September 01, 2005

From US to AUS

You will have read about Norman Finkelstein's difficulties in getting his book Beyond Chutzpah published in the US. Well now here's a guy, Antony Loewenstein, in Australia who seems to be about to have similar problems. Antony is writing a book on the Middle East for publication some time next year. He wrote to an Aussie politician with some questions about where the Australian Labor Party stands on Israel and this was the response, not to Antony but to the Australian Jewish News
The graduating class of Mount Scopus of 1972 had some interesting people, many of whom made a mark on wider Australian society. One of my fellow graduates of that year is Louise Adler, the current publisher of Melbourne University Press (MUP).

Louise was and is an intellectually engaging person, if a little predictable with her inevitable criticism that Labor is a "sell-out" and that supporting Israel, moderate democratic Israel, as I do, makes me a "Zionist right-winger". It's a badge of honour, Louise.

However, faint praise for Adler is a sidebar to the substance of the issue. I want the entire Jewish community to know that I absolutely dissociate myself from her decision to publish a book edited by Anthony Loewenstein about the Australian Jewish community.

In preparation for writing his book, Loewenstein sent me a number of questions, based on assumptions, which made his views so blatantly obvious that I refused to answer them or participate in his book.

I will have no part in his and Adler's propaganda tract scheduled for publication in 2006, which will be an attack on the mainstream Australian Jewish community.

MUP should drop this whole disgusting project. If they proceed, I urge the Australian Jewish community, and particularly the Australian Jewish News, to treat it with dignified silence. That is our best response. If, God forbid, it is published, don't give them a dollar. Don't buy the book.

Federal member for Melbourne Ports
Imagine how he's feel if he actually read the book. Anyway, Louise isn't a happy bunny. She wrote to the AJN thus
I HAVE not had a conversation of any substance with Michael Danby either prior to 1972 or since. It was a surprise therefore to find him slandering me in the AJN (26/8) with views that are pure invention and palpable nonsense.

Whatever conventions one might expect a politician to adhere to — accuracy might be presumed to be basic. These statements are malicious and derogatory. Irrelevance is the fate of local politicians who remain locked in to a dogmatic, insular and ultimately self-serving view of the world. Smear campaigns are normally the stuff of the gutter press.

I am surprised therefore that the AJN reproduces character assassinations without following the standard journalistic practice of checking the facts.

As the CEO and publisher of Melbourne University Publishing, I am proud of our 80-year history of independent publishing. MUP’s mandate is to publish books of public interest.

That venerable tradition continues with the publication of such titles as Jacqueline Rose’s The Question of Zion and Antony Loewenstein’s forthcoming book Voices of Reason.

I am dismayed that a fellow publisher such as the AJN gives space for proposals to boycott ideas. Condemning a book prior to publication is appalling.

Perhaps the AJN should review the book now, nine months out from publication. Danby’s proposal is inimical to the central Jewish values of tolerance and open debate.

CEO & publisher,
Melbourne University Publishing
Check out Antony's blog for the whole story to date. I think it's going to run and run.

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