Dear Tony

April 19, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The president of the Zionist Federation of Australia Jeremy Leibler has written an open letter to journalist Tony Walker whose article  “Melissa Parke incident raises difficult questions about Israel” was published in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Jeremy Leibler

Melissa Parke is a former Labor Federal member for Fremantle and has pulled out of the race for the strong Liberal Perth seat of Curtin, formerly represented by Julie Bishop in the upcoming election.

The Guardian reported she told a public meeting last month that the way Israel treated Palestinians was “worse than the South African system of apartheid”.

Walker wrote: “However, it is ridiculous to suggest that well-informed criticism of Israel’s settlement policies, for example, or its nation state law that creates two classes of citizens, is born simply of prejudice.

Sadly, and too conveniently, a charge of anti-Semitism is used to stifle reasonable criticism, and, yes, to intimidate those who would question Israel’s actions.

Melissa Parke, whose sympathy for the Palestinians is well documented, is the latest casualty, leaving aside the truth.”

In an opinion piece in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, Jeremy Leibler, the president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, likened criticism (ill-defined) of Israel to a “new anti-Semitism”.

‘Disguising itself as anti-Zionism, the new anti-Semitism uses criticism of Israel as a Trojan horse to perpetuate age-old stereotypes about Jews under a quasi-intellectual cover,’ Leibler wrote.”‘

Walker added: “I reached out to Leibler to ascertain what criticism of Israel might be acceptable in the interests of enabling reasonable discussion about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and its attitudes more generally to the peace process.

He did not respond.

This is the simple question I would have posed. Where are the boundaries between acceptable criticism of Israel’s behaviour, and criticism that might be interpreted as prejudiced?”

Jeremy Leibler has written to Tony Walker:

“Dear Tony,

I read your column this morning and wanted to respond to several of the points you raise. While you say in the piece that you approached me for comment, I didn’t receive any message from you and would be grateful if you could let me know which contact details you used.

If I’d had the opportunity to answer your question about the boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable criticism of Israel, I would have said that I hoped at least part of it was contained in the opinion article I wrote from which you drew just one line.

Criticism of Israel crosses the line into anti-Semitism where, for example, it draws on old school characterisation of Jews as “the Benjamins” and/or collectively blames all Jewish people for the decisions of the Israeli Government.

My article makes it clear that I don’t view criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism per se – I too am sometimes critical of actions and decisions taken in Israel.

Most concerning, however, is your selective quoting from an interview I gave to the Jerusalem Post, which would have left your readers with the clear impression that I, or people I am associated with, was responsible for “working behind the scenes” at the ALP national conference to manipulate the resolution on recognising Palestine.

Not only is it widely and publicly known that the backroom negotiations were spearheaded by senior members of the ALP including Bill Shorten, Penny Wong and Richard Marles but the article in the Jerusalem explicitly said so. Like any group of citizens, Jewish Australians have a democratic right/responsibility to communicate our views and concerns to our elected representatives. Where this is portrayed as some kind of sinister conspiracy, it also crosses the line into age-old, seriously concerning stereotyping.

I understand that you are based in Melbourne and would be pleased to meet with you in person to discuss in more detail. It is important to me that the record be corrected so I propose to make this e-mail public to ensure that my position is clear.

I look forward to hearing from you.”


4 Responses to “Dear Tony”
  1. Rd says:

    I think it’s complete and total rubbish that you can criticize anyone else in any way shape or form . But for some reason someone else thinks they deserve preferential treatment .

  2. Adrian Jackson says:

    Why didn’t he just simply write a letter to the editor instead?

  3. Michael Burd says:

    Jeremy you may not be aware who you are dealing with I have been around long enough to know who Tony Walker is former AFR journalist author of two biographies on Yassar Arafat

    You are not dealing here with a main steam legitimate impartial journalist this guy has been obsessed but really obsessed with Israel for a long time ( also an America hAter)

    You would be wasting your time trying to convince Walker to be balanced in his thinking about the Middle East he has Fairfax blood in is veins , other Israel advocates have tried before you and failed , quit while you are ahead .

  4. Peter Strasser says:

    I am loathe to criticise Jeremy Leibler, but in his letter to Walker he says nothing to refute the essence of his ( and Melissa Parke)scandalous and false
    assertions that;
    Israels treatment of Palestinians was worse that South Africas system of apartheid;
    Melkissa Parkes statemente were well informed ;
    Israels Nation State law creates two classes of citizens.

    Jeremy Leibler just missed the point.

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