Monday, July 4, 2011

What's with the AJN?

Attacking Torah values and upsetting observant Jews has been part and parcel of their modus operandi for a far as anyone can remember. But treating Australian Jewry's leading parliamentary warrior Michael Danby so shabbily is a disgrace and a scandal.

Isn't this the newspaper which purports to be the voice of the Australian Jewish community? (Except, of course, for those Untermenschen who go under the labels of Chareidim, 'frum', observant, ultra-orthodox etc etc).

Danby, by far the strongest supporter of Israel and the loudest voice we have in Canberra is treated with less respect that spokesmen' for groups of nonentities that no one had heard of or give a rats about.

Who is behind this? Zeddy Lawrence the most recent temp to swing through the AJN editorial revolving door, or his paymaster Robert Magid?

And where are the leaders of the Jewish community? Why don't we hear the voices of the ECAJ, JCCV and the NSWBOD? And what about all the machers who overcrowd the 'leadership' positions in our dozens of Zionist organizations? Where is the ZFA, it's state branches, the JNF, UIA and all the others whose  justification for existence (and fundraising) is to support a safe and secure Israel? No one has done or does more for that cause than Michael Danby, but we have yet to see any of this overinflated group of do-gooders comment publicly about the AJN's behaviour.

The execrable and despicable New Israel Fund is, after all is said and done, made up almost completely by a left-wing, Reform-supporting (and supported), anti-religious and anti-Israel clump of the most distasteful types found in the Jewish world. (Eg, see here, here, here, and here). A quick look a their website clearly shows there preference for Palestinians over religious Jews. Read their own words and you too will wonder why they call themselves "New Israel Fund" when "Fund for Palestine" would be the accurate and honest label they deserve.

Yet when those thin-skinned mates of our enemies whined about how their leader Naomi Chazan was (honestly) portrayed to the community, the pages of the AJN were full of apologetics and remorseful contriteness.

But Michael Danby's efforts or feelings? Who gives a toss!

Shame AJN, shame! And shame on our communal organisations and leadership.

Meanwhile the recent comment by Shoshana Silcove on her blog has a certain relevance to this post.

Open letter to Zeddy Lawrence editor of the Australian Jewish News


While I agree you are most conciliatory to deal with on a personal level, the paper you edit is not very Jewish at all. Does it really represent the Jewish community? Certainly not the majority. The majority is not in favour of gay marriage as a basic human right, nor is it in favour of pandering to Muslim extremists. The Jewish News's reason for existence is not to serve Jews, Judaism, or the Jewish community, but to make a profit, even at all of our's expense, especially the frum. Unfortunately, it's like having a neurotic relative, and we are stuck with your paper as a forum to reach large numbers of Australian Jews with our messages, regardless if it represents our way of life and views or not. Do not mistake our (the silent majority's) reluctant participation in your paper as support of your editorials or perspective.

Ironic you say you feel you were maligned in this blog when you are the editor of a paper that engages in diatribes, specifically against religious Jews, on a regular basis. Remember how the AJN besmirched Rabbi Engel from Adelaide, who by the way was found not guilty of all criminal charges. Why never any front page apology for that? Because he is Orthodox?

Your projection of the death of the Australian Jewish community should cause you to take stock of the paper's direction since the only faction of Jews in Australia that is growing and has a bright future is the Orthodox. Maybe you should stop biting the hand that can and will feed you?

As far as the coverage of Lion FM is concerned, I am happy you printed my letter but, I understand there were quite a number of other letters on my side of the fence that were not published. Still, my letter does not compensate for the biased and one sided reportage of the past year. Come one Zeddy, surely you can do better than this!


  1. Check out Repenting Jewess blog. Zeddy replies to Silcove

  2. If you go to the comments section of my open letter you will see an open response from Zeddy. He claims that a community newspaper's job is to represent a broad spectrum of the community. Yet, he has a narrow definition of that spectrum that leaves Michael Danby and pro-Israel groups out and includes gay rights activists and supporters of Palsetinians.

  3. B'H
    For many years now I have refused to buy the Australian Jewish News - the newspaper that purports to represent the Jewish community of Australia but has very little at present, between its front page and back page that is supportive of 1. the general community at large, 2. Torah values or even essential Jewish family values in the mainstream traditional communities
    3. the Orthodox and Ultra Orthodox communities.
    In fact the Jewish News as far back as the early 1990's horrified me with its stance on some issues and support for the fringe groups but to suggest so to someone I was married to at the time was inviting the label of anti Semite or extremist and I had found that to be the case, in several instances, earlier on when I stated that there were things that I felt very uncomfortable with in the 'Australian Jewish News'.
    My theory is this, that given the anti Semitic nature of many publications in the non Jewish press and the pen caricatures done of Jews, this Jewish paper set out to be as like the non-Jewish press as possible in order to be accepted and thus the current anti semitic and non Jewishness of its content and it even goes so far as to excel in Orthodox Jewish and Israel bashing, to be accepted as a member of the Journo club so to speak.
    It is actually quite crazy, but I could read The Age or Australian and find more support for Israel and Jewish values than is presently found in the Australian Jewish News. I actually think they would do better with two co-editors. One frum and one traditional so that there is a balance and the who content of the paper needs revision. I also am aware it does not have to be Hamodia which does not publish pictures of women but come on do we have to sink to the lowest common denominator and publish some of the pictures that are published in that paper.

  4. Ilana - you might never have seen the movies "Blues Brothers" but there is a delightful scene where the lead characters walk into a mid-western bar and ask "what kind of music do you usually have here?"
    "Oh" says the barkeeper "we have BOTH kinds - country AND western."

    I was reminded of that when a kosher restaurant in Melbourne opened a few years ago and were interviewed by the Australian Jewish News. The reporter asked "who do you hope this restaurant will appeal to?" and the answer was "We're hoping to attract all members of the community - Lubavitch AND Adass".

    And now you promote the idea of a BALANCED editorial staff at the AJN - "one frum and one traditional".

    I would like to understand more clearly what role you see in the community or communal institutions for conservative/reform/secular Jews?

    I assume you know that the Jewish Welfare Society communal survey in (I think the year was) 1997 showed that over 40% of the community define themselves as non-religious (and that's the organised community - let alone those who don't seek to identify themselves as Jews). Similar figures in the Gen08 survey, though the question was loaded to decrease the secular response rate.

    In fact, from my perspective, the AJN actively discriminates against its secular readership. For example, though orthodox, conservative and reform perspectives get regular articles, Yossi Aron has never printed a secular commentator in the weekly Torah topic (You think only frum Jews are interested in the Torah or that secular Jews can offer no insights at all?); and exceptionally rarely (I can only think of two examples in the past ten years) has he discussed the secular Jewish communities achievements in his editorial - both times with a backhanded compliment.

    I'm interested in knowing if you think that is a reasonable and balanced approach to editing those pages? After all - by your own admission - there is precious little Jewish in the rest of the paper. So should secular Jews have any access to the few pages that actually address such topics?

    Perhaps the readership and editors of this blog could enlighten the non-frum readers on what role and rights you think secular Jews should have in

  5. Onya AJNWatch for pointing out - yet again - the extreme partisan approach of the AJN. Your assertion that the current publisher is the one behind this approach is, to my knowledge, the correct one. Zeddy is given clear direction by Magid as to the direction the paper should take. Unsurprisingly, the direction is one that mirror's Magid's religious affiliation, social interests, and political views. The AJN is far from being a community paper, but is rather the mouthpiece of its publisher...

    In the secular world this also happens (witness the Murdoch press - Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph and The Australian - versus Fairfax - The Age and SMH). However, there are also other competing papers to counter this perspective. Unfortunately, the Australian Jewish community only has the one paper... Thankfully, JWire, AJN Watch, and Galus Australis (as well as Jewgle in Perth) allow for alternative approaches to be aired...

  6. typos corrected;
    No one expects the AJN to be a frum paper, but we should expect it not be an anti-frum (anti-Israel, anti-Jewish paper), which unfortunately, it is. Yossi Aron is a token columnist among a sea of anti-frum secularism. Line up one thousand frum Australians and I can almost guarantee that nine hundred ninety nine of them have the same view of the paper as far left, Israel bashing, self-hating, extremist Muslim pandering, anti-family values, and generally anti-everything frum people and the mainstream cherish.

  7. @ Watcher's Watch

    I would have thought that Frum including all Mizrachi/Lubavitch/Adassniks and Traditional encompassed secular / conservative and reform would have covered all bases, but of course if you wish to further split hairs far be it from me to stop you from a bit of intense navel gazing but I would have thought there were more important issues to debate at hand.


Comments will be moderated for language and content.
Please use your name/nickname - rather than 'anonymous'.