What the %@#! is that Loewenstein up to?

dunce2.jpgAntony Loewenstein recently posted an image of Julie Gillard as the leader of Judeo-Nazi Stormtroopers on his website. The poster had the words: “Australians stand firm against Islam and terrorism!…With our Israeli Allies”. He accompanied it with the words “a regular reader of this site sent this on, exact source unknown, but certainly speaks for itself”. Too ambiguous for words.
The image doesn’t deserve to be repeated here, but it is professional looking and no amateur act. It’s certainly worse than what has been published by Oliphant, Zapiro and others using visual reminders of Nazism to criticize Israel actions because it directly implicates the Australian Prime Minister.
He has now removed the image and put up a mild apology because a complaint has been put to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission from the Executive Council of Jewry. Lowenstein giving such garbage circulation was an incredibly immature and highly provocative act which might have got sniggering approval from some elements who should think more and act less.
I’d prefer that he now offer more detailed explanation and apology and he should now go into hibernation for a while to reconsider how he presents his strong political viewpoint without confusing it with outright anti-Semitism (and this is not the first time he has got a bit too hot for his own good. I caught him out on another occasion for essentialist and offensive language and condemned him for his less-than undergraduate sensibilities). He doesn’t know when to stop, and unfortunately, he’s become a bit of a darling of people who should think more critically about the positions they take and the language they use, and their essential intolerance, in part due, to their complete frustration with the Israel-Palestine situation (a feeling that I share, but I choose not to engage in acts of hate). Because he is such a popular figure, he needs to think more carefully, if he is to be taken seriously.
Unfortunately, I think many people who have become attached to the Palestine cause have confused a desire for engagement, noise and a particular cultural style in an age where you can pick and choose, with no real interest in deep conflict resolution (if you want to understand the psychology of such people, there’s a great article in the latest London Review of Books: and a phrase struck me about certain English left extremists ‘driven mad by the glamour of the October Revolution’). Perhaps the internet has made it worse because we can flash around and slag off without really getting our hands dirty or take ultimate responsibility. The details of peacemaking between communities, including difficult issues such as reparations and reconciliation and religious nutters are somehow forgotten and whisked away.
In the interests of getting to the bottom of it all, I’d like to know who published the original image. I think they need to think very hard about their ‘contribution’.
If it was an attempt to support the Palestinian case and oppose various Zionist lobby groups in Australia it is a vile piece of conspiracy theory propaganda. Progressives who support Palestinian rights and ending the occupation need to condemn the image outright and the individual or organization which ran it or circulated it originally. If they are from the left, then they are truly beyond the fringe.
The poster also associates Gillard with anti-Islamism. This is really mendacious stuff, while we may differ over the issue of the focus of the fight against terror and extremism (and my association with Liberty Victoria makes it clear about where my stand lies on the issue of misdirected legislation and scare campaigns). Unfortunately, we do have problem in Australia, but, setting up Gillard in this way as some sort of Israeli puppet is completely irresponsible.
Thus their act not only gives oxygen to anti-Semites, and paranoid members of the Muslim community who will love the poster, but to those well-organized, well-funded, and just as intolerant groups who wish to discredit opponents of the occupation and other injustice.
We have seen this starting, with Peter Wertheim of the ECAJ saying that the Loewenstein confirms “our worst suspicions about the real agenda behind uniformly anti-Israel commentary”. This, of course, is way over the mark and an oversimplification of the position taken, for example by other progressive Jews and non-Jews about the occupation. Nazi-like propaganda from crazies and peaceful opposition to the occupation are completely separate things.
Thus, given that there is an increasing use of the analogy between the Holocaust and the treatment of Palestinians on a number of websites–a simplistic and damaging generalization that is used to typecast Jews/Zionists as the new Nazis –the circulation of that image and the assumptions that go with it only reinforce the gulf between communities.
Notwithstanding Gillard’s stance on Israel, which many people are not happy about, I am sure that she isn’t very happy either, but I will let her sort out her Anthony problem on her own.
Well Mr Loewenstein?

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