Book, author “quite simple”

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Last updated on August 9th, 2017 at 02:14 pm

Smouldering teen idol Antony Loewenstein’s anti-Israel book is shortly due for release following months of delay while his editors translated it into English. To mark the occasion, Wednesday’s Lateline delivered a feast of Antony:

LOEWENSTEIN: If you’re Jewish and you criticise Israel, or criticise even a policy of the Israeli Government, you’re a self-hating Jew or anti-Semitic or you’re unpatriotic or treasonous. I’ve been accused of all those and far worse. If you’re non-Jewish, you’re anti-Semite or anti-Israel hater.

For someone who argues that “Holocaust guilt can no longer excuse, justify and fund a supposed democracy”, Loewenstein is surprisingly eager to play the victim himself. Also, whenever cornered (which is often), Loewenstein is prone to employ the same tactic he detects in his opponents: if you criticise Loewenstein or Islamic extremism, you’re racist! Prior to a debate between Loewenstein and the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council’s Ted Lapkin, Lateline ran this inexplicable line from the University of Chicago’s Professor John Mearsheimer:

MEARSHEIMER: I think it’s absolutely disgraceful that people are talking about the possibility of banning this book.

But nobody is. From where Mearsheimer got this idea is anybody’s guess. On to the debate:

LOEWENSTEIN: Israel has the right to self-defence. No one is questioning that. I’ve never questioned that and that’s a statement of fact.

Loewenstein has questioned Israel’s use of mere sound bombs, let alone anything more powerful. His support for Israel’s right to self-defence is, well, a little weak:

Stereotyping Palestinians or Arabs is alright, even encouraged, because, well, they’re all terrorists and hate ‘us’ for our freedoms.

The West, on the other, cuddly West, and Israel, are blameless, because they’re fighting a terrible, evil menace. Out, out, damn menace.

How comforting. How typical. How hilarious. How sick.

How … busted. Back to the debate:

LOEWENSTEIN: To suggest that I’m pro-Hezbollah because I question civilians being murdered is the kind of rhetoric that we expect from the pro-Israeli lobby. “You are either with us or against us.” The Lapkins and their cronies, their world view very much is the George Bush view of the world – you are either with us and “us” being this sort of emorphis definition of the West, which is we invade, we occupy, we continually bombard or them which supposedly is terrorists. I mean, in the latest edition of Quadrant magazine, Mr Lapkin accuses me essentially of being no better than Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Now, that kind of rhetoric, that kind of extremism, which AIJAC unfortunately is very much a part of, means any kind of debate is next to impossible. But, more importantly, it leaves the sense of people who actually understand what that kind of language is about, that to suggest that an individual who questions Western policies, US policies, Israeli policies, is no better than a Hamas militant or a Hezbollah militant is ridiculous.

Smooth talker, ain’t he? Loewenstein—who was saddened by reaction to al-Zarqawi’s death—had this to say in October 2005:

The defeat of America and its allies in Iraq is vital …

Which would put him on whose side, do you think? In case there’s any doubt:

Working towards, and advocating, “Coalition” defeat has been achieved.

That was written following Loewenstein’s attendance at a Cindy Sheehan rally. To advocate Coalition defeat is to advocate the death of her son. The following Lateline exchange is remarkable:

LAPKIN: Well, I think that it is a far-left anti-Zionist book. It’s rife with factual errors, beginning with the map that appears on page nine of the preface even before you get into the meat of the book. If you look at that map, Antony Loewenstein has Lebanon placed midway between Tel Aviv and Haifa, so he suffers from some geographical confusion. But even worse are the factual errors and the factual confusion that really renders the book a piece of very shoddy scholarship at best.

LOEWENSTEIN: It is interesting how I was expecting this kind of response. This is exactly the kind of response that Mearsheimer and Walt got in the US. They were accused of being extreme. They were accused of making factual errors. They were accused of being anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic. This is the kind of tactics that we expect.

Why might people accuse Loewenstein of being “anti-Zionist”? Possibly because of comments like this:

As an anti-Zionist Australian Jew …

And why might anybody accuse Loewenstein of being anti-Semitic? Oh, I don’t know; maybe because of his sluragainst Jewish comedian Austen Tayshus:

Jews are often their own worst enemies. It also might help if Tayshus didn’t look so much like those awful caricatures we know from the 1930s!

Possibly people misunderstood this nuanced view:

… reception to such ideas within the Jewish community is usually vitriolic, bigoted, racist and downright pathetic. Australian Jews, generally speaking, are incapable of hearing the true reality of their beloved homeland and its barbaric actions.

Hear that reality, Jews! Loewenstein’s review of Spielberg’s Munich may not have helped:

Many prominent Jewish groups and Zionists have condemned the work, clearly a sign that Spielberg has created something worthwhile.

If Jews don’t like it, it must be good! Beats me how readers might conclude that Loewenstein is anti-Israel, merely because he describes himself as:

… a Jew who doesn’t believe in the concept of a Jewish state.

Host Tony Jones asked Loewenstein about this during the debate:

JONES: Now, you don’t state it outright, but are you actually questioning or attempting to question the legitimacy of the state of Israel?

Considering he “doesn’t believe in the concept of a Jewish state”, Loewenstein’s reply is puzzling:

LOEWENSTEIN: What I’m questioning in my book is quite simple. I’m simply saying when Israel was formed after the war, which was a lot to do with European Holocaust guilt, was talking about that it was formed on the back of another people. In other words, Jews had history on that land. No one is questioning that and I haven’t questioned that in my Israel question. What I have questioned, however, is the way in which Israel was essentially formed on the back of another people.

While you’re trying to work that out, be thankful that at least he’s quit attacking Episcopalians.

UPDATE. J.F. Beck:

Journalist and author Antony Loewenstein’s latest post is titled “They hate us”. The post links to, and has excerpts from, the Guardian and Common Dreams. The thing is, neither linked article discusses the hate “they” have for “us”. Angry Ant slipped up here; he meant to write “I hate us”.

Loewenstein slipped up? Say it ain’t so, Loe! Visit Becky for the links.

Posted by Tim B. on 07/20/2006 at 12:50 PM
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