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Bolt: I’d defend Israel even if every one of its leaders were like Michael Gawenda

April 7, 2014 – 1:57 pm44 Comments

By Andrew Bolt:

andrew bolt1Editor: This article was originally published in the Business Spectator on April 3 (Hat tip: Anthony Frosh).

Andrew Bolt responds to Michael Gawenda’s column (Why Andrew Bolt’s distress is truly uncomfortable, April 2):

An open response to Michael Gawenda, and any Jewish paper is free to reproduce it.


Your column today is a grotesque misrepresentation of me and of my argument with Jewish leaders supporting the Racial Discrimination Act.

To claim I simply presented an IOU to the Jewish community in return for services rendered — services I could now withdraw in a pique — is not only untrue but vicious.

May I suggest your cartoonish antipathy towards me has made you write something unfair?

You overlooked — or deliberately omitted — the central point of my argument and one I’ve made several times, finally prompting Mark Leibler to address the matter this year in an open letter for which I am deeply grateful.

I was accused in court by a Jewish barrister before a Jewish judge of sharing the thinking of the Nazis in drawing up the Nuremberg race laws, which, the barrister didn’t need to add yet did, led to the Holocaust.

This was not simply manifestly untrue and, in the circumstances, highly inflammatory. It was an insult so vile that I am enraged again simply to repeat it to you.

What so deeply disappointed me is that half a dozen Jewish leaders I knew — and who knew what I’d done for the community and therefore knew the slur to be false — privately assured me variously that Merkel’s comments were a disgrace, the law had been misapplied or the law was too broad in scope, if this case was the consequence.

Yet not one of those leaders, until Mark this year, publicly defended me against one of the most vile smears you could possibly dream up in this kind of debate. Not one, until Mark, publicly acknowledged that mine was not the kind of case this law should have applied to.

So why this long silence, only briefly broken? For the reason, I believe, that it was felt more important by those leaders to maintain the myth that the law was perfect than to acknowledge an injustice was done and my reputation unfairly and vilely trashed as a consequence.

This is the source of my disappointment. I also pointed out the danger in this for the Jewish community, that in allowing this trashing of me they were also allowing the marginalising of one of their most dependable media supporters, in a country with distressingly few of them.

All this is on the public record, and I cannot believe that in writing about this issue you could have overlooked the argument I actually put. Here is just one iteration of it, from last December:

- Several prominent Jewish spokesmen had privately told me they disagreed with the verdict and even the breadth of the Racial Discrimination Act, if used to silence even me, yet not one of those spokesmen had ever said so publicly. It was as if though by conceding an injustice, they risked losing a law they thought useful. I was, in my phrase, “collateral damage”.

- Not a single Jewish spokesman had publicly condemned Ron Merkel QC for telling the Jewish judge in my case that my thinking in the article was of the kind that the Nazis had in drawing up the Nuremberg race laws, (Danny Lamm, however, did offer to speak on my behalf.) I thought this vile slur, explosive in the context of my case, was not just a gross misuse of the victims of the Holocaust, but was false and known to be false by the many members of the Jewish community, who knew me to be one of the most prominent media defenders of Israel and the Jewish community generally. It seemed to me, again, that my reputation was collateral damage in a fight to preserve (unjust) laws.

- I was alarmed that my personal reputation was further being attacked by people who should know better. One very prominent Jewish leader (certainly not Leibler) had even suggested I believed in the “Jewish conspiracy”. I warned that phrasing the debate over the RDA as between racists and non-racists was not just false and offensive, but would damage the standing of someone many Jews felt was useful in defending them publicly.

- These laws would eventually be turned against Jews and those who criticised Islam.

You could have quoted my real position. Instead, you substituted your own version: falsely claiming that because I’d scratched Jewish backs, I felt Jews should scratch mine, particularly if they wanted more favours:

“For a start, this suggests that Bolt indeed sees himself as powerful, able to ‘do things’ for the Jews and, it must be assumed, for others who would benefit mightily from his support. In return, he expects support when he gets into a spot of bother. This is the way players in politics sometimes operate but not, I would hope, someone who calls himself a journalist.”

Needless to say, your version is not just false and completely at odds with what I’ve written and said privately to several leaders, including Danny Lamm, Yuval Rotem and Colin Rubenstein. It is also extremely offensive, crude and untrue — a play to a racist stereotype of the unreliable goy, a secret anti-Semite, after all, despite all that smiling and backclapping:

If there were a shred of truth to such a spiteful reading you might then be able to go on to note how I’d switched positions on issues involving Israel and attacked what I’d once supported. I warrant you could not find a single such case, or a single case of my failing to speak up as I used to. I would draw your attention to, for instance, my blog comments on the discussion onQ&A only last Monday of Pamela Geller’s signs, or my criticism on The Bolt Report last Sunday of the BDS protests.

I do not need favours from anyone to speak up for Israel as I have done, and for you to now imply I am such a man is shameful. Shameful and very, very wrong.

A real journalist would acknowledge this mistake – this gross injustice – and apologise.

Michael Gawenda responds today:

You do not address the issues I raised. They are:

1/ The idea that you are owed something because of your support for the Jewish community.

2/ That the Jews should be careful lest they be seen to be lobbying for their own interests in opposition to the interests of the general community.

Nothing in your response addresses these issues. And I still don’t understand what you mean when you say ‘ what I have done for the community’. Does it not suggest you are owed?

There was nothing on the blog  which I was referring to about Merkel, and the case he mounted in the federal court.

I thought the Nazi reference was more than unfortunate but was beside the point in the context of my article. And  anyway, you are asking more from the Jewish leaders than a repudiation of Merkel’s argument in the court case. You are asking them to repudiate Bromberg’s judgment and tone down -- if not abandon — their opposition to any change to section 18C.

As you must know, I have publicly disagreed with Bromberg’s judgement. I have said that what you were guilty of was bad journalism. And I have several times advocated the need for amending if not eliminating section 18C.

The fact that you have not changed your position on Israel is also beside the point. I’d be amazed if you had done so.

Finally, your suggestion that my piece implied that I consider you an unreliable goy and a closet anti-Semite is hysterical.

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  • Philip Mendes says:

    This is a bit like the Michael Barnard affair of the late 1980s all over again.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    It is interesting that no one has bothered to comment on this piece of amateurism. Either 1) People are too scared of him 2) people are bored by him 3) people are indifferent 4) like a fart, they hope he goes away.

    Bolt is one nasty, nasty blot on journalism. He reeks of self-entitlement, narcissism and self-puffery, believing that he is the saviour of the nation. Mind you, he apparently has a couple of million readers in the conservative rump of the nation who actually takes him seriously.

    It was great of Gawenda to give him a kick. Bolt deserves it. Now he howls with faux outrage and sookery about how good he has been to “Jewish leaders”. He’s a pathetic populist who pretends he is just a working guy who thought he demand get loyalty for his good works. I would not be surprised if he actually turns and really gets antisemitic out of spite. Notice how he actually plays a trick by planting a seed of suspicion in his readers saying that he is not an “unreliable goy, a secret anti-Semite, after all, despite all that smiling and backslapping”, even though he says he is not one. If using “goy” in such a context doesn’t have an antisemitic implication with the Hun readership, strike me down with lightning! It’s a rhetorical trick of course–by saying it, he’s raising the spectre of perfidious Jews amongst his readership. Bolt is toxic. Get the Airwick.

    Mind you, unlike the communal leadership, I think that the current racial vilification legislation is off the mark and the case against him brought by indigenous people was problematic, though their hurt quite justified. The law has never been the best way to deal with the undercurrent of populist racism that affects this society, nor is it an effective tool against twerps such as Blot or Toben who have huge chips on their small shoulders (though Bolt makes a killing out of his spite). Being told he is a fibber by the court hasn’t stopped Bolt from carrying on about being silenced.But he hasn’t.He still carries on. Nor will the legislation do much to deal with the Brandis’ of this world who also signaled that it’s OK to be a bigot (and you could hear the anger in his voice and the nastiness in his face — a classic case of the resentful Whiteman syndrome, spawned by Hanson, egged on by Howard, and now played with by the Coalition and Bolt).

    So how do we deal with the blot of Blot, with a sinecure in the Murdoch empire? Carry on forthwith, as much outing of his nudge nudge wink wink and subtext racism as possible. But I suspect only a pin will deflate his ego.

  • letters in the age says:

    Theres also another weird persona with another chip on their shoulders thats the next generation. ..

    Mr Bolt’s son worked at the I.P.A along with that [abusive terms removed] who are just arrogant little brats doing their elders dirty work for them in government. ..

    You know who I mean exactly under the guise of Human Rights. .

    Conflicts of interest or coincidence?

  • ittayf says:

    Andrew Bolt complained that “Not a single Jewish spokesman had publicly condemned Ron Merkel QC for telling the Jewish judge in my case that my thinking in the article (“It’s hip to be black” – which claimed that fair skinned people can choose to not be Aboriginal) was of the kind that the Nazis had in drawing up the Nuremberg race laws.”

    For the Record, what Ron Merkel QC did say in his opening statement in the Eatck V Bolt 2011 case was this:
    “Section 18C of the RDA says “Conduct likely to offend.” That has been discussed in a number of the cases, but particularly in Toben v Jones. That was nipping in the bud the consequences that we as a society say are unacceptable.
    It’s often thought, your Honour, by those that take a narrow view of this, and say this is somehow an impediment of freedom of speech, that this is all about racial vilification and racial hatred as such. No, your Honour, it’s not. The Holocaust in the 1940s started with words and finished with violence. This Act tries to stop those words, stop the shouting of “fire” in this arena, in a crowded theatre.”

    In his ruling Justice Bromberg seemed to agree with Merkel, noting that “It is a notorious and regrettable fact of Australian history that the flawed biological characterisations of many Aboriginal people was the basis for mistreatment, including for policies of assimilation involving the removal of many Aboriginal children from their families until the 1970s. It will be of no surprise that a race of people subjected to oppression by reason of oppressive racial categorisation will be sensitive to being racially categorised by others. I accept that to be the case in relation to Aboriginal Australians”

    Clearly equating Bolt with Nazis is ridiculous, but suggesting that certain racial theories can cause great offence and humiliation are valid arguments which Merkel is entitled to make.

  • letters in the age says:

    In order to understand Bolt..one must deconstruct him as a man with many failures and conplexitities that sadly some Jews have as well..

    He adopts the worst traits from both cultures …is a weird man per se.

    Self hating outsiders resort to the tactics he uses….

    I pity him and he should have retired when he was found guilty in court.

  • Joel says:

    I find it interesting how such enlightened people as those who posted above are so filled with hatred of this man. I’m not sure why? he has a view and expresses it, either you see sense in what he writes or not. But it astounds me how he is vilified with such vitriol and bile.

    Yes, he is a somewhat smug individual in the same vain as Paul Keating, Alan Jones and Kevin Rudd. However, take the high road and ‘play the ball, not the man’

    His son may work for the IPA, he worked for Labour under Bob Hawke…

  • letters in the age says:


    When the Danish community have animosity towards you…they’re something corrupt and immoral in one’s psychological makeup.

    I see other succesful individuals who don’t engage in unlawful and discredited tactics for their profession.

    They’re much more wealthier and down to earth than this Bolt persona.

    Wake up to idiocy as he described himself on The A.b.c recently.

    Narcissistic tendencies are dangerous and unhealthy for people in the press and other mediums….words hurt people especially by bullying old men .

    Charlotte Dawson comes to mind.

    When your son works for an organization to protect special deals…I see conflicts of interest

    Dont like our shallow and unedifying media.

    Bolt’s men are a dying old breed that people are not interested in anymore.

    The media have a duty of care.

  • Joel says:

    1) You’re still playing the man… would love to see debate on the issues instead

    2) Charlotte Dawson was bullied by Internet bloggers hiding behind anonymity, not political commentators

    3) Harsh words from old men are typically brushed aside as words of ‘grumpy old men’ -> no, I think there is something deeper to this hatred of Bolt

    4) I assume you have the same loathing towards all those with sons in the Unions with their special interests, or is it just the IPA?

    5) You are 100% correct about the shallow & unedifying media who built up Kevin Rudd & Julia Gillard as the Crème de la crème of Australian leadership and vision.

    6) If Bolt and his old men are a dying breed, why are we even talking about him and his old men? I think you will find that he is very relevant and that there is a large number of people who see sense in his comments

    Once again, I would love to read alternate views to those of Bolt. I have gone to his blog site and done a search for articles he has written on Israel and Jews and found that he has never waivered in his support. Can we please get intelligent debate rather than an anonymous messages about how evil this man and his message is

  • Robert Weil says:

    Why are you so surprised at the vitriol and bile? Haven’t you learnt yet how the fringe-dwelling self-hating lefties of this world (and, sadly our community) react when confronted with having to answer to someone of Andrew Bolt’s intelligence and integrity? The same way as they do on Israel. They revert to their default tactic, the only one they know…..demonisation.

  • Fredrick Toben says:

    [Editor: I’m not sure if this is the real Frederick Toben or if it’s a member of our community amusing him/herself. If anyone has any definitive information, do let me know]

    I’m just reviewing Richard Wagner’s Das Judenthum in der Musik and this Bolf-Gawenda issue pops into my email, and I note Wagner also had to contend with the Jewish problem. At last year’s Wagner Symposium, part of the Ring celebrations in Melbourne, I stated to a PhD student who endearingly quoted Theodor Adorno labelling Wagner an antisemite and racist, that Adorno needed Wagner but that Wagner would not have needed Adorno. Likewise, when John Deathridge tried to fix the “racist” and “antisemite” label on Wagner’s works, I reminded him that for the sake of balance he would need to mention the racism and anti-Goyism contained in the Babylonian Talmud. Deathridge did not respond.
    Only the other week I read Michael Gawenda called me “a low-life” because I refuse to accept the official Holocaust-Shoah dogma without asking some basic question about its physical reality. Gawenda likes the good fight and his crudeness is not unknown but Bolt would do well to just move on and stop trying to bring together Jews and non-Jews because that would involve tackling TALMUD!
    Years ago, when the heat was on me in the Federal Court I warned journalists they would be next to be caught by Section 18C, Bolt was one of them.
    That is now the question for me: Does Bolt need the Jews, or do the Jews need Bolt, and that is like trying to solve the particular-universal problem as did the Scholastics by asking: How many angels fit on a pin-head.
    Now for me it’s back to Wagner….

  • Fredrick Toben says:

    [Editor: I’m not sure if this is the real Frederick Toben or if it’s a member of our community amusing him/herself. If anyone has any definitive information, do let me know]

    By the way, if Section 18C is amended, then these amendments will be known as the TOBEN Amendmends; if there is no amendment, then the RDA will be known as the TOBEN LAW, that’s the implication made in the article because essentially the RDA is a Holocaust Law: >>Barrister warns Barry O’Farrell of Holocaust denial risk under George Brandis’ changes<< by Sean Nicholls, Sydney Morning Herald State Political Editor, April 7, 2014 – http://www.smh.com.au/federalpolitics/politicalnews/barristerwarnsbarryofarrellofholocaustdenialriskundergeorgebrandischanges20140406366r8.html#ixzz2y9c4Skrj

  • letters in the age says:

    I’m not going to mention corrupt people to further an extremist political agenda.

    Fanaticism albeit it political or otherwise is a problem to any narrow minded middle aged people that aren’t open to discussion and adopt a silly persona.

    Defamation would have been a more suitable legal action.

    Seen the title of this blog entry….?

    The White superiority complex has been legitimized by rich people to manipulate the masses into thinking their Gods.

    The real question to be asked is….

    The contest of ideas have been bastardized to suit an insidious agenda.

    Radicals are not part of our normal polity or societal norms.

    Ayn Rand and her disciples have become part of his narrative.

    Ms Dawson is a victim of status driven and greedy media players picking on the vulnerable and innocent.

    There is a strong correlation between those two examples.

    Hard right wing politicians can’t see beyond those black and white values.

    Sadly you won’t be able to either!

    Love Freedom…go and live in the U.S.A!

  • letters in the age says:

    Furthermore. ..

    I don’t have respect for people that tried to set up a station like M.T.R that failed miserably in Melbourne.

    Alan Dershowitz wouldn’t be proud of that at all would he?

  • Leon says:

    Robert I am really surprised that a Community Leader and Religious Jew could be so bitter towards members of his own Community. My Religion doesn’t teach hatred towards fellow man. You should speak to Rabbi G. I come from a Left leaning family, all well educated and the greatest lovers of Israel you could meet. The only one who uses demonization is your mate. Have you taken the time to read Justice Brombergs findings and his questioning of the accuracy of many of the so called facts. Robert have a look at recent Jewish History and tell me the Right has always been our friends.

  • letters in the age says:

    If you can’t see how one deconstructs a person from a sociological perspective…then it’s called playing the man.

    Very convenient to use that colloquial term.

    Larry Still man’s riposte was correct and forensic in the analysis of this Bolt persona.

    Israel again has been used as a political football for an opportunist.

  • Fredrick Toben says:

    Yes, dear editor, you guessed correctly it is I – and for the record let me state that I oppose the boycott of Israel because it offends against free expression. After all, if you deny me my right to think and to speak, then you deny me my humanity and you commit a crime against humanity. TRUTH is my defence.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    It’s great to see that Galus has given a twerp and low life like Toben, who has little else to do in his sad life, an opportunity to post his bizarre statement, that he is pro-Israel. What a scallywag. And fascinating that his life is dedicated to trawling the internet.

    But actually, it’s Andrew Blot’s fault for starting the problem in the first place. If Bolt wasn’t such a resentful little Whiteman, he would never feel the need to pick on the less fortunate.

    This would not have resulted in the lawsuit against him which pointed out he was a fibber. In turn, Bolt would not have launched his self protection crusade, which inevitably, would come to class which the views of many people.

    And on and on. The law is a joke when it come to such people, who are just born that way. Best they end up in the corner with dunce’s hat.

    Blot should be very proud of himself now that he has managed to help to resurrect Toben from his cave.

  • Fredrick Toben says:

    The tone of Larry Stillmann’s comment speaks for itself – it’s a usual sign of a person’s moral and intellectual bankruptcy that hates it when truth emerges as an arbiter in the usual life’s battle-of-the-wills – when founded on Talmud.

    [Editor: Fredrick, as soon as I get so much as a whiff of your disgusting Holocaust denial, you will be banned.]

  • frosh says:

    Larry Stillman,

    You’re engaging in a classic logical fallacy.

    It goes something like this “Hitler was a vegetarian (actually he wasn’t, but it’s apocryphal), therefore all vegetarians are Hitler-esque”

    Only, in your example, “this Nazi scumbag (I won’t give him the satisfaction of naming him) is against a particular piece of legislation, therefore anyone else against that piece of legislation is akin to a Nazi scumbag.”

    I could play the same game with you, and it would be just as stupid:
    “Stillman is anti-Israel, such and such Nazi scumbags are anti-Israel, as are the Taliban, therefore…”

  • letters in the age says:


    Ms Griggs spoke eloquently at The National Press Club today with some fantastic points

    Akward to watch Tim Wilson in the audience squirming and unable to leave the function.

    Ms Griggs showing him how it’s done!

    Bolt’s reference was valid as well.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I don’t understand Frosh and I am sorry to have to include him in the same comments as with Toben (really). If you mean I am calling Blot a Nazi, no, I am saying that he has been playing with fire and one of the crackers has exploded.

    But I can’t stop laughing no that I have engaged the cracker. For the first my views have been associated with the Talmud. Toben, you really are a complete ignoramus, and I thought so when I heard you speak in Adelaide many years ago. I can hear everyone cheering me at this point, even those who don’t like me.

    Freddy Tobeng go away, permanently, please, to paraphrase Henny Youngman.

  • Joe in Australia says:

    This shows why I don’t think much of the RDA, either in its original or amended form. The whole drawn-out process of complaints and reconciliation and prosecution are a waste of time that give nutters an undue sense of self-importance. Toben’s particular obsession will never be reasoned away. All you can do, even if Holocaust denial is made illegal, is lock him up. What is the point? He’s not going to change. Like others of his ilk, he’s a worthless shell of a man and (in my opinion) not worth bothering with.

  • Fredrick Toben says:

    Joe, by the tone of your comment it is futile to discuss matters with someone who is not interested in finding out the factual truth of an assertion. Your self-serving insults, like that coming from Stillmann, will not make the problems go away – and now the editor threatens censorship!
    Colleagues advise me it is foolish on my part to walk into the so-called enemy’s camp in order to clarify problems. I now admit this Galus Australis website is hostile towards those who seek the factual truth of a matter.
    Best wishes.

    [Editor: Quite right, Mr Toben. We are not those who “seek the factual truth of a matter,” – principally because we are not masters of tautology. Also, we’d hate to propagate a non-factual truth. Good bye].

  • Joe in Australia says:

    What, that Carr has a certain obsession with Jews?

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Mr Toben is also a sook

  • letters in the age says:

    It’s quite sad how the whole Jewish Community is being divided by a man and his nasty vendetta.

    From all sides we must unite to not allow any form of Freedoms that will abuse the community in any shape or form

    This is a sad day for decency and respect.

    Hate is hate in any shape or form.

  • Eliezer says:

    Some amazing comments, with Larry Stillman competing with Fredrick Toben no less for heavily ideological and extremist, ad hominem and hateful comments, and some others pitching in too. Honestly, the discussion is embarrassing it is at such a low level. Get a grip on yourself, people.

    Andrew Bolt is one of the strongest and most forthright defenders of Israel in the media, and is a conservative spokesperson of wit and substance who is highly popular despite the general left-wing bias of the media. He is an entirely decent man, and does not deserve the opprobrium that has been directed against him. The Bromberg judgment was flawed, and that is a chief reason for the Liberal push to amend the 18-C legislation.

    The Jewish community has every reason to be grateful to Bolt for his highly influential and public support. This of course does not mean that the Jewish community owes him fealty when its own basic principles are involved, and is quite apart from the specific issues relating to 18-C. However, courteous responses to him should be taken for granted, his positive virtues acknowledged and slanders against him deplored, even if disagreeing on this or that point. In that regard, I am disappointed that, as he reveals, the Jewish leadership of our community was silent when he was being unjustly slandered and they sympathized with him only privately. Similarly, I am disappointed in the tone of Michael Gawenda’s remarks.

  • Eliezer says:

    One further observation: “Letters to the Age” bemoans that “the whole Jewish Community is being divided by a man and his nasty vendetta.” Actually, that is vastly to inflate the significance of the extremist rhetoric in this blog, too much of which only reflects marginal views in the Jewish community. The “whole Jewish community” is not divided on this issue. I find a lot of sympathy for the man in my own informal surveys, and as Bolt remarks, the leaders of the Jewish community are supportive of him even if not sticking their necks out about it. In this, they do represent the general feeling in the Jewish community, quite contrary to some of the comments here.

    It is a chief characteristic of the blogosphere, as it manifests itself in the “Comments” to nearly every newspaper article or on-line opinion piece, that it is above all the obsessives who clog the webpage — and obsessives, by definition almost, are extremists, somewhat unbalanced and paranoid, given to hate and projections of their own worst qualities into their enemies real or imagined. So not all the comments on this page are representative of the Jewish community (ignoring and putting Toben to the side, of course, as completely outside of any Jewish discourse at all).

  • Henry Herzog says:

    Eliezer, nothing like misinformation and deception to get your point across. Bolt was found to have breached section 18C, while having section 18D to protect his freedom of speech, because his articles were based on misinformation to abuse fair-skinned Aborigines. I would far prefer if he was on the side of the anti-Semits like those who were also found to have breached the same law.

  • Jason says:

    I’ve never heard of this Ron Merkel character but he sounds like a complete and utter ignoramus. What Bolt said had no comparison whatsoever – in scale, meaning and concept – to anything remotely related to the Holocaust or Nuremberg Laws. For Ron Merkel to say so offends me as a relative of Holocaust victims. Whilst I disagree with some of Bolt’s views, I respect the man’s views and I respect that he is a supporter of Israel.

    There are some truly vulgar journalists and media personalities in this country who miss no opportunity to smear Jews and Israel. Why our community has taken aim at one of the few people who defend our cause is beyond me.

  • TheSadducee says:

    @Henry – In saying that the prosecution didn’t need to compare him (Bolt) to the Nuremberg Laws and Nazi/other eugenics ideas to make their case – that was disgraceful and it was shabby of the broader Jewish community not to take issue with that position (partly in case because those types of arguments do trivialise the Shoah IMHO).

  • Eliezer says:

    Henry Herzog, you provide yet another example on this webpage’s comments of the validity of my criticisms of too many of them. Your comment is highly discourteous, a serious slur against me, entirely unjustified, and demonizing as well of Bolt, whom you actually say you wish he were antisemitic, despite the manifest fact that he is not. Amazing stuff, Henry, and it does not speak well for your moral judgment nor tolerance for those who happen to disagree with you. There were quite a few problematic aspects of Bromberg’s judgment, quite apart from the issue of factual accuracy in Bolt’s comments, as various articles on it have pointed out, and it has been explicitly said by Liberal politicians that insofar as the 18-C regulations allowed for such problematic judgments, they need to be changed. That is just a matter of fact. In any case, even if I were wrong in the brief comment I made above about the Bolt judgment, I made it in good faith and you should take that for granted unless strong and repeated evidence shows otherwise, so you owe me an apology for the uncalled-for serious personal slurs against me.

  • Eliezer says:

    I might add that I personally do not agree with those who wish to change in any radical way the 18-C formulations, so I am not in complete accord with Bolt on this however sympathetic I am to the man himself and however much I concede that he is not a racist at all, contrary to statements in the Bromberg judgment.

    Joe in Australia comments that people like Toben will not be influenced nor changed in his views by the extension of freedom of speech to his Holocaust denial and obsessive antisemitic slanders. Joe is right. Extremists of every sort are not amenable to reason. If one allegation is proven wrong, they merely switch to another, endlessly, and come right around again eventually to the original refuted allegation as if it were true. They are not interested in truth, but only in feeding their demonizing mythologies and hate. Less intense bigots can sometimes be reasoned with (not always, for genuine goodness and decency is sadly not as common as we would like to think), but the ones who cause the real trouble cannot.

    The purpose of the 18-C provisions, as they currently stand, do not have the goal of reasoning paranoid and/or twisted persons out of their falsehoods and misconceptions. Their goal is to protect threatened minorities from constant slanders, harassment, pain and intimidation. Oddly enough, this little point, so important to ordinary folk, seems to have been overlooked by those pundits arguing for “freedom of speech.” In this, they ignore the petitions from all the minority community leaders in Australia to retain the present 18-C provisions. It is not just a matter of the Jewish community’s leadership having this opinion, but of just about all the minority communities’ spokespeople. I do agree, however, that some rewording might be desirable to make it less likely that problematic judgments such as in the Bolt case will occur. E.g., the judgment of what is prohibited should not be up to the personal opinion or political bias of any specific judge, but should have some more objective standard.

  • TheSadducee says:

    I think the real issue was that Bolt was trying to be too clever by half and got caught out on a number of errors of fact and by creating the perception that permitted the complainants to access 18C (and win).

    I think the best lesson for people would be don’t indulge yourself by playing to your audience and exposing yourself to legitimate complaint through error and insinuation.

    If he (Bolt) had wanted to seriously explore these issues he should have done so through a more sophisticated forum and research based approach rather than write a couple of casual sarcastic observations in the papers/blogs. He would have had 18D protection at that point.

  • ittayf says:

    For those who are interested in continuing this conversation in person, Shira is hosting a panel on the question

    The Racial Discrimination Act – Is it good for Australia?

    Check out the bio’s of the panellists here:

  • letters in the age says:


    Malcolm Fraser has just begun his speaking tour promoting his new book.

    His opinions about the undue influence of a Jewish lobby in our political class was reiterated to John Faine on the a.b.c today.

    I think there’s more of an intergenerational divide in the Jewish community outside of politics that’s more prevalent in my opinion.

    I’d like to see Jewish leaders in their thirties and over start engaging with the mainstream media.

  • Joe in Australia says:

    Letters in the Age: Thanks for the heads-up. The interview with Malcolm Fraser can be found here: Damien Kingsbury, Malcolm Fraser. Jon Faine introduces the subject of Israel at 45:00

    It transpires, unsurprisingly, that Fraser thinks Bob Carr, on Israel, is “totally and absolutely correct”. Jon Faine commented that Jews are generous political donors, which I thought was … an odd contribution.

    It turns out that Fraser also thinks that Jews “seek to get Australia to support policies as defined by Israel”. As evidence for this, somehow, Fraser said that Israel deliberately attacked the USS Liberty “they wanted to do what they were going to do without America hearing” No suggestion as to what they were “going to do”, and when Faine challenged Fraser for his source, Fraser darkly responded “Information. I’m not going to tell you the source,” and follows up with “When the interests of a significant power, or the interests of a country are concerned, as they believe [I think Fraser was stressing the word “they”] then the interests of individuals or small groups of individuals is not worth anything.”

    Incidentally, it’s a pity that the ABC apparently doesn’t employ journalists any more; Faine’s other guest raised the issue of the Balibo Five, an honest-to-goodness war crime against Australians that was concealed by Fraser, but Faine managed to (a) ignore this and (b) let Fraser ignore it too.

  • Eliezer says:

    Fraser’s overall shift in the last decade or two to non-mainstream and obnoxious opinions is well-known. It goes far beyond Jewish issues, and underlines his dissent from the present Liberal Party as such.

    But, in regard to Jewish issues, he has come out in support of anti-Israel stands in the recent past, and now adds antisemitic comments on the supposedly “undue influence” — pernicious in his view, evidently — of the “Jewish Lobby.” Those views are not factual and do not need to be taken seriously. As many have pointed out in regard to Bob Carr’s similar remarks, they ignore that the Muslim Lobby in NSW forced through Hilali’s receipt of a permanent residency here in Australia despite ASIO warnings and his known antisemitic and radical Islamist perspective, and even blocked Howes from selection for a Senate seat from his home district because he was too supportive of Israel, cutting his political future off at the knees — THAT is undue influence, and the Jewish community leadership has never even attempted anything like that. The Fraser comments merely reflect his general shift to anti-Jewish positions, his personal dislike that the Jewish community does not toe his own line of thought, and his irritation that, in this, the Jewish community has the support of the mainstream both within the Liberal Party and (to significantly lesser extent thanks to the Muslim demography of western Sydney) the Labor Party.

    As for the mainstream media, you will no doubt have noticed, Letters …, that any visibility in them depends entirely on the media editors. Whether in the Fairfax media, ABC and SBS TV, or other vehicles including certain sectors of the Murdoch press as well, they are often quite left-wing and therefore inclined to a more pro-Palestinian agenda, omitting as a consequence significant news that shows the Palestinians in a bad light, or Israel in a good light. For example, we very seldom (or rather never) see media newspaper articles or TV documentaries and commentary on human rights reports revealing violations within the P.A. itself, only articles and TV shows critical of Israel violations, often credulously relying on hearsay evidence from militant Palestinians be it said (as in the recent John Lyons The Australian/ABC Four Corners reportage). Denials or refutations of such anti-Israel reports from Israeli leaders are not disseminated by the pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel media. They are effectively silenced. In such an environment, it is difficult for Australian Jewish leaders, too, to get a public hearing, and it might appear that they are too low-key.

    The John Lyons case is a telling example. Only because The Australian editors are relatively more supportive of Israel and aware of Palestinian and general Arab Middle Eastern brutalities and terrorism did they allow numerous letters and opinion pieces into their pages critical of the Lyons slanders, including a number from Jewish community leaders. This would have been much less likely in the Fairfax media, and would not be aired at all by ABC or SBS.

    But if the Jewish community leadership did get frequent hearings in the wider media, this too would be held against them and taken as further evidence of the “undue influence of the Jewish Lobby.” It is intrinsic to such antisemitic charges that it is heads you lost, tails I win — the arguments are circular and predetermined in their conclusions.

  • Henry Herzog says:

    We all know that everyone hates us, but that’s no reason to side with Andrew Bolt, just because he supports Israel while self-righteous people like Malcolm Fraser who live in this high moral plane can only see the Palestinian perspective, with no consideration of what is really happening on the ground. And Jon Faine, he’s just another Jewish apologist.
    Bolt was found to have breached the racial discrimination act because his articles were factualy wrong and the point he was trying to make, based on false information was offensive and insulting. So Eliezer, don’t reduce it to such siimplictic terms. If Bolt didn’t have the fair-skinned Aborigines to attack, he’d find some one else. Bolt paddles in mud slinging and hate. That”s why he is so popular amongst those who are still looking for commies under their beds.

  • Eliezer says:

    [Editor: Eliezer, you are not going to get an apology. Stop asking for one as it’s derailing the thread. Henry, please do not respond to that element of Eliezer’s comment or make any other personal remarks. Gentlemen, please do not discuss this directive in thread. Failure to comply with the above instructions will result in suspension of accounts.]

    Henry, again your comments are wild ones, well off base. I did not say that “everyone hates us,” but instead the contrary, that pro-Israel views are still the mainstream in Australia and are largely bipartisan, despite the increasing antisemitism on the left and the growth of the Muslim population which also pushes those views. Neither did I say that I was looking for commies under my bed. Why do you bring that up, anyway? These are red herrings.

    More to the point, you declare, quite righteously, that Bolt deserved his conviction because, it is claimed, his points, and the factual errors of some of them, were judged to be offensive and insulting. But I still don’t see an apology from you for your own insulting and offensive remarks against me, based on false information (interpretations of my motives and bad faith) that you attributed to me. Without that apology, Henry, it would appear that you have cancelled out the ethical sincerity of your own points against Bolt. How about an apology, Henry?

  • Henry Herzog says:

    [Editor: Personal remark removed. Henry, you were warned. Your account has been suspended for 24 hours.]

  • letters in the age says:

    Change that perception about the diaspora.

    Offer a solution to the public perception of Jews in Australia.

    Other community groups have moved with the times and re-branded.

    Politics aside. ..it’s not very cool to be a Jew in some quarters of the polity

    That’s not anti-semitic. .it’s just that
    being identified as a Jewish person amongst subsequent generations is different for them as people.

    Jews are not getting married in Synagogues and the chuppah is not even included in the ceremony. Gen Y style..

    Times are changing..embrace it or be left behind.

    Glad to be of assistance with that link!

  • letters in the age says:


    You should watch Sky News where Julian Leeser engages in interesting discussions on Israel.

    He is often on shows like:

    The Contrarians

    Paul Murray Live


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