The Lament Over Loewenstein

January 5, 2012 by Raffe Gold
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The purpose of journalism has always been to seek truth through an arduous process of investigation. Journalists today follow in the illustrious footsteps of Edward R Murrow, Woodward and Bernstein and Seymour Hersh. These are journalists who were able to change society through their writings for the better…writes Raffe Gold.

Raffe Gold

The internet, whilst a power of good in that it spreads information repressive regimes are keen to block, also has a dark side; anybody without qualifications in journalism, or who has a particular agenda, can become an overnight propagandist. There’s no fact-checking, no editorial guidelines and certainly no oversight by more adult or experienced hands when somebody in his or her bedroom, rants and raves through a blog.

Australia’s infamous anti-Zionist blogger and self-described ‘independent journalist’ Antony Loewenstein, posted an article to his blog on January 2 2012 about the recent backlash against the Haredim and their attitude towards women in public. The post, titled ‘Jewish extremists, indulged by the Jewish state, think they’re in Nazi Germany’, links to a Sydney Morning Herald opinion piece about the subject of gender equality in religion and Antony reminded his reader(s?) that there was a significant amount of segregation against Arabs as well. Whilst one could forgive Loewenstein for his erroneous title (supporters of gender segregation are despised across Israel) one could not forgive him for his grossly offensive sub-heading ‘This is what Zionism has created’. The sub-title is so inaccurate that one truly wonders what Loewenstein was thinking when he wrote it. Loewenstein has conveniently forgotten that gender segregation has existed for thousands of years before Zionism was even a thought in Theodore Herzl’s mind. Whilst I am a secular Jew,  I rarely, attend the Orthodox synagogue that my grandfather founded in Cremorne. Here there is a practice of gender segregation as the men and women sit in separate parts of the schule with a divider between them. Such practices have been going on for centuries. The idea of gender segregation exists in almost every religion when it comes to aspects of devout worship. One simply has to look at our neighbor Saudi Arabia where women are forbidden from participating in public life or even driving a car. A simple peruse of the recent Saudi press shows that they’re not exactly Zionism’s biggest supporters so one truly wonders how gender segregation (according to Loewenstein a ‘Zionist concept’) was implemented in such an anti-Zionist country.

Furthermore, Loewenstein purports to have knowledge of Jewish groups within Israel, Zionism and Israeli domestic politics. If Loewenstein had bothered to do a modicum of research on these protests and the groups who support gender segregation then he would know that these protests are being led by a number of anti-Zionist groups. These are religious groups, such as the Netura Karta, who are often seen at left-wing anti-Israel protests and famously attended the Iranian Holocaust denial conference in 2006. Essentially these are the self-styled ‘good Jews’ that many far left wing groups actively promote to show that not all Jews support Israel. These are Jews who reject the entire idea of Zionism and the Jewish State for religious purposes.

One could easily dismiss this as an off-the-cuff remark by Loewenstein which he posted without forethought. We are all guilty of such internet faux pas and in the age of technology where everything is instant and permanent one should be able to easily forgive such mistakes. But there are only so many mistakes we can tolerate before we admit that Loewenstein’s ‘knowledge’ of Israel come from a few quick trips to the region and a working ethos which sees him cut and paste from the sites of other left wing bloggers and academics. His book ‘My Israel Question’ has been repeatedly debunked and contains a number of serious errors (the least harmful error was changing the gender of Tzipi Livni Israel’s FEMALE Opposition Leader) and he routinely uses the term ‘colonizer‘ in reference to the Jewish State (Israel being the worst colonizing nation in history considering it has withdrawn from the Sinai, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip). In its review of his book the Sydney Morning Herald stated that it was filled with ‘numerous serious political and historical clangers’. Despite all this Loewenstein is routinely quoted by the media as an ‘independent journalist’ and expert on Israel while he sits on the board of the Macquarie University’s controversial Centre for Middle East and North African Studies under which I studied for my degree.

In no way do I mean to dismiss those who are critical of Israel, her foreign policy or her treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. I have written numerous articles, blog posts and tweets that are critical of the current and former Israeli governments. A fantastic resource of sound journalists who are critical of Israel is and I would recommend everyone bookmark it. But Loewenstein cannot possibly compare to these fine journalists and truth-seekers at 972mag because, unlike them, he fails to pass even the most basic tenets of the journalistic creed. Perhaps Loewenstein should consider hanging up his keyboard before he unwittingly does even more damage to a country that already has enough problems to deal with.

Raffe Gold is a recent immigrant to Israel from Australia. He can be contacted at