Waiting for Michael

June 22, 2010 by J-Wire Staff
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An invitation by The Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Robert Goot to columnist Michael Carlton to discuss face to face  email exchanges between them on the topic of content recently published in the Sydney Morning Herald remains to be responded to.

In a move to clarify the communications between the Goot and Carlton, The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has made the full context of the email exchange public.

J-Wire publishes it in full….but first a word from Goot.

ECAJ President Robert Goot

“In his column in the Weekend Herald (19-20 June 2010), Michael Carlton referred to certain emails that passed between him and me in the previous week.   Carlton’s account of the content of those emails is incomplete.  I set out below the complete text of those emails to enable readers to make their own judgment about their content.

Please note that:

1.      I did not respond at all to Carlton’s first article in the SMH on June 6-7;

2.      I condemned unreservedly the hate-emails received by Carlton in response to that first article, regardless of their alleged source;

3.      I did not mention or refer to the Holocaust;

4.      I did not make any comment about Carlton’s criticisms of Israeli policies or actions;

5.      I assured Carlton that none of the organizations that advocate on behalf of the Jewish community and Israel would have had anything to do with the hate-emails he received;

6. I observed that not one of those organizations (including the ECAJ) appears to have made any response at all to Carlton’s first article; and

7.      I invited Carlton to meet face to face to discuss these matters more fully but I received no response.

My reason for emailing Carlton was as stated:

‘You presume – indeed you assert as a fact in your reply – that all the people who sent you abusive emails in response to your first article were (i) Jewish and (ii) acting in concert with one another and (iii) following some vast global plan.  That is simply incorrect and it unjustly defames the legitimate representative organisations, which argue their case fairly and have a right to a fair hearing, including from journalists.'”

On June 15, Robert Goot sent the following to Michael Carlton:

Dear Mr Carlton

I refer to your piece, ‘Funny, they remember their epithets but not their manners’, which appeared in the Weekend edition of the Sydney Morning Herald on June 12-13.  You quote from a number of hate emails you received from various individuals in response to an earlier article you had written and say that these were “orchestrated from Jerusalem” by “the Jewish lobby”.

There is absolutely no evidence to support that statement or your suggestion that the emails were sent to you because an Israeli official has urged supporters of Israel to exercise their right of free speech and to “spread the real version of events”.

My organisation, and its constituent and affiliate Jewish organisations throughout Australia, condemn unreservedly the physical threats that were made against you, regardless of the alleged ethnic background of those who made the them, as well as the abusive language and tone of the emails you describe in your article.

I also completely reject your suggestion that these threats and abusive emails were orchestrated in any way by the Israeli government or any Jewish organisation.   To suggest that the threats and abuse directed at you were part of some sinister international plot by “the Jewish lobby” is to invoke an old and insidious racist stereotype, one of several alluded to in your article.  This is beneath you. To my knowledge, your earlier article did not elicit a response from any Jewish organisation in Australia or elsewhere, and certainly not in the kind of intemperate terms you have described.

You say that it is “standard operating procedure for the lobby to hurl accusations of antisemitism”.  That is another falsehood.  But it is “standard operating procedure” for those accused of antisemitism to assure the world that they have “Jewish friends”.

Events in the Middle East tend to evoke strong emotional reactions from both supporters and opponents of Israel’s actions.  During the last fortnight alone, two students at the University of Sydney were assaulted and harrassed on campus merely for expressing an opinion in support of Israel.  When feelings are running high, individuals take it upon themselves to make physical threats, use abusive language and do other stupid things.  It is equally stupid, and irresponsible, for a reputable journalist such as yourself to attribute their actions to an organisation, more so a government, whose policies and interests are completely opposed to such actions.

Yours sincerely

Michael Carlton responded on the same day:

Dear Mr Goot

So there we go again.   You might not like the term “Jewish lobby” but, deny it though you will, the thing exists.    It is amorphous, inchoate but above all, intimidatory.   Every journalist or media figure in this country who has ever offered a word critical of Israel has encountered it.
Your language is more polished than most but, typically, you accuse me of falsehoods,  stupidity, intemperance, irresponsibility and of invoking an “old and insidious racist stereotype.”
Furthermore, you suggest that I am an anti-Semite resorting to a trick of assuring the world that I have Jewish friends.
That is all grossly offensive.   I resent it ,  and I will not be beaten down  by it, whether it comes above your official letterhead or in the rabid abuse of others.
For your information:
I am entirely content that Israel should exist as a free and independent Jewish homeland.

I have been to Dachau.   Twice.   I have met and interviewed Holocaust survivors and been profoundly humbled by their stories.    Most of all, perhaps, by the sight of the SS numbers tattooed on their arms.

I have no brief for Hamas, any more than I do for the psychopaths of my own ethnic background, the IRA.
Nor do I have illusions about the methods of Palestinian extremism.   My wife, an ABC journalist, was once arrested in Lebanon by Hezbollah.

What I do object to is Israel’s brutal and unconscionable oppression of the people of Gaza.   And the attempts, in this country and around the world, by people like yourself, to silence those who speak out about it.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Carlton.

Goot replied two later on June 16….

Dear Mr Carlton

I repeat my condemnation of the abusive emails you received. Not one of the organizations that advocate on behalf of the Jewish community and Israel would have had anything to do with these emails.   Not one of them, to my knowledge, responded to your first article.

What I objected to was your lumping all comment that is critical of what you wrote about Israel into one amorphous bag. You presume – indeed you assert as a fact in your reply – that all the people who sent you abusive emails in response to your first article were (i) Jewish and (ii) acting in concert with one another and (iii) following some vast global plan.  That is simply incorrect and it unjustly defames the legitimate representative organisations, which argue their case fairly and have a right to a fair hearing, including from journalists.

That is the only reason I emailed you.  It is strange that you accuse me of trying to silence your criticisms of Israel, when I did not respond at all to your original article.

I appreciate the trouble you have taken to outline some of your views.  My community has no quarrel at all with anyone for being concerned about the lives and welfare of civilians in Gaza, even if we differ about the fundamental causes of their present suffering and what needs to be done to alleviate it and bring about a just peace and a normalisation of the lives of Palestinians and Israelis.

Perhaps neither of us has given the other a proper hearing.  I would like to discuss this matter with you other than in an exchange of emails.  Would you be willing to meet?

J-Wire has emailed Michael Carlton for his comments on the email exchanges. To date, no reply has been received.


2 Responses to “Waiting for Michael”
  1. ben geshon says:

    why go looking for fights .one dose not need.

    surely Goot can use his time better

  2. david singer says:

    I am waiting for Michael too. I sent him the following email which he has not had the courtesy to acknowledge let alone respond to, I do not consider my e mail to be abusive, threatening or intimidatory. It as written of my own volition because of my concern at the many inaccuracies and erroneousconclusions that appeared in it.

    “Dear Mr Carlton

    Your attempt to remind the Jewish people of their own history (SMH June 5-6) is in error and grossly deficient for the following reasons:

    1. The Jews on the Exodus were not coming to Palestine as “immigrants” – as you allege – but as Jews legally entitled to settle there pursuant to the rights vested in the Jewish people by the League of Nations in 1922 to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in Palestine. Had Britain not restricted the number of Jews allowed to settle in Palestine in 1939 – millions of Jews could have been saved from the gas chambers.
    2. Suggesting a book that was written in 1958 followed by a film in 1960 – more than ten years after the establishment of Israel – “cemented the idea of Israel in the Western political and cultural imperative” – is nonsense . That battle had been fought and won at the San Remo conference in 1920 and with the execution of the Treaty of Sevres shortly thereafter.
    3. Alleging that “Israel now engages in the savage repression of the Palestinian people and their right to a homeland of their own “ ignores the following:

    * Israel has been trying to achieve such a solution since 1993. Since 2003 Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been unable to achieve that very solution as proposed in the Bush Roadmap. The parties simply cannot – and I believe will never be able to – agree on the terms for its creation.
    * The Palestinian Arabs rejected such a homeland when proposed by the Peel Commission in 1937
    * 77% of Mandate Palestine became the sovereign independent and exclusively “Palestinian Arabs only” state of Transjordan in 1946
    * The Arabs then rejected the partition of the remaining 23% of the Mandate when proposed by the UN in 1947
    * The Arabs chose to unify the West Bank with Transjordan between 1948-1967 when they could have had their own homeland in the whole of the West Bank – and possibly Gaza.

    Perhaps you might like to ponder on whether it is the Arabs – not the Jews – who have failed to learn the lessons of history – as the Arabs intransigent negotiating history above shows. As they continue to demand 100% of Gaza and the West Bank and the right of return of millions of Arabs into Israel, it is clear they have to change such thinking if their yearning now for something they first surrendered more than 70 years ago is to be peacefully achieved through negotiations.

    4. The “bleedin obvious” that “no idea has ever been defeated by force” is not so bleedin obvious. Nazism, Fascism and Apartheid serve to contradict you and Amos Oz.

    5. Strangely two critical words – “Egypt “ and “Hamas” – do not even rate a mention in your analysis that the “the Israeli attack on the Gaza freedom flotilla was an act of lethal stupidity. Lethal for its victims, stupid for Israel“ . Those omissions are enough to question the fairness of your conclusions.

    You wield an enormous amount of influence as a Herald columnist. Are you prepared to publish this response so that your readers may understand that your reading of history is not necessarily the gospel truth?”

    Having regard to the exchange of e mails between Robert Goot and Michael Carlton I can only expect that my above e mail to Michael will remain unanswered. He has apparently decided to wimp the issues I have raised. That is a pity.

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