In the past few weeks, Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd media have attacked Jewish-Australian journalist and author Antony Loewenstein over a March 30 article he wrote for the independent online news service New Matilda.
The story examined to what degree the NSW Greens’ stance on Israel cost them lower house seats in the recent state election.
In an April 4 article published by New Matilda, Loewenstein responded to News Ltd’s attacks, saying: “The loud response [the March 30 article] attracted from the corporate media was marked by misrepresentations and outright falsehoods.
“My story has been quoted extensively in Murdoch outlets across the country, usually without attribution. The context about which I was writing has been deliberately skewed.”
Loewenstein told the Monash University newspaper Lot’s Wife: “The Greens in NSW have pushed a policy of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
“There was controversy over it during the election, of course, some supported it, some opposed it ... organisations, generally speaking, won’t go on the attack day after day if they don’t feel threatened, [so the attacks on BDS are] coming from a position of weakness, not a position of strength.”
Loewenstein said the Murdoch press is attacking the Greens as a way to counter the growing support for BDS.
“The perception I think often is, well they are just sort of hammering the Greens because isn’t that fun. Well yeah, they enjoy doing that. It’s more than that, particularly when it comes to the Israel question.
“It is saying that overseas BDS is taking off. It’s taking off across the globe. More and more people support it because of Israel’s human rights abuses.”
He said the Murdoch press wanted “to nip in the bud … anyone who might stand up for the Palestinians, whether it’s me or … the Greens.”
Writing on his website, Loewenstein said on April 7: “Murdoch’s Australian newspaper wants to create an image of rampant anti-Israel sentiment everywhere because growing numbers of people are recognising the deep racism within Israeli society.
“The paper has been running a daily campaign for a while now claiming the Australian Greens are really the new Communists, secretly bringing Arab propaganda into the mainstream; the kind of message accepted by millions of Australians (who vote for the Greens). It’s like the crazy old soldier uncle banging on about the mad Japanese ... back in 1944.”
Loewenstein provided some examples of how The Australian pushes this agenda.
He quoted an article titled “Greens senators caught out over Israel”, which appeared in the April 7 Australian. It said: “Two Greens senators have publicly supported calls for Australian sanctions against Israel over the Middle East conflict, putting them at odds with party policy and their leader Bob Brown ...
“The stance by the two senators conflicts with Senator Brown’s assurance last week that his federal party was not anti-Israel and did not support the NSW branch of the party advocating sanctions against Israel.”
Loewenstein also referred to The Australian’s April 7 editorial titled “Lots for Left to learn on Israel”, which said: “The Greens’ anti-Israel posturing is wrong and dangerous. Anti-Americanism was a fundamental tenet of the Left in Australia and around the world during the Cold War and some of it continues to this day, often expressed through the proxy of antipathy towards Israel.
“This is the only plausible way to explain the foolish and dangerous anti-Israel posturing of the Greens, exposed in our pages again today.”
In response to these articles, Loewenstein wrote: “This daily campaign against the Greens and its rational and sensible policy on the Middle East isn’t because Murdoch and his merry mates are feeling confident about Israel.
“It’s because they see world debate is shifting and less people buy the line that the Zionist state is a ‘democracy’ — colonisation of land makes you anti-democratic by definition — and they want to make sure nobody speaks out of line here in Australia.”
[Timothy Lawson is the editor of Lot’s Wife and also works as a freelance journalist.]