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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Friday, August 26, 2005

Danby update

Following the publication of a letter by Federal Labor MP Michael Danby in this week's Australian Jewish News (for background and more information, see here), Crikey has placed this story of free speech as one of its top yarns of the day:

4. Loewenstein v Danby -- Australia's debate over Israel

By Crikey reporter Sophie Vorrath

There's an ugly fight brewing in Australia's Jewish community over a controversial new book by Sydney-based journalist Antony Loewenstein. Due for publication by Melbourne University Press next May, Loewenstein's as yet unfinished, untitled book is already attracting feverish criticism for its take on the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Leading the attack on the book is the federal member for Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby. In a scathing letter published in Australian Jewish News this week, Danby says he wants no part in Loewenstein and MUP's Louise Adler's "propaganda tract,” which he said was an attack on the mainstream Australian Jewish community.

Danby said he had taken this stance after questions he got from Loewenstein made his views on the issue “blatantly obvious.”

“MUP should drop this whole disgusting project. If they proceed, I urge the Australian Jewish community, and particularly the Australian Jewish News, to treat it with dignified silence. That is our best response. If, God forbid, it is published, don't give them a dollar. Don't buy the book.”

So why has a book by a relatively little-known journalist that's not even finished got Danby so fired up? And is calling for it to be boycotted appropriate behaviour for a parliamentarian?

Loewenstein told Crikey this morning it was "incredibly disappointing" that Danby would try to "dictate policy" to a publisher. It's a matter of free speech, he said: "It should be acceptable for a Jew or anyone else to criticise Israel or any other country."

"The attitude is 'there's one line and one perspective (on the Israel/Palestine conflict) and if you dare to question it then look out'," said Loewenstein, "it's like 'this is a war and there's no room for dissent'."

MUP's Louise Adler, who graduated from Melbourne school Mount Scopus the same year as Danby and was given "faint praise" in his letter, told Crikey the political views Michael Danby ascribed to her in the letter were "palpable nonsense and pure invention."

Adler said she was proud of MUP's 80-year history of independent publishing and its mandate to publish books of public interest, and "dismayed" that a publisher like AJN "gives space to proposals to boycott ideas." Danby's proposal, she said, was "inimical to the central Jewish values of tolerance and open debate."

Crikey called Michael Danby for a response, but we're still waiting for him to get back to us.

24 Comments:

Blogger nicky said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Friday, August 26, 2005 2:07:00 pm  
Blogger aprilbax said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Friday, August 26, 2005 2:27:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

The above comments were spam and deleted.

Friday, August 26, 2005 2:44:00 pm  
Blogger Prudence said...

Go Antony! Debate about Israel and Palestine has long been dominated by a group of people who can not stand for any questioning Israel's actions. Its about time this imbalance was addressed. Wouldnt John Howard say Danby was displaying un-Australian values by trying to stifle your publication?

Friday, August 26, 2005 2:45:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Thanks Prudence, appreciated.
Howard should certainly say that about Danby but, of course, he'll stay silent. Howard, Costello, Nelson et al reserve their bigotry for the 'other', not 'fine' MPs, even on the ALP side.

I reckon you'll like my book. Keep reading my blog, too.

Friday, August 26, 2005 2:47:00 pm  
Blogger Glenn Condell said...

Keep your chin up Ant. More people support you than would be willing to advertise the fact.

Friday, August 26, 2005 4:50:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Thanks Glenn, I'm sure you're right.
My chin is up, to be honest. Danby's motives are so transparent. Great publicity for the book. We soldier on...

Friday, August 26, 2005 5:03:00 pm  
Blogger Jozef Imrich, Esq. said...

Tim Dunlop put it best: 'Michael Danby is entitled to his views. But if he has problem with Antony's book he should excercise his right to free speech and criticise it (preferably once it's, you know, written) and not try and Curtail Antony's.' Undue influence

Friday, August 26, 2005 6:58:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Michael who?

Friday, August 26, 2005 8:51:00 pm  
Blogger Vasco Pyjama said...

Oh dear. Best of luck, Antony. But as Glenn said, tis great publicity.

Friday, August 26, 2005 11:07:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Thanks, been a mad day. and I'm trying to get my book manuscript in next week. I'm on track.
And yes, publicity is priceless...

Friday, August 26, 2005 11:22:00 pm  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

Blair is continuing to give you publicity, too. Irony?

Friday, August 26, 2005 11:50:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Blair has his own issues. I won't dare add to them...

Saturday, August 27, 2005 12:42:00 am  
Blogger evan jones said...

Love your Google ads for Israel down the side. Buy real estate in Israel! Wars of Israel! Feel like home in Tel Aviv! Where does a goy sign?

Saturday, August 27, 2005 7:58:00 am  
Blogger Rich Bowden said...

"Little-known journalist?"

Not if Danby has his way.....is he your publicity agent Antony?

Congratulations on firing up the debate in this country....

Saturday, August 27, 2005 8:15:00 am  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

As for the Google ads re Israel, it's interesting, hey? Such is the randomness of Google ads.
As for the "little known journalist" line, Crikey thought that was the best way to put it - though acknowledged that I'm kinda well known in some circles - because it showed how anti-democratic and threatened Danby really is.

Saturday, August 27, 2005 10:38:00 am  
Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

I agree with Rich. Let em huff and puff. Some of us are glad the debate is being heard, no matter who it involves. Long overdue.

Saturday, August 27, 2005 10:56:00 am  
Blogger K said...

Danby is yesterday's man. Ant is tomorrow's. Proud to know you, AL. Hang in there. Any way at all I can help, let me know.

Jack Robertson
13/171 Rowntree Street
BALMAIN NSW 2041
02 9810 6816

Saturday, August 27, 2005 2:02:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Dr R,
As ever, thanks. We all know this is just beginning.
And we all know what Danby is afraid of...

Saturday, August 27, 2005 2:10:00 pm  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Jack Robertson wins comment of the week...all together now: "The future be-longs to meeeeeeee!"

Saturday, August 27, 2005 10:29:00 pm  
Blogger Jon said...

The whole incident reminds me albeit on a far, far milder scale to the recent Dershowitz/Finkelstein controversy concerning Dershowitz's attempt to intimidate the Univ. California Press from not publishing Finkelstein's book.

Sunday, August 28, 2005 10:20:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

The Dershowitz/Finkelstein stoush is indeed relevant - and yes, thus far, on a much smaller scale.
Danby sees Dershowitz as a hero, so it's not surprising he's trying to utilise similar techniques.
Of course, Dershowitz failed miserably in his efforts...

Monday, August 29, 2005 12:39:00 am  
Blogger Woodge said...

Perhaps the Honourable Mr Danaby M.P. should the read book, before casting the first stone? Just a suggestion. Look forward to buying my copy in May.

Monday, August 29, 2005 6:56:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Thanks Woodge. Crazy concept, hey?
Watch this space, the coming week/s will bring more on this saga...

Monday, August 29, 2005 8:19:00 pm  

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