The text looked familiar. It wasn’t just the content – a common anti-Jewish slur – it was the wording.
Sure enough, the letter, published in a metropolitan tabloid, was plagiarised, word for word, from an item in a newsletter of the Australian League of Rights, at the time this country’s most notorious antisemitic organisation.
While the editor had apparently had no problem in publishing the anti-Jewish slur, he had no tolerance for the deceit of a plagiarist. The letter writer had featured often over the years, but from that time on was under a life ban.
The publication of an unaltered extract from an unambiguously racist source had another impact. It transpired that the plagiarist was also an active member of the Australian Labor Party, who had drafted resolutions attacking Israel, amongst other subjects.
In the days before online searches and text recognition software, the writer had been a little unfortunate in that I read both that particular newspaper and extremist publications, recognised the text and took action.
Through his laziness and arrogance in not bothering to reframe an anti-Jewish text, he outed himself and put an end to his own career as a Labor activist.
In a recent similar matter, another sometime Labor Party activist was hoist on his own polemical petard.
Trevor Poulton, a little known author and lawyer who had earned praise from Fredrick Toben (Australia’s best-known Holocaust denier, notable for serving time in German and Australian jails for his writings on Jews), publicly touted his support for an effort to have a Jewish member of parliament thrown out of office.
Although he had no legal standing in the matter, his public stand resulted in the spotlight being directed to his previous writings regarding Jewish Australians, and his “issues” regarding this author (and the “Jewish Lobby” which I apparently lead), the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council and Jewish Australians who have the apparent insolence to promote legal recourse for victims of racism.
Now, thanks to the prompt and principled stance of Josh Burns MP, he is now facing the end of his Labor career.
In both cases above, the charges levelled against Jews were not that Jewish people are inferior, or merely different, but that Jews are, in effect, existential enemies of all which is good and moral.
It is not uncommon to find, even in contemporary Australia, individuals and organisations (such as the Australian League of Rights and the Adelaide Institute) for whom Jews have an almost supernatural ability to conspire, confuse, extort and mislead, always to the detriment to the public good.
Possibly the most absurd and ludicrous conspiracy accusation is that which alleges Jews concocted what is now the commonly received history of the Nazi genocide, with the aim of extorting guilt, sympathy, money and political advantage from the rest of humanity.
Even if the Shoah and the Nazi period in general was not the most intensely researched, studied and analysed historic occurrence of all time, it would need a conspiracy of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, to sustain such a “myth” – unless of course it is fact, which requires no conspiracy.
It is true that, from time to time, cranks and ignoramuses will submit that they simply cannot commit themselves to accept that six million or more Jewish people – all with names and individual personalities – had their lives extinguished due to Nazi policy.
Fortunately, and due to a great deal of hard work by many people over an extended period of time, such individuals are today generally treated with the contempt they deserve – the most notorious recent example being south Florida High School principal William Latson, who was “removed” when his views questioning the Holocaust became public.
Holocaust denial is not the only pernicious rewriting of history which is employed to try to depict Jews as existential enemies of humanity.
However, in a time when conspiracy theories in general appear to be attracting new and enthusiastic believers, it is important that it is confronted whenever and wherever it arises.