Reader Response 7: Responding to our Non/Anti-Zionist Readers

The Sensible Jew has received two comments from two separate readers over the last 24 hours. These readers have in common a non- or anti-Zionist perspective. We think it is important that we address some of their questions/statements.

Reader, Gustavm, writes “You need to address “the elephant in the room” which you seem to want to studiously ignore – that is, that by any reasonable yardstick Israel is breaching international law, countless UN resolutions and in many critical ways acting morally and ethically in a reprehensible and indefensible way.”

We would venture that the majority of Australian Jews does not perceive this “elephant” at all, simply because we reject Gustavm’s interpretation of events. For this reason, it would seem that Gustavm’s point is moot.

There is, however, the consideration of different political tendencies within the community. Some in the Zionist community will disapprove of certain Israeli actions, some will support Israel whatever the situation.

It is for this reason that The Sensible Jew advocates public statements made on behalf of the ENTIRE community that are both broad enough to represent majority sentiment – ie. first principles: that the Jewish state’s right to exist is not in question, and it’s subsequent right to self-defence must be acknowledged.

These first principles represent almost all Jews, and those Jews who disagree are represented by bodies such as the IAJV which has plenty of media access. Once our leaders start to discuss details of any event involving Israel, they cease to be representative of the broadest possible swathe, and they do Israeli PR no favours either, due to reasons we’ve enumerated before and will further explore in the coming post.

In response to Michael Brull, we would first like to thank him for the amiable tenor of his comment, although we imagine he does not agree with many of our aims.

He writes, “Hi guys. As part of IAJV, I guess I’d be part of the spectrum of Jewish opinion you guys don’t like much. But you feel like “anti-Zionists” – whoever that includes – are “winning” the PR war or whatever. From my brief look at your blog, you seek to help reform Jewish organisations so that they are better able to appeal to the broader Australian public. I can make a few suggestions of areas which you might consider open to revision. For example, most of the leading Jewish organisations say they are anti-racist organisations. But the only racism they ever actually are vocal about is anti-Semitism.

We are not sure if this is strictly true. We recall Mark Leibler’s involvement in Aboriginal causes, as well as a number of intercommunal activities designed to combat racism, not just anti-Semitism. B’nei Brith has been involved in such events.

Your point, however, is well taken. It would be wonderful on three counts for Jewish communal groups to be more vocal on issues of racism beyond anti-Semitism: firstly, because racism is a scourge in any society and as members of the greater Australian society, the Jewish community has an obligation to contribute to any anti-racism efforts.

Secondly, in such constructive activities against racism, we create a conducive environment in which our community can flourish.

Thirdly, when we campaign on issues that are for the greater good, we begin to rebuild the image of our community which has suffered greatly. Instead of the perception that we are insular and paranoid, the general public could conclude that we are engaged in a society in which we have a stake.

Additionally, AIJAC’s Bren Carlill has repeatedly supported the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the 1948 war. And ECAJ (with affiliates like JBD) proudly supported Benny Morris’s speaking tour, untroubled by his anti-Arab and anti-Muslim public statements.

This accusation against Carlill is troubling. What evidence do you have to support it? Is it that Carlill simply claims that no Arabs were chased from their homes in 1948 – that they all left because of inducements from various Arab governments? This is a common argument from the Zionist right – and refuted by most scholars on the subject. But even if Carlill’s assertion is erroneous, it is not the same as advocating ethnic cleansing. Could you please clarify?

Benny Morris, on the other hand, certainly does justify ethnic cleansing. His political views shifted from left to right after the collapse of peace talks with the Palestinians. While many – including The Sensible Jew – find Morris’s views on ethnic cleansing unconscionable, we also acknowledge his immense contribution to academia and his position as a respected commentator in many quarters. It should not therefore be surprising that he has been invited by Australian Jewish bodies.

Whether our community wants to associate itself with some of the ideas propounded by Morris is a different question. Unfortunately, because our leadership is not representative and participation from the community is extremely limited, such invitations are never made with the assent of community members, and are far more likely to reflect the ideological proclivities of the leadership.

Any attendant damage done to the stature of Jews as anti-racists is thus visited on the ENTIRE community, even though the decision to invite a speaker such as Morris was made by only a few people.

Put aside our differences on Israel/Palestine. Do you think that these are issues which should be addressed?


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  2. Reader Response 8: Canada, Isi Leibler, and Advocacy
  3. Reader Response 6: Sha Shtil – Correcting a Misconception
  4. Reader Response 3: Media and Anti-Semitism
  5. An urgent request to Our Leadership for the Jewish reponse to anti-Indian violence

22 Responses to “Reader Response 7: Responding to our Non/Anti-Zionist Readers”

  1. Frochel says:

    In response to Michael Brull’s comment, quoted above, to the effect that Jewish groups are interested only in combating anti-Semitism, not other forms of racism:

    There are many Jews who are involved in organisations that oppose racism and write/speak against racism. Jewish Aid is really the only specifically Jewish organisation in Australia whose raison d’etre is to provide ‘Aid’ to non-Jews, but I don’t think that this is just because of parochialism. (Not that I am denying that there is parochialism in the Jewish community – the AJN and Maccabi are cases in point.) There just isn’t a good reason for a Jew who wants to oppose racism to do so through a Jewish organisation. In contrast, a Jew who is interested specifically in combating anti-Semitism is more likely to join a Jewish organisation. I should also note that it is sometimes difficult to oppose anti-Semitism through non-Jewish anti-racist groups because unfortunately some of those groups are full of anti-Semitic members.

    It is also interesting that Michael criticises the Jewish ‘roof-body’ organisations for failing to oppose racism other than anti-Semitism when, as far as I am aware, IAJV does nothing to oppose any racism other than that which it perceives as being directed against Palestinians by Jews. (There is a good argument that IAJV actually practices racism against Palestinians – the racism of low expectations, and utter disinterest in Palestinian welfare issues that do not stem from Israeli/Jewish policies/practices.)

    It is not my intention to write apologies for the Jewish ‘roof-body’ organisations but all organisations have particular foci.

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  2. Frochel says:

    Another thing, I don’t remember the Jewish community protesting against rap songs that talk about ’smacking my bitch up.’ By Michael Brill’s logic, I suppose that this means that the Jewish community organisations do not oppose the battery of women.

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  3. Michael Brull says:

    Hi guys. Thanks for your response. I did not know how extreme you are (from my perspective), so I am glad that you recognise that at least some Palestinians were expelled in the Nakba, and that you recognise the important scholarly contribution of Benny Morris.

    I’ll turn to the thing with Carlill. At this article here, , Carlill wrote “Yes, Jewish fighters were directly responsible for creating a significant minority of the Palestinian refugees, but this is perfectly understandable.” He goes on to explain why, in his dubious manner. The direct responsibility for the creation of some Palestinian refugees is his ultra euphemistic way of admitting expulsions. And he thinks that’s okay. I confronted him about this on Crikey.

    He replied by standing by this. He said that I was too comfortable in my suburban lifestyle, had to analyse it in “proper context”, and so on. I wrote a lengthy reply, in which I documented what I considered historical falsifications and so on, and said his position was racist.

    He responded by saying he would not engage with someone who accused him of racism.

    I don’t quite understand what you mean when you say that the support of Morris was not by democratic organisations. Surely, ECAJ and the local affiliate, NSW JBD are the most representative Jewish organisations there are.

    That aside, my point was not that Morris is not an important scholar worth hearing. I listened to him, and I also own a few of his books. My point is that he has said the Arab and Muslim world is “barbarian”, and on and on, in addition to his “if only Ben-Gurion expelled all the Arabs” – views which I heard him defend in person (though he was a little more equivocal in person). He was introduced by Vic Alhadeff of JBD, who spoke about JBD’s struggle against racism. Well, I think this is part of why IAJV exists – because apparently racism against Jews is worth denouncing and mobilising against with all the power our community has – but no one notices or cares if someone thinks Arabs shouldn’t be treated like human beings. And an obvious measure of this is that you probably haven’t heard of Carlill’s racism, because I’m the only person who seems to have noticed and tried to bring it to public attention. I don’t think this reflects on the entire community. What reflects poorly on the community, in my opinion, is the narrowness of its views on Palestine, and its general blindness to Israeli cruelty to the Palestinians. But I don’t think this is historically unprecedented or really particularly unique.

    Additionally, I would like to say that I don’t quite understand the point of your advocacy of democratically elected representative organisations. Surely, no organisation can have a spokesperson who will represent the entire community, for the simple reason that most people in the community do not hold the same opinions on everything. If you want them to express majority opinions, I imagine that’s what they do now. If you want them to lessen their mandate, so that for example they don’t speak on every single thing Israel does, they could probably become more representative. But why not then try to find space within the Jewish organisation for the community’s dissidents? It’s probably not so hard to maintain a virtual consensus on Zionism when the schools, media and organisation refuse a proper hearing to people who hold alternative views. If you think it’s the purpose of Jewish organisations to propagate the correct doctrines for everyone to have, maybe this seems right to you. If you think that Israel pursuing moral policies and so on is desirable, perhaps different people should be allowed to debate what this would entail.

    But then the Jewish organisations would be radically transformed.

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  4. The Goy Husband says:

    Dear Michael (we seem to be shedding all of our anonymity)

    I hope that I understand you correctly:

    1. You see others holding viewpoints significantly divergent of yours as extreme (a somewhat value laden approach may I suggest)
    2. Calling someone racist is a robust form of bullying – so you guys don’t agree, OK, then what if anything do you find common ground?
    3. Representative is not democratic. Some of the least representative forms of governing entities (some protestant Churches, welfare associations, political parties and trade unions) have all the forms and rituals of democratic leadership without any pretence of representation of diversity of opinion. A communal organisation can be very representative without any formula of stakeholder/member/affiliate electoral process
    4. Who (as a leading authority figure of the community) has said that Arabs (as wide a category as you get – from Her Excellency Marie Bashir Governor of NSW to my bootmaker) should not be treated as human beings?
    5. You accept that no leadership can ever fully reflect the diversity of opinion ( we agree!) then go on to demand or desire that organisations offer access to those that praise, propagate or promote dissenting views. I welcome the opportunity of speaking to the CFMEU on the evils of renewal plantation forestry, the ARM on the folly of their plebiscite policy and the Cancer Couoncil on the freedom to smoke. Forcing your way into the tent is not liberal discourse, it is trespass.

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  5. TheSadducee says:

    The problem I have with many of the dissenting voices is that they are not completely committed to a honest advocacy for both sides in the conflict.

    The IAJV advises that they are seeking a more open and honest debate of the issues yet they are clearly not doing this. The AFP at least are clear that they are pushing a biased narrative.

    This leads to the public having a malformed perspective of the conflict if they resort only to these sources (as they would if they resort only to Zionist sources)

    For example some questions I would like to hear a response on:

    How does the IAJV reconcile the fact that their own Statement of Principles recognises Israel as the Jewish state yet the leadership and/or governments of the Palestinian people absolutely refuse to do so?

    Noting the IAJV’s commendable position on the Shministim and Palestinian prisoners can anyone point out their public advocacy for Gilad Shalit? How about the AFP? What campaigns have they run to secure his release or even to get the Red Cross access to him?

    Can anyone point out the IAJV’s or AFP’s condemnations and campaigns, including BDS, against the Lebanese Government which are mistreating Palestinian refugees?

    Can someone point out the IAJV’s or AFP’s critical discussions concerning Hamas’ (and other factions) rocket attacks from Gaza and their calls/campaigns to end this?

    Can anyone point out the IAJV’s advocacy for Jewish refugees from Arab lands since 1948? What about other non-Jewish ethnic groups persecuted in the Middle East?

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  6. Michael Brull says:

    Several people have responded with criticisms of IAJV, and perhaps myself too. I will respond to just a bit now.

    Firstly, on the subject of IAJV. It is not a representative organisation, nor does it claim to be. It was formed for the purpose of allowing dissident voices some expression, having declared in its opening petition that the leading Jewish organisations did not allow these voices to be heard. It can only claim to speak on behalf of the members who sign whatever statements are circulated within it, and its mandate is limited to issues related to the Jewish lobbies, Zionism, Israel and Palestine. I’ve been given a blog on IAJV, but I don’t represent anyone, and probably disagree with many people in IAJV on a variety of issues.

    So, to respond from this to Frochel – what you’re saying is, in my opinion, frivolous. The Jewish organisations actually *say* their mandate is about fighting racism. If you think they shouldn’t do so, you can call on them to stop saying that they do. I gave the example of the head of JBD actually describing his anti-racism, whilst introducing a racist speaker (Benny Morris). IAJV does not have this mandate, and does not claim to speak on behalf of anyone. Of course, individual Jews can condemn, inside or outside IAJV, for example, anti-Muslim racism in Australia. But perhaps some Jews in the Jewish community think, as I do, that the Jewish organisations are right to say that they want to be anti-racist – they are wrong in not being so.

    To Sadducee: In a sense, you’re right and you’re wrong. I’ve never personally said I’m committed to honest advocacy for both sides (what do you mean by “sides”? The Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership? The Israeli people and Palestinian people? Do you realise that these are not monolithic groups?). I’m committed to honest advocacy, and the facts as I seem them are probably very different from how you see them. IAJV is committed to allowing dissenting voices expression. I don’t think holding a perspective means bias, unless you think moral judgements can’t be objective. You say this means a “malformed perspective”, if people only listen to one side. I hardly think anyone really takes this seriously. It’s fashionable in postmodernist circles to advocate this sort of thing, and Christians talk about “both sides” in evolution vs creationism. I don’t think very many people take this literally. Do you think a history course should show “both sides” about whether the Holocaust happened? Or is it more desirable that people evaluate what the evidence shows, and form appropriate opinions?

    That said, I think IAJV has tried to broaden discussion within the Jewish community. The IAJV website has an opinions and letters page. I’ve offered a right of reply to everyone I’ve criticised on my blog, and have written to some organisations and individuals offering a reply. I printed an article by Alhadeff during the Gaza crisis, which I critiqued. I printed Carlill’s response to my criticisms of him. There are comments sections, where I’ve argued with a few readers. I’ve offered to print as blog entries criticisms of myself, but no one as yet has accepted. So I do think it desirable within IAJV, as well as the mainstream organisations, that allowance is made for a plurality of voices.

    Here, I won’t get into my disagreements on Israel/Palestine, as these are broad issues. Whilst noting my disagreements on some issues, I’ll say in points of agreement, I don’t admire Hamas or Fatah, I don’t support BDS against Israel nor Lebanon (though, for example, I would not consume or support anything from West Bank settlements). I’m not in AFP.

    On moral principles, wherein I diverge from you guys, I will reprint what I posted in my blog. (below). I welcome debate on my blog. But IAJV exists because otherwise, with the exception of Antony Loewenstein, otherwise Jewish voices to the left of Phil Mendes would basically go unheard. Some of us regard that as undesirable. And so we use IAJV as a platform to express diverging views. The leading Jewish organisations have been vocal enough on the subject of (say) rockets from Gaza, or the tragedy of a captured Israeli soldier. Who has noticed thousands of Palestinians routinely tortured? Or the thousand “administrative detainees”, which are sort of like Israel’s Guantamo? Or it’s equivalent black sites, like Facility 1391? As far as I’m (and many others are) concerned, Israel is an apartheid state. Jewish organisations that defend support apartheid – in my name, as Jewish organisations – are disgraceful. That is why it is good IAJV exists.

    “I can find it quite understandable, indeed I find it honourable, if someone speaking and writing in America finds it important to stress much more the wrongs of the American government and its allies and clients, like Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia under Suharto, Chile under Pinochet… But if the same person was speaking or writing, say, in the Palestinian territories or in Arab newspapers, it would be far more effective and honourable if he were to criticize the Palestinian Authority or Arab regimes like Sadaam’s or Islamic regimes like Iran’s…. Edward Said showed exactly this honourable imbalance, criticizing Israel and the U.S. while speaking here and criticizing Arafat and the Palestinian Authority in the Arab press.

    It is said that whenever Sakharov criticized the Soviet Union’s treatment of dissidents in the ’50s, he was chastised by his government for showing an imbalance and not saying anything against the treatment of blacks in the American South. That is precisely the kind of imbalance that courageous people are going to be accused of by McCarthyite elements in this country, and I hope that all of us will have the courage to continue being imbalanced in just this way. It is in some ways the duty of the intellectual to be imbalanced in this way. That is another way of saying that it is the duty of the intellectual to be unpopular. They should not be discouraged by such unpopularity. They should see it as an indirect acknowledgement of their courage.”
    Akeel Bilgrami

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  7. gustavm says:

    How very disappointing [but then again perhaps not surprising] to see what I understand the anonymous academics who host this blog avoid the issue raised by me.

    It isn’t a matter of challenging the right of Israel to exist peacefully within its borders. That is a given. What is open to discussion – but seemingly not on this blog – is that where Israel acts in a way which ought to be criticised [nay, perhaps even condemned] what TSJ would seemingly suggest that nothing be said or that the entire Jewish community accept the response of one spokesperson if any response is to be made at all.

    Why does TSJ want to cede to IAJV any criticism of Israel, constructive or otherwise? Is it because the “authors” of TSJ know all too well that criticising Israel will bring with it an accusation of being a self-hating Jew, anti-semitic or anti-Zionist?

    Just look at today’s AJN – pathetic rag that it is! If one were to adopt the position of regular letter-writer Michael Burd – “interesting” that his correspondence is published almost weekly! – everything which is even remotely critical of Israel is to be condemned. He even condemns your “correspondent” Mark Fajgenblat for appearing and speaking at the play reading the other night together with “notorious virulent anti-Zionists”. What? – 2 QCs, 2 highly qualified University professors [one Jewish] and an Australian of Palestinian background who is a lawyer and author.

    Does the TSJ want to see such hysteria permeate discourse in the Jewish community? – and beyond? There are significant numbers of people who are NOT of the Burd ilk and crave a meaningful and civilised discussion of Israel -related issues a la JStreet in the USA.

    As I noted in my earlier message, tut-tutting around the Shabbath table about this or that won’t achieve anything. Taking a stand and being a true friend of Israel and criticising it when it is due does make for a true supporter and friend of the country. To be simply supine and accept the “running” of the IAJC [hello ECAJ where are you?] on all Israel-related matters is asking for trouble for all members of the Jewish community whatever the strength of their affiliation or support of Israel.

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  8. TheSadducee says:


    You raise an interesting point about ceding the criticism to the IAJV. Looking at Brull’s comment earlier I would also wonder why you don’t ask him why he is prepared to cede the criticism of the Palestinian/Arab problems/actions etc to the leading Jewish organisations?

    I suspect that for a lot of the folks who are criticising Israel it is much easier for them to criticise that than both sides – because they would be ignored or attacked by the other side if they were to question or criticise their narratives/actions.

    What then moral or intellectual credibility is exhibited by the IAJV who have deliberately removed themselves from the broader community and abandoned the fight within it and post their dissenting opinions – realising that the majority of the community will not read because it is censored?

    Far nobler, if one is going to draw a comparison to Sakharov to actually suffer like he did for the truth than sit in comfort and posture.

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  9. sensiblejew says:

    Bren, hello and welcome.
    Firstly, thank you for stating your position here. We welcome all political perspectives and only draw the line at ad hominem attacks.

    Indeed, it is galling to be accused of racism, and it is an all too easy way of attempting to delegitimise one’s interlocutor rather than actually attack the ideas he or she presents. We may not agree with your interpretations of historical events; however, we absolutely support your right to engage in historical debate without being attacked personally. Preventing unpalattable or unpopular ideas from being aired ensures that a debate becomes stale and ceases to exhibit the creativity necessary for any sort of productive discourse.

    We hope you will comment on other issues here and bring your perspective to some of the matters we and the readers have felt are important.

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  10. Bren Carlill says:

    Um, thanks for the welcome, but it appears my comment has disappeared… Do I need to re-post it?

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  11. Bren Carlill says:

    Brull’s assertion that I support ethnic cleansing appeared in two posts on this blog – one in a comment on another post, the other when you turned his original comment into (half) the basis of this post. I wanted to post my reply on both of those pages – hence the double post on your dashboard. Below is my reply in full:

    I have been informed that Michael Brull has yet again written about me. He certainly seems to have a bee in his bonnet when it comes to me! Did I insult his wife? Question his virility?

    He has repeatedly accused me of racism, an accusation I reject entirely and find defamatory. In fact, and although I only skimmed over the other comments, Frochel’s argument (that IAJV types that blame Israel for everything and treat Palestinians as automatons, incapable of making choices, but only reacting to Israeli actions, are guilty of what I call cultural imperialism and what Frochel calls racism) has some truth to it.

    For the record, I do not support or justify ethnic cleansing. I don’t believe Israel’s actions in the War of Independence constituted ethnic cleaning. Israeli fighters expelled some Palestinians from their villages. Some of these actions were a result of those villages taking part in the war – by feeding, sheltering and providing combatants. Some of these actions were a result of a decision to remove these villages because of war aims. In total, the Palestinians expelled from their villages by Israel constituted a substantial minority of the total Palestinian refugee population after the war. I do not believe these actions constitute ethnic cleansing for a number of overlapping reasons.

    There was no deliberate policy to remove Arabs from Mandatory Palestine in order to establish a Jewish-only country. Read all the documents of the mainstream Zionist groups leading up to the war and you’ll see (unless you have a case of wilful blindness) that the Zionist establishment accepted that a significant minority of the Jewish state’s population would be Arab.

    The much brought up ‘Plan Dalet’ was a panicked reaction to the impending invasion of the new state by the surrounding Arab countries. The plan’s author realised that without continuity between the main Jewish population centres, the new state would be defeated (through a mix of invasion by foreign armies on one hand, and guerrilla warfare and terrorism by local irregulars, supported by Arab villages, on the other). As such, commanders were given orders to consolidate the Jewish defensive lines. If Arab forces in these areas resisted, the commanders were permitted to destroy the relevant villages (since the villages were vital to the Arab fighters’ efforts). There was no general plan to destroy all villages – it was left to the commanders’ discretion as to what constituted military necessity. Consider that, after the war, most of the Arab-populated areas that had come under Jewish control still had Arabs living there. That is – some Arabs had left; some Arabs were pushed out; some Arabs stayed. If there had been a Zionist ethnic cleansing plan, Israel would not have had any Arabs in it. Compare that to EVERY area that came under Arab control – the Jews were either slaughtered or expelled. And while it’s true the Arab side did not gain nearly as much land as it had hoped (it had hoped to gain all the land), the fact remains that all Jews were expelled from all the areas that came under Arab control. This post-war reality conforms to the statements made by both sides vis-a-vis their plans for the other in the lead up to the war. The statements by the leaders of one side – the Arab side – were clearly genocidal in nature. The statements by the leaders of the other side – the Jewish side – were not.
    I believe Plan Dalet was a strategic necessity in order to prevent military defeat and the belief – completely justified, in my view – that a military defeat of the Jews would have resulted in a massacre of all or most of the Jewish population.

    Given the reality of the situation, I believe the Jewish side had a choice; they could go like lambs to the slaughter, or they could fight. Frankly, I don’t believe that in late ‘47 to early ‘48, when Plan Dalet was conceived and carried out, that the Zionists had any other option. The Zionists chose to fight. They won. And while that’s really sad for the innocent Arab victims of the conflict, the blame for their fate lies not with the Zionist establishment, but with the Arab leaders who spoke, planned and acted in their names – speeches, plans and actions that made it clear to the Jews that, should the Jews not fight and win, they would be killed.

    People are obviously free to disagree with my interpretation of history – they can say my interpretation of history is wrong. But it remains my interpretation. Meaning, I believe the deliberate expulsion of some civilians by Jewish forces was deemed a military necessity and was not an attempt to create an ethnically ‘pure’ (to use a racist term) Jewish state. Since ethnic cleansing is perceived by pretty much everyone as an attempt to remove an ethnic group from an area for racist reasons (and people who might argue about ethnic cleansing on one hand in dry legal terms tend to also use the term as an emotive weapon in other fora), and since I believe this was not the intention of the Jewish forces, to argue that I am racist for supporting and/or justifying the policies of the Zionist establishment vis-a-vis the War of Independence is, well, bollocks.

    Finally, since Brull has now acknowledged that he’s the only person to write that I’m racist, I would suggest that he realise that he is either wrong about my alleged racism, or possesses a conspiracy theorist mentality, leading him to believe that he alone has access to the truth, and is up against a powerful cabal determined to stop him.

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  12. The Goy Husband says:

    Dear TSJ,

    Firstly well done on posting Bren Carlill’s response.

    Defamation is a potent problem for blogs – have you considered deleting elements of Michael Brull’s contribution on the grounds of potential cyber defamation? What is the legal status? Please confirm for the safety and benefit of all contributors.

    Could you please see if you can rearrange the way the site works: having to scroll down to obtain the most recent posting is a disincentive. Most recent postings at the top would give the site a better look and aid participation.

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  13. Michael Brull says:

    Dear SJ,

    As you have not supplied an email, you can only be contacted via the comments board, which is why my comments (including this one) are posted publically. I would have preferred this as private communication, but am not fussed if it is available for public viewing.

    I told you that Bren Carlill “has repeatedly supported the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the 1948 war”.

    In response to his post here, you have written: “Indeed, it is galling to be accused of racism, and it is an all too easy way of attempting to delegitimise one’s interlocutor rather than actually attack the ideas he or she presents. We may not agree with your interpretations of historical events; however, we absolutely support your right to engage in historical debate without being attacked personally.”

    You have also written that my “interpretation [of Carlill's views] may have omitted certain subtleties in Bren’s argument, but it certainly was not outside the realms of reasonable discourse.”

    Okay, so let’s turn to undisputed facts:
    1)Bren says “Israeli fighters expelled some Palestinians from their villages”.
    2) Bren thinks this is okay for a variety of reasons.

    Do you agree with him? Do you consider this a legitimate perspective? Do you think supporting the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes is racist? You’ve written that I might have omitted the “subtleties” of Carlill’s argument. What do you think these subtleties are? Do you think it’s not ethnic cleansing if “only” 80% of the Arabs living in Palestine were expelled from their homes, which were subsequently razed, and laws passed to prevent their return? Do you think a combatant being fed by people from a village is a just reason to expel a community from their homes? Do you think it is just to expel the Palestinian population from Palestine because of the pronunciations of foreign dictatorships over which they had no control?

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  14. Bren Carlill says:

    I, for one, don’t believe the accents of foreign dictatorships (I think he means dictators) is any reason to do anything.

    Given the Sensible Jew apparently doesn’t believe one calling another racist is an ad hominem attack, my conclusion that people might take Michael Brull a little more seriously if he focuses more on correct English and less at frothing at the mouth will certainly pass muster.

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  15. TheSadducee says:


    I must dissent a little from your response to Brull and call for open discussion on this topic.

    I understand that we don’t want to get bogged down in the fine details generally but I think this could lead to an important discussion on perspectives and is actually an important issue.

    It does pertain to the Australian Jewish community in so far as Brull is raising concerns regarding Carlill’s views and Carlill appears to be involved in AIJAC which presents positions on and towards Australian Jews.

    I’m very interested in reading your response if you’ll indulge me and other readers and you can always kill the thread if it degenerates.

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  16. sensiblejew says:

    Once again, Frochel, it’s a case of, “why didn’t we think of that?” Expertly argued. Also please check your email.

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  17. sensiblejew says:

    Sadducee, Michael, and Gustav, a very interesting debate is emerging in this thread, and some really good questions are being asked. While we’ll be unable to respond in a post tonight, we will certainly write about it within the next few days. We want to thank the three of you for your input. Clearly, we share similar political inclinations to the Sadducee; however, many of the questions that Gustav and Michael have asked are valuable examinations of the Zionist response from Australian Jewry.

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  18. sensiblejew says:

    Sadducee, as always, you raise some really interesting points!

    We know we promised to post about the non/anti-Zionist issue in the new week, but we’re holding off to see what emerges from both the Maccabi incident and whether our leaders will do the right thing re: the Indian students.

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  19. sensiblejew says:

    Hi Bren. That’s a bummer! Your post appeared in the blog’s dashboard as a double post, so I deleted one of them. Do you still have a copy that you can repost? If not, let us know, and we’ll try to find a fix. Sorry about that.

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  20. sensiblejew says:

    GH, we are not lawyers; however, taking the “reasonable man” litmus test here, we cannot imagine that Michael’s comment constitutes defamation. His was an interpretation in good faith of Bren’s position. That interpretation may have omitted certain subtleties in Bren’s argument, but it certainly was not outside the realms of reasonable discourse. And we do not delete comments simply because we do not like the argument.

    As for the site’s appearance, are you referring to the comments section? The posts themselves are already ordered from latest to earliest. We believe for the moment that comments should appear in chronological order to provide new readers with an easy way to catch up on discussions.

    The rest of the site, however, is quite unwieldy. We’ll be making some cosmetic changes as soon as we get a chance.

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  21. sensiblejew says:

    Hi Michael.

    Firstly, our email is available publicly. But for what it’s worth, it’s

    Secondly, we have requested previously that the minutiae of the Israel/Palestine conflict not be discussed in this forum unless there is a direct connection to the Australian Jewish community. There are simply not enough hours in the day to cover it all and we need to maintain a focus for this blog.

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  22. sensiblejew says:

    Hi Sadducee. This is one of the few issues we disagree on. We have two reasons for avoiding discussing Israel beyond its link to the Australian Jewish community:

    1) There are hundreds of thousands of fora online and elsewhere in which Israel/Palestine can be discussed. There is only one (that we know of) that exists for Australian Jews. Israel/Palestine is a topic deep, broad, and emotive enough to obscure all other discussion.

    2) There is a limit to what the SJ writer can produce in a day and still hold down a job and family life. Bringing Israel/Palestine into the mix is both unnecessary (because there are so many other places to discuss the issue), and would compromise her ability to examine the myriad other topics concerning Australian Jewry.

    Of course, if AIJAC embarks on a course of action we believe is ill-considered, or could be detrimental to Australian Jews, we will not hesitate to criticise it, just as we will not hesitate to criticise Israel commentators such as Antony Loewenstein who engage in rhetoric without being too bothered by facts or the internal logic of their arguments. These people are Australian and are commenting in Australia. They therefore fall into the framework of this blog. Broad arguments over Israel/Palestine do not.

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