At an Australian Union of Students conference some decades ago, Ali Kazak, claiming to represent Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organisation, was standing behind a table piled with leaflets and booklets.
He started giving a presentation on the PLO, in which he made terrorists and hate mongers sound like Jedi warriors, when I asked if he would share with us the PLO Covenant and writings of its leaders.
Kazak said he didn’t have such material, but I had copies of PLO documents with me and, being helpful, showed them to him and the small crowd standing around the table.
He became visibly frustrated, first denying their veracity, then accepting their legitimacy but claiming that the material should not be given more weight than his talking points.
More recently, I was being interviewed by two university students researching Holocaust denial and other anti-Jewish propaganda.
To my surprise, they inquired whether I was concerned that discredited British writer David Irving was shortly to commence a speaking tour in Australia.
I asked where that information came from, and was directed by them to an (undated) page on the internet, which, from its content, most likely was produced in the 1990s.
The students were not malicious nor stupid. But they had been misled after accessing material which was not only out of context but simply inaccurate.
Both these incidents came to mind when I read some articles, in which Kazak is credited as either author or source, in early November, which attempt to portray all and any supporters of a stable and mutually beneficial relationship between Israel and Australia as part of a pernicious lobby.
To make his argument, Kazak provided a compilation of quotations, some of which refer to me.
The most prominent was an extract from an article from (the now defunct) Bulletin, in which I had been quoted as saying that support for the Israeli-Australian relationship did not just come from Jewish Australians. After my comments, and outside quotation marks, the journalist made reference to “the vast financial resources” of some in the Jewish community.
Kazak did not mention my comments but attributed the words of the journalist to me. This was not only misleading but, given that I never said nor would have said what he put in my mouth, offensive.
He then cited a letter published in the Australian Jewish News, which had been written as an attack on the integrity of Jewish community spokespeople (including me) after we had directly confronted racism in Australia in a manner with which the writer disagreed.
Kazak does not mention the full and unambiguous apology, printed in the next issue of that newspaper, for publishing that letter, which was inaccurate and defamatory.
A third reference is to an article by a writer for the Sydney Morning Herald, in which I was credited with having enormous influence over parliamentary proceedings relating to an unsuccessful attempt to abandon the bipartisan approach to Israeli-Palestinian political negotiations.
Kazak does not mention that, in a later issue of the same paper, it was recorded that for that article to have been accurate, I would have needed to be in Sydney and Canberra simultaneously, (ie. a time traveller) have knowledge of a process which only was formulated in the future (ie., I would need to be a mind-reader) and would have behaved in a way unlike I had ever behaved, either before or after the incident (ie. have political schizophrenia).
Now, anyone aware of the falsehoods relating to my behaviour should have serious concerns about the credibility of Mr. Kazak’s analyses of the issue he addressed in this and similar articles.
But I do not assume that all readers would be aware of any or all of the necessary context and other information I have provided. However, I do hope that, in any future research on the subject, this article will assist those who want to distinguish truth from propaganda.