Australia/Israel Review | November 2006
The Political Horseshoe again
Antony Loewenstein, the anti-Zionist author who constantly pops up in the Australian media to complain about how he is supposedly being silenced by Zionists, rarely seems to miss an opportunity to declare that not only Israel, but anyone who disagrees with him about Israel, is racist.
Interestingly, after being endorsed by the Holocaust-denying Adelaide Institute last year, he has now yet again been coopted by genuine racists from the Australian League of Rights. The League has announced in their magazine On Target (Oct. 27) that they are selling Loewenstein’s My Israel Question from the League Book Service. The book is praised by League president Betty Luks because it “œtakes on the Australian Zionist lobby that … patrols the boundaries of public debate, aiming to silence anyone who occasionally strays from the accepted line.””
In response, Loewenstein predictably ran the same line as last year on his blog (Oct. 16): “A writer cannot prevent extreme groups latching onto his or her message and using it as their own. For my part, I can only categorically dismiss the rantings of groups such as ALOR.”
There was never any chance Loewenstein would offer any serious reflection on the question of why his silly but consistent theme that “Zionists” magically stifle all media debate about the Middle East resonates so well with right-wing racists who have long believed that Jews control the media, banks, politicians, etc.
Why? Because Loewenstein apparently believes there is no real antisemitism that is not caused by Israeli policies, and that all complaints about it are simply an attempt to stifle criticism of Israel. His response to the racial taunting and bashing by country footballers of Orthodox Jew Menacham Vorchheimer in front of his children was to say, according to the Geelong Advertiser (Oct. 21), “Israeli actions in Israel and Palestine and more recently Lebanon are clearly related to a rise in anti-Semitic attacks. I’m not saying it justifies bashing up Jews, but it’s just the reality of the situation.” Loewenstein added that it was “nonsense” to say that there was a wave of antisemitic attacks. On his website, he added with regard to the attack, “I have long argued…that whenever Israel faces increased international pressure or condemnation, the cry of “anti-Semitism” is heard from the Jewish community.”
Vorchheimer was reportedly taunted with “F**king Jews” and “Go the Nazis” and subjected to pretend machine gunning — neither Israel nor the Middle East were mentioned either during the incident or its aftermath. But of course Mr. Loewenstein had to nonetheless invoke his all-purpose conspiracy theory that all discussion of antisemitism is about stifling debate about Israel. I think Mr. Loewenstein has done a good job demonstrating why many people believe, as the “political horseshoe” theory states, that there is a lot more common ground between the far left, where Loewenstein dwells politically, and the far right views of someone like Betty Luks than people on the left would care to admit.
More on Tariq Ramadan
Swiss Islamist thinker Tariq Ramadan, a smooth media operator with a gift for suavely concealing his extremist views when speaking to Western audiences, was for a second time denied a visa to the US in late September. After he was first refused in 2004, there were a number of revelations made about his past actions and associations – including at least two close associates convicted of terrorism offences, allegedly hosting a meeting between al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri and Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, convicted over his role in the 1993 World Trade Center attack, and some statements implying support for terrorist attacks and conspiracy theories about 9/11.
Now more alleged revelations about Mr. Ramadan have been made by counter-terrorism consultant Oliver Guitta (Weekly Standard, Oct. 16) and American thinktankers Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa A. Lappen (Washington Times, Oct. 11). These include the following:
Last year, Ramadan, who has also in the past been barred from entering France because of his extremism and terror connections, had no problem entering Australia for a speaking tour. If he wishes to come back, perhaps Australian authorities should be aware of these allegations before granting him another visa.
Diplomatic Damage Control
It would be difficult not to be troubled by alleged racist remarks attributed to Israeli Ambassador to Australia Naftali Tamir. Ambassador Tamir is reported to have told Charlotte Halle of Haaretz (October 13) that “We [Australia and Israel] are in Asia without the characteristics of Asians. We don’t have yellow skin and slanted eyes. Asia is basically the yellow race. Australia and Israel are not. We are basically the white race.” If these statements were accurately reported, then they were indeed, as the Israeli Foreign Ministry quickly stated, “grave and unacceptable.” It was good to see that the Israeli Foreign Ministry was quick to not only repudiate the deplorable remarks, but also to recall the Ambassador to Jerusalem to launch a serious and apparently thorough investigation.
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