Danby responds to Magid article

August 10, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
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Robert Magid, publisher of the Australian Jewish News, appeared on ABC-TV’s Lateline last night following his article on comapssion for asylum-seekers. Labor Federal MP comments…

From Michael Danby…


Robert Magid

Mr Magid’s claims are not factually based.

First of all he should be familiar with the wide standing controversy that more than 50 people remain in immigration detention due to incomplete security clearance. For this ASIO has been vociferous criticised by the “compassionate” ones Mr Magid chides.

Mr Magid claims that some of these asylum seekers, that happen to be Muslim could provide a security risk is frankly overstated.

The Security Services, (I know as I am a member of the Parliaments Intelligence Committee) do a fine job of checking the background of all irregular maritime arrivals (boat people) who come to Australia.

Magid is entitled to support Mr Abbott and the conservatives in this policy area as much as he likes, but his claims about the increase in the number of arrivals and their potential as a terrorist risk would seem to be hysterical and seeking to frighten the Australian Jewish Community who are justifiably worried about the threat of terrorism. Many of those refugees who happen to be. Muslim are often victims of hardline Islamism.

He should acknowledge that our security services have disrupted, arrested, charged and convicted 7 sets of home-grown terrorists who had the potential to attack Australia’s mailand. None of these were successful because of ASIO’s activity. None of the people where asylum seekers. None arrived by boat. Mr Magid may not be aware that, as the Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, David Irvine pointed out in a speech this year in February, of the 38 people who have been convicted of terrorist offences in Australia under or strong anti-terror laws, 34 were either born here or have lived here since childhood.

Mr Magid’s claim that “I doubt whether there is a single boat person in that position (fleeing certain death)” is misguided.

As a refugee himself, Mr Magid should know that the majority of visa’s given to refugee’s under Australia’s humanitarian program is granted to people offshore. In the 2010–11 program years, 65 per cent of visas were granted to people offshore under the offshore humanitarian resettlement program.   Although the proportion of asylum seekers arriving by boat has increased significantly in the last year, and boat arrivals continue to be the focus of much media and political attention, they are in fact more likely to be recognised as refugees than those who have arrived by air.


The text of the ABC interview

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: An article by the publisher of Australia’s major Jewish newspaper has sparked fierce debate in the Jewish community about refugee policy.

In a piece titled Curb Your Compassion, Robert Magid argued that the Holocaust experience was generating misplaced sympathy among Jews towards asylum seekers.

Hamish Fitzsimmons reports from Melbourne.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS, REPORTER: When Robert Magid crafted his article for The Australian Jewish News, he never foresaw the vehemence of the response from his own community.

ROBERT MAGID, PUBLISHER, AUSTRALIAN JEWISH NEWS: I think it is absurd. Nothing I’ve said had anything to do with racial hatred. Last thing I would be accused of if anyone knows me is of racial hatred.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: He was accused of stoking anti-Muslim sentiment when he warned of an increase of Islamic extremism in Australia if authorities couldn’t verify the identities of asylum seekers arriving by boat. He also warned Jews should curb their enthusiasm for supporting boat people.

ROBERT MAGID: What’s happened is the whole thing is skewed because we see images of people on boats fearing to be drowned and we feel compassion towards them but we don’t see the people who are waiting many years and who are eligible to come but are prevented from coming as a result of the queue jumping.

MARK BAKER, MONASH UNIVERSITY CENTRE FOR JEWISH CIVILISATION: Jews have been a refugee community. They have been dispersed across many countries and often had to seek refuge and I think historically not only have Jews been on the receiving end of seeking asylum but they’ve also been at the forefront of defending the human rights of refugees, campaign for them as they do in Australia today.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: In the piece, Mr Magid wrote: “the collective memory of Jews’ attempts to escape the Holocaust leads to sympathy for any immigrant whatever the situation.”

ROBERT MAGID: Of course we should be compassionate but the compassion should be tempered by reason and I believe that by expressing my point of view, which is unsympathetic to illegal immigration, that I’ve trodden on a lot of toes for whom it is a sacred cow.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Arnold Zable is an author and human rights campaigner. He believes Robert Magid would change his opinion if he heard the stories of many of those so called queue jumpers.

ARNOLD ZABLE, AUTHOR AND HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGNER: I invite him to come with me and speak to asylum seekers who have been tortured and traumatised, and traumatised in ways that take me back to what I experienced as a child with a mother who was so severely traumatised by having lost her family during those dark years known as the Holocaust.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Mr Magid says people who pay criminals to bring them to Australia are taking the place of others waiting for official approval. He’s critical of the claims Jews should be more compassionate because of the Holocaust.

ROBERT MAGID: To bring that analogy to the situation of people who pay smugglers rather than wait for their turn to be accepted as refugees is not the kind of compassion that I support.

ARNOLD ZABLE: I find that outrageous. The core issue here is putting ourselves in the shoes of those who are fleeing and if you put yourselves in the shoes of those fleeing, you want to make a better life for family. You want to get out of an oppressed situation and the situations are dire.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Others argue it is exactly the historical experience that makes Jews more accepting of refugees.

MARK BAKER: The experience of the Holocaust bears out the importance of the story of compassion. There are in the post-Holocaust period millions of people who are from other countries who have experienced genocide, have experienced war, who are seeking a life in escaping the prospect of death, and I think that Australia should be receiving as many people as is possible.

In the meantime the story has been published in Ha’aretz


J-Wire columnist responds to the Ha’aretz story

The Ha’aretz article quotes only the last paragraph of what Rabbi Genende has written – which is regrettable.

It is a pity the Rabbi’s following wise words were not included:

“Migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees are a hot-button issue not only in Australia but across the world.

The debate in Australia is clouded by myths, fear, xenophobia, and politics. It is hard to know what is fact and what is fiction. The reaction of the Jewish community is reflective of the confusion of the general public. We have many champions for refugees but we also have many claiming that illegal immigration is criminal and dangerous, that it will disrupt our society, undermine it economically, and threaten stability. As Jews, we are particularly fearful of Muslim immigrants and their potential for extremism.

These are not light fears but like many fears they are in large part unfounded.”

No one really knows how much is fact and how much is fiction nor to what extent these fears are unfounded.
Certainly those who are genuine asylum seekers should be welcomed in Australia. Australia has an international obligation to do so which must be respected and honoured.
However it is also the responsibility of our Government to implement procedures that assure that only those allowed to stay are genuine asylum seekers.
The procedures presently in place need to be spelled out by the Government – if there is any hope of having an informed discussion of this “hot button issue”
Everybody needs to take a cold shower until this information is available.
Perhaps Robert Magid can obtain this information and publish it in the AJN so that a discussion based on fact – not emotion – can take place.
Mark Baker wrote:
“I think that Bob Magid’s article unfortunately slides from a fair discussion about Australia’s refugee policies to vilification of asylum seekers based on Islamophic stereotypes. What’s missing in all the subsequent reports is the story of Jews standing at the forefront of the campaigns for refugee rights in Australia. Jews, for example, have been instrumental in creating support programs for the recent wave of Sudanese refugees. It’s natural that Australian Jews should have compassion because of our core Jewish values born of our religious culture and historical experiences as a refugee community.”
Dr Colin Rubenstein executive director of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council added: “”AIJAC strongly supports  our  effective Australian multiculturalism and a non-discriminatory,humanitarian immigration policy. Bob Magid’s article should be seen as one person’s take on a highly complex, contentious,vexed public policy issue  and should not influence  perceptions of the Australian Jewish community .”



20 Responses to “Danby responds to Magid article”
  1. Paul Winter says:

    The objectors to the valid points made by Robert Magid are spouting PC poppycock. Calling his views racist is the typical ploy of PC enforcers who want to stifle debate.

    Put simply, people who are in Indonesia are in no danger. People who arrived there had documents which they discard and gain refugee status on the basis of their statements when they are in Australia. They should have gained that status in Indonesia or Pakistan and then waited for resettlement by the UNHCR. By queue jumping they deprive a place of sanctuary to moneyless people who live in truly desparate conditions. Has anyone seek the misery of the Nuba of Sudan?

    Sure the Hazara are good people and discriminated in Afghanistan, but by no means are they like Jews were in the 1930s. Why does the Shi’i regime in Iran discriminate against them when they share a language and religion? Oh, yeah, I forgot, they are not “Palestinians” and they have oriental features.

    But the Hazara are not the only asylum seekers. There are other Muslims who cannot be accommodated by the 56 national members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Not all of them are at war and many are wealthy beyond measure. But of course they don’t have Western social benefits.

    It is not racist to point out the problems with Muslims. We have had race rapes, terror plans, a revenge raid after the Cronulla riot sparked by Muslim harassment and Muslims are over-represented in jails, in gun violence, in drugs and in car rebirthings. Overseas data shows that when they reach a certain mass, extermists dominate and they are over-represented in violence, rapes, social welfare dependence and unemployment. Denmark and Holland have had enough and are now tightening up conditions on Muslim migrants.

    If PC bully-boys silence people like Magid, the problems with Muslims will get worse. For the sake of communal harmony, multi-culturalism and for the easier assimilation of Muslims we must speak out to let them know that they are welcome to learn and to teach so that Australia becomes a better, richer society. We also need to let them know that they are not colonisers to whom we must submit and to whom we need to give special privileges, especially not those who bring antisemitism and hate politics into our midst.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      I only make friends with intelligent people, i.e. Paul Winter !

      Paul is right and we should all have a bit of respect for the English language. Racism pertains to RACES. Islam does not define a race, but a set of beliefs. Whatever the strategies of those prommoting radical changes in the attitude of people consistent with a radical alteration of our way of life, the western democratic realisations of post WWII, the perills of a return to the dark ages of intollerance and civil terror are as obvious as are the very contents of the Sharia laws so vehemently, openly, embraced and prommoted by the “raceless” Muslim fraternity.
      Naive dispositions, humanitarian generosity, idealistic, utopian social designs heralded by semi-intellectual enthusiasts make for garissons of fellow travellers as useful as any other poorly endowed foot soldiers happy to have their names chiseled on some tomb stone in the graveyards of civilisation.
      All you deaf people, the wake up call is blasting in desperation !!!

  2. Michael says:

    Some in the Jewish community are turning into apologists for the Muslim community.

    I guess the reason we live under a siege like mentality and are required to have security and guards outside our Shules, Schools , community centers and special security for visiting Israeli and Jewish athletes, entertainers and Politicians is because we are afraid of Hare- Chrishna extremists .

    I can now under stand a little more why so many Jews didn’t leave Germany and Europe before ww2 erupted when they heard rumors and talk what was happening to the Jews in Germany.

    I feel ashamed to read some of the posts by my fellow Jews and some of the comments by our leadership, they have learn nothing from the past and judging by their stupid comments are foolishly naive. It reminds me of of one such fool a previous President of one of our major Communal organizations a few years ago who recommended our Jewish security group train the Muslims in security .
    It wouldn’t surprise me going by some of the statements by some of our Jewish communal leaders & representatives that the Jewish community doesn’t merge with the Muslim community soon, why not we appear to be doing all their lobbying for them unfortunately it is not reciprocal .
    I have always thought the ACJC would merge with the Islamic/ Arab study departments they have some much in common and share and host so many similar speakers.

  3. Otto Waldmann says:

    This is, essentially, an ethical issue. Its complexity will have to rely on the morality of affording consideration to the condition of the subject-refugee, their determining factors in seeking asylum and, also, not in a contradictory way, the utilitarian aspect of the debate.
    Utilitarin ethics is a very curly field and, considering that politics should contain ethical fundamentals one may accept Danby’s decisive angle of a political ideology on the matter. Danby, however, does not qualify his intervention in ethical terms but strictly ideological/political. “Observing” that Robert Magid acts for the interests of – WHO !!??- Tony Abbott, disqualifies Danby as an objective, suitable contributor to this debate. Further, by boasting his privileged position within the political structures of Australia one would expect a modicum of reasonable musings. Stating that an increase in the number of muslims in our community, particularly originating from severely backward regions where religious conflict has marked those societies for centuries, is not conducive to serious, or any, security concerns and cultural shifts in Australia is as disingenious as it is farcical and simply intellectually offensive to the current debate.
    Taking a pure politcal partisan stance may improve Danby credentials within his ideological Labor fold, but , most definitely cannot help the cause of the Jewish concerns and Australian ones at large in terms of serious considerations for national security. Danby is simple being sectarian-silly, me being excessively nice to him.

    Arnold Salbe is keen to create a sense of Jewish guilt by exploiting with shameful impunity sacred terms and cathegories. Our Shoah must be recognised in its uniquness. This is to say also that the history of persecution of the Jews is not the inaccessible domain of our own psyche. Shoah must serve as an universal test of a humanity that failed. Certain ethical aspect must be looked at in a manner that should benefit humanity as a whole. In specific situations, however, such as the actual status of illegal migrant/assumed refugees, equivalence is simply not acceptable by the very substance of the events taken in isolation. To throw a moral blanket in an irrational juxtaposition is offensive, it is simply false, unacceptable. Salbe does it with the ease of one who, obviously, cannot delve into the essence of the Shoah with the intellectual astuteness that is required by fundamental RESPECT.HE KILLS THE ARGUMENT, ANYWAY, BY PROMMOTING THE ECONOMIC REASONS FOR THE ACCEPTANCE OF ILLEGAL MIGRANTS.
    Shoah may NOT be traded as a “moral” currency each time one wishes to be imperiously right at any costs. Whether vanity, simplicity or “good intentions” , it is a blatant sin, an avera to brandish it as a coin of dialectical convenience.

    Robert Magid has done nothing exceptional, quite to the contrary, he had the “audacity” to present a stark reality with the courage and baldness of a civilised, responsible citizen.
    Those on the other side of his argument are incredibly on the other side of civil responsibilities, whteher they really know why they are there or just swept by “attractive” , yet highly dishonest haloymes.

  4. Rita says:

    Robert Magid is absolutely right, and I hope that he will not be stoned to death (metaphorically or otherwise) by the usual suspects.

    The whole ‘debate’ is totally perverted.

    The people on these boats (3 per day by now) are not ‘asylum seekers’, they are not ‘refugees’ and they cannot be compared with the people for whom our humanitarian human rights laws have been drafted.

    They are, in the majority, muslims making their way to Australia and everywhere else in the infidel world as missionaries for Islam, to make the world Islamic. That is their declared goal and that is what they do with skill and zeal once their got their feet on the ground.

    THAT should be the debate, not the fake hand-wringing talk of “compassion” (by political opportunists and usefull idiots) and the culpabilisation of those who dare to point out the nakedness of the emperor.

    • Brian says:

      Missionaries for Islam ? You’re as nuts as Magid. Where is your evidence for this silly statement. Prosthelytising the last thing on their minds.

      • Otto Waldmann says:

        Brian, whoever you are, right here you are deling with people who are fully aware of what Islam consists of these days.
        You may go and trade your non-sense on some cerdulity-run sites and peddle your rubish to those unaware of what is happening in the world in the name of you beloved Muslim universal academies of hatred against Jews and training camps of terror spread world wide in the name of Sharia.
        Proof is it you demand….!!!! Read any newspaper on any day on any page and all the UN-wanted proof is there !!!

  5. Shirlee says:

    If they really were running away, why have they, left their families behind.?

    Why did they stop coming under the Howard Government’s plan when there was an obstacle in their way.?

    Surely if you are running for your life, nothing would stop you.

    • Brian says:

      OMG I cannot believe how stupid this comment is. Yes Shirley they deliberately abandoned their families as part of their evil plan to infiltrate Aus as kill us. Go back to hiding under your bed.

      • Shirlee says:

        Your rudeness does you no justice and only highlights how wrong you are that you need to insult to get your point across.

  6. sam says:

    Wonderful spin by Mr Danby

    Do you really think we believe it???

    Oh come on!!

  7. Michael says:

    I would like to see proof these people trying to enter Australia illegally that
    They fear for their lives there is no evidence , in most cases when they have
    Illegally destroyed their documents so as to confuse our officials our immigration
    Officers would not even know what country they came from

    Next time I go to a racsist bDS rally out side Max Brenner I will approach
    One of the members of the asylum seeker/ refugee advocacy organizations that I ussualy
    See there along side members of the Arab/ Muslim community , socialist alternative and Palestinian lobbyiests and send them regards from the Jewish Community.

  8. Michael says:

    Thank you Larry

  9. Michael says:

    Kol ha kavod Mr Magid for an excellent measured
    Opinion piece in last weeks edition
    Your views reflect a what great majority of Jews think .
    Don’t be intimidated by the the ussual suspects and others who would like to shut down debate
    on this issue and turn to name calling.

  10. David says:

    Robert Magid’s stated position on our boat people is crushingly disappointing. I say this not only because his views are misguided – based on fear not fact, but because they have been espoused by a learned communal leader with personal experience.

    We as a community are better than this, and quite frankly, you Mr Magid are a far bigger man than the petty views you have unfortunately espoused in this instance. As a people, we must always ensure that the concept of Tikun Olam resonates as a beacon of light. I appreciate the issue of assylum seekers is a vexing one, but it will prove the true test of our community as a light unto others.

  11. Raoul says:

    Surely a topic to spark emotions and bring up painful memories. But why is it such a fallacy to point out the legalities and the self-evident truth? Sure, those who make a comfortable living from increasing numbers of refugees have not only a powerful lobby group, but can always claim emotional superiority. A rotten swine who says otherwise!

    But for a moment take off the blinkers and look at facts:

    If European Jews fleeing the Nazi machine would have made it safely to a Jewish-majority country, a country without unrest, civil war or persecution of Jews, why leave for another country which is not a Jewish-,ajority country? Would these Jews still have been called refugees, or perhaps rather tourists or immigrants?

    On a per-capita basis Australia already resettles more than any other OECD country. And the dollar we spend on someone who arrives here without visa, we can not spend on someone else who lingers without funds in a refugee camp somewhere in Islamistan. Granting we can not possibly resettle everyone wishing to come to Australia, what makes this one more deserving than the other? The money he has to travel and pay airlines and smugglers? You be the judge.

    Next, if we look at real persecution in Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan or Bangladesh, it is the persecution of non-Islamic religious minorities which is most brutal and prevalent, and these minorities have nowhere else to turn to. Muslims can always turn to islamic majority country in the neighbourhood, but where do poor and discriminated non-Muslims turn to? Let’s be frank and honest with facts, nowhere else is the persecution on religious minorities more prevalent than in Islamic-majority countries. So when Mr Magid suggests we should apply our compassion and funds with more fairness and regard for self-evident facts, I think he has made a point to consider. This should be discussed, not yelled down in the hysterical manner of certain JINO’s and anointed media shock jocks of the progressive Left.

    And if The Hon Mr Danby assures us that it was ASIO’s good work to have prevented Islamic terrorist attacks, he is of course free to do so. But he also knows only too well that ASIO’s success hinges on the bumbling stupidity displayed by our home-grown Islamic terrorists, and the good intel ASIO receives from a community not yet fully blinded by the multi-cultural fog.

  12. Larry Stillman says:

    For once Michael, I and many others, would agree with you. I am rather concerned that no other ‘leader’ has been particularly vocal…until now.

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