Monday, August 21, 2006


As noted earlier, in My Israel Question Antony Loewenstein uses his cousins, the Green family, as the primary example of Israelis' typically "bellicose views" on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He takes this one step further at his blog, describing Ronald Green as "anti-Palestinian, racist, anti-German and anti-Arab", as suffering a "sickness ", with a memory that is "woefully inaccurate". To round out the picture of his apparently close-to-insane cousin Loewenstein adds this:
Frankly, I suspect he hasn’t even read the book (and is a failed novelist himself.)
The irrelevant reference to Ronald Green as a failed novelist is nothing more than a gratuitous slam. Loewenstein should more than suspect that Ronald Green has not read the book; but more on that later. Right now let's take a look at Loewenstein's self-servingly unethical treatment of his cousins.

By Loewenstein’s admission Ronald Green is a friendly man who welcomed the aspiring author into his home. Unfortunately for Green, his kindness was repaid with betrayal.

Green was well aware that Loewenstein was at the time researching a book but was never told that his casual comments, many passed informally over the dining table, were “on the record.” Not only did Loewenstein not notify Green that his comments might be used in the book, at no time did he take notes or otherwise contemporaneously record conversations. The quotes in his book were reconstructed at some point after the fact. Their accuracy, compounded by the fact that they are offered out of context, is highly questionable. (Even had Loewenstein taken on-the-spot notes, the accuracy of his reporting would still be suspect – he can't sit in the audience taking notes and get two and three-word quotes right.)

So, what's Loewenstein up to here? If the reporting in his book is indicative, during last year's first ever visit to Israel Loewenstein spent almost all of his research time talking to those with anti-Israel views similar to his. To give the book an air of balance he included Ronald Green’s “vitriolic” and “violent” pro-Israel views. So much the better that Green is a cousin: it shows the perverse pro-Israel mindset, even within his own family, with which the noble Loewenstein is doing battle.

Loewenstein need not identify the Green family by name. He and his editor must have discussed the hurt to be caused. That Loewenstein can so cavalierly betray members of his own family, no matter how distant, is truly disgusting. This is hardly the conduct expected of a reputable and ethical journalist and author. It also reflects badly on the book’s editor and publisher but does add a dash of zest to an otherwise tedious read.

Finally, Loewenstein is well aware that Ronald Green has not read My Israel Question, Loewenstein having promised a copy that was never delivered.

Postscript: Information regarding Loewenstein’s stay with the Green family was provided by Ronald Green, who is very upset at having been ambushed. Regardless, Ronald Green’s behaviour has been gentlemanly throughout. He has made no attack on Loewenstein: he simply wants the facts known.

During his visit Loewenstein asked Ronald Green if would participate in an "on the record" interview. Green agreed but Loewenstein never followed through. The reconstructed quotes are apparently in lieu.

Update: A reader has asked Loewenstein if he informed Ronald Green his remarks were "on the record" but Loewenstein refuses to answer. His commenters are, however, on the offensive:
Don’t be stupid, the converstaion was being recorded by his relative, or didn’t you notice? It was his relative that reported on the conversation, not Anthony. The relative does not appear in the book at all. Stop with these ridiculous moronic arguments!
Moronic arguments, indeed.

Update II: While visiting Israel Loewenstein expressed the hope that his book would be a big hit internationally, enabling him to escape the Australian backwater. So it's true, he does hate Australia. I credit John Howard.

If he does get out, I hope he goes via Pakistan – a good old fashioned Robert Fisk-style beating might enlighten him. Then again, probably not.


Anonymous Mama Wombat said...

I highly doubt that Mr Green, or anyone in Israel for that matter, will ever read this book or hear about it at all. Nobody there gives a shit what Ant thinks. They have more important things to worry about.

8:09 AM  

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