Well, it took the Oz only a day to step back from a claim that members of Jewish communities in Melbourne and Sydney were calling for action against 18C. Like so much of the Oz‘s 18C campaign (135,000 words at last count!), that yarn seems more dubious the closer at it you looked. Carried in Tuesday’s paper, it heralded a whole two Jews in support, namely David Adler from Sydney and Avi Yemini from Melbourne, who wrote a submission to the government’s freedom of speech inquiry. Yemini’s name might be familiar to Crikey readers — last week we told you how the Melbourne gym owner, known for recruiting soldiers for the Israeli Defence Force, had his meeting with Pauline Hanson cancelled after rival Jewish groups planned a protest. One Nation said “security concerns” had forced them to cancel. Clearly, Yemini doesn’t speak for all Melbourne’s Jews. Not that he should be expected to, but the Oz wouldn’t have had to look too far to find people opposed to his views. And the other Jewish opponent of 18C? David Adler is also rather interesting. The “Sydney-based health professional” has a Facebook page full of photos with Tony Abbott, Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison.

Of course, if Jewish groups are now opposed to 18C, this is extraordinary news, as Jewish groups were a key force in opposing changes to 18C last time the government tried.

Less than 24 hours later, the Australian was carrying the opposite headline, saying “high-profile Jewish groups had distanced themselves from comments made by two members of the Jewish community slamming sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act”. Which is thoroughly unsurprising. But maybe the Oz could have called the B’nai B’rith’s Anti-Defamation Commission and the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council sooner?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey