reblog: overland and the israel/palestine question – some recent correspondence
Dear members of Overland Editorial Board,
We are writing to express our grave concern about your journal’s unbalanced coverage of Israeli-Palestinian issues in recent years. We all strongly respect Overland’s tradition of providing a forum for free and open discussion of democratic and progressive ideas. But the recent biased and prejudiced coverage of Middle East affairs has the potential to bring Overland into serious disrepute.
We can all agree that the Australian Left has no consensus on this issue. Nevertheless, it is fair to say that a wide majority on the Left today support a two-state solution which encapsulates recognition of both Israeli and Palestinian national rights. It is also fair to say that those fundamentalists who advocate the elimination of Israel and its replacement by an Arab State of Greater Palestine represent a small, if sometimes vocal, minority.
Yet it is precisely these marginal views, which demonize Israel and infantilize the Palestinians, that seem to have captured Overland’s agenda in recent years. We note, for example, the three recent articles that appeared in issues 187 by Ned Curthoys, 193 by Antony Loewenstein, and 198 by Michael Brull.
What is common in all three of these articles is the collective essentialising of all Israeli Jews and all Jewish supporters of Israel’s existence, whether supporters of the Israeli peace movement or supporters of a Greater Israel, as inherently evil oppressors. Equally there appears to be a concern to promote miniscule groups such as the Committee to Dismantle Zionism and the Independent Australian Jewish Voices group as in some way representing a significant Jewish dissenting voice. This is a complete nonsense. In fact, they represent a tiny minority even within the wider Jewish Left, and their simplistic viewpoints are overwhelmingly rejected by progressive Jews. Highlighting their views means implicitly excluding the perspectives of 99 per cent of Australian Jews from your journal.
(Professor after Professor)
Let us begin with the obvious point that accusing an overtly political journal of ‘bias’ makes no sense whatsoever. When Overland launched in 1954, it proclaimed its ‘bias’ (literally) with a famous phrase borrowed from Joseph Furphy. That slogan was meant to signal that the journal gave a voice to the Left, just as Overland does today.
But we suspect that by employing words like ‘bias’, ‘prejudic[e]’, ‘demonise’, Mendes and co. intend to imply something rather darker – that the Overlandeditorial team is anti-Semitic. If that is what they mean, they should come out and say so. For the record, any allegation that Overland publishes, accepts or otherwise endorses anti-Semitism or any other form of racial discrimination is utterly scurrilous, and we reject it entirely.
More generally, in an increasingly homogenised mainstream media, emerging voices that don’t parrot Murdoch talking-points often struggle to be heard. We believe that by providing a platform for ‘marginal’ writers – even if those writers occasionally scandalise a conservative or two – Overland performs an important function. That is the policy the journal has followed since 1954. It is one we will continue to uphold.
(OL Editorial Board)
Fascinating developments I think — on several levels.
Filed under: Australia, Israel/Palestine, media, Scholarship and insights | 1 Comment