Dvir Abramovich

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Dvir Abramovich (born 1971) is an Israeli-Australian Jewish studies academic, columnist and editor of Russian descent. Abramovich is a graduate of Monash University and The University of Melbourne and is currently Director of the Program for Jewish Culture and Society at The University of Melbourne. A leading specialist instructor in Hebrew language and literature, Israel and Jewish Studies, the bulk of his research focuses on modern Israel and Hebrew literature, culture and society, the Second Generation of Holocaust survivors, reconciliation between Jews and Muslims,[1][2] Israelis and Palestinians[3] and the role of religion.

Early years[edit]

Abramovich attended Monash University where he earned his undergraduate degrees in Arts and Law; in 1995 he earned an MA in Jewish Studies and in 1999 a PhD from The University of Melbourne. He won the A.D Hallam Prize for excellence in Hebrew studies in 1992.

Career[edit]

Abramovich began teaching Hebrew language and literature at The Centre for Jewish History and Culture, he was appointed Centre Director in 2006. He has taught an extremely wide range of subjects including Hebrew language at various levels as well Introduction to Modern Jewish Culture, Israeli Film, A History of Israel, A History of the Arab Israeli conflict, "Jerusalem in Jewish Literature", "Reading the Holocaust" and "Israel: Conflicts and Culture". He has been instrumental in fostering links between Israeli and Australian tertiary institutions and in 2008 was responsible for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, the first of its type, between The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and The University of Melbourne.[4] An expert on the work of famed Israeli author Amos Oz, Abramovich nominated Oz for a Honorary Doctor of Letters which the writer was awarded at The University of Melbourne in August 2011.[5] Abramovich also served as editor of the Australian Journal of Jewish Studies, the country's sole peer-reviewed journal devoted to the field of Israel and Judaic studies from 2002 to 2010 and was elected President of the Australian Association of Jewish Studies in 2006.[6]

Books[edit]

Abramovich is co-editor of the 2008 book Testifying to the Holocaust[7] and author of Back to the Future: Israeli Literature of the 1980s and 1990s.[8] His 2012 book is Hebrew Classics: A Journey Through Israel Timeless Prose and Poetry[9]

Other activities[edit]

Abramovich has been a columnist at The Australian Jewish News since 2001, authoring the Counterpunch column,[10] he has contributed to an array of national publications such as The Age, The Herald Sun, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra Times and On Line Opinion.[11] In 2010, he penned a blog for Fairax's National Times titled Chutzpah, in which he tackled a wide array of issues relating to the Jewish world and Israel.[12]

Abramovich has participated in several sessions at The Melbourne Writers Festival, hosting the spotlight interview with author Eva Hoffman and chairing a panel on Holocaust writing and Rewriting the Jew in 2008. He was also panelist in a Melbourne Film Festival discussion on Middle East film-making in 2007, he is a member of the Jewish human rights organisation The Anti Defamation Commission. Abramovich has appeared on ABC Radio to mark Anne Frank's 80th birthday,[13] gave a lengthy interview to Radio National's The Spirit of Things on reconciliation programs between Jews and Muslims in 2004 and was interviewed about the Mossad by ABC breakfast.[14] In 2007, Abramovich took part in a heated exchange with founders of the The Independent Australian Jewish Voices Anthony Lowenstein and Peter Slezak on Radio National's Australia Talks. Abramovich has been the subject of continuing criticism by Lowenstein on his blog.[15]

Criticism[edit]

Abramovich has courted controversy over his leadership of the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC). There has been extensive criticism of him using the platform as a personal hobby horse, this has included his releasing constant press releases, and his avoidance of controversial topics within Australia. He has also been criticised for ignoring Islamophobia and Indigenous Australians, even though these areas should be a focus of the ADC[16].

Facebook issue[edit]

In 2011, Abramovich wrote a scathing opinion piece in The Sydney Morning Herald arguing that Facebook should take down Holocaust denial pages after the company refused a request by 21 survivors of the death camps to remove pages that promoted Holocaust denial.[17]

Exploitation of the Holocaust[edit]

Abramovich has been a strong opponent of Holocaust trivialization and its exploitation for ideological and artistic purposes, he has argued against the exploitation of the Holocaust [17] and criticized the tendency to use the Holocaust as material for Hollywood films.[18] He also railed against the abuse of the Holocaust by interest groups, artists and comedians.[19] Abramovich took issue with a skit by John Safran on his 2009 show Race Relations in which the presenter made out in Anne Frank's attic with his supposed girlfriend Katherine Hicks, whom Safran described as a "A Blonde haired Aryan". Abramovich wrote that "Safran's exploitative approach drains the Holocaust of its tragic context (the death camps, the starvation, the shootings, the burning of bodies, the mounds of hair, shoes and glasses)". Abramovich also criticized Safran's mock-gassing of Holocaust denier David Irving in a British radio studio, writing that, "The ABC may have figured that any publicity is good publicity and will lure viewers, but the inclusion of these two hurtful pranks reveals a troubling abdication of responsible judgement and a bewildering lack of sensitivity. Why didn't anyone tell him that this was a bad idea, that there was no humour to be mined from atrocity, that trivialising genocide for silly comic pay-off is inexcusable?.[20] Journalist at The Age Julie Szego reacted to Abramovich's censure of Safran in a column for The Australian Jewish News stating in her opening remarks, "IS Dvir Abramovich kidding? The question popped into my head while reading his thunderous attack on John Safran ("No Laughing Matter" AJN 29/11). For a moment, I wondered if Abramovich’s case against the Melbourne comic was, in fact, a satire of an outraged columnist";[21] in March 2012, Abramovich returned to this subject in an opinion page titled "Horror of the Nazis has no place in comedy shows" which he wrote for the Age newspaper. Abramovich took to task the new Australian comedy show Danger 5 showing on SBS. Abramovich wrote that "I find it disturbing that Russo and Ashby, and by extension SBS, The South Australian Film Corporation and the Adelaide Film Festival, who financially backed the series, felt it was OK to capitalise on the Shoah for entertainment and cheap laughs. Danger 5 and other films, musicals and books of its ilk are not just in bad taste, they are morally wrong because they exploit the horrendous killings of the Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals and other ‘‘undesirables’’, and use them as backdrop for their comic payoff.[22]

The Richard Dawkins controversy[edit]

In 2009 Abramovich published an op-ed in The Sydney Morning Herald examining the phenomenon of books attacking religion titled "Celebrity atheists expose their hypocrisy",[23] the article attracted a tsunami of comments on the SMH website and hundreds of comments on Richard Dawkins's personal homepage.

Time Magazine cover[edit]

In an op-ed in The Age, Abramovich attacked Time magazine for its September 2010 cover "Why Israel Doesn't Care About Peace" in which it argued that Israelis were too busy making money and enjoying life to engage with the peace process. Abramovich accused Time Magazine of a "shameful and offensive story... that not only engaged in Israel bashing, but also trotted out old-age anti-Semitic stereotypes."[24]

The Sensible Jew[edit]

In May 2009, a blog called The Sensible Jew was set up, its aim, primarily, was to provide commentary on the failings of the Melbourne Jewish community's leadership but to also offer observations about Jewish identity and Israel. At first anonymous, it was revealed in an August interview in the Age[25] that the blog was the brain child of Alex Fein. One of Fein's early entries took issue with Abramovich's stance on Holocaust representation following Sam Leach's portrait of himself in Nazi attire imitating Hitler. Abramovich's stance on what he saw as the cheapening, commercialising and commodifying of the Holocaust was articulated in an op-ed he wrote for The Age.[26] Fein attacked Abramovich, labelling his piece as diatribe and his views repugnant.[27] While not responding directly to Fein's assertions, Abramovich did object to claims Fein made in her interview with The Age; in an opinion piece "There are as many Jewish opinions as there are Jews" published in The Sunday Age Abramovich argued that, "Alex Fein's evidence-light prosecutorial indictment of the entire Jewish community is riddled with grandiloquent contentions, distortions and omissions that fly in the face of objective reality." [28] Fein responded the same day to Abramovich's article, thanking him for the free publicity he had given the blog.[29]

The London Olympics[edit]

On 4 June 2012 Abramovich published an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald in which he passionately argued that the IOC should set aside one minute of silence during the opening ceremony of this year's London Olympics to commemorate the memory of the 11 Israeli athletes, who were murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich games.[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.commongroundnews.org/article.php?id=22894&lan=en&sid=0&sp=0
  2. ^ http://dev.nceis.unimelb.edu.au/event/reflections-nceis-dr-dvir-abramovich
  3. ^ Abramovich, Dvir (2008-03-31). "Slowly but surely, hearts are turning". The Age. Melbourne. 
  4. ^ "University of Melbourne signs agreement with Hebrew University of Jerusalem : News : The University of Melbourne". Archive.uninews.unimelb.edu.au. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  5. ^ "Honorary Degree for Amos Oz | MUSSE". Musse.unimelb.edu.au. 2011-09-14. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  6. ^ "Dvir Abramovich elected to head Jewish Studies body : News : The University of Melbourne". Archive.uninews.unimelb.edu.au. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  7. ^ http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/4696058
  8. ^ "Home - Cambridge Scholars Publishing". C-s-p.org. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  9. ^ https://www.amazon.com/Hebrew-Classics-Journey-Through-Timeless/dp/1936235943
  10. ^ http://www.jewishnews.net.au/bring-in-those-who-marry-out/20195
  11. ^ "Dvir Abramovich - On Line Opinion Author". Onlineopinion.com.au. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  12. ^ "Chutzpah - National Times". Melbourne: theage.com.au. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  13. ^ "The Diary of Anne Frank: what it means today - Saturday Extra - ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Abc.net.au. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  14. ^ http://blogs.abc.net.au/victoria/2010/06/who-are-mossad-really.html
  15. ^ http://antonyloewenstein.com/?s=dvir
  16. ^ "Dvir Abramovich And Fascism: A Jewish Failure". Galus Australis. 2015-09-01. Retrieved 2017-10-09. 
  17. ^ a b "Facebook Refuses To Take Down Holocaust Denial Site". Smh.com.au. 2011-08-02. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  18. ^ "Hollywood and the Holocaust". Melbourne: Theage.com.au. 2009-11-02. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  19. ^ Abramovich, Dvir (2008-03-01). "Holocaust survivors are not laughing". The Age. Melbourne. 
  20. ^ http://www.jewishnews.net.au/no-laughing-matter/10074
  21. ^ "http://www.polarisweb.com.au/clients/ajn/?p=10698
  22. ^ "http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/horror-of-the-nazis-has-no-place-in-comedy-shows-20120312-1uu3x.html.
  23. ^ "Celebrity atheists expose their hypocrisy". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2009-10-26. 
  24. ^ "Time's up: The story that shocked Israel". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2010-09-15. 
  25. ^ "The return of the Sensible Jew". The Age. Melbourne. 2009-08-23. 
  26. ^ Abramovich, Dvir (2008-03-01). "Holocaust survivors are not laughing". The Age. Melbourne. 
  27. ^ Fein, Alex (August 14, 2009). "In The AJN – The Holocaust: No Laughing!". The Sensible Jew. 
  28. ^ "There are as many Jewish opinions as there are Jews". The Age. Melbourne. 2009-08-30. 
  29. ^ Fein, Alex (August 30, 2009). "Dvir Abramovich in The Age: No Laughing!". The Sensible Jew. 
  30. ^ "Munich Olympics terror victims deserve a minute of our time". The Sydney Morning Herald.