In September 2009 Michael Danby and I had a brief email exchange. He told me he was criticising the “dark and ugly recesses of the Internet”. I wrote back to him and advised him that his concern lacked credibility because he was ignoring dark and ugly recesses of the Internet on his very doorstep.
Wind back one month prior to August 1 2009, now just over a year ago.
In Tel Aviv, Israel, there was a horrific shooting that left two young Jewish Israelis dead. They happened to be in a gay community centre at the time. I appealed to many people in the Melbourne Jewish community to speak out against this shooting, to speak out against hate and intolerance of homosexuality, especially from within the Jewish community, and to stand up for the vulnerable and marginalised people in our society. Amongst these many people was Michael Danby.
I didn’t write just one letter. I wrote many letters. I wanted people to hear me, to sit up and to take notice. I included Michael Danby on every one of these letters.
This is the letter Michael Danby wrote to me on September 17 2009:
From: Michael Danby MHR <email@example.com>
Date: 17 September 2009 12:06
Subject: Tova from Parliament House in Canberra
To: Michael Barnett <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thankfully this year Rosh Ha’shana this year does not occur during the parliamentary week. Like you, I will be cosseted with family and attending my local shule.
I wish you and your family a safe, happy, healthy, and prosperous new year, and well over the fast.
As you might expect I have been strongly advocating issues that I believe will be of interest to you.
In order to understand where this country is going it is important to remember where we have come from. Therefore I wrote, and I hope you will be interested in, an article on the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the second world war. Click here.
You will be pleased to know that my strong criticisms – ‘The Dark and Ugly Recesses of the Internet‘ of two online publications crikey.com and newmatilda resulted in newmatilda changing its moderation policy for comments on articles regarding the middle east, while crikey.com Eric Beecher conceded that crikey.com editing and moderation of its comments on its website during the first 3 months of 2009.
Finally, in Parliament I noted the 20 years that Genia Janover has been Bialek’s Principal extraordinaire. Click here.
Wishing you and your family a gute and gebensched yohr
This was my reply:
From: Michael Barnett
Date: 17 September 2009 10:29
Subject: Re: Tova from Parliament House in Canberra
To: Michael Danby MHR <email@example.com>
Thank you for your well-wishes.
In response to this email I would like to say that there are ‘dark and ugly recesses of the Internet’ here in Melbourne that I have brought to your attention recently via email that are as dark and as ugly as anything you may have commented on today.
Right now the only issues that are of interest to me are 1) the implementation of hate crimes to deal with vilification based on sexual orientation and 2) the insubstantial response by the leaders of every Jewish community in Australia to the hate and intolerance of gay people in the Jewish community in Australia and Israel.
You deal with Jews. You deal with gay people. You deal with issues in Australia. What are you doing to ensure a safe place for GLBT Jews in Australia?
I’ve heard less from you, Michael Danby MP, on this matter than anyone else to date, yet your seat of Melbourne Ports sits across both the Jewish and gay communities. I call on you to speak out about the intolerance and persecution of gay Jews in Australia. Can you rise to the challenge?
I sincerely hope you care about us because right now, very few people are standing up for the most marginalised and vulnerable people in the Jewish community in Australia.
My letter refers to a Melbourne blog “AJN Watch” which describes itself as:
AJN WATCH – the on-line voice of Australian Orthodox Jewry observes and comments on matters of interest to that community. We particularly monitor prejudice and monopolistic abuse of influence in the pages of the Australian Jewish News – the main source of information to and about Australian Jewry. We spotlight errors, expose misrepresentations and vigorously advocate our community’s positions.
AJN Watch specialises in filth, intolerance and hate. On August 7 2009 it published a piece entitled “Australian Jewish News, Australian Goyish News or Australian Gayish News?” In it they wrote:
The last thing their readers are interested in is what is happening in Tel Aviv snakepits of dreck and perversion.
Your comment that “Israel is one of the more gay-friendly countries in the world and you don’t have to spend too much time in the more vibrant sections of Tel Aviv to become aware of a strong and tolerant gay culture” indeed nauseates, depresses and disgusts not only Hamodia readers, but all decent, civilized and moral people – of all religious beliefs. Your pride and delight that Israel has become a world-leader in depravity and debasement says much about you and your publication.
Michael Danby ignored my letter. He did not speak out. He turned his back on this sinister and vile web site based in his electorate of Melbourne Ports. Michael Danby turned his back on gay people, on Jews, on Israel, on the memory of Liz Troubishi and Nir Katz, on the people in his electorate, on Melbourne, on Victoria, on Australia and on all of humanity.
Michael Danby wants you to vote for him on Saturday August 21. He wants you to put your faith in his ability to represent you in the government and in his ability to govern for all of you. He wants you to trust him. Michael Danby cannot be trusted on these matters. He claims to care about gay people. He claims to care for the Jewish community. He claims to care for Israel. The only proven issue that Michael Danby actually cares about is himself and his career. The rest is just lip-service and pandering.
If there’s one person you should not vote for this election it’s Michael Danby. If there’s one party you should not vote for it’s the Australian Labor Party.
Michael Danby has let everyone down and he does not deserve reelection. Tell Michael Danby he should not be reelected to government. Do this by voting for a party that really cares about human rights and justice. In Melbourne Ports, this leaves three real options: the Australian Greens, the Secular Party of Australia and the Australian Sex Party.
A vote for Danby and the Australian Labor Party is a vote for intolerance, bigotry, vilification, suffering and persecution.
Think about who you are voting for and why you are voting for them on Saturday August 21, 2010. If you vote for Michael Danby, you will have it on your conscience.