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Anti-Semitic Article in The Age

18 January 2009

Victorian Jewish Community condemns AGE's Anti-Semitic article.

John Searle, president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV), and Dr Danny Lamm, president of the Zionist Council of Victoria (ZCV), today jointly called on Melbourne’s The Age to apologise for publishing a blatantly antisemitic article (attached) in the Saturday Age yesterday.

Searle and Lamm stated:

“Sometimes criticism of Israeli foreign policy becomes so irrational and so hate-filled that it spills over into antisemitism. Yesterday Saturday’s Age (17/01) published such a piece wherein its columnist Michael Backman encapsulated centuries of hate speech against Jews in a few hundred words.

Among other things, Backman wrote:

  • Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians caused the London, Bali and World Trade Centre bombings.
  • Israel has united the Islamic world against Western nations.
  • The historical persecution of Jews constitutes punishment for Jesus’ death.
  • Israelis and Jews are disinterested in the welfare of others, and do not invest financially or socially in the broader community.

It is inexplicable why The Age would publish such a pernicious article, and why by one of its business columnists, a man whose field of expertise is Asian business and art, a man apparently without credentials on the Middle East, international politics or contemporary religion.

Each of the above statements is demonstrably wrong as are other assertions in the article. It is sheer nonsense to claim, for example that “The enmity many Muslims now feel for Israel has nothing to do with religion”. Really? Perhaps Backman should read the hate-filled Hamas Covenant which explicitly talks about extermination of all Jews, not merely Israelis.

It is unacceptable that The Age gave a platform to this man’s hatred of Jews and Israelis and incitement against them. The Victorian Jewish community’s experience is that such commentary rouses violence and hatred against local Jews. Indeed, the JCCV and the ZCV made this very point to The Age only two weeks ago. We were assured by acting editor Mark Baker that its reportage was totally even-handed. And yet its editors saw fit to publish this vile piece. We are outraged with The Age for publishing Backman’s disgusting falsehoods.

The JCCV and SZC have complained to The Age today in the strongest possible terms on behalf of the Victorian Jewish community. We have further committed ourselves to further steps, including possible legal action. This is not 1930s Germany. We will not accept this hatred.”

Media enquiries should be directed to:

John Searle 0412 251344
Dr Danny Lamm 0408 408929

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