It’s the voting that counts, and counting the votes

Mark Jeanes writes: Re. “Sorry, WA, you’re going back to the polls (don’t blame the AEC)” (yesterday). That was an excellent, thoughtful, balanced piece from William Bowe on the WA missing votes.

Yes, it was a most unfortunate (and expensive) error. But as anyone who has scrutineered or worked for the AEC on election day knows, the AEC’s processes are well-designed and its people are committed to accuracy and fairness. Even the casual employees are typically swept up in a spirit of civic propriety during their few hours of careful ballot counting.

Judging from Clive Palmer’s declarations of the AEC’s corruption and incompetence, it’s clear the bloke has never been near a polling booth after 6pm on election day to see the action with his own eyes.

David Havyatt writes: Your lead item is wrong. “That is, the mess of preference rigging — highlighted in stark fashion by a slew of minor parties this election — that so complicates counting and puts undeserving candidates into Parliament”.

Preference rigging does not complicate the count because that is all about above-the-line votes. They are easy to count. The difficulty in counting is below-the-line votes.

Rundle and Judaism

Nick Dyrenfurth writes: Re. “The Australian’s anti-Semitism beat-up that wasn’t” (Wednesday). Guy Rundle once again demonstrates that he is hopelessly out of his depth when it comes to writing on issues pertaining to the Jewish community. Anti-Semitism is apparently not a form of racism because Jews do not constitute a race — it’s a religious thang, according to Rundle.  Well, yes, Jews do not consider themselves to be a race, but, generally speaking, an ethno-religious grouping, as do most scholars. The problem is that anti-Semites of various stripes have long constructed Jews as a race. It logically follows that anti-Semitic discrimination and violence against Jews, rhetorical or physical, is a form of racism. Rundle’s lack of basic knowledge on these matters is underlined by his description of Orthodox Jews “walking to temple” at midnight on Shabbat (Sabbath) evening. Given that the religious service occurred hours earlier that is most improbable and, in any case, Orthodox Jews  don’t attend temples, but shuls or synagogues.

Guy Rundle responds: Nick Dyrenfurth takes me to task for getting my terminology wrong on matters Jewish, in last week’s report on The Oz . As regards temple v shul, fair enough. But the question of whether Jews are a race or a religion is another matter entirely. Dyrenfurth suggests the matter is settled and Jews are regarded as an “ethno-religious” group. It isn’t, even in relatively conservative milieu. (Interested readers can check out this Adam Kirsch essay in The Tablet for an overview of the arguments there.)

In a wider sense, Judaism clearly isn’t a “race” or even an ethno-racial group in a literal sense — encompassing as it does communities as far-flung as Lithuania, Ethiopia and India. The claim that it should be regarded as such seems to have more to do with the contemporary idea that racism is the supreme sin and that religious or group persecution is a secondary evil. Of course it is also favoured by fervent Zionists, who want the Palestine/Israel question to be one of race v race — when in fact it is a matter of non-European people with a continuous claim to the land (indigenous by any measure) v a national group derived from a 19th-century settler movement. Finally, let me say: Sammy Davis jnr, Victor Borge and Anish Kapoor (the sculptor) — the resemblance is staggering, staggering.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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