Punters might be scrambling for ringside seats to the Manne v Bolt fight at the upcoming Melbourne Writers’ Festival but there’s another stoush brewing between Julian Burnside QC and Ted Lapkin from the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council.

Burnside has threatened to take Lapkin on at an upcoming Writers Festival event for making false and defamatory statements about him after Lapkin called the QC “pro-Palestinian”.

To: Ted Lapkin
Subject: Fwd: AIJAC: Ted Lapkin article
From: “Julian Burnside”

Dear Sir

My attention has just been drawn to an article on your website. The article was written by Ted Lapkin, titled “JUST THE FACTS, MA’AM”. It concerned Anthony Loewenstein’s book My Israel Question. The article mentions the forthcoming event at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival, in which I am involved.

The author states:

“According to the Festival program, Loewenstein will share the stage with QCs Julian Burnside and Robert Richter. Burnside’s pro-Palestinian sympathies are a matter of public record.” 

That is false and defamatory.

Whilst I have sympathy for any group of people who suffer, I am neutral on the question of Israel and Palestine. 

I challenge Mr Lapkin to justify the sentence I refer to. I suspect it is just an example of his willingness to argue by abuse rather than by reason. If he cannot justify the sentence, I ask you to publish a retraction, and an apology from Lapkin and from you. 

If you do not comply with this request by the time of the Melbourne Writers’ Festival event, I will publicly raise Mr Lapkin’s statement, his failure to validate it and your failure to correct it. 

Just the facts, please. 

Very best wishes

Julian Burnside QC

Lapkin says he has no intention of withdrawing his statement.