198-front-cover-web.jpgOverland magazine has been attacked by an academic ‘push’ for publishing non-mainstream opinions on the Israel-Palestine issue. Here is the AJDS response.
The Executive of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society is in broad agreement with the views expressed by Jeff Sparrow and the rest of the Overland editorial staff in the final two paragraphs of their 3 May statement titled “Overland and Bias: a response to some critics.” They wrote:
“Michael Brull concludes his essay with the suggestion that issues around Israel/Palestine be opened ‘to free debate, without the usual flood of hysterical name-calling’. That seems to us, the editorial staff at Overland journal, an eminently reasonable proposal, and one to which we are also committed. Precisely because the misery in the Middle East shows no signs of abating, the discussion over Israel/Palestine needs to be broadened beyond simple reiteration of the conventional wisdom.
“More generally, in an increasingly homogenised mainstream media, emerging voices that don’t parrot Murdoch talking-points often struggle to be heard. We believe that by providing a platform for ‘marginal’ writers – even if those writers occasionally scandalise a conservative or two – Overland performs an important function. That is the policy the journal has followed since 1954. It is one we will continue to uphold.”
The AJDS has for over 25 years been committed to a broadening of debate on the Israel/Palestine issue and has been a proud contributor of news, investigation, analysis and opinion on how the needs for security and peace between and amongst Israelis and Palestinians might fairly be achieved. We encourage civility and respect in debate on political differences over the issue and strongly oppose the vilification and abuse that often follows expression of radical or minority opinions.
We put this attitude into practical effect by inviting Professor Dennis Altman, a recent contributor to Overland, as guest speaker at our Annual Dinner in December 2009, though not all our members share his views on the Israel/Palestine issue. We have also been instrumental in having the Jewish Community Council of Victoria strengthen its policy supporting civility and opposing vilification in expressions of political difference.
Les Rosenblatt
Spokesperson on behalf of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society
May 6, 2010.