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Media release from Age 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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I rather disagree with Roberta, the JCCV should have done more it should have filed notice under the racial vilification Act, and it should now follow on the lack of fitting apology by both the Age and Backman and take appropriate action, the ADC whose former president is now president of the JCCV should be very well equipped to take action, but both originations are limp in their response

Posted by y on 2009-01-25 23:40:36 GMT

I hope that other Jewish groups, everywhere, follow the example of the JCCV. It has been too easy (and safe) to smear Israel and Jews. We must fight back! Of course if any criticism, at all, is directed at Islamic terrorists, "off with their heads "- literally. So intimidation silences what should be said, and easy civilized targets get hit. I"m so glad that the JCCV decided to fight back!

Posted by Roberta on 2009-01-25 21:35:26 GMT

I would love to comment, but in this community in which freedom of speech is up held, I cannot find the article - this by itself should be viewed as a cause for concern.

Posted on 2009-01-25 02:57:50 GMT

The apology is just not good enough, this is not an isolated case, its one where they were caught out, they only apologised because they new they crossed the line and could come in for a slap on the wrist from the Press Council or even a judge, if the Jewish community decides to press charges, which it should, this is not 1930 Germany, this point should be made loud and clear or it will only get worse what the use of having all these lawyers as leaders if all they do is look for photo ops,

Posted by yk on 2009-01-20 04:28:40 GMT

Next time someone in Melbourne asks me why I moved to Israel 14 yrs ago, maybe I should forward this article on to them. Naomi Schwartz (Tel-Aviv)

Posted on 2009-01-19 19:06:02 GMT

The Age paper is not known for truthful reporting but to allow the publication of such a base article which would do credit to Dr Goebbels, is totally incredible. This man is an undisguised racist & the paper has hit an all time low. As a proud Australian Jew & Medical practitioner who has served in the Australian Army I am deeply offended. Having extended my services to many underprivileged countries & trained Arab doctors as well as having seen the horrific injuries from Hamas homicide bombers I am deeply disturbed at the way we of the Jewish faith have been attacked. I feel that The Age paper owes me & my coreligionists an unreserved apology which should not only be by way of a reply , but publically in print. As a shareholder of Fairfax I am ashamed that I have supported this paper.

Posted by Dr B Cohney on 2009-01-19 11:56:45 GMT

Michael Backman and The Age editor should be charged with racial vilification. One has written, the other published an anti-semitic article. The JCCV must pursue this course as no-one has the right to utter or print such hatred. "Israelis are living high on US expense account"is an example of LCD journalism; dumbed down rubbish.

Posted by Carol - Ballarat on 2009-01-19 11:04:12 GMT

Like a drunken Mel Gibson, with this outburst Backman and the Age have foolishly exposed themselves as vile bigots and apologists for the terrorist psychopaths

Posted by Jake of Brisbane on 2009-01-19 10:47:26 GMT

Cancelling subscriptions won"t even register a blip on their radar. It is a largely pointless exercise - and I"d be surprised if many Jewish people still have a subscription to that awful rag. What is required, is the cancellation of advertising. That is what hurts them. Real estate advertising. Classifieds. Retail advertising. Even a shift of merely 10% of Jewish source advertising from Fairfax to News Ltd (Herald Sun and The Australia) would result in disaster for Fairfax. Discuss this with your friends, and your competitors. This is a democracy and Fairfax have every right to print whatever they choose. That does not however mean Jews need to subsidise it. The Jews are going to be accused of manipulating the media, regardless of what you do. My advice - If you"re going to be accused of it, you might as well get your money"s worth!

Posted by Daniel on 2009-01-19 10:04:15 GMT

The Backman Age article is so disgaceful that every avenue should be explored to have the paper and writer if you can call him that,censured by what ever means are legally available. In addition they should be forced to donate a substantial sum ( each of them individually ) to a Jewish charity.

Posted by cb on 2009-01-19 07:39:52 GMT

Good on you. As a practising Catholic, I am APPALLED at the disgraceful article in the Age. I stand with you in condemning it. Whoever was responsible should face the full force of the law.

Posted by Kieran on 2009-01-19 07:38:11 GMT

To protest the bias position of THE AGE we have to stop subscription and bying THE AGE.

Posted by Leonid on 2009-01-19 05:59:48 GMT

I doubt whether taking it to HREOC would do any good. I"d like to see a direct prosecution under the racial villification laws. I"d like a precedednt to be developed which distinguishes between blaming a government and blaming a whole nation, the latter being considered a hate crime.

Posted by Ralph Zwier on 2009-01-19 05:14:05 GMT

The Jew-hatred in Backman"s article just pours forth. On top of that -his knowledge and "linkages" are so one- sided no reputable publisher would have given them space. Baseless assertions presented as facts, are offensive to any informed person. You don"t need to be Jewish to know that the Moslem World is on fire because of its insistence on 7th century claims of superiority over all non-Moslems. Over the centuries thousands of hands, tongues, heads have rolled and their tribal warfares continue to this day. It is not Israel that causes this culture and now aggression with modern weapons. But of course, foolish Backman and his publisher neither know history not current events, or none of this pap would have appeared. I applaud the Victorian Jewish Council for strongly objecting to "The Age" for publishing such trash. This article tells you what you can expect in the future- so alert its advertisers that you will not buy their products if they advertise there.

Posted by Roberta on 2009-01-19 04:01:55 GMT

Backman is free to write and express himself whichever way he chooses. The Age however, by choosing to print his article, has declared itself as a mouthpiece for antisemitism.What was once a well respected newspaper has fallen onto the dunghill of irresponsible incorrect and malicious propaganda machine of the antisemites.

Posted by danny on 2009-01-19 03:05:53 GMT

I am absolutely stunned! I am also absolutely outraged. This type of journalism is reminiscent of  Julius Streicher"s "Der Sturmer". This piece of diatribe contains a vast array of old anti-Semitic favourites: "Jews are to blame, Jews are rude, Jews are don"t fit in, Jews killed Christ, Jews don"t trust non-Jews - especially to teach their children (which is interesting given that there are no more than probably a dozen Jewish Schools in Victoria where as there are a couple of thousand Catholic Schools - so just who doesn"t trust who??? & I went to Catholic Schools!). This same type of rhetoric fuelled the fires that led to Tsarist Pogroms, the Shoah, and countless other miseries for the Jewish people. And just what was the rubbish about trekking in Nepal all about??? What was the stuff about Bendigo bombing Melbourne??? Outrageous!!! Insane!!! Holidaying in Melbourne is also a popular holiday destination for Israelis. In fact I spoke to a couple at Glicks in Flinders Lane this morning and they were far from rude. If anyone is rude, crude, and most unattractive it is Michael Backman, the author of this poisoned article. I am only too proud to lend my name to the fight against anti-Semitism.

Posted by Bruce T Colcott OAM on 2009-01-19 03:04:39 GMT

I am truly appalled that the Age should have seen fit to publish a letter which is emotive trash. It is factually incorrect, demonstrates total ignorance about Israel and the Palestinians, and the aims of Islam. Most offensively he caricatures Jews in terms of all the old, moth-eaten stereotypes, such as "Jews are tight-wadded, Jews are exploiters, and Jews are Christ killers". Backman"s letter is not only hate-filled, but incites others to emulate him.

Posted by Fifi on 2009-01-19 00:01:46 GMT

SENT TO THE AGE The Editor The Age newspaper Sir, Your collaboration in publishing Backman"s disgusting piece is reprehensible. You are a blot on the face of journalistic integrity and deserve the massive opprobrium you will receive over this matter. Backman is a man of limited ability, a simpleton with no morality or ethical sense, so may be partly forgiven, but you, a newspaper that purports to educate and report to the people of Victoria, you are a blight on journalism. If you knew the harm you did to Jewish people and many others in Australian society, you wouldn"t sleep so well at night....well, maybe you would as I think you are so consumed by hate that the truth is of no concern to you and you relish the suffering you bring to people, particularly Jews and Israelis. OK, we"ll start wearing yellow arm bands now - I"m sure that"s what "the age" would like.

Posted by BNJ Walters, Perth on 2009-01-18 23:05:44 GMT

I am speechless. All I can say is that one day this person is going to meet with his maker.

Posted on 2009-01-18 22:08:07 GMT

Backman"s grubby article should have been responded to by organizations such as the Council for Christians and Jews. As usual this group is silent.As are the churches.

Posted by ron on 2009-01-18 21:42:31 GMT

I read Michael Blackman"s piece in the Age on Friday, I was outraged, it was pure vile anti-Semitism, but then I understood how this could occur in 2009 Australia. When the Jewish community, for political expediency, not for lack of merit, abandons one of its own having been subjected to anti-Semitic attacks. Abandoned by these same leaders now bemoaning the latest attack, by a business columnist no less and the Age publishes it without a blink, these leaders have by their failure to act, made Jewish blood cheap.

Posted by yk on 2009-01-18 21:42:28 GMT

I am personally offended by the rubbish printed in the Age and request that the JCC institute legal action against the newspaper and against the author, whose name I cannot utter as it sticks in my craw. The paper is a disgrace, and the antithesis of responsible journalism. I have been hurt personally by the vilification meted out to my people in this trash filled "newspaper". The Jewish community should cease any support of any kind for the Age, namely advertising, purchasing copies, any business dealings etc until an apology is received.

Posted by Dr BNJ Walters on 2009-01-18 14:27:05 GMT

The Jewish community supported the introduction of a religious vilification law in Victoria - the rationale being that it would serve to inhibit antisemitism. It surely follows that the community should now lodge a religious vilification complaint against the Age. If this isn"t religious vilification, then what is? And if the community won"t avail itself of this law, then what point is there in continuing to support it?

Posted by Nathan on 2009-01-18 14:07:41 GMT

It should come as no surprise to us that a bunch of people with antisemitic ideas seem to control al-Age. For my part I shall continue to boycott that rag.

Posted by Wazza on 2009-01-18 13:28:28 GMT