Last Thursday, February 8, 2007 AIM received the following letter of complaint from Mr Robert Burton-Bradley.
I notice your website has picked up the Daily Telegraphs coverage of an incident at Killara high School involving a simulation exercise for year 11 students is grossly misinformed.
I noticed a number of inaccuracies when I first read the Article in The Australian newspaper.
I have since written an article for the Northside Courier which exposed a number of these falsehoods.
I suggest you investigate this matter before posting it as accurate and honest reporting on your website.
Here is my reply:
Dear Mr Burton-Bradley,
I have to say I was surprised you decided to complain about this alleged gross misinformation to us rather than The Australian.
As you correctly pointed out in your letter, we only “picked up” the Daily Telegraph’s coverage..”.
Furthermore, after reading your article “Students of banned Middle-Eastern program refute 'anti-Israel' bias ” I am even more puzzled because the bare facts as presented by you and the Murdoch media are the same.
These facts are:
- The Killara High School ran the Middle East Politics Simulation game for a number of years
- Dr Andrew Vincent of the Macquarie University Centre for Middle Eastern Studies devised the simulation as well as becoming its propagator
- There was a complaint from the Jewish Board of Deputies
- The NSW Dept of Education decided to ban the exercise
And so the “gross misinformation” and “inaccuracies” can be reduced to the fact that the Australian/Telegraph mentioned “a number of distressed parents and children” whereas you pointed out that there was only one parent complaining and the rest of students and parents were more than happy about the whole thing.
Obviously there are two completely different issues here, and what is more one does not rule out the other.
A Jewish education expert who observed an exercise at Killara High School on Sydney's North Shore said some Jewish students sat together for support and were too intimidated to speak as other students voiced anti-Israeli opinions in terms critical of individual students. (Source )
In fact the program devised by Dr Andrew Vincent was probably very successful and the majority of students did not see anything wrong with it.
After all it was a school programme, and most young people are easily influenced by people in authority (no matter how sinister the motives of these authorities might be).
The true motive behind this “educational” role-play was to demonize the Israelis, to produce more Israeli-haters like AnthonyLowenstein, Adam Shapiro or Noam Chomsky and people, who often just try to fit in to the anti-Semitic “mainstream”.
Please do not be fooled for a minute by Dr Andrew Vincent’s unbiased, academic view on Israel. After all, he demanded Hezbollah be taken off the list of terrorist organizations.
He also insinuated that it was the Israelis who killed the late Yasser Arafat:
Justice seems further away from the Palestinians than ever before. The Israelis quite possibly murdered Yasser Arafat, who despite all his failings stood up for Palestinian interests and refused to cave in to US and Israeli pressure. His replacement, the hapless Mahmoud Abbas' real task is to provide security for the Israelis and to persuade his people to accept the Israeli occupation of their land forever and without protest. (Source )
..and he agreed that suicide bombers are martyrs:
Dr Vincent doesn’t worry about facts: as long as his ideological aims are reached, anything goes:
In preparing a profile, you should not consume yourself with incidental biographical data such as bithdates, schooling, etc, except where this has a particular influence on your role - in which case the relevant effect should of course be discussed. A short historical overview should then link into information about philosophy and/or ideology - is your character more pragmatic or idealistic, reactive or active?
You should also keep in mind that every person (and organisation) considers himself to be rational and, generally, "right". To role-play an extremist group, for example, as insane would lead to a poor parody and little effect - an understanding of the logic and ideology which drives that group is necessary and should be worked with, no matter how strange you may find it based on your personal ideas (which you too consider "right"!). This leads to an appreciation of the many grey areas that dominate people and politics, as well as looking below the surface and going some way to understanding different views. (Source )
The media like to suggest that suicide bombing is a uniquely Islamic phenomenon, with poor misguided patsies thinking they’re going to be propelled into an Islamic paradise peopled by 47 virgins, and other earthly delights. (Source )
The number of virgins is in fact 72 not 47.
When it comes to other areas Dr Vincent wouldn’t bother with little obstacles like facts at all:
Sri Lanka has seen Buddhist suicide bombers who killed up to 500 people, including Rajiv Gandhi. (Source )
Firstly, the conflict in Sri Lanka has nothing to do with any religion (unlike the terrorist acts committed in the name of Allah).
Secondly, Dr Vincent refers to the activities of Tamil Tigers, who are Marxists and therefore cannot be classified as “religious”.
Thirdly Tamils aren’t Buddhists but HINDU (it is the Sinhalese who are mostly Buddhists).
As you can see, Dr Vincent managed to make several “gross” errors in just two sentences.
Would you really trust this man with the education of your children?