Troubling Times

Luke Foley.

NEW South Wales Opposition Leader Luke Foley has disassociated himself from articles in the Australasian Muslim Times (AMUST) that veer into anti-Semitic territory after an advertisement he placed wishing the Muslim community Eid Mubarak appeared in the same edition.

One story – headlined “The Gaza Massacre” in a red, dripping-blood font – maintains that “over 60 unarmed demonstrators were killed” at the Gaza fence on May 14, ignoring Hamas’s own admission that 50 were its fighters and that protesters were being urged to infiltrate the border to kill and kidnap Israelis.

Directly under it, columnist Daud Batchelor opines about “the extent Zionists influence [Australian foreign] policies, even where Australian forces are posted”, also citing the supposed influence of the Lowy Institute for International Policy on Canberra, adding that “Frank Lowy is Israel’s major supporter”. It is ­illustrated with an Australian flag with Magen Davids as its stars.

Both are examples of contemporary anti-Semitism, according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), the former an example of the “blood libel”, the latter a conspiracy theory of Jews controlling the government or other institutions.

A third article, “From Shoah to Nakba”, asks, “How could those from the European catastrophe now reflect the actions of the Reich upon those [the Palestinians] wishing no harm?” accompanied by a photo of Jews going to Auschwitz and one of Palestinian refugees leaving the Galilee.

A spokesperson for Foley told The AJN his advertisements were booked several weeks before the editorial was composed. “He disassociates himself with those articles and the views contained therein,” the spokesperson said.

“His office will in future ask to be informed of any controversial articles so that his office can review the relationship. Mr Foley is a longstanding friend of the Jewish community … He would not wish to associate himself with articles that attack a community.”

Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Anton Block labelled the articles “sinister”.

“AMUST’s columns chant almost the entire creed of contemporary anti-Semitism,” he said, noting the many examples in the IHRA definition, including “making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations in the form of the myth of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions; accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations; denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour; and drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”.

“The errors and mindless bigotry are too systematic to be excused as an editorial oversight. The entire edition is a disgrace. Muslim communities in Australia are surely entitled to a journal that does better than merely pander to base prejudices,” he said.

“One hopes that this is not the image of their communities that Muslims want to convey to other Australians.”

AMUST editor-in-chief Zia Ahmad said the publication “prides itself on actively promoting multiculturalism and values not only the rich cultural, ethnic and religious diversity of this great country, but also the values of tolerance and compassion upon which social harmony has been built”.

“We take your concerns seriously and have initiated an internal review of our editorial procedures. We shall then act upon the recommendations of that review,” he told The AJN, while also inviting AJN readers to attend the Multicultural Eid Festival and Fair in Fairfield on July 8.

GARETH NARUNSKY