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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Convincing the non-believers

The following article appears in this week's Australian Jewish News (January 27):

NSW Education Department dumps Mid-East simulation
Mark Franklin

"The NSW Department of Education and Training has dumped a controversial program, developed by Macquarie University, in which students simulate the main players in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"In the computer simulation, university students, as well as Year 11 history students at seven NSW high schools, role-played leading figures in the conflict.

"According to Dr Andrew Vincent, the director of Macquarie University’s Centre for Middle East and North African Studies, the simulation enables students to 'gain an insight into views from all sides of the argument'.

"But a review by the NSW Department of Education, prompted by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, found the course to be unsuitable for high schools. However, it will continue at Macquarie University.

"The board said the simulation’s background information on the figures represented was heavily biased against Israel. The seven schools which had used the simulation included North Sydney Boys High School and Killara High School, where Jewish students complained about it.

"Board of Deputies president David Knoll told the AJN: 'Our community welcomes the government’s continuing commitment to balance, factual accuracy and objectivity in educational programs.'

'The simulation exercise did not meet the government’s own standards on teaching controversial issues in schools,' he said.

"The federal member for Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby, said the university’s simulation was an indictment of the anti-Israel bias displayed by its Centre for Middle East and North African Studies.

"He also criticised Dr Vincent over the appointment to the centre’s board of Jewish left-wing commentator Antony Loewenstein, whom Danby previously attacked over his vehement criticism of Israel.

"'I’d like to know how the vice-chancellor of Macquarie University can justify either Loewenstein’s appointment or the kind of bias the NSW Department of Education’s decision points to', Danby said.

"'One wonders what kind of graduates are being churned out by such biased facilities and I think the funding of such one-sided courses at Macquarie University, at the Australian National University, and other places, ought to be investigated by parliament.'

"Dr Vincent rejected charges that the simulation has been biased and defended the appointment of Loewenstein, who hosts an internet blog that deals largely with Israel and is writing a book about the responses to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, scheduled to be published later this year.

"'We wanted a Jewish person on the board. We didn’t have any Jews on the board and it seemed to be an absence', Dr Vincent said.

"'He was a fairly well qualified person who writes extensively about the Middle East…It seems an ideal choice.'"

Meddling MP Michael Danby - who has a history of trying to quash dissent - and the leading Jewish organisation in NSW seem to believe that any reading of the Israel/Palestine conflict that doesn't subscribe to a strict interpretation of Zionist dogma is biased. This skewed logic also extends to complaints about my appointment to the board.

It is about time that Danby and his Zionist defenders understood that their reading of the conflict - never-ending excuses for a brutal and illegal occupation - is starting to wear thin in the wider community.

13 Comments:

Blogger psydoc said...

Ant, I just wonder how comfortable you feel about being chosen because they were lacking a Jew? Since when does writing about the middle east qualify you for an position in academia? I mean you haven't actually written any peer reviewed articles have you?

Secondly, don't you think its odd that out of all the Jews who may write about Israel and have academic qualifications that they chose someone who was vehemently opposed to Israel? Does this not strike you as an Uncle Tom type proposition?

If you are a representative of Jews generally, how do you intend to represent the much larger Jewish contingency that find your views repugnant?

Sunday, January 29, 2006 2:36:00 pm  
Blogger Aaron Lane said...

Anthony, you say the Danby believes that any opposition to Zionism represents bias. This may be so, but whenever anyone puts forth anything in support of Israel, you quickly write it off as propaganda. You have just as intrasigent an idea of right and wrong in the conflict as the most right wing Jewish group, so please stop putting yourself forth as the lone non-partisan observer of the situation.

Sunday, January 29, 2006 6:20:00 pm  
Blogger psydoc said...

Ant, the questions above are not rhetorical.

It fascinates me endlessly that you seem to require of Israel a degree of introspection that you can comfortably elude.

Where is the moral authority for you to remain beyond scrutiny?

Sunday, January 29, 2006 7:18:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Oh dear, the old "Danby was trying to censor me!" chestnut rears its ugly head again.

You criticise others, it's exercising your free speech. Others criticise you, it's "quash[ing] dissent".

You're about as consistent as an oil and water cocktail, Antony.

Sunday, January 29, 2006 8:38:00 pm  
Blogger Progressive Atheist said...

In the 70s, I was a participant in a workshop in which such a roleplay took place. One person took the role of Israel and the other person took the role of Palestine. Then they swapped places. Both participants said they had a much better appreciation of the politics involved.

I was impressed with the educational power that this roleplay had, and I came away convinced that such simulation games would be an effective tool in the political peace process.

I can understand why the Zionist lobby would object to such roleplays - they are effective means of psychological transformation. As evidenced by the many comments on this board, Zionists do not like to put themselves in the shoes of others (in psychological terms, it's called empathy), but this is precisely the way that peace comes about.

Lets hope someone goes ahead with these roleplays, despite the objections of the Zionists.

Well done, Antony, on your appointment. Perhaps you can be instrumental in introducing role plays and simulations into peace studies in NSW high schools.

Sunday, January 29, 2006 10:07:00 pm  
Blogger orang said...

" ....Does this not strike you as an Uncle Tom type proposition?"

Uncle Tom sort of infers that Ant. does what he does to ingratiate himself to the white boys. I don't see too much of "Yassuh boss" in his writing.

No, what you mean't I think is, "token Nigger".
They needed a jew so put him in. But a jew who won't necessarily represent the jews. (at least the ones who think zionism is A-OK)

Sunday, January 29, 2006 10:10:00 pm  
Blogger psydoc said...

orang: the modern equivalent is dhimmitude. Agreed its a different kind of "yassuh boss", but the boss still understands.

Sunday, January 29, 2006 10:22:00 pm  
Blogger David Heidelberg said...

Give it a rest James. Danby made explicit statements to MUP in an attempt to stop the publication of Antony’s book.

By any definition this is not exercising free speech, its exerting political pressure to squash free speech.

Monday, January 30, 2006 12:47:00 am  
Blogger Mannie said...

Danby has called for Melbourne University Publishing (MUP) not to publish Antony's forthcoming book.
Danby has criticised Louise Adler of MUP for accepting the book for publication, and is urging the public not to support the book by buying it.
Danby represents the federal seat of Melbourne Ports/Israel, and is vehemently opposed to any views which are contrary to the zionist line in Australia.
Danby believes that the number of Jews in Australia who agree with Antony's anti-zionist stand would only fill a telephone booth, so why is he so afraid of having such a book published?
This is censorship on a scale that has not been seen in Australia since pre-1975 and reminds me of the terrible days in apartheid South Africa pre-1994, when as much as possible was censored, politically and "racially" and this is creeping in to Australia at this moment.
Danby's presence in the federal parliament will come to an end in the next few years, and hopefully the Loewenstein book will be around to remind people that there are allowed to be alternative views to the accepted zionist line pushed as representing all Australian Jews.

Monday, January 30, 2006 12:52:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

James,

"You criticise others, it's exercising your free speech. Others criticise you, it's "quash[ing] dissent"

That's a bit of a low blow mate. Danby is the one who is questioning Ant's qualifications and sutability to hold his position at Macquarie University. And then he went further to imply allude to some conspiracy theory at the NSW Department of Education.

It's interesting tha the same charges are brought up by David Horowitz and Alan Dershowitz in the US. Could be the evidnce of the standard Zionist line of defence.

I didn't read anythnig about trying the same slime tactic with Danby's job suitability.

Monday, January 30, 2006 1:05:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

It is Danby's right to hold whatever position he wants in regards to Israel - he is elected to represent his constituents, and if that's what they elected, that's what they get. I fail to see why you have some problem with this, Mannie. It's called representative democracy.

David Heidelberg - It is Danby's right (as a citizen with full rights) to call for MUP not to publish the book - as it is MUP's right to ignore him and publish it anyway (which they have done). It is Danby's right to try to convince the general public not to buy the book - as it is the general public's right to ignore him and buy it anyway.

IF Danby ever used the power of his office or some other form of coercion (rather than persuasion, which is simply free speech), then that would be censorship. However, there is absolutely no evidence of this. DANBY DID NOT CENSOR ANTONY LOEWENSTEIN. Anyone who thinks he did seriously needs to purchase a dictionary.

It's not a low blow, addamo. Loewenstein is not being consistent. And since when did questioning someone's qualifications for a position become taboo? And anyway, what's that got to do with the point at hand ie. the accusation of censorship? Danby is a critic of Loewenstein's. Is he not allowed to be? Why not? Why are you being so illiberal?

If Antony wanted to, he could criticise Danby - on his past, his qualifications for his position, his lifestyle, whatever. However, he needs to be honest in his criticism, rather than throwing around fallacious accusations.

Monday, January 30, 2006 8:14:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

James,

Danby can indeed do or say what he wants, but it seems a tad coincidental that AL's critics are colletively focusing on AL's suitability to hold down his position at MacQuarie University, becasue he dares to speak out. People on the NSW Board of Education and MacQuarie Uni made a desision to give him that position, as Danby;s contituents haev with him.

Should AL complain to them that Danby is not a suitable political reporesentative, and that they made the wrong choice?

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 12:19:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

It's not coincidental - and whether it is or isn't is irrelevant, anyway. Danby has every right to criticise Antony for whatever reason he chooses. That's free speech, addamo. If you demand political justification (on top of the fact it's simple free speech), I think the issue is that the simulator created by Macquarie uni was deemed biased by parents of children in Danby's constituency, so it is a matter for him, as representatives of those concerned citizens.

Besides, I hardly think Loewenstein is a dissenting voice on the particular board he sits on. In fact, that's the point Danby's making, I believe.

Danby has every right to campaign against whoever he chooses. Also, AL is perfectly entitled to campaign against the election of Danby, so the answer to your last question is yes, if he wants to.

So - dissent was not quashed, Danby did not censor. Glad we cleared that up.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 8:14:00 pm  

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