors making ongoing Nazi analogies & screaming “racism” & @ every opportunity, that Leunig’s caricatures come into the picture. Interestingly, the topic on the drum forum was about a sydney academic’s (Jake Lynch) refusal to work with or cooperate with a fellow Israeli academic. After blatantly discriminating against someone because of their ethnicity, Lynch came on the forum & presented himself as a martyr of egaliteranism & a free & open society. This is the type of double edged sword tactic that I referred to earlier. Brilliant tactic.

    Loewenstein is also quite adept @ using the double edged sword. Many people have presented very logical & factual arguments to counter his work & point out all the flaws & false hooods…yet without any evidence he dismisses them as trying to stifle his “free speech” with “anti-Semite card” whilst single handily calling them racists, imperialists & Islamo-phobes.

    “Alan Jones and Glenn Becks of the world…or does it simply reflect antipathy to Arab world and”

    Well, employing the same logic that Israel’s detractors use, I can say that people who claim that the Beck’s & the Jones’s of the world are anti-muslim, are just trying to stifle their free speech & shut down any valid criticisms or debate of the Arab world & Islam in general…can’t I? I guess the ball is in their court to prove that, Jones, Beck, or Bolt etc are actually anti-Muslim rather than simply stating very valid criticisms. I can always employ Harold Zwier’s “there is no right or wrong” logic.

    I can be corrected on this but I stand by what I stated earlier – I think the whole issue for you & someone like Vardit, is all about “how I can be more accepted or how my views can appear to be more acceptable to my inner circle.” It’s purely emotional.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Hi Harold, while we’re on the topic of opinions, is it fair to say that you are having a little difficulty in answering the question I posed for you?

    What is your opinion on the Age’s official on the record editorial stance on not publishing Mohammed cartoons for fear of offending Muslims? Is it the right stance or the wrong stance?

    So far you gave a number of responses – all completely irrelevant. One was that you thought that the Age is not anti-Semitic. That answer is not relevant in the context of their refusal to publish Mohammed caricatures. Another response was that there are many different opinions with no right or wrong…well I’m only after your own opinion. Your last response was logical – you didn’t want to comment on a discussion that you were not privy to. Well, the Age’s stance is very clear & on the record – see the editorial from 2006.

    Let’s have an open & honest dialogue.

  • Otto Waldmann says:


    another aspect of Vardit’s intents is the well established, unfortunately, revisionist Jewish attitude that ostensive Jewish dialectical features – in some cases associated with ostensive Jewish outer morphological features by some Jews – have the virtue of compromising the “advances” in the historical “necessary way ” of acceptance of the Jewish entity within the larger social structre. The neolog canard of retrograde Jewish traditions obstructing necessary progress ( as in progressive !!) has so many strident facets, Vardit’s is one of them.

  • Paul Winter says:

    Andrew, I am not questioning the thrust of your article, I am simply inveighing against the overemphasis of our leadership in tippy toeing around our enemies and in spending too much time in strategising instead of acting. Further, I am completely frustrated by the continuation of such clever approaches to our enemies when our deteriorating position clearly indicates that their methods do not work. For those professional Jews it is a matter of ego, cowardice, ingratiating themselves with the power elites, career advancement and retaining control. The community that those professional Jews represent pay the price of their games and ambitions.

  • TheSadducee says:


    You are welcome to start your own group and represent Jews who subscribe to your organisation.

  • andrew wirth says:

    Paul, what is the basis for your view that our leadership is too timid- my perception is that they are regularly strident and outspoken – eg Leunig, Sydney Peace Prize, Labour opting to abstain on UN vote. If there is any moderation i suspect it is in response to events like the fall out following the outspoken Jewish communal criticism of the Ashrawi Peace Prize.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    sorry, but you must be hyper sensitive to the leadership noise and the effectiveness of their PR strategies.
    Let me remind you of some facts.
    I commnented previously that our leadership has been seriously remiss of participating in key public fora at the crucial times that Jewish matters were dabated.
    Since you have such confidence in the “regular (sic)strident and outspoken (!!)” maneer in which the community has been served, kindly remind me when was the last time you have seen ANY of the outspoken leaders taking part in the key public TV forum Qanda or the dedicated SBS weekly public fora andm while at it name the actual leader, I can assure you that our leaders have been invited on Qanda for a specila session concerning Israel and they ALL decided to turn down the invitation. Just remind us WHO of the leaders has been interviewed an any TV channel political affairs programme or let me know the name of ONE individual outstanding in making public PR appearences in the past TEN years !!Name one Jew at all in Australia that has made a singular PR contribution to our causes. I know pwrsonally most of the top blokes and sheilas and, of the current ones, some of whom have been at the “helm” for as long as T H I R T Y Y E A R S !!! NOT one has been outstanding. One exception is one who had a couple of legal initiatives most of which ended up in qualified successes, but that person is NO longer a leader as such. So, Paul is dead right and so am I………..

    Incidentally, a ten second news item appearance worth two and half sentences counts for gurnischt.

  • andrew wirth says:

    Otto, here’s one

    and the “fallout”

    and a view on the fallout by a senior member of the Jewish community:

    “However Mr Rothman said the actions taken by some community members in their opposition to the awarding of the peace prize to Dr Ashrawi were “unfortunate and probably inappropriate but I don’t criticise them for that”. This included reports of alleged “heavying” of members of the Sydney Peace Foundation.

    Mr Rothman said these actions had probably damaged the community’s standing.”


  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Andrew !!!
    Colin Rubenstein is a very reliable Jewish intellectual with years long dedication to correct Jewih causes.
    He IS NOT however in the cathegory I insited on, the PERSON cum PERSONALITY to whom media related at once for EXTENDED comments, nor has he been apporached on a constant basis , considering his very long public activities. I cannot remmebr Colin being a guest for an extended time on ANY visual media outlet and, moist importantly he is NOT, repat NOTa communal leader !!!!!

    Robin Margo —— PLEASE !!! Just by reading what you mentioned with his input you can see that TEN years ago, when he WAS NOT anywhere close to the NSWJBD as anything at all, one can detect the NIF badly derailed organisation future leader which does NOT make Robin a communal leader any longer. My conflicts with Robin are of the most acute level and I have told him off personally and publicly on many occasions.

    Stephen Rothman (Justice) and I are mates now…………..

    here is my email address: ottowaldmann@hotmail.com send me a message bcs I must talk to you privately


  • andrew wirth says:

    Otto, just to remind you – I am NOT arguing that the jewish community has been effectively represented in the media, and it is not my intent to defend communal representatives- in fact the whole point of my original comments was to highlight what I believe is a flaw of Jewish representation.

  • Paul Winter says:

    You ask me to provide evidence of the failings of our leadership. I am pleased that you mentioned the Sydney Peace Prize, the one our true friend Bob Carr gave to the highly deserving peace activist Hanan Ashrawi. Please allow me to remind you of some details. Jewish leadership asked Carr not hand the PLO mouth the peace prize on the basis of her anti-Israel, anti-peace comments. Carr snarled and the leadership not only backed down, but started fighting amongst themselves about who was at fault for upsetting Carr. Then there was a mohammedan riot in Melbourne and the ECAJ sniffed that if such activities continued, the Jewish community could not continue having good relations; but our leadership got over it and we continue to build bridges to ever receding shores. There are any number of pronouncements by Hizb ut-Tahrir, hate sermons and the recent Grand Mufti’s Gaza visit where he implied that it was only violence that brought results and referred to the hadith that the mohammedan messiah would only come when trees and stones revealed Jews who could then be exterminated. And what did our leadership say. Just muted, diplomatic nothings. Do you want more examples?

    Thanks for giving me permission not to respond to your message. Please forgive me for doing so. With regard to my not calling you Ralph, I was merely pointing out that I wasn’t confusing you with a person I believe is your brother and anything but a member of AJDS. I note that you dismiss a number of my points, stating that it is only an (my) opinion. Two points with regard to that: (1) kindly advise when and by whom you were appointed to legislate what is an opinion and what is a fact; (2) the selection of what is fact and what is opinion is a decades old bit of sophomoric USA pseudo-philosophy. There are two versions of that approach, both of which I reject. In one of those forms one simply rejects all inconvenient truths as opinion and proceeds to present one’s own opinion as fact. The other variant – the post modern form – is where there are no facts, only opinions and consequently, one is free to choose which facts to accept or reject. Sorry there are facts. The late unlamented Sen Joe McCarty made one contribution to humanity, his observation that if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it is a duck. Leunig quacks like an antisemite, and cartoons like and antisemite, so he is an antisemite. And why are you so passionate in protecting Leunig? If by your reasoning everything can be interpreted in some other way, by calling Leunig an antisemite, could be taken in some more restrictive way. Also by your reasoning, nobody could be called an antisemite unless he or she openly stated “I hate Jews” and even then by your arguments we would need to debate what the person means by hate. Finally, most posters agreed that it is a chutzpah for anyone to tell Jews when they may or may not feel offended. Any fair minded person would find Leunig’s allusions to the Shoah, to be offensive. Unlike you I find Leunig’s deliberate offensiveness to be an example of antisemitism. Most Jews would, so why you don’t is a mystery. As a child survivor of the Shoah, I find Leunig’s expressions of hate toward Jews grossly offensive and way beyond what is acceptable in any society that frowns on hate speech. So please don’t tell me what I may find offensive and please stop acting as an apologist for Leunig.

  • Andrew Wirth says:

    Paul, I have no idea why I am being asked to defend Jewish communal representation. If you go back to my original post you will see that I wrote to highlight a problem with our communal responses: I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
    Regarding the Sydney Peace Prize, we agree that it was an example of failure of communal representation, but interestingly, for opposite reasons.
    If I understand you correctly, you believe they failed by virtue of being too timid, whereas I feel the problem was “bull-in-a-China-shop” approach and a failure to read the political landscape and anticipate the likely negative responses to their attempted intervention.
    Bouncing off your comment to Harold to encapsulate my original proposition once more: whereas Harold is not convinced that Leunig’s cartoon is offensive, let alone anti-semitic, my view is that is it extremely offensive and plausibly antisemitic, but that we get more “bang for our buck” in responding to the offensive material than prosecuting a case for antisemitic motivation. This is what Nick Dyrenfurth did so beautifully and effectively.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Editor: defamatory content deleted.

  • andrew wirth says:

    Otto, the “here’s one” referred to Colin Rubinstein, as contained in the link, which you obviously did see, as you commented on his name.
    You asked “Just remind us WHO of the leaders has been interviewed an any TV channel political affairs programme or let me know the name of ONE individual outstanding in making public PR appearences in the past TEN years ” I gave you the example of Colin Rubinstein.
    What is the basis for your suggestion that I have “reversed gear” or changed course? I believe I have been consistent in the view presented here.
    Regarding your anecdote – I don’t see how this episode negates my point nor the point of Mr Rothman himself as quoted in the SMH- I include it again:

    “…Mr Rothman said the actions taken by some community members in their opposition to the awarding of the peace prize to Dr Ashrawi were “unfortunate and probably inappropriate …”
    “unfortunate and inappropriate” sounds like Rothman’s diplomatic way of saying “bull-in-a-China-shop”

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Andrew, could you expand on what you mean by “bull in a china shop approach” and the failure to read the political landscape? I followed your link and found that the Sydney lord mayor and the federal government all sided with the Jewish community and were all adamantly opposed to Ashwari getting the prize. Colin Rubenstein made a very logical and eloquent argument as to why it was inappropriate to award Ashawri prize (there were no shrill cries of “anti-Semtisim”). Do you call making a logical and rational case in a democratic society…a bull in china shop approach? What’s your exact alternative?

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    sorry Andrew

    this is a new posting but the words : ” me confused” still apply

    In your reply ,the subject “I” must be you, the verb “feel” pertains also to you. So Andrew feels that the “bull in the China shop” is appropriate, never mind what Stephen Rothman said or felt. You introduced the notion in the previous sentence where you flag an “opposite reason” to Paul’s, who asserts that the same leadership is anything BUT a bull in the China shop. That’s how I read it.I also must correct your other assertion that Stephen Rothman’s statement on the issue negates the essence of my anectode. It is quite the opposite !!!
    Look, everything is incredibly fine as long as you agree with me……..
    Mind you, Stephen organised the greatest public, smack in the middle of Sydney CBD, demonstration by the Jewish commnity in support of Israel during the war in Lebanon, some 10,000 people. Strangely enough, I do not remember Bob Carr being there, still Premier at the time.

  • Otto Waldmann says:


    also, I mentioned with emphasis, that Colin Rubenstein, mentioning all his virtues, is NOT a communal leader and I am intersted here and now only in leaders as such, at least because the qualities of their responsibilities are vastly different to those Rubenstein taken upon himself to observe.

  • andrew wirth says:

    Levi and Otto

    we have diverged from the original intent of my post, which was a reflection on a specific aspect of public debate- the inadvisability of frequent use of the anti- semitic label- can I take it we are now in agreement on that point?

    the discussion has broadened to encompass the general tenor of the Jewish communal leadership’s engagement with media and government- perhaps following Paul’s comment:”Andrew, I am not questioning the thrust of your article, I am simply inveighing against the overemphasis of our leadership in tippy toeing around our enemies and in spending too much time in strategising instead of acting. Further, I am completely frustrated by the continuation of such clever approaches to our enemies when our deteriorating position clearly indicates that their methods do not work. For those professional Jews it is a matter of ego, cowardice, ingratiating themselves with the power elites, career advancement and retaining control. The community that those professional Jews represent pay the price of their games and ambitions.”


    the “bull…” and political landscape comments relate more to the potential effects of Jewish intervention on media coverage and community opinion than on government- as I said many posts back, we have done well with government support – so far.

    the Rubinstein link was (in response to Otto’s request) an example of communal engagement with the media – I agree this particular quote comes accross ok- and was not intended to be an example of “bull…” ( this demonstrates the risk of running too many discussion themes at the same time)

    Otto – I didnt say that Rothmans comment negates your anecdote-I said I didnt know how your anecdote negates my point or Rothman’s quote – a logically distinct proposition.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Can you give me some specific examples of the effects of Jewish intervention on media coverage and community opinion in the case of the Ashawri affair? Interestingly, the other link that you gave quoted Jewish community critics like Loewenstein and Margo Kingston. Is this what you are referring to?

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Editor: Defamatory content deleted.

  • andrew wirth says:

    Fair question Levi- my comments on aspects of the discussion beyond my original proposition have really been impressionistic rather than thoroughly researched. To do your question justice I would have to do more research than I have time for now. What I will say is that it seems to me that whenever there is a high profile Jewishly confronting event (such as the Ashrawi/Pilger/Chomsky Sydney Peace Prize, or Lynch’s bds, or Leunig’s cartoon, or the UN vote, or the Shovrim Shtika visit, or Seven Jewish Children or The Promise) with a high profile critical Jewish response, there is an inevitable cascade of media and commentary- this then provides a platform for the usual suspects (eg Lowenstein, Slezak) to be trotted out – and then ripples of follow-up media, letters to editors etc – and the topic of discussion is often focussed on the Jewish response. “Bull in China shop” is poetic license- but I am suggesting that Jewish responses have (not infrequently) been counter-productive at the broader community perception level.

  • geoff bloch says:

    Hi Andrew,
    It’s a pity I only just saw this thread. It’s a bit late now to indulge! However, I thought I’d let you know that I found your article very informative… thanks, also, for sharing Dyrenfurth’s article.
    Best wishes,

  • Harold Zwier says:

    Levi wrote:

    “What is your opinion on the Age’s official on the record editorial stance on not publishing Mohammed cartoons for fear of offending Muslims? Is it the right stance or the wrong stance?”

    The Age, in that same editorial said “The Age has not published these cartoons as a matter of editorial judgement, a position supported by this newspaper’s cartoonists”.

    So you are asking me to comment on your interpretation (opinion) on the meaning of the quoted Age editorial. To make such a comment I would need to accept your characterisation of the editorial. I don’t.

    In October 2012 Anat Hoffman, leader of Women of the Wall, a group that has been organizing monthly prayer services at the Kotel for the past 24 years, was arrested at the women’s section of the Kotel in Jerusalem for wearing a tallit and praying aloud. The basis for the arrest was that the religious authority that has responsibility for the Kotel believes that the actions of Ms Anat will so offend other people at the Kotel that it might lead to a disruption of the peace.

    I mention this event because it highlights the way in which decisions about rights and freedoms are tempered by the consequences of upholding the right to offend. I think Islam, like any other religion should be able to be openly criticised – not because I approve of or agree with such criticism, but because I value free speech. And the counter responsibility is to publicly defend those who are the subject of unfair criticism.

    But if the consequence of bible burning or koran burning or publishing cartoons were to be riots, damage and deaths, what responsibility needs to be exercised by those who might consider burning a bible or koran or publishing cartoons?

    This is all off the topic of Andrew’s article. I am about to fly out of Israel and I think this is a good time for me to end my participation in this discussion.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Harold, now you’re talkin” !
    leaving the discussion a very wise move.
    1. Anat Hoffman has had for all those years the strong desire to cause disturbance, to some degree hurt people. She has been aware since her first arrest or warning that what she does runs counter to certain well established norms, in other words has the ethical relativity that …ethical people subscribe to. Her “cause” is far more important to her and her insignificant numerical and substantive group of derailed yentas.

    2. The ethics of publishers in sellecting which group mnay be safely offended are the other topic. And here is the core issue, is it ethical to target a specific group because their defence reaction is defined by the very ethical behaviour they ellect to adopt, as Jews would not resort to the kind of unacceptable Islamic reaction to any kind of critical comment ? Isn’t this the very antithessis of ethics !!??
    Harold, some time ago a poorely built bridge on the river Gange collapsed; your postings on the matters above are worse…….

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Harold, I just don’t know where to begin. I’m aghast. Burning a bible or a Koran…and publishing a cartoon? So it’s come to this…

    Publicly defend those who are subject to unfair criticism? Unfair criticism? I thought a cartoon can be interpreted in multiple ways?

    So the editors should only take the sensitivities of a particular minority into consideration and not exercise the freedom to publish when the response is…rioting, fire bombing and throat slitting? A cartoon can only have one meaning, is comparable to sacrilege, can only be interpreted as an unfair criticism against the minority (and the minority has to be defended)…when the reaction to the cartoon is violent? What a wonderful message.

    the Age should re-publish your column, this time with a very long disclaimer ( i.e. a cartoon only has multiple meanings and cannot be offensive to a particular minority under the following circumstances…if the reaction is not violent…) I really feel sorry for Leunig…it must be tough reading letters from disgruntled Jews who misinterpreted his caricatures.

    So my interpretation of the editorial is different to your own? Fair enough. I believe your about to jump on a flight. If the boarding sign to the flight clearly states “destination to Melbourne, Australia” perhaps someone else can interpret that as meaning “destination to Stockholm Sweden.” Is this the type of open dialogue that the AJDC wants to promote? I think that what we are discussing is very relevant to the topic and I think your response and attempt to end our dialogue is incredibly dishonest. have a safe flight… I hope you reach the right destination.

  • andrew wirth says:

    Thanks Geoff,
    please do comment if you have views on this- I would be interested to hear your perspective

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:


    “Fair question Levi- my comments on aspects of the discussion beyond my original proposition have really been impressionistic rather than thoroughly researched. To do your question justice I would have to do more research than I have time for now”

    Well at least you’re very honest and open and can’t be faulted for that. Any dialogue that is short of honesty and openess is not in the least bit constructive or beneficial for our community.

    I think when evaluating the past reactions to Jewish community “lobbying,” and deciding on a new approach we should consider 1. who are the people who are offended by the Jewish communities reaction to e.g. awarding a peace prize to Ashwari or to a Leunig cartoon? Is it Margo Kingston? Antony Loewenstein? Michael Leunig? The Sydney Peace Prize committee? Fairfax? ABC? 2. why are they offended and what are their motivations? for e.g. The Sydney peace prize committee is known for awarding the prize to people with very radical, fringe political views. Jake Lynch ( who boycotts israeli academics and then simoultanously claims to be a martyr for a free and open society) is on the committee. 3. How do they themselves react to criticism of their own views? I.e. Do they tolerate dissent or try stifle it? If they do the latter, what techniques do they employ (e.g. Do they stifle dissent by trumping the “race” card?) 4. What is the reaction or lobbying of other minority groups -for e.g. the Muslim community- when their sensitivies are offended? How do the Age, the ABC, Leunig, Kingston etc respond to this type of reaction and/or lobbying?

    All of these factors should be taken into consideration when formulating a new type of response. We have to look at the bigger picture and can’t ignore these factors. If the Age publishes another cartoon caricaturing Moses ( depicting his murder) or an Israel/ holocaust themed cartoon in the name of “freedom of expression,” we have to respond by asking what is their definition of “freedom of expression?” what is their definition of “cultural sensitivities” and being “offensive”? Who decides what is what and why? Why is there absoltuley no consistency? We have to call them out for their hypocrisy and either demand that they apologize or be consistent.

    And anyone who claims that the Age’s editorial stance on Mohammed cartoons and/or the muslim response to when their cultural sensitivities are offended is going off topic and not related to our discussion is either ignorant or just plain dishonest at best.

  • andrew wirth says:

    Levi, I agree that all the issues you raise are critical and should inform our understanding of the forces at play and the way we respond. (You dont need to convince me that bias and double standards are endemic in segments of the media and academia and unions not to mention anti-Israel and anti-Jewish groups) … but you omitted to mention the one group that (in my opinion) most needs to be understood – not the “usual suspects” you have listed, but rather the broader Australian community, watching and listening to the arguments from the sidelines. They are the ones who will vote on government policy including Middle-East policy, choose to buy or not buy Israeli exports, select superannuation funds that invest or don’t invest in muti-nationals that support the occupation, support or not support votes to sever ties with Israeli unions/academics/artists etc etc. We need to understand what form of message most effectively reaches this broader community- is it the angry and earnest approach of a Dvir Abramovich or the lighter more nuanced approach of a Nick Dyrenfurth r something else altogether?

  • geoff bloch says:

    Hi Andrew,

    While we may have some difficulty defining twilight, no-one has any difficulty distinguishing night from day.

    Applying this axiom to the subject topic, while labeling or characterising criticism of Israel in any particular case as anti-Semitic may, indeed, be problematic (even if true), that of course does not mean that we cannot recognise anti-Semitism when we see it.

    I believe I’m right in thinking that you indeed share this sentiment. For example, I don’t understand you to be arguing that someone who routinely caricatures Jews as Nazis in offensive cartoons is not necessarily anti-Semitic. Your point, it seems to me, is that simply applying that appellation is unhelpful and can even be counter-productive for all the reasons you have given.

    What I found informative is the distinction you have drawn between what we should write in defence of Israel (or in response to unjustified criticism of Israel) and what we may think privately. If that was your intention, then I almost agree with you. I say “almost” for reasons which will become clear.

    What seems to have piqued the ire of some of your correspondents is their inability to see that those two approaches are entirely compatible, at least in most cases.

    Too many of us consider that we must align with one of two camps… those who shrei gevalt loudly and proudly and out anti-Semitism when they see it, or those who believe we should reason anti-Semites into submission when engaging with them in the general press and other forums.

    While I consider it more productive to align oneself more closely with the latter camp, I think it is possible to do justice to both at the same time, in many cases, in the following way. I agree that the first response must always be reasoned argument. But I do believe that a postscript often can and should be added which, in an appropriate case, characterises the critique engaged with as anti-Semitic. The touchstone which betrays anti-Semitic sentiment is often not so much the actual criticism of Israel – it is whether the person doing the criticising has applied himself to examining the behavior of other nations and religious groups. So where we see criticism of Israel by someone on their hobby horse who, for example, ignores the unspeakable plight of the scores of innocent Syrian civilians targeted for annihilation by their own government or who is mute about the tens of thousands already murdered, it is reasonable, I think, to pose as a rhetorical question after concluding the reasoned argument, whether that person’s preoccupation with Israel and Jews has a sinister aspect.

    This, of course, does require some research so that, in an appropriate case, the rhetorical question is based on facts rather than assertion.

    Best wishes,


  • Otto Waldmann says:


    the essential distinctions between Dyrenfurth and Abramovich to my mind are:

    1. Dyrenfurth is composing his texts in a most effusive style reflected also in the substance of his output. I looked at his opinion of the Noam Chomsky “incident” of the same Syd. Peace Prize.
    Dyurenfurth delves into the vast world of similes, analogies, anctedotes and quotes, an interlacing of images and notions he attempts to aduce as relevant to the topic. In a certain way he may be seen as tributary to the richness in the dialectics of Karl Marx, except for the absence at Nick of quotes in Latin and Protohellenic, otherwise gracing the text with easily digestible quotes anyway. His approach wants to be one of purist academic stance, where objectivity is paramount in developing an argument. Consequently he doesn’t just mention the target of his dialectics but makes serious concessions to the vey matter he is suppose to clearly debunk. The academic ballance he wants to evince contradicts at times quite seriously the very message he is stating at the ouset and also the very conclusion he eventually articulates.
    Nick enjoys ballancing the act and seems to be entertaining, but strictly, in tachles terms, he scrifices blatant realpolitik for the selfsatisfying indulgence in inebriated para-academic wortspiel

    You seem to perffer him because he would appear to adopt a “bougeoise” ellegance in the pursuit of pleasurable intellectual encounters, something I could not help but notice at you. Nothing wrong with it, mind you, except that….

    2, Dvir Abramovitch has the aplomb of a clear minded academic that believs that intelelctual instransigence and stoic elevation of relevant facts to the topic at hand are bound to dismiss fallacies that need be addressed, precisely the function of the said dialectics. Abramovich exhaust relevant facts, disposes of juxtaposed incongruities without the unecessary use of analogies, side issues, anything that may offer respite and motive for retort to the counterpart. He is highly intelligible, strctly relevant, informative and stylistically highly articulate, not to mention impeccably up to date with both his side of the barricades as well as the opposite.

    In musical terms I would venture the distinction between Wagner and Bruckner or, better still, Liszt and Schumann. Liszt makes me impatient, Schumann melts me in me own tears of elation…

  • andrew wirth says:

    Thanks Geoff,

    I like the way you have rendered the discussion in terms of the distinction between private views and public utterances.

    The only note I would add is that my sense that your suggested criterion: “whether the person doing the criticising has applied himself to examining the behavior of other nations and religious groups” may not always be a highly specific pointer to anti-semitic sentiment. The plight of the Palestinians has become such a cause celebre that even some people of good will can focus disproportionately on Israel-Palestine as a result of intellectual laziness and going with the flow of popular progressive causes- ie it need not always signify anti-semitism.

    I think you acknowledged that when you added: “This, of course, does require some research so that, in an appropriate case, the rhetorical question is based on facts rather than assertion”

    regards andrew

  • andrew wirth says:

    Otto, I for one prefer Bach to Mahler and Hendrix to B B King, but in public relations as in music, your taste and my taste is immaterial. What counts is what moves and inspires the target audience. The important question, I suggest, is who do you believe would connect better with a broad non-Jewish audience, Abramovich or Dyrenfurth? Maybe we need some market research and focus groups to really know.

  • Otto Waldmann says:


    I am sure you realise that what you starrted here, some 86 comments earlier is precisely thre response(s) to such a research, be it so informal.
    Informed opinions/reactions matter only not what is severly affected by prejudice, as with hoi poloi.
    Here comes into force your own notion of a well devised campaigne by the leadership, one that does NOT make concessions to any notion that contradicts the clear vectors of the Jewish argument.
    Although the leadership contingent ignores completely the kind of forum, open, informed, well intended such as this very active and competent “Galus” , once a consensus of content, strategies and status eems coagulated, it should be used as a competent contribution to the necessary progress/improvement in the process discussed.
    You can articulate a compendium of the notions I described above and present it with all necessary provisions that will ensure a response ( if I had it MY WAY I would include serioius threats, not of the physical type, of course, but “warbings” that “they” have been asked/told and, if the case, arrogantly refused to consider etc. ) Since I know 90% of the local leaders personally and they… know me too, I would be only happy to hold your hand on the way to the hill. Naturally one would enlist the contribution of all those who are NOT currently on the conselling “payroll” of the same leadership structure and I reckon that your mate Nick would be ignored by them.
    Paul, Levi and whoever reckons that has a sructured concept as well the willingness to be in “it” are ideal material. Dont know about Frosh, I think he is gone into hidong because I haven’t heard from him since I sent him a message, a very atypically nice one……

    About music, Bach and Mahler do not fit into my geometry of epoch/style, Bach and Handel yes, they contemporaries creating in similar idiom, even more so since Handel most surely never heard any of Bach’s secular music and very little if any of the religious compositions. A certain 22 year old lad by the name of Felix discovered Bach in his larger splendour some 90 years after Bach’s death. My lad’s name is also Felix, indeed after that of Mendelshon’s, and he loves both Bach and Mahler equally, alas he could not assist us with the project I suggested. Busy with his own stuff.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Hi Andrew, I only mentioned the usual suspects only because you used them and quoted them as a source to prove that there supposedly is a general anti-Israel feeling that was created as a result of intense lobbying from the Jewish community that ultimately backfired. You quoted Haaretz forums, Michael Leunig and provided a link containing quotes from Loewenstein and Kingston. I can guarantee that the people who read lowenstein’s work, leave comments on his blog or the Haaretz blog or read Margo’s work, do not represent the majority of people in Australia. Most of these people have fringe views. They wear Che gevara t shirts and read Chomsky before bed time. Many of them are certified fruit cakes who believe that there are zionists under their beds ( like bogey men) and in their closests and harbor an irrational hatred toward Israel and Jews in general.

    I didn’t bring up factors such as how the Muslim community responds when they are offended and the Age’s editorial policy on Mohammed etc etc to prove that the Age is biased. The fact that they are biased is a no brainer. As I’ve stated I brought all the above points up so we can then examine them and use them when formulating a new response.

    We don’t need to be aggressive or voilent…but we also shouldn’t be meek and/or apologetic either. Constantly throwing the term “anti-Semite” around as a knee jerk reaction is not helpful or constructive…but neither is failing to call a spade, a spade when it does actually arise. We should be proud of our religion, our culture and heritage and should let people know that there are boundaries that simply cannot be crossed such as caricaturing our Holy prophets or the holocaust. If we take genuine pride with these things then others will recognize and respect this. If you don’t take pride in your own religion and culture and have no respect for this…then why should others respect you? It’s just human nature. As I’ve mentioned previously, the most virulent form of anti-Semitism came from a society where Jews were eager to show that they were more German than the Germans. They thought that this was the politically correct approach. Clearly this approach back fired.

  • andrew wirth says:

    Hi Levi

    I think our views are not that far apart. Just a minor clarification: I am not suggesting that anti-Israel feeling is created by Jewish lobbying- rather, we need to be aware that we are operating in an environment of pre-existing anti-Israel feeling, established by years of increasingly sophisticated lobbying by the other side, slanted media coverage, ignorance of history, amnesia regarding the holocaust and Christian anti-semitism, and no doubt, trails of that very anti-semitism that swirl around in parts of the communal psych. And of course, depending where you stand on the political spectrum, Israel’s behaviour! Those forms of Jewish response that assume we are talking to an audience that is on-side, or at least neutral, are thus unlikely to be effective.

    The other point of clarification is related to pride- my suggestion that our responses should be well calibrated has nothing to do with lack of pride- but I agree there is a line- one that each of us will draw in a different place – the notion that a public insult to our community dishonours the community. Such offences should be responded to – to maintain dignity – I guess the question is whether such responses effect positive change in broader community attitudes or whether that actually matters.

    You imply a question at the end (again way beyond my original posts parameters)- might more assertive individual or collective behaviour by German Jews have altered anything – what are your thoughts on that?

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    “we need to be aware that we are operating in an environment of pre-existing anti-Israel feeling, established by years of increasingly sophisticated lobbying by the other side”

    This pre-existing environment of anti-Israeli feeling was created as a result of a general lack of pride & respect toward our culture & religion that existed and still exists in our community. This lack of pride/respect and general ignorance of our culture, history & religion is all rooted in the type of “jewish” education that was & is provided to the younger generations in the Jewish day school network, jewish youth groups & organisations like AUJUS (who in my time handed out condoms on university campuses as an initiative to raise “awareness” on Israel and make Israel seem more “appealing” and “hip” to young people.) When we create such an environment where we deprive ourselves and our children of real Jewish values & a genuine respect for this, we create a malarial cess pool. Because Jewish kids are taught to embrace “universalist” values over Jewish values many of them go on to swallow the Arab narrative of the conflict, hook, line & sinker…amongst other things. By the same token, many non Jews end up swallowing the Arab narrative as well because they detect the fact that we have a lack of respect toward our belief system and culture as well as to our claim to the Land of Israel. Since the Muslims are not prepared to compromise on their claim to the land or on their belief system, while most Jews do – than this sends a message to the world that perhaps the Muslims and their narrative of the conflict is nothing short of the truth.

    “might more assertive individual or collective behaviour by German Jews have altered anything – what are your thoughts on that?”

    Well it’s not so much necessarily a matter of being “assertive”…it all comes down to education and how we chose to bring up and educate the future generations. If we embrace “universalist” values over Jewish ones and/or try to be more German than the Germans…than that simply creates resentment amongst our neighbours (whether they conscience of it or not) and this resentment eventually builds up.

  • letters in the age says:

    Your’e a really special guy Otto….


  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    I’ve subscribed to so many things & my inbox is flooded with hundreds of unread emails daily. Yet by pure chance I accidently stumbled upon the following link to a well written & beautiful article –

    My response to Anti-Semitism

    “I’ll never forget the first time I decided to put on a yarmulka. I was 21 years old and living in Israel. It felt so natural; I was so proud to wear it as I walked amongst the rainbow of Jewish people who had come back from so many different places to live in our land.

    I’ll never forget the first time I came back to America, wearing that same yarmulka. It felt so uncomfortable. I felt there was a flashing neon sign on my head that read, “Hey, see this skullcap? I’m Jewish, I’m Jewish, I’m Jewish!!” I don’t remember ever being so self-conscious as I was walking off that plane. I remember walking down the airport halls afraid that I was going to be the target of some anti-Semitic remark.

    In retrospect there was even a deeper fear lurking in my heart, a fear I was too embarrassed even to admit to myself. “If someone did say something anti-Semitic, would I take the yarmulka off and walk around in a baseball hat the rest of my life?”

    On more than a few occasions in those first few weeks back in America I could feel myself tense up in public, preparing myself for this dreaded moment.

    It came about a month later. Outside on the streets of Boston, watching the Boston Marathon, I heard a loud voice behind me in the crowd yell, “Hey you x#&#*!%! Jew! Why don’t you go back to Jerusalem where all the money is!?” (He obviously didn’t know too much about the Jerusalem economy.) I spun around humiliated and enraged, glaring at my attacker in the midst of this crowd. He was a large anti-Semite, and not one of the more sophisticated ones. Hanging out of the window of his car he yelled, “Jews make me sick!” just before driving off. My face was flushing; I was seething with anger… and embarrassment that I was wearing a yarmulka.

    I never took the yarmulka off, but I did learn a valuable lesson that I believe contains within it the most important response to anti-Semitism.

    The reason for my fear and my embarrassment was because I wasn’t really connected to the reason why I was wearing my yarmulka in the first place. Oh sure, I could tell you all the reasons why, but I was just mouthing words. I didn’t feel the power of those words with my heart.

    The yarmulka incident was like a wake-up call to me. I had to ask myself, “Why did I really want to wear a yarmalka?” Because of tradition? Because it made me feel more religious? No. I wanted to wear my yarmulka because I wanted to live up to the reason that the Rabbis decreed it should be put on: a constant reminder that we, as Jews, should walk humbly before God. A reminder that we should act in a way that embodies the very essence of the Torah’s values — goodness, selflessness, responsibility for helping others, honesty, integrity. In this context, wearing a yarmulka was truly the greatest of honors, and one that brought with it great responsibility.

    The greatest way to respond to anti-Semitism is to bring more Judaism and Jewish values into your life.After I understood this, my self-consciousness changed to gratitude and a deep pride that I had the privilege of trying to live up to what Judaism represented. Instead of wanting to take my yarmulka off, I wanted to go out and buy a bigger one. I then realized that the cause of anti-Semitism is also the solution. The greatest way to respond to anti-Semitism is to bring more Judaism and Jewish values into your life!

    If someone attacks Israel and you truly feel gratitude for what a gift Israel is, then his or her attack not only doesn’t affect you, it makes you appreciate the gift even more. If someone attacked you for giving Tzedaka, charity, and you understood how important Tzedaka is for the world, it would only make you want to give more.

    Just think for a moment what it would do to people who were anti-Semitic and anti-Israel if they saw that each anti-Semitic or anti-Israel attack was met with only a deeper resolve, gratitude for, and commitment to Judaism and Israel! What would they do if they saw that each thing they said or did only worked to inspire us more Jewishly?

    Click here to receive Aish.com’s free weekly email.

    They would immediately run out of ammunition! They would see that their hatred is only making us stronger and more grateful.

    Every time we read about someone attacking Israel, we should start planning our next trip to Tel Aviv.Every time we hear of a synagogue being burned in Europe we should want to go to synagogue even more. Every time we read about someone attacking Israel, we should start planning our next trip to Tel Aviv. But it can’t be something that is a forced response, it has to come from our hearts, from our appreciating even more how precious being a Jew truly is. If we can find this kind of response within ourselves, then anti-Semitism will become the grinding stone upon which Jewish commitment and pride is sharpened.

    It’s been many years since I chose to put my yarmulka on, and I’m happy to report that I wear it with deep gratitude and pride. What makes me even happier, though, is that my 6-year-old son is even prouder of his.”


  • andrew wirth says:

    Hi Levi, I share your sentiments regarding the great importance of educating the younger generation to value and be proud of our tradition and of Israel.
    But if I could venture to summarise your recent comments as a proposition or hypothesis it would be: a failure to instill love of – and pride in- tradition, in successive generations, is an important factor contributing to modern day anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiment.
    I don’t share that view, but it feels like too big a question to do justice to in this forum (at least for me).

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    The important thing is not that we agree or disagree, but the fact we have engaged in an open and honest dialogue and exchanged ideas.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    “letters” thanks but don’t be upset if I disagree, we are all special

    Levi !!!!
    what happened to THE Levi that can post reasonable thoughts !!!
    Your spleeen on account of our young generation is an unbelievable
    distortion, repleet with terribly false generalisations and, as staring, determinant arguments, so WRONG that I am aghast !!!
    Is it a joke !!!?? I read it a few times to make sure that I don’t , again. misread some sarcastic send-off.
    Please confirm !!

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    I came here with an open mind to exchnage ideas. I certainly didn’t come here to “convert” anyone to my perspective. We agreed on some points and disagreed on other points and did this in a very honest & open manner. He didn’t play dodge ball with me and I appreciate that Andrew owned up to the fact that his article was impressionistic rather than well researched. It shows a great deal of honesty & integrity on his part, something that is rare.

    I am also frustrated with our community leaders & believe that we need change. However, too often we hear about individuals & groups who try to set up an alternative voice & get their 15 mins of fame by airing their grievances against our community leaders to the Fairfax press or the AJN about their being a lack of transprancey, openess and debate in our community. Ironically, many of these individuals & organisations are actually worse than the status quo…rather than promote more transprancey & openess they establish the exact opposite and do so in a very decietful manner. We don’t need to go far to get an example of this.

  • andrew wirth says:

    Levi – just for the record -I said “my comments on aspects of the discussion beyond my original proposition have really been impressionistic rather than thoroughly researched”
    I did not mean to suggest that I resile from my original piece!

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:

    Fair enough. But that applied to your entire piece, which was entirely impressionistic rather than researched, no?

    In any case you deserve credit. People write a lot of garbage – whether it’s on blogs or in newspapers, political commentary or scientific journals- which is largely impressionistic but disguised as thoroughly researched and never have the courage to own up. The fact that you owned up…even partially…means that you are a person of real integrity

  • TheSadducee says:

    Alternatively the community could take a more pugnacious stance in responding to critics of our people and State.

    After all, who are the goyim to lecture us on morality/ethics based on their histories and current behaviours? What about Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Chechnya, Tibet etc?

    Don’t try to be polite and diplomatic about the responses – just confront them head on and call them out validly for their prejudice and/or hypocrisy. If they hate us, who cares? They dislike/hate us anyway. That is the problem with the community leaders – they don’t want to acknowledge this point.

    I mean when all is said and done, who really gives a real damn about the Palestinians? Seriously? Even the Arab world has treated them abominably eg. Lebanon, Syria, Egypt.

    And why shouldn’t we just point out that these people are their own worst enemy – look at who they democratically elected to lead them – Hamas, a terrorist/fundamentalist group. Seriously, you could only get worse if you elected Al-Qaeda.

    You see some goyim lecturing us on our people’s behaviour about the I/P conflict, what is their motivation? Most of them are usually not concerned about universal human rights – if they were they would address bigger concerns than this petty issue.

    How many of them trawl Alawite/Syrian websites trolling about their problems?

    They pick this issue because it involves Jews – most of them want to remove their guilt, sense of obligation because of the Shoah – hence you see themes of you should know better, parallels to the Shoah in their criticism, Nazi analogies etc. Others have a whole range of motivations/views, rarely are they genuinely good-intentioned in cause eg. Christian supersessionism, anti-semitism etc

    Never forget the Durban Conference and what happened there.

    Genuine rights activists should be engaged with carefully and politely and issues discussed fairly and rationally. But that is where they start with anyway in their discussions – they aren’t going to come out and essentially say, Israel bad, Palestine good. They understand the nuances in the situation.

    As to our Jewish brothers/sisters who harp on this issue i.e. the “as a Jew” crowd – how many of these people are paid-up community members with active involvement and community identity?

    I would just ignore these types and tell the goyim that they are not representative of the communal view generally speaking.

    They get sourced precisely because of that point – the goyim don’t really want to hear the community view, they want their own views fig-leafed by a Jew so that they can’t be criticised for suggesting things that would be intolerable in any other situation. I mean how many people do you hear actively suggest other UN nation states should be dissolved, are illegitimate, are racist, should be BDS’d, need the majority of human rights issues per year dedicated to etc?

    The ones in the communities who hold anti-Israel views are a minority and need to respect the democratic consensus of the community. If they object, then let them leave.

    Media /public perception war – we have already lost. The left/mainstream generally speaking are against us – they pretty much believe in the lobby stuff and Jewish power. They ignore blatant cases of anti-semitism. They are scared stiff of the rising Muslim populations everywhere and their militancy especially religious.
    (Note that the secularists are always attacking the Christians but rarely do you see them take on Islamic issues.) Some of them have made the realist decision that we are a minority which will eventually be made irrelevant by demography (or they hope so) and act upon this.

    I say tell them to get stuffed and focus on their own backyard and do what we can to ensure our own people’s survival/growth. Cosying up to the haters isn’t working nor will it – they see it as weakness and vulnerability. We are at the end of a decent period of non-persecution and the commencement of another one – fight back while we have the chance and ability, otherwise we will all suffer in the long term. If Israel goes, where do we go when the Jewish question gets raised again?

    That is my rant for the day.

  • letters in the age says:

    “Facetious” remark or not by me Otto…..



    Yes, i love the play on words and irony of that first word in my reply.

  • There is no reason for Israelis to accept advice from those whose opinions are based on anti-Semitic reporting or treatment of facts. Political problems have political solutions. Those who would stand up against anti-Semitism first and discuss the Arab-Israel conflict second, as opposed to the other way around, will make a genuine contribution toward peace.

  • Levi (a refugee from the USSR) says:


    I’m sure you will find the following article to be a good read. it was penned by Qanta Ahmed a prominent muslim doctor from the USA (I wonder if anyone is going to place a fatwa on her head) –


    “Israel’s eight-day operation “Pillar of Defense” sought to dismantle the Hamas apparatus from within Gaza. The predictably seamless alignment of the Muslim world against Israel was even more breathtaking than usual in the face of Syria’s 22 months of systematic genocide, one which has consistently failed to trigger unanimous Muslim protest. What does this say about us as Muslims?
    We are hypocrites.
    While Muslims define Israel as the enemy, we ignore Assad, and diabolically laud Hamas. Hamas is never sated – each year it devours ever more Palestinians, regardless of age or gender. If Israelis lose fewer citizens than the Palestinians in these conflicts it is for the same reason Israel exchanges more prisoners for each captive soldier: quite simply Israel values human life more than does Hamas, which relishes ground operations taking place among densely populate civilian areas.
    Explaining this to Muslims in the Twitterverse, I get sharply reminded that Hamas does not have the “luxury of launch sites” that Israel enjoys. Have we lost our minds, Muslims? How can we speak of ‘launch sites’ as ‘luxuries’ while disregarding the culling taking place in Syria? Perhaps we have not lost our minds, but we have most certainly lost our religion.
    As I am not one to speak for others, allow me to let Hamas speak for themselves. They are bald-faced about their mission, seeking glory through death, annunciation through annihilation:
    We are ready to offer 1,000, 2,000 or even 10,000 martyrs every year. We are ready to keep offering martyrs for twenty years because we are sure we are moving in the right direction and that we will prevail in the end” (Hamas leader Khalid Al Mish’al in Gaza”
    To Hamas, a Palestinian life is worth more when “martyred,” a dead child more of a blessing than one living. “The children of the kindergarten are the shaheeds [martyrs] of tomorrow,” reads a sign displayed at a Hamas-run kindergarten. The martyrdom mantra is their anthem.”

  • letters in the age says:

    Being pugnacious feeds into the jewish stereotype

    It doesnt work and is counter productive

    Get creative


  • Andrew, good to read your ideas and see the thinking it has stimulated.

    If I may; I wonder if anti-semite and anti-semitic are not to be evaluated by analysis of a single item on its lonesome or even an album of cartoons or opinion pieces.

    If one is permitted to alter just the lights of a display, it is not difficult to entirely realign the message broadcast by that presentation. Is that not the art of character assassination?

    Perhaps the mood is truly evaluated by the skewed perspective that is disclosed by the imbalance of the reporting. So whilst the facts of a particular piece are true the overall message encapsulated in the continued reporting is toxic due to the imbalance which creates a creeping and we fear a lasting distortion in the minds of the readers.

    If the Jewish Character is being assassinated, is that not anti-semitic?

    But if your observation is true, if use of this term is a sign of weakness, then we must either not use that term or we must ensure that this term is clearly defined. If our listeners are not able to hear we can do whatever is required to ensure that our message can be heard. If though, our listeners are not really listening, if they do not want to hear, then I fear your considerations are just a signal of surrender.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Dear Rabbi
    Very interesting and nicely articulated. However let’s dwell on the value of “FACTS”. If the subject matter is the “Character of the Jew”, altered facts by extrapolation, as you alude to, are NOT, in….fact, “FACTS”. The chareter as trully exposed, described, cannot be accpted as representative if it contains those “toxic” elements. So, we do, actaully, arrive at the assasination of the said character, but the notion of FACT is dismissed out of hand and it cannot be implied, let alone used as a legitimate term.
    I am saying all that only because selective descrptions, indeed larger scale “observations” about “the Jew” in a tendentious manner abound with such fervor that the twisted image has been prevailing among the keen commentators to such an extent that even well intended Jews and their genuine friends have problems dispelling the farcical accounts. So, FACT is a troublesome little bugger we must deal with very carefully.

  • andrew wirth says:

    Hi Meir, thanks for the comment
    I agree with you that judgements about anti semitic intent need to be based on a pattern of behaviour rather than isolated instances. The thrust of my comments was not about how one discerns anti-semitism -rather, how one responds.
    Discretion in the use of the anti semitic label is not a sign of surrender. Its like attacking via the flank rather than a full frontal assault on a well defended position.

  • Otto, thank you.
    You seem to be dwelling on the following part of my comment, “So whilst the facts of a particular piece are true the overall message encapsulated in the continued reporting is toxic due to the imbalance which creates a creeping and we fear a lasting distortion in the minds of the readers. If the Jewish Character is [thus] being assassinated, is that not anti-semitic?”
    If I may rephrase, facts are by definition, accurate, but that does not mean their presentation is balanced, nor that the intent is fair, honourable or dignified. In such a case the character of the Jew is being distorted, i.e. assassinated. This is anti-semitic. That term captures the very broad if not universal nature of the malaise that poisons this world.
    I then query: in our responses to such distortions, who are we addressing and what are we attempting to accomplish? There is no point addressing those who are not interested in listening. Ceding to their claims that we must alter our language i.e. not employ the term “anti-semite” is surrender, for no purpose.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Dear Rabbi

    we both agree that anti Semitism is based on tendetious, well determined, specifically designed distortions. The narrative of the Xtian dogma is based on intentional insinuations conducive to anti Semitism. At the time, 4th Century, of the conclusive structure of the four books had a decisive function of targeting the Jews who refused to join in the new crede. Thus the currency of distortion and pernicious intent became permissible, valid. What followed were additional contributions following the same formula. Facts became distorted conveyors of criminal intent and , eventually,……fact.

    Sadly, it must be said, certain vile notions managed to creep into the very Jewsih vernacular and I insist on the idea the Jewish “inward looking” manifestation. Some time ago I run into a Jewish acquiantance at a bus stop opposit the Great Synagogue, a very active communal member. She was quite impressed by a lecture given at the shul by an esteemed Rabbi who was talking about that “inward looking” malaise at us, Jews. I asked her if the speaker was in favour or against the notion and, quite impatient with my known inquisitive nature, she retorted that “of course ” the Rabbi was quite positive about us being inward looking. I could only say, in my “style” that the Rabbi then should have sent you home BEFORE commencing his irresposible lecture. That would have been consistent with the whole anti Semitic theme as such. She looked at me as I was meshuge or something. Such is the insidious nature of the well constructed argument albeit founded on clear fallacies and thus fallacies capture the legitimacy of….FACT.

  • Andrew, We agree about so much but if two Jews = 3 opinions, 2 rabbis = 30 opinions.

    So allow me the Chutzpah of another opinion; You say that – “Discretion in the use of the anti semitic label is not a sign of surrender. Its like attacking via the flank rather than a full frontal assault on a well defended position.”

    I think the attack against anti-semitism must be full frontal all guns blazing nuke them. I believe the world is an unsafer place and an unfriendlier place because righteousness that condemns evil, is not politically correct. I suspect that when tolerance is preached it is in fact a statement that really says – I am not sure if I am right and therefore I cannot condemn you in full voice. When someone dumps rubbish in my front garden claiming the property belongs to them, any hesitation in the application of full force in repelling this dumping of rubbish, is in fact admission to the legitimacy of the claim.

    In this regard it matters not whether we are speaking about the dumping of explosives into Israel or the dumping of anti-semitic slurs. Both are essentially an attack on our life and our existence. In both cases there is a primary concern and a secondary concern in our response. The primary is to declare with all power available at our disposal that the claim is wrong. The second is to educate, inform, edify, persuade and excite.

    My concern is that our full frontal attack is only loaded with half a charge. Nitpicking over the details of any single cartoon or opinion piece is pointless because it does not actually identify the anti-semitic nature of the slur, and it makes us look foolish. The full charge is that the entire accusation is imbalanced as it emerges from a source that is incapable and unwilling to see any balance at all. That is the charge against those who are anti-semites, they see no misdeeds save those of the target of their hatred.

    Should we surrender this observation? Should we not identify those who hate us as haters?

  • andrew wirth says:

    HI Meir, I lost track of comments. Rather than saying what form a response to anti-semitism must take, I think we should agree on our aims and then debate the most effective means of achieving them. Sometimes those means will take the form of a full frontal assault, sometimes not. The difficulty in this debate is establishing measures of efficacy by which to evaluate our response strategies – I put it to you that responses that open the door to accusations of silencing debate, or playing the “antisemitism card” may sometimes score high on truth but low on efficacy.

  • Otto Waldmann says:


    it seems that you are using terms such as “truth” and “efficacy” as absolute and, therefore, quantifiable to the extent of universal agreement.
    In any acutely polarised dialectics, common ground in determining precisely TRUTH and suitable modes of conveyance is as impossible to arrive at as the nature of the core dialectics itself.
    You may try to discipline the exchanges by introducing clear determinants, but, at each turn you shall encounter the obstinance of the opposition.
    It all means that definitive guidelines must be as flexible as the bases on which the dialectics function. The only way to be self satisfied is to allow all voices to be heard and adjust your strategies according to your substantive beliefs, logic, adjustable tactics being the key to your possible success.

  • andrew wirth says:

    Otto- unlike truth, efficacy is amenable to empirical evaluation- so if the endpoint of interest is, for example, for any given Jewish communal response to an allegedly unbalanced anti-Israel cartoon: what proportion of media commentary on that Jewish response is about “stifling debate” and “Jewish control over media” and what proportion is about the substance of the criticism of the cartoon.

  • Otto Waldmann says:


    aren’t we , conveniently, replacing strict AND simple statistics with qualitative ASSESSMENT, which contains per se INCREDIBLY – actually very credible – subjectivity, the kind of an animal that is ONLY fantastically….efficient for places such as Galus Australis, but not very marketable out there in the suffocated world of serious logical business !!!???
    As such let me tell you abt the cartoons and their paraphrase “value” of determining the… effcicay of various approaches to analyse them and “reveal” the NECESSARY objective findings; result: back to Galus Australis. Nothing wrong with it for, look, I personally spend a great portion of my semi-retirement on it – the other great part is on waiting for my postings to be assessed by the Galus Gods – , but ethical variants, those interesting notions that have each a life and institutions of their own , shall always frustrate – to be nice – the best of those principles you and I depend on. In other words, the sworn enemies of decency and best friends of anti Semitism shall prosper in the umbrage of that brilliant Jewish fathered principle of relativity.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    you think in certain places with your heart, a most laudable pastime.

    Here is where you are a bit wrong: as a soccer coach or any sport, the splitting of “action” into 1st all power and 2nd all skills may work, however, in engaging one in ideological conflict, that strict pursuit of the intellect, “all the power available” AS DISTINCT from your stage #2, i.e. education, information etc., DOES NOT EXIST !!! and you know it .
    I am trying to picture somehow what you are saying and can only say that , yes, your enthusiasm is splendid, but , at once, I feel very uncomfortable with branding your musings “enthusiastic”, smiles of affection notwithstanding………….in other words, cute. And that is some compliment I know you are not fishing for. So, can we dspose of the “all power available”, unless you are sublimally advertising for a new line of Chabad Gyms !

  • There is no point in talking or aiming comments to those who do not wish to listen or engage.

    I don’t like the term Pro-Israel – it’s Pro-Truth. Those who don’t want to hear truth will NEVER engage no matter what we say. And those who do listen are not doing out of a misplaced loyalty to Jews or Israel. It is the right thing to do, it is the righteousness of our disposition and it is justice and integrity that is the power behind those who support Israel.

    I don’t like the argument based on the anti-semitic accusation because it sounds like we are simpering for sympathy and are too weak and focussed on our own weakness and NEED the sympathy and support of others.

    So we should never be ashamed of speaking the truth in a loud clear voice. Paying for killing those who were determined to destroy us is just supporting the destructive distorted injustice and inverted moral values foisted upon the world and hiding truth and justice ever deeper in the cesspit of tolerance and political correctness.

    It may be efficient, in the short term, but it is a very foolish tactic. Engaging in debate can take two forms, either smash them or tackle them on their own assertions. In either case though it must always be clear that we speak truth and know what truth is, and our opponents do not know truth do not wish to know truth and do not know justice and do not wish to know justice. They only know revenge for some imagined slight. And we show them respect for that. We are the ones who are responsible for burying truth and justice.

  • Otto Waldmann says:


    I am proudly and happily on the side of the same truth as you. In fact I used intentionally the word “same”, implying that there may be some “other truth” to which I do not subscribe. And here I want to re-introduce the notion of relativity in dealing with elected universalities.
    Words have been created, as you know, to convey ideas. There are instances where we find serious debates re the meaning of certain words, their suitable place in the comveyance of ideas. Anti Semitism has gained – unfortunately – a currency which is NOT debated in definitory terms as much as….anti Semitism itself. Curly but correct.
    Purveyors of anti Semitism engage in articulating notions whihc have as a purpose the mustering of actual action against everything considered Jewish. They do NOT deny that they hate Jewsih cathegories and that goes even for those who, at times in their discourse, may imply “acceptance” and even sympathy/emptahy for the Jews. In his diabolical work “Mein Kampf” there are passages at the outset which , if extrapolated, may seem positive towards the Jews. I did that during a lecture and asked the people to identify the author. I gave them four Jewish big names and the resepctive bastard.
    NO ONE guessed the bastard.

    To be brief, there is nothing wrong with addressing anti Semitism, yes, in the frontal manner you advocate – and I have always practiced that at the suitable moments -. What matters are the arguments one aduces. Having said that, I cannot think of a better contender than your good self at that task……….

  • Otto Waldmann says:


    I shall pick one more notion you propose. That is the “point” in engaging with those unwilling to listen or, indeed, engage.
    Here’s the problem.
    If one arrives at the conclusion that certain issues must be addressed and that implies addressing people who create THE issue,but subsequently abandons a priori the canvassing of his position on the assumption that the target will not listen and/or engage, then one deprives of any chance the “right” position to be put forward at all and thus the objectionable shall succeed unchallenged and, implicitely, the right “objector” deemed inexistent. It means, for example, the abolition ( has Vsholem ) of the Rabbinical “profession” on the assumption that a cathegorical anti Semite shall NEVER deem a Rabbi worth listening to but, instead, destroy, as they willlingly an happily profess.
    I am very confident that , in your arsenal of persuasive intellect, you have a well trained approach even for the most obstinate “unwilling/unengaging” party.
    I shall make a necessary amendment: a Rabbi’s job is not only to argue with the objectionable anti Semite, but also with his own kehilat – one very good reason for me to hold them in high respect !!!

  • Allow me to suggest a rewording of your position, Otto.
    We must address those who publicly pronounce anti truth messages, even though they are unwilling to listen or engage, in order to ensure that those listening or lurking in the background should hear the truth. But this truth must be put stridently and without compromise, with full conviction, never conceding to make concessions to satisfy politically correctness

  • andrew wirth says:

    Meir, this is where I think we disagree – if the aim is to influence the thinking of those listening (“lurking in the background”), we need to ensure that the message is framed in a way that they can relate to – and that is when a strident approach may not (always) be the most effective- we feel good being forthright, but the audience turns away. For example some anti smoking campaigns (or the old AIDS scare campaign) are strident but ineffective.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Rabbi, there are two responds to your last posting, one in Latin, “ditto” and the other one in guess what…”shkoiach”. It means in both cases that I fully agree with you. I also agree, out of politeness, that you did not answer – yet – my contention that “those unwilling to listen must not be abandoned as they are a NECESSARY target of our argument.” Sorry, I must add “the MOST necessary target”.
    If we do not fight those who are against us who do we …………


    If I may intercede on behalf of the Rabbi ( I am just doing it, anyway ), you are absolutely right in the Marlborough case. I think , however, that the “strident” and uncompromising originating in the Yeshiva HIGH school of thinking would have quite a different meaning.
    As such, when it comes to “addressing” an issue, those bocherim take no prisoners. G-d, how I wish I was one of them………….

  • I suppose Andrew, that I must concede, this is where we disagree. I think those lurking in the background who are predisposed to not hear truth will not be receptive no matter how we dress it up.

    But you are far more positively minded, and good luck to you. I invited a young man who shouted at me and some friends after he had come from a pro palestine rally in Brisbane, to engage with us in discussion and after some persuasion he agreed. We chatted for well over an hour. His conclusion was that we are clever with words and cleverer than he. I do not mention thos to support my position, it is but one example. I mention it to satisfy myself and readers that I do engage in discussion, but I would not make a career nor a habit of it.

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