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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Deliberate distortions

Following the recent controversy over Macquarie University's Centre for Middle East and North African Studies and its simulation programs, Director Andrew Vincent responds in this week's Australian Jewish News (February 9):

HEAVY-HANDED BOARD

"The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies has been successful in pressuring the NSW Department of Education to cancel Middle East simulations for high school history students (AJN 27/1). These simulations had been run with the help of the Centre for Middle East and North African Studies at Macquarie University, of which I am the director.

"The simulations for high school students have been popular among students and praised by teachers and parents alike for helping students understand the issues in an imaginative and highly-effective manner. We have not received a single complaint about the conduct of the simulations from any student, parent or teacher. The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies action will be seen by many as heavy-handed and unfair. It has stifled legitimate discussion of the issues in the Middle East.

"I would urge the Board of Deputies to take great care in this matter. Australians expect open, fair debate of issues such as the Middle East. Just because my centre examines all points of view does not mean we have an 'anti-Israel bias', as claimed by Michael Danby MP. Of the 10 speakers we had on campus last year no less than three were Israelis. Only one was an Arab.

"In my opinion, one of the best speakers we have had was Professor Eli Salzberger from Haifa University. We invited him at the suggestion of the Jewish chaplain at Macquarie. That’s hardly displaying an anti-Israel bias.

"In its haste to push a pro-Israel line and stifle debate, the Board of Deputies has needlessly limited the educational opportunities for NSW high school students. It is also wrong to smear this centre with the label 'anti-Israel bias' when it is patently untrue."

Dr Andrew Vincent
Director, Centre for Middle East & North African Studies
Macquarie University, NSW

20 Comments:

Blogger Wombat said...

That's disgusting AL,

When it comes to lobbying, no one does it better than Israeli appolgists.

What facts have the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies to show that the program you were running was anti-Israeli? If they believe that their cuase is onthe same side as truth, then what do they have to fear?

What do they have to fear about the appearance of Professor Eli Salzberger?

Obviously AL, you and the tean at the Centre for Middle East & North African Studies are making some people very nervous.

Is there any way you can contionue to conduct the Middle East simulations?

What business is it of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies what is taught in High Schools?

Thursday, February 09, 2006 11:54:00 am  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

I was not personally involved in these simulations. I joined the board well after it started. I do support them, however.
The 'evidence' presented of its bias will be the usual Zionist apologia. In short, humanising the Palestinians is a crime, and danger, best avoided, in some views.
I'm told the simulations will continue in some way.
This battle has a long way to run.

Thursday, February 09, 2006 12:05:00 pm  
Blogger Darp said...

I did two of these sims when I was at Club Mac and they were A LOT of fun. I can't see where the JBD is coming from here. I mean, sheesh, the guys playing Mossad ALWAYS had the most fun throughout the sim and everyone involved came away with a greater understanding of the major issues affecting the Middle East.

Thursday, February 09, 2006 12:13:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Good to hear.

All the best. I do hope you get some publicity out fo this, to draw some attentino to just how the shadowy world of lobbying works.

Thursday, February 09, 2006 12:16:00 pm  
Blogger psydoc said...

Thats interesting. So a government department agreed with the Board of Deputies yet it is somehow the fault of the Jews yet again.

Surely it is Andrew Vincent who has been condemned for putting together an unsuitable program and is now looking for someone to blame.

Typically he has misrepresented the issue as saying that it was a "stifled legal discussion" when in fact it was considered an unsuitable and biased simulation.

Playing the numbers game ie how many jews vs how many arabs is completely off the point as we have demonstrated that you can be a jewish arab apologist. It has no bearing whatsoever on whether the program is biased. The Education department clearly agreed that it was.

Thursday, February 09, 2006 12:41:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

On what grounds do you conclude that "Andrew Vincent who has been condemned for putting together an unsuitable program"?

Do you have the inside scoop on what brought about this descision and that it was arrived at based on such unquesrionabel merrits?

Interesting that you display such o an overly developed sense of denial.

Thursday, February 09, 2006 12:54:00 pm  
Blogger violet said...

Doctor Andrew Vincent, director of the simulation program at Macquarie University claims on the university's web site that educational theorists such as Piaget and Driscoll found that social interaction helps to “change beliefs” and that learning is most effective when students are challenged “with problems that are beyond their existing level of experience.”

The proper objective of any history program is not to change a student’s beliefs, nor should it be to analyse historical data that is deliberately set beyond their realm of understanding. This is the criteria Vincent uses to rationalise his disgraceful teaching practice. Vincent, himself admits to adhering to the computer simulation method, because it "changes beliefs". Highly unethical teaching practice.

And of course, there is the question of why a history student must pretend to be an “oppressive Jew” in order to pass Middle Eastern history, because at Macquarie, this activity replaces the exam.

The NSW Education Dept found this program to be biased and unacceptable. As a person who holds a number of degrees in Education, I agree with their decision. This is no way to teach history. It does exactly what its designers intended it to do -- it indoctrinates kids.

And you are right Antony, this topic is not closed. There are a great many non-Jewish people (including parents like me) concerned about this program. It isn't just the Jewish News or your perceived Zionist enemies, but ordinary Aussies like me who will lobby and lobby until this disgraceful indoctrination (camouflaged as education) ceases.

Thursday, February 09, 2006 2:10:00 pm  
Blogger psydoc said...

addamo I don't quite understand what "unquesrionabel merrits" means.

It is self-evident that had the program been meritorious and balanced it would not have been banned. Vincent is responsible for putting together an inappropriate program. It was the decision of the education department not the Jewish community.

addamo, I don't think that you understand what 'denial' means. If you did you would see that the facts speak for themselves and it is you who is in denial over them.

addamo are Jews only correct when they are condemning other Jews? What is your evidence that the Education Department erred? Surely you are just offended by this decision.

Thursday, February 09, 2006 2:13:00 pm  
Blogger orang said...

So what is the NSW Board of Education's story on their cancellation of the program?

Thursday, February 09, 2006 2:30:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Violet,

I am perplexed by your narrow definition of what constitutes the appropriate means by which a student should be exposed to new information. Does not learning itself results from someone being exposed to information or experiences beyond their existing realm?

At what point is a high school student ready to be exposed to such experiences? The example given by Darp’s post sheds some light on the matter and appears to refute that there is anything damaging to the student taking place. In facts, on the surface, it appears to be a storm in a tea cup.

"The proper objective of any history program is not to change a student’s beliefs, nor should it be to analyse historical data that is deliberately set beyond their realm of understanding."

Again, this statement seems totally bizarre. How does one guard against information garnered from studying history, changing that students beliefs? Are you suggesting that history should not be broached by someone who has not already formed an opinion about the subject matter at hand?

Furthermore, while the Israeli/Palestinian issue does have a historical component, it is dominant current issue, and it would be presumptuous to assume that high school students have not been exposed to the issues surrounding it in some way.

"This is the criteria Vincent uses to rationalise his disgraceful teaching practice. Vincent, himself admits to adhering to the computer simulation method, because it "changes beliefs". Highly unethical teaching practice."

I wonder if you would have the same thing to say about a program that focused on Apartheid in South Africa. Do you not think that South African students born of white families would have benefited immeasurably from being exposed to the experiences of those they regard as less worthy?

Thursday, February 09, 2006 2:42:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Psydoc,

Sorry for my typing alphabet soup.

On what "facts" have you based your assumption that the program was not "meritorious and balanced". As Vincent points out, there have been no complaints and there has been ample input from those with expertise in Israel's political reality. Moreso that those representing the Palestinian case. How do you arrive at the conclusion that the program was inappropriate?

To simply state that the descision was made by the education department, is somehow evidence that the descision was not politically motivated, is meaningless. Of course the education department made the descision, as they are the only body entrusted with the authority.

What would compel you to ask such a rediculous question as "are Jews only correct when they are condemning other Jews?"? Are you implying the contrary is more appropriate?

The evidence of Danby's history of bending over backwards to appease the Jewish cimmunity is beyind dispute and there is little doubt that the input of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies had a lot of influence in the descision.

Thursday, February 09, 2006 2:53:00 pm  
Blogger psydoc said...

addamo, I am basing my assumption on the fact that the public service banned the program. It does not hold that if the organisers didn't get complaints then it was not flawed. There are many people to complain to beyond Macquarie.

It is your view that there has been "ample input" from Israel's political reality. Indeed this comes back to ALs appointment as "a Jew" when he does not represent Israel's own view of its political reality. Have you entertained the possibility that Dr Vincent has deliberately chosen people who similarly show anti-Israel bias?

What is your evidence that the Education Department is biased, beyond your supposition?

I ask the question about your position because it seems that you condemn whatever the Jewish community do on every occasion. The only Jews you seem to support are the ones who are against mainstream opinion. Does that not indicate something about yourself?

Danby is completely transparent about his position. He is a committed Zionist. He represents both his electorate (who continue to elect him) and the Jewish community. Many other members of parliament have special interest groups. He is not an appeaser, he is a committed Jew. You don't seem to understand that Danby is not beholden to anyone. Many of us wear several different hats in life and it is your preoccupation with Jews doing this which to my eyes and ears seems sinister.

Thursday, February 09, 2006 4:28:00 pm  
Blogger Glenn Condell said...

' yet it is somehow the fault of the Jews yet again'

Oh go and take a pill or something.

Thursday, February 09, 2006 5:39:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Psydoc,

"I ask the question about your position because it seems that you condemn whatever the Jewish community do on every occasion. The only Jews you seem to support are the ones who are against mainstream opinion. Does that not indicate something about yourself?"

No I do no. This is a gross exageration. In fact, this is the firts thread where I have actually mentioned Jewish peple per se. I have never before even men tioned the Jewish cimmunity, because I have no issue at all abotu Jewish people.

And your comment that the only Jes I seem to support are those that agree with me is childish in teh extreme.

Is this not a forum for debate? Surely you would agree that this forum lends encourages people to focus on issues they largely disagree on. While I certainly disagree with some of your positions, it does mean that I am opposed to you or Jewish peopel per se. On the contrary, while I hate to make gerenalisations, I have a great deal of admiration and respect for the Jewish community.

Ad for the department of education, it would hardly be surprising or them to have made a descision based on political correctness or oterhwise would it? Just read Peirs Ackerman and you wil lhear him bashing on government bodies (specifically those under Labor goevrnance) about their limp wristed political correctness. It's one of his pet topics.

Friday, February 10, 2006 12:16:00 am  
Blogger Melanie said...

It wasn't just the Zionists that influenced the Education Department. The Lions Club the Rotary Club had some input as well.

Friday, February 10, 2006 12:22:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

Melanie,

What did the Lions and Rotary club have to say about the matter?

Friday, February 10, 2006 2:39:00 am  
Blogger RHRoss said...

The Jewish lobby wherever it exists does itself and Israelis a great disservice because it refuses to countenance open, transparent discussion of the Israeli/Palestinian issue.

No doubt sourced in cultural paranoia and a high level of denial, it takes the position that ANY criticism of Israel is to be quashed no matter how true it might be.

There's a knee-jerk reaction here which comes from a religion and culture sourced in a belief of 'rightness' and by extension, 'superiority.'

I am sure many Jews and Israelis know when they are doing something 'wrong', but, when it comes to Israel they do not care because the only thing that matters at the end of the day is the welfare of Jews. That's what their religion teaches and that is what the culture believes because of the levels of paranoid and dysfunctional thinking developed over years of diaspora and persecution.

The Jewish/Israeli response is not rational and that is why it is so hard to resist. They play the 'holocaust card' and while it has lost some of its tune, it still resonates with many people.

But, as history shows, truth will ultimately out and the 'holocaust industry' has become so debased that in time it will be meaningless.

At which point Truth will still be waiting.

The saddest thing about all of this, is not so much what it does or does not do for students but what it does in terms of the continuing debasement of Israeli and Jewish culture.

Any culture based on lies, denial, distortions and corruption of truth is doomed.

And nobody wants that apart from a few nutters.

In the best of worlds Israel survives, on original borders, as the sort of nation it would wish to be. Not as a debased pariah in the world.

Friday, February 10, 2006 7:06:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

Yet another example of the Israeli lobby at work in the US.

Is there any other groups that works so feverishly at smothering dissent, criticism and open debate?

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/681087.html

Friday, February 10, 2006 1:04:00 pm  
Blogger house_music said...

I have been looking around for Violet and I am glad I have found her.

Hi there Violet,
I like your name and nice to meet you. I have some questions for you and hope you can answer them for me. I am not to well educated about all this Zionism stuff and your help will be appreciated.

Is this true:

that in 2003 the U.N. General Assembly passed 18 resolutions that criticized Israel. "The entire rest of the world merited just four in that year.

Is this true:

the Zionist Jews who founded Israel are another matter. For the most part, they are not Semites, and their language (Yiddish) is not semitic.

Thnaks and I look forward to your reply.

Sunday, February 12, 2006 2:31:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Heh. The General Assembly. The most ignored forum in international diplomacy - for good reason.

It would be interesting to compile a dossier of all the wacky resolutions it's come out with over the years.

Monday, February 13, 2006 2:45:00 am  

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