Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Side-Splitting Stuff

Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan shares a Michael Danby story with us:

"In the early 1980s Gaddafi's regime funded a series of tiny Trotskyist cells in the West. In Australia the Socialist Labour League produced a newspaper, the Workers News, which for a time I found compulsive reading... Amid calls for coalminers strikes and articles defaming the police, each week there would be pages of supplements extolling Colonel Gaddafi's Green Book and the Libyan revolution... Libya advertised in Australian Arabic newspapers for military recruits to its worldwide revolutionary cause*. Nonetheless, the sheer eccentricity of the Libyan venture provided moments of black humour. Michael Danby, now Labor's member for Melbourne Ports, then (as now) a fearless advocate for human rights**, attended a Melbourne airport press conference held by Vanessa Redgrave and asked her if she was aware that a Libyan-backed film she participated in had been awarded the inaugural Sir Les Patterson Golden Goanna Award for fanatical filmmaking." (Libya stinks but hold your nose: The West is right to engage with Gaddafi, abhorrent as it is, but it shouldn't with Iran, The Australian, 10/9/09) [*Zounds! Sheridan reads Arabic! ** Except in Palestine.]

OK, folks, while you're rolling on the floor and clutching your sides, I thought I'd regale you with another, even more side-splitting Danby story from the 70s:

"Michael Danby, a student at Melbourne University, is a leader of the Zionist movement there. He regularly writes a column in The Australian Jewish News titled Young Voice. The column is usually tucked away towards the end of the newspaper, perhaps because the Zionist editors are even a little embarrassed themselves with the inanities sometimes expressed in it. In the January 14 edition, Danby hits upon a new theory to explain why a growing number of Australian Union of Students (AUS) members have taken a stand against Zionism in support of the Palestinian people. According to Danby, it has nothing to do with an increased awareness of Third World struggles, or the obvious barbarity of the Israeli regime... The opposition to Zionism within AUS, which Danby dishonestly calls 'anti-Semitism', is to be attributed, it seems, to the increase in the number of Lebanese-owned milk bars and cafes in the area around Melbourne University. After describing how the once flourishing Carlton Jewish community had migrated to the Caulfield-St Kilda area, Danby explains: 'Recent years have seen another immigrant community flourish in the area. King Hiram's Restaurant, Mounier's Pastissire [sic] are always full of customers and most Carlton milk bars sell LEBANESE sweets' (Danby's emphasis). Danby develops his theory that because Melbourne University students might eat at a Lebanese restaurant or buy Lebanese cakes, these Lebanese traders might influence their views on the Middle East conflict. It would be a different story perhaps, Danby suggests, if Melbourne University was in Caulfield or St Kilda. How Danby explains a similar degree of support for the Palestinians at Monash University or La Trobe University is anybody's guess. Are the Lebanese buying up the cake shops around there too?" (Arab Liberation News, 1/4/77)

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