Wednesday, March 07, 2007


I'm no Jew and, in fact, I'm about as far from being a Jew as it's possible to be and still be in the mainstream. Hell, I don't even know that I know so much as a single Jew -- they aren't exactly thick on the ground in my area. Anyway, through my blogging I think I've made an important discovery: being born a Jew doesn't automatically make you Jewish. Case in point, Antony Loewenstein.

For the whole time he's been blogging Loewenstein has milked maximum mileage from his self-proclaimed status as dissident Jew whose views are "silenced" by the monolithic mainstream of Australian Jewry. But the guy seems to know very little about matters Jewish. He has several times referred to Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (a woman with an obviously feminine name -- Tzipi being the diminutive of Tzipora, Hebrew for "female bird") as a he. In his book he misplaces Lebanon between Tel-Aviv and Haifa. Even worse, he once erroneously claimed Israeli children had written messages in Hebrew on artillery shells destined to rain death and destruction on Lebanon when it was immediately obvious to non-Jew me that the pictured messages weren't in Hebrew. (When this was pointed out to him he stealthily edited his post.)

So it comes as no surprise that Loewenstein was duped into including a Hebrew expletive as a genuine name on his Independent Australia Jewish Voices petition. Here's the story. A reader of my blog emailed asking if I wanted to participate in a test of Loewenstein's Jewishness. He explained that there is a Hebrew phrase, "ben zona" (son of a bitch, literally, son of a whore), a sort of multi-purpose oath, that's probably the first naughty language learned by all Jewish kids. In short, Ben Zona should be immediately recognized by any Jew for what it is and even though it appears at a glance to be a name, it certainly wouldn't be accepted by a Jew as a Jewish name.

An email was then sent to Independent Australian Jewish Voices asking to sign on to the petition as one "Ben Zonar" (Ben Zona Australianized). Now bear in mind here that this was when the petition was first advertised and before online sign up, when applicants were individually vetted. Loewenstein and his mates had Ben's application for about a week and must have gone through the list of names many times but none of them recognized Ben Zonar as a joke -- hell, the name sounds suspect and even a cursory online check would have told them it's dubious. No matter, when the petition was released, there was Ben at number 50. He has since been removed; Etemy Fartz (number 134) has also been removed as have a growing number of names. Gee, I wonder how many of the signatories are genuine?

Now I know this is a big call for a non-Jew to make but I can't help but think that a a guy like Loewenstein, who was born a Jew but doesn't embrace Judaism, and doesn't recognize a common Hebrew phrase, isn't really a Jew. If I'm wrong, someone is bound to correct me. If I'm right, it's time for Loewenstein to stop presenting his pseudo-Jewish perspective as Jewish.

Editing note: Typo "think" corrected to "thick".

Update: The Australian Jews News comments on Loewenstein and co's suggestion their voices aren't heard:
Their preposterous claim, for example, that critics of Israel are being “silenced” can be easily dismissed by a cursory glance at the letters pages of this newspaper, which – as our critics often point out – are sometimes over-monopolised by the dissidents of the political left.
It's disappointing no Australian Jews have commented on Loewenstein's pseudo-Jewishness but a reader has emailed a pertinent clipping from the AJN print copy. The clipping features a photo of Loewenstein captioned "SON OF A ..." followed by:
Like many of our fellow Jews, we were carefully combing the names of the signatories to Antony Loewenstein's group, Independent Australian Jewish Voices, when we happened upon one "Ben Zonar", which immediately intrigued us. The name, after all, comes too close for comfort to the most well-known of Hewbrew epithets which, very euphemistically translated, mean "son of a woman who purveys sex in exchange for money".

Our intrepid reporter immediately contacted Loewenstein who -- for all his My Israel Question expertise -- didn't quite know what we were on about. We told him that we suspect no such person exists, though if you speak to an Israeli, they'll tell you every second person is a "Ben Zonar". When he still didn't get it, we told him Ben Zonar was more or less on a par with those famous Australians, Wayne Kerr and Ben Dover.

Loewenstein still didn't get the joke, but promised to check it out. He never got back to us, but the "independent Jewish voice" of Ben Zonar has disappeared from the website, perhaps another victim of the stifling Jewish cabal.
As Loewenstein often reminds us, he's a best selling author and widely published journalist -- apparently lots of ill informed Australians are keen to rely on an "expert" whose specialty is not knowing.

Update II: Unverified sign-up to the Independent Australian Jewish Voices petition continues to undermine its credibility. Recent signatories -- no doubt lodged by Loewenstein-silencing Jews -- include Toopak Shakur, Adum Kuhnt and Mr. Tzipi Livni.

Update III: The latest is here.


Anonymous J F Beck said...

LE, the Ben Zonar petition application was lodged about a week before the petition went public. Surely at least one of the group working on the petition should have recognized Ben Zonar as bogus. Further, how many of the other signatories are less obvious fakes? The whole undertaking is suspect.

11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This one gave me a good chortle, JF! Thanks for posting it.

BTW, I view most on line petitions as suspect....pretty much for the reason you demonstrate. I know, I've "signed" some silly petitions in a similar fashion.

I'm pretty obvious about it, so when my "signature" stays up, you know how flaky the petition is.

By the same token, how are the other names verified? What if someone just started typing in names and cities at random? Do people even *try* to verify the names? Sometimes, yes, sometimes, no.

Loewenstein and his petition pretty much demonstrate why I generally don't support such campaigns. On line petitions can be used, but you need independent verification to make it happen.


11:53 PM  
Anonymous Legal Eagle said...

I have to agree, JF, that the whole petition idea is stupid. And they seem to have been a bit naive about whose signature they accept.

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Joe in Australia said...

There are a whole lot of signatories calling themselves "anonymous". They seem to have rather missed the point of signing something. On another point, I don't want to oppress Waheed and Fouad or deny them their cultural identity, but they're the first Jews I've ever heard of with such profoundly Islamic names.

10:56 AM  

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