“What we talk about when we talk about Israel/Palestine”.

 A Melbourne DISCUSSION with all speakers being like minded.!

The Wheeler Centre was created in 2010 as “the centrepiece of Melbourne’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature” and “is dedicated to being the cornerstone of Australia’s literary activity, contributing to a deeper thinking society and to building a community around the sharing of ideas and conversations.”

Being a centerpiece of a discredited organisation is hardly something to boast about; in 2011 UNESCO shamefully voted to admit ‘Palestine’ as its 195th member state, despite it not being a State, in breach of its own constitution.

But the Wheeler Centre is not concerned about such trifles. It is holding a debate at Melbourne Town Hall on 10 June on the topic:

What we talk about when we talk about Israel/Palestine.

 Given the Wheeler Centre’s past form, we can confidently predict it will appeal to the literati by promoting the Palestinian narrative, rather than fulfilling its purported aim of “contributing to a deeper thinking society”. I don’t say this lightly, as a quick glance through the list of speakers reveals a plethora of anti-Zionist Jews and Palestinian activists, with nary an Israel supporter in sight to give a balanced perspective. The Centre describes the event:

Since the creation of Israel in 1948, the region has been the scene of fierce power struggles, injustice and tragic events… and many outside parties … have proposed a variety of answers, the most common of which is a two-state solution.

West BankIf Israel, the West Bank and Gaza are to be divided into two distinct and separate states, how can it be done? Where will the lines be drawn? And how would such a dramatic conclusion to the issue affect the region?

How do we hold a productive discussion around the issues and solutions when key players and thinkers struggle to even agree on terms of engagement? How can we give voice to political disagreement in a way that is meaningful rather than just retreading old conflicts? Is boycott an appropriate response to those with whom we disagree?

The Wheeler Centre is proud to announce a distinguished panel of thinkers, exploring the issues around public conversation and the peace process…our range of passionate, mutually-respectful, informed speakers will talk about talk: about how we conduct ourselves in exploring the history and ideas around such an entrenched and long running debate, and about how those holding passionately divergent views can hear one another – without local discussion becoming a microcosm of the big picture peace process that can’t even agree on an agenda, let alone a solution.

Given that most, if not all, of the panel support the BDS movement, it’s hard to see how they can be open and impartial. Let’s look at the ‘thinkers’:

  1. Samah Sabawia writer, producer and playwright. She is a policy advisor to the Palestinian policy network AlShabaka and has formerly served as executive director and media spokesperson for the National Council on Canada Arab Relations (NCCAR) and as public advocate for Australians for Palestine.” 

Not stated is that  Sabawi is a leading light in the BDS movement, angrily denouncing any who accuse it of being racist and anti-Semitic – which it is! In 2011, she attacked The Australian:


 It seems The Australian will do what it can to paint the BDS advocates as “radical”  “anti-Semitic” and “anti-Israeli bullies” while ignoring the reasons behind the boycott call – Israel’s atrocious treatment of the Palestinian people, its land and water theft, its violence and terror against the population it occupies and its system of discrimination which has been likened by leading human rights organizations and advocates to the apartheid system which once plagued South Africa.

In demanding equality for Palestinians and Jews, BDS poses a great danger for Israel, a state that defines itself along ethnocentric lines and considers all non-Jews, including citizens of the state, a demographic threat.


She recently spoke at an Australians4BDS meeting in Sydney.

Guest speaker Professor Jake Lynch is facing legal action from an Israeli law centre, the Shurat HaDin, for his refusal to cooperate with Israeli academics in honour of the academic boycott called by Palestinians.

Other speakers included playwright and policy analyst Samah Sabawi, French BDS activist Olivia Zemor, BDS National Committee member Omar Barghouti, journalists Wendy Bacon and Antony Loewenstein, Maritime Union of Australia assistant national secretary Warren Smith, and activist singer Phil Monsour.

Sabawi said:

“Universities around the world have been rattled by the BDS movement. Israeli academic institutions are implicated in Israeli war crimes. And Israel restricts academic freedom in Palestine all the time.”


2. Peter Beinartassociate professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York. He is also a contributor to the Atlantic and National Journal, a senior columnist at Haaretz, a CNN political commentator, and a senior fellow at The New America Foundation.”

Peter Beinart is an anti-Zionist Jew. In 2012, Rachel Neuwirth and John Landau wrote:

Beinart professes at every opportunity to love Israel and to even be a “Zionist.” He boasts that he even has an Israeli flag displayed on the wall of his six-year-old son’s room. This seems to render his Jewish audiences oblivious to Beinart’s repetition and endorsement of nearly every element of the Arab world’s anti-Israel narrative and his overwhelmingly negative characterization of Israel as an “undemocratic” society.

Not that Beinart isn’t also a clever debater. His principal tactic is to make so many false or misleading statements all at once that it is impossible to reply to or even to keep track of them all…Also in his arsenal of debating tactics are distortions by omission and false assumptions implied by his tone and the drift of his argument.

Beinart repeatedly denounces Israel for denying the Palestinians equal rights with Israelis, without mentioning that the Palestinians are waging war on Israel, and have been doing so continuously for the past 65 years. No nation has ever granted equal rights to members of a nation at war with them. Nor can any nation that is being subjected to armed aggression and siege afford to do so….the conflict has been an extraordinarily brutal war replete with war crimes such as blowing up civilians on buses, street corners and restaurants, executing children as hostages, and beating infants to death. That war is still very much in progress, as Beinart and everyone who reads the daily newspapers knows full well.

Beinart describes the Jewish suburb of Hebron, Kiryat Arba, as a “remote” settlement without mentioning https://i0.wp.com/settlementsofisrael.netzah.org/images/kiriat-arba.jpg?resize=300%2C163that it is all of 13 miles from Israel’s parliament building in Jerusalem…nor does he mention that Jews lived in Hebron continuously for almost three thousand years before they were forced to leave as a result of the Arab pogroms of 1929. Kiryat Arba is thus only a resettlement of a very ancient Jewish “settlement.” The revived community was put outside the old city of Hebron only because the Jordanian occupiers had seized the old Jewish quarter of Hebron and given it to Arab merchants…


3. Maher Mughrabi  “foreign news editor of The Age. He’s previously worked at The Independent, The Scotsman, The Daily Mail and the Khaleej Times.”

Mughrabi describes himself as a Palestinian, despite having been born in Scotland, but I guess that, because of the differential way a Palestinian refugee is defined by the UNRWA to include all descendants in perpetuity, he is correct! What is not in dispute though, is he loses no opportunity to criticize Israel and those who support her. As far back as 2007, he attacked the awarding of a ‘Zionist award’ (The Jerusalem Prize) to then Prime Minister John Howard:

It’s no secret that Israel enjoys support from both sides of the political establishment; Labor and Liberal leaders compete to secure the favour of Australia’s Jewish community, but the matter goes deeper than that. From Kevin Rudd’s stories of an ALP government casting the first vote at the UN for partition of Palestine to Tony Abbott’s proclamation after Bali that “we are all Israelis now”, Australian leaders promote the notion that this country is bound to Israel by shared democratic values against the backdrop of an undemocratic Middle East.

Israel is at odds with the Palestinian Authority, which has existed for little more than a decade and has already held numerous fair elections. Yet Israel has long been at peace with Egypt, a police state, and has full diplomatic ties with Uzbekistan, an out-and-out dictatorship.

To say, then, that Israel is “a democracy in good standing” is a bit like saying Philip Ruddock is a member of Amnesty International – as a statement of fact, it leaves too much out.

…And while Israel’s Arab citizens have the vote, the state – defined by law as Jewish – discriminates against them when it comes to immigration, state resources, where they can live and even who they can marry.

It is strangely appropriate, therefore, that Howard will receive his award at a function of the Jewish National Fund, which identifies itself as “the caretaker of the land of Israel, on behalf of its owners – Jewish people everywhere”. Try imagining an Australian version of this: “The Aussie National Fund is the caretaker of the land of Australia, on behalf of its owners – Anglo-Celtic people everywhere.”

See the problem? This formula makes Israel the land of many people who are not its citizens, and denies the land to many who are its citizens. Democracy? Not as Australians know it…

…In stoking the militarist mindset, and the notion that the Middle East can be divided into “good guys” and “bad guys”, Australian politicians such as Howard, Rudd and others may receive many honours from Israeli and Jewish organisations.


4.Mark Baker “director of the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation and an associate professor at Monash University.”

Mark Baker is a member of the advisory council of the far-left New Israel Fund Australia. While the NIF claims to promote equality of civil and human rights, social and economic justice, women’s rights, religious pluralism and tolerance and environmental protection, it has supported many anti-Israel NGOs, including those that gave false evidence on to the Goldstone Commission, and groups which demonise Israel. Baker also notoriously gave a platform to BDS activists, including Samah, during a recent Limmud Oz session, without giving the audience a right to question them.

5. Dahlia Scheindlin:an international political and strategic consultant whose expertise is public opinion research; she is also an academic and a writer. Ms. Scheindlin is based in Tel Aviv, where she moved from New York City in 1997; she has developed research-based strategy for electoral, social, and corporate campaigns in more than a dozen countries. She is currently a doctoral candidate in political science at Tel Aviv University, researching unrecognised (or de facto) states.”

Scheindlin is a founding member of Nine-Seven-Two (+972) Magazine. According to NGO Monitor:

While the publication claims that it “does not represent any organization, political party or specific agenda,” the first paragraph of “About” section of website states: “we oppose the occupation.” In addition, the blog presents highly biased perspectives on the Arab-Israeli conflict and promotes the Durban strategy to demonize and delegitimize Israel.

Political Advocacy: Writers and contributors regularly invoke the Durban vocabulary, accusing Israel of “apartheid”, “ethnic cleansing,” “racism,” “land confiscation,” “discrimination,” “displacement,” “fail[ing] to prosecute violence against Palestinians,” “perpetrating another “Nakba,” and deride “American Jewish hypocrisy.”

In a February 2012 interview in The Nation, Noam Sheizaf, +972’s then-editor-in-chief, referred to Jerusalem as an “apartheid city.”  In September 2012, Sheizaf used his twitter account to refer to critics as “the Jewish KKK” and “fascist.”


Lee Kaplan in IsraCampus sheds more light on her mindset:

Dahlia Scheindlin

A lot of Israel’s academic-fifth-column has its origins in the left-wing Marxist ideology that has taken over humanities disciplines in American universities… A living breathing example of the product of this situation is Tel Aviv University doctoral candidate Dahlia Scheindlin… She is a “researcher” (meaning political advocate) with the leftwing Israel Democracy Institute and lectures at Ben Gurion… “Peace and Conflict Studies”, Ms. Scheindlin’s pseudo-field of research, is an American university touchy-feely invention that originally emerged out of marriage counseling. Its underlying fundamental idea is that in any conflict both sides have to be accepted as having some valid arguments and they need only to listen compassionately to one another to settle their differences.

So when Arab hordes scream, “Itboch al Yahud!” (Massacre the Jews!), they are simply letting off steam and hoping for productive dialogue and feeling the pain of the Other. Peace is achieved by always recognizing the legitimacy of at least some of the grievances of the other side unless the other side is Israel, which has no legitimate demands, even the right to exist as a Jewish state.

… she defends the pro-Hamas Gaza flotillas and their bands of violent terrorist passengers… This is a woman who makes her living “researching” conflict resolution?

She continues:

“The ships needed to be let in because they were a symbolic act of protest against a policy that is deemed an unfair, unlawful and immoral violation of the human rights of the people of Gaza. People have a right to protest both the policy and its results.”

Attacking Israeli soldiers with knives and guns is a “symbolic act of protest.” She uses buzz words like “unfair”, “unlawful” and “immoral.”


As you can see “those holding passionately divergent views” will be conspicuously absent from this so-called debate – which means it is likely to be the usual bash-Israel talkfest!


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  1. Edward Alexander

    And so what is being done about this. Shouldn’t there be a similar event with a more balanced view?

    • What there should be and what actually happens with our dhimmi leaders is a whole other issue.
      Some where on the site there are articles about similar events in Canberra and Adelaide and not a peep from any one.

    • Edward, yes there should be such an event, but as Shirlee says, our Jewish leadership is letting us down. They are so intent on being part of the interfaith movement, they turn a blind eye to the pervasive anti-Semitism (disguised as anti-Zionism) that lurks within these groups. Presumably they are fearful that if they speak out too loudly in defence of Israel and the Judaeo-Christian values espoused by her and other free countries, they will be denounced by the multicultural brigade. As a result, none of the leaders seem prepared to stand up for human rights and counter the lies and propaganda spread about Israel.

  2. Ramallah (aka the ‘Intellegentsia’) has ‘occupied’ the City of Melbourne

  3. “Not that Beinart isn’t also a clever debater. His principal tactic is to make so many false or misleading statements all at once that it is impossible to reply to or even to keep track of them all…Also in his arsenal of debating tactics are distortions by omission and false assumptions implied by his tone and the drift of his argument.”

    They all do that. Have you noticed? It’s the art of the demagogue. Everything they say is wrong. They are radical leftists and for them truth means nothing. It is not part of the ideology.

    This is part of why there is this close affinity between the radical left and radical Islam. An ideology that holds as the literal and only truth a story involving flying horses and the overwhelming duty for the violent conquest of the world so as to impose a law that is inalterable, beyond questioning and involves the subjection of women and the genocide of the Jews? It was love at first sight for the radical left.

    It has been from the very start. The radical left and radical Islam are childhood sweet hearts. At heart they are saying the same things. No freedom. No progress. No dissent. No thought. No Jews There is no separating them. You couldn’t do it with an iron bar. Much as you might be tempted to try.

  4. Since I wrote this article, they’ve added 2 new speakers – for balance perhaps!

    Or Avi-Guy is a policy analyst at Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, and a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, researching post-ethnic conflict political reconciliation.
    Peter Clarke

    Peter Clarke is a Melbourne-based broadcaster, writer and educator.

  5. Or Avi-Guy may or may not be great but last I checked she was a woman.

    • Ever thought it might be a typographical error?

      Or was it easier to make a smart Alec comment?

    • Slumming it Sol?

      The last time I heard a peep out of you, it was at Mondoweiss.

  6. Baker must feel at home at Wheeler perhaps he can discuss with his Palestinian and Jewish Palestinian Useful idiot mates his idea for a new Israeli Flag and new Israeli National anthem that won’t offend Israeli /Arabs , Muslims and Palestinians .

    The Magen David and Hatikva is all too Jewish for Mr Baker . I wonder if all his wealthy Melbourne Jewish Families and their representatives that support his looney left Monash Jewish Critical – Israel study department agree with him ?

  7. Sol, on this website we are strictly non-sexist. It’s the quality of a person’s character, evidenced by what he/she is prepared to say in a public forum that is important, not the gender of the person.

    By the way, this website is anti-racist and never supports groups that are anti-Semitic or justify the killing of Israelis or Jews. No self-respecting person should be an apologist for such groups or fall for the BIG LIE that their terrorist acts are an understandable reaction to Israel’s aggression/occupation/colonialism.

  8. Michael, I too am puzzled about Mark Baker. What is his motivation, and why don’t more people, especially those who donate large sums of money, start to ask questions about his cosying up to BDS proponents like Samah Sabawi. At a Limmud Oz session a few years back, he warmly welcomed her and her equally anti-Israel mate (can’t remember his name), telling everyone he was Samah’s facebook friend. He never once challenged the pair when they went on about how Israel is an apartheid state etc. Much of the audience was horrified, but had been warned beforehand that they were not to interrupt the session and were not even given the courtesy of being able to ask questions afterwards.

    Contrast this with how pro-Palestinian supporters have no compunction is interrupting speakers they disagree with, often on campus, yet this attracts no criticsm from most academics. I remember going to hear the scholarly Dr Daniel Pipes speak at the University of Melbourrne, and how his speech was drowned out by the usual suspects, who were actually allowed into the room, where they continued to disrupt.

    It seems there’s freedom to disrupt for one side, but no freedom even to politely ask questions if you take a different view.

    • Pam it puzzles me how Bakers department keeps getting funded by many of our high profile naive , complicit or like minded Jewish Families and or their Charity foundation minders [ One such high profile individual who comes to mind may even have been a previous editor of our Jewish Newspaper ?]

      What is so hypercritical is I believe the head of the Jewish Study department has stated that Universities are not the place for Israel Advocacy> Notwithstanding that the Arab/Muslim study departments work hand in hand with Palestinian lobby groups and actively promote the Palestinian/arab/ Muslim narrative on campus .
      At the same time this Community funded department is hostile to any Mainstream Jewish Zionist organisations or any Jewish groups , including Jewish student pro- Israel groups that try to counter the epidemic of anti- Zionism on Campus.
      [The term ‘Our universities are a hotbed of anti Zionists ‘ is an understatement .] However at the same time this department and via their other outlet for anti- Zionist propaganda Limmud promote and give a platform for Palestinian/Arab & Muslim activists and Lobbyists such as Muhgrabi, Sabawi , Aly as well as a conga line of Jewish Palestinian useful idiots. I wonder how many Israeli or Jewish Zionist speakers have ever been invited to Arab/Muslim study dept events or to talk to their students?

      For example you are right about Salbe he wrote on the left wing blog site Gallus that Baker gave an easy ride for BDS promoter Sabawi as his special guest at Limmud to spew her anti- israel hatred and Baker didn’t even bother to have any person representing Israel’s narrative on stage to question her, but hey that’s the way the Progressives operate.

      ‘’ I have been involved in demolishing Zionist myths for 35 years. … Sol Salbe has been campaigning for Palestinian human rights for 35 years.’’ ….

      Sol Salbe

      There are so may other examples of these academics hypocrisy and opposition to any Israel advocacy when one of their own participate in a Palestinian Lobby group anti- Israel Propaganda event in Melbourne . This leftwing Looney academic even posted a comment congratulating the Palestinian Lobby group for their good work.

      Any way I will be asking Danny Lamm [ verboten on Jewish Campus] our guest on next weeks ‘Nothing Left’ radio program on J_ air why Australia is becoming a haven for visiting Jewish Palestinian useful idiots invited by the progressives , the leftist ,fringe ,extremist Jewish group [ J- Something] that was rejected by the American Jewish umbrella organisation equivalent of JCCV that has followers here , the Pro- Arab NIF and many other questions.

      I guess whilst the Palestinians may have the majority support they still live in the dark ages , fight amongst them selves whilst Israel prospers and ads value to the world.

  9. Don’t forget Jake Lynch with his Peace and Conflict Department.
    Why he is still employed by USYD is beyond me when all he seems to be able to do is to create conflict.

    Where’s the peace?

    At least his BDS action failed big time when Dan Avnon scored a better deal with another department.