Mont Icons

6: Comedian John Safran on extremism and Jewish identity politics

Episode Transcript

MF = Mahmood Fazal

DX = Daniel Stewart

JF = John Safran

DX = In this episode of Mont Icons, we speak to Journalist and Comedian John Safran.

MF = Mr. John Safran. Salaam Alaikum.

JF = Salaam Alaikum.

DX = Welcome.

JF = Why don't you talk in your native tongue?

MF = What is your native tongue? Daniel?

JF = Oh, we're not doing Arabic for the whole interview. Damn.

MF = I was going to.

DX = I'm a man without a native tongue.

JF = This sounds like the start of a kind of song. I get caught hip hop consciousness song; oh yeah, I'm a man without a native tongue.

DX = What can you tell us about this book that you're working on so far?

JF = It's about how one big thing is without really sounding on the defensive. It's about how everything still chugging along in a very big way in the cigarette industry. Yet, it's become a real zeitgeist issue, compared with, let's talk about Black Lives Matter. Let's talk about trans issues. Let's talk about climate change. And then you have this thing that still kills eight million people a year. And that's out of 52 million/ Only 52 million people die each year of everything and eight million of those are cigarette related. Who thinks about it? I'm really leaning into that. You know, poking around looking here looking there about what's happening in the cigarette industry, and also how it's doing dances with the vaping Industry.

DX = Yeah, I'm interested in hearing a bit about that. Because it does seem to be that we are on the threshold of, we don't know what's happening when people do that. Right. Is it? Am I right about that? Like, we haven't been vaping for long enough to know what's going on there?

JF = Oh, yeah, for sure. Which means is, yeah, there's a grey zone where you can pluck at different facts and put together whatever story you want and it's true within that limited way. So you can pluck together evidence that it's healthier, or less dangerous than smoking. And you can pluck together things that say, well, it's less dangerous in certain ways because it doesn’t have smoke, but it's more dangerous in other ways you can have that story you can pluck together, that you don't know anything. Which is kind of true. Like what do we want to know at this point? So yeah, it's a very fertile time for people on all sides to try to massage the narrative to the way they want to massage the narrative.

DX = When you were talking earlier about being a spoken word poet. Just thinking about that, do you feel like there's a pressure for you to be funny about really serious issues in this book?

JF = Were you just subtweeting me just saying, 'oh, my god, that was so unfunny?' But no, I want to be funny, particularly in this book because it will give me parameters and I know when to move on. So I'll write something up until it's funny. And then I'll go, okay well I've done that chapter so now I can move on. It's also not like it's a bad thing to be funny. It seems like if people are expecting my book to be funny. Like, no; there's worse things that can happen.

DX = It's weird to me that journalists can't be funny or reporters can't be funny. Like, why is that?

JF = I don't know. I guess some of them, they didn't grow up with Weird Al Yankovic for instance. They know the bare essentials of how to be funny. And I guess if you're like covering a true crime, you got to be careful.

MF = Yeah that’s a serious subject matter.

DX = One of the serious subject matters we do want to talk to you about, and one of one of the reasons we asked you to come here, was we wanted to talk about the Christ Church. But since then we've also had the young man arrested in Aubrey on terrorist defences. So I was just wanting to get some of your insight on that because you've been exploring this very unfunny world for quite some time.

MF = Yeah, but in a funny way.

JF = My last year, my last book. I hit the streets with the far right. And also hung out with an aussie ISIS dude. He's in jail now. And also hung around a bit with anarchists. And but yeah, the far right was interesting because when I started hanging out with them, I didn't think it was just interesting. And these are worth writing about. Then the world started catching up. So yeah, it was when I started hanging out with them on the street they were real obscure, and you know seemed strange to the wider world if they ever thought about them at all. But then, you know, Trump got nominated and Pauline Hanson came back and they started infusing each other. You know, bellowing life into each other. So then I became ahead of the curve. Like I knew this stuff. And so that was good news. Bad news for the world; good news for my book. And yes, that's true. What would you like to know? Although, having said that, ever since I finished the book, I haven't really been following it on the granular level.

Dx = Well just on that on that level. Um, one thing I'm quite interested in is the way that young people have tended to go in a cultural narrative of subcultures and has tended to be when you straight protesting it's against capitalism or it's for animal rights towards it has something to do, it's generally a leftist agenda. And now we have this, like, strong move to where the right are more physically present on the street, like in that kind of respect. And I want to get some insight from you on that.

MF = Like whether what was what was it like taking to the streets with, you know, what was it the True Blue Crew or united sun they've all got similar names?

JF = The Rock Steady crew, you're thinking about it? Yeah. So yeah, like the United patriots front, I think it was the group that was there when I first arrived. And it's one of these scenes where there's so many schisms and everywhere everyone fights in- it's a soap opera. And one thing I noticed is that the leaders of these groups are different to the people who rock up. So often the leaders of these groups know exactly what they're doing. And this is for the far right, and I've read like real extreme esoteric literature. So that they'll know about the protocols of the Elders of Zion, this olden days anti-semitic text or whatever. And they'll know about these theories that go back hundreds of years. So it's not like they haven't thought through or they just saw some Muslim on TV and decided I'm gonna. Or like that he's got brown skin or something like it's it. For the leaders. It's really way more complicated and in depth than that, like they're into fascism more than they're into racism. And fascism - when you're into fascism, as opposed to racism. Yeah, gets like really complex. Oh, and the racist too. But I mean, that's almost like, that doesn't get to the nub of the nub of it, if you know what I mean. Things can go haywire. For instance, I don't really care if white people are elected. It’s just way more complicated than that for them. And also, they're obsessed with Jews in a way I think the more mainstream lower level racism in Australia, at least isn't. So I think if you're just a regular schmo on the street who doesn't like foreigners and asylum seekers, like you don't really think about the Jews one way or the other. But you get up to these for these groups and like Jews, that's the main game. That's where all the problems are and they even see other problems through the vector of the Jews. So like the Jews are in charge of immigration, so Jews, they don't like Muslims and but Jews are the ones who brought the Muslims here. And so they're front and centre, whilst the people who really rock up to these rallies can be anything. They can just be you know, Today Tonight who gets it. You know what I mean? Like, they watch things on the day tonight and they get riled up. I'm not sure Today Tonight is still on anymore. That's how outdated I am.

MF = There's nothing quite like being hungover and watching Today Tonight. And the Daily Mail just scrolling through and you coming down.

JF = What's security for that show that used to be on Channel Seven, which I reckon is going to the border. That's gonna really date really badly. So you have to be really turned off. And I just might be that kind of half thought it through. But then you have other people have turned up because they've been manipulated. I'll give you an example. I was talking to this woman at one of these rallies. And off she goes - she’s like, yeah, we've got a real ice problem where I live and like the United patriots front have said they're gonna really help with the ice problem. And she was being sincere. And so then it's like you just have people like that who have get kind of manipulated, I guess. Also, when was it built up in Australia when it built up online like really in a bubble. And I think when it started to hit the streets. And then there were people who were jumping around a bit. There were people who I'd say we're kind of Dick Smith fans. You know, Dick Smith goes on about the bias Australia and everything. So I think when there are these groups first started, even though the leaders were really fascistic. Like you had people like that turning up where it's like, yeah, we should all buy Australian. Because somehow in their bubble online, that's how this had been pitched. And I think one of the things that really helped bring down the numbers is an ex kind of says that the left or right when they say, you should turn up to rally and counter protest. Is that just come out in the fresh air and seeing how there were these people who were like, against, you really made you think for the first time you weren't in your bubble anymore. And for some of them, they could just buy into some conspiracy that the counter protesters were communists, George Soros had sent them, but for a lot of them, it was the first time. It’s like, oh hang on, and, I'm sort of following something that's extreme or not acceptable or, and, and then that their numbers really dropped off. Like all the we're turning up to picnic because we think you should buy Australia like Dick Smith, all that kind of crowd really send out by the next rally.

MF = Did you get to interview any of the leaders?

JF = Yeah I did. Do you want me to say their names? Because there's some people, I'm always happy to use the names. But in this era social media, like you mentioned their names, and they just not that they pile on. I don't mind that I don't want to miss a day that sort of like ease it to. First of all, that they like it. And which I guess yeah, I don't have to use them.

DX = Yeah, it's relative. People really want to find out their name so it can read your doc.

JF = Yeah, I had one in particular who I won't name. I'm actually thinking, what he just cannot mention his name because he'll turn it into a YouTube clip within 45 minutes. He somehow feeds align in here and he can hear everything. But with one of the main leaders that's how I learnt they're really deep into old school fascism message because yeah, I guess when you're just you, especially in Australia, he just it just seems like so foreign all that stuff.

MF = How did they- what were they talking about? Or did they start name dropping?

JF = Yeah, it's like that way it starts. They start talking. Like, oh yeah, we just we don't mind who anyone it's just like they did this so annoying when they're not when they're when they're not being racist? Because like, I've got this book to write but also it's bullshit because they way they meander around things and but, but yeah, they usually just get into it. You know, after a while, like they know all this obscure stuff that you're surprised they know.

MF = Like Holocaust denial sort of shit.

JF = Oh, yeah.

MF = Lots of like that guy that you interviewed.

JF = Is that David Irving or? Yeah, it's amazing. And yeah, it's usually you can really spot them with the Jew stuff as I say that they're fascist because like, right Killer, just bigots. Just don't in Australia don't care about that kind of stuff. But they do. And there's also a lot of desert and attraction to power. And so they jump around a bit with how they're going to try to absorb this power. So they'll go into like non-racial areas, if they feel like they're going to absorb some of the power. So they'll go into class issues, but then that becomes really complicated, because I hate the left for talking about class all the time. And yet, so they have to do that. I guess it's the dance of Adolf Hitler. It just becomes, it becomes really complicated for if you're not a political theorist, like I'm not, because if you just go in there going in there's gonna be simple. There's the white, and I hate black people. And they hate that they hate. I don't know who they hate, the better becomes just so complicated. For instance, they're against globalisation. And for someone of my old age, that were that was like a lefty thing. It's like, what, how, and you're against corporations. And you're against? I thought, because if you're just a regular lefty, you think all these people on the right, are in bed with capitalism. And they hate the communists. And it's way more messy with them. And yeah, that they hate globalisation. And they hate corporations. And, yes, so they sound really lefty on a lot of matters.

DX = Did they try to avoid acknowledging who you were in writing this book? And I mean, like one one common thread across these extremists. Is anti-semitism from different worlds that you're in, assuming not the anarchists? Like the other people that you spoke to?

JF = Oh, yeah. It's kind of hard to know, I think they are just a bit surprised. If you bothered going up to talk to them. I was there when no one was talking to them. I know, though, just like that, like someone's interested or whatever. And I do think, what are they going to do? Like, if you actually walk up to them, and start talking to them. Are they going to punch you in the face? Like, probably they could, but they didn't. But yeah, that was kind of fun for the book. And whichever space I went into immediately this something hanging over it? Yes. Obviously, with the white supremacists, they don't like Jews, but then like this when I talk to the ISIS, dude, you know,

MF = Yeah talk about that, like the first meeting with Mr. San Antonio. I'd love to hear that. Well, and who Moosa is and what you knew about him before the meeting?

JF = Also Mussa is currently serving time for God, he tried to, according to the Australian Federal Police, he tried to escape Australia on a boat on a seven metre boat and he had a little gang of want to be Jihad ease with him. And their plan was all of them, or at least most of them had they already had their passports confiscated. Probably for exactly this reason- so they couldn't travel. And they wanted to escape to the Philippines where there's a little ISIS franchise there. And presume the Australian Federal Police were like, are they going over there to mix up with them. So they got arrested and put in jail. But when I met him, he wasn't like that at all. We're not hanging onto this is met him, because I was hunting down. And other dude, who had Aboriginal heritage but also he'd gone to Saudi Arabia. He  become someone who was considered somewhat radicalised. Because he had it he actually went over there and he learned how to become an exorcist, which was kind of interesting. But anyway, so I was hunting down and the editor of the paper asking, can you find this guy and interview him. So I was just darting all around social media and writing messages to everyone trying to track down this guy and one of them was Mr. Sir Antonio. He got back to me he goes, I really like your stuff. So then when I was like okay; he was already controversial because he, I don’t think, came to Egypt, he'd gone to Egypt. First of all, he was a convert, I think it converted around age 18 maybe. And he'd gone to Egypt and become a bit of a celebrity as a blue-eyed, fair skinned, blond haired Muslim preacher or whatever. And it was considered really radical and radical enough that the Australian authorities were keeping their eye on him. And then he'd read written something on social media about how he was going to fight in Syria or something, or fight back. Or he implied or it was taken by the authorities, at least, that some posts you made suggested that he was going to fight for ISIS. So they were like, what the hell, and they went around looking for him and he ended up being in the Philippines holed up with his girlfriend or wife at the time. And the strike they say, got deported from the Philippines and brought back to Australia. And that's when he had his passport revoked. So that was around the time I went to meet him. And he was living at home with his mom at that time. I got to hang out at the family home for a couple of days. It was fun. It was interesting. It was kind of thing I like to write about because he's family. They're not, they just, they're not Muslim, because he converted himself and he's family, I guess in some ways, archetype. You know, white Australians. And so that was sort of Hilaire. Though those all these contrasts. Like for instance, he was making his mother take down these pictures of the Last Supper, because she was lightly Christian or lightly Catholic. And he was like, wel I can't be in a house where there's last supper. And then he also didn't like any imagery. An the mother collected owls; that was her thing. They was porcelain owls, pictures of owls and everything. But yeah, she fought back on that one. And she was like, no, sorry, Mussa, I don’t care. She didn't even call him Mussa because she said the family still called him by his old name, which I think was Robert. He was a really smart dude. I've heard from other people, maybe you, that a lot of these radical people. Maybe not so educated or something, but most of them were really bright and airy and really interesting. And I'm betting for things that was so confusing. He was so comfortable with playing me the latest ISIS video, where fuzz the ISIS started putting real slick production values into their videos and their recruitment videos. And they'd look like the trailer for a Tom Cruise Mission Impossible. Like, open on black, then fade up. He showed me this and they'd would be horrifying. But like the movies, it would cut out the second before the violence. There’d be a guy there on his knees and another guy with a sword comes down and then cuts to black just in time. He's before he was about to be beheaded. But this is real shit. Mussa was just comfortable. It was just really confusing because you'd be talking to him. And you'd get lulled into this thing where he's just a normal person like this talking to you guys. And any sort of had a sense of humour except anywhere yet. You need not to draw a picture of Muhammad.

MF = Did he ever acknowledge your background?

JF = Yeah. But for people who are like hardcore like him. Once you get that hardcore, this sounds a bit weird, but you've got a collection of villains in the world. And he I think for him, like the Jews weren't really such a villain just personally, you know, you just idiosyncratic and it's like, yeah, I'm into this. I'm not into that or whatever. And for instance, that there is a so this thing about the Jews was that the Jews started off cool. And then the rabbi's started reinterpreting the Torah, which is from Muslims point of view is really just the Quran and because yeah, for Muslim At least, like it's always been Islam. So like Moses wasn't Jewish, or was even Jews, most of them in Jewish you know, you know, like Abraham and like Abraham, he was Muslim everyone was a Muslim since the beginning. So he was, he was kinda like all the Jews used to be cool. But then the rabbis reinterpreted the book. And that's where it all went wrong. And then there's all this kind of real, like patronising stuff about how I know we like the Jews, because when the caliphate set up, you will have your own little area, and the rabbis will be in charging. And the rabbis will be like, able to, like, command it or the user without. Yeah, there's a thought. So there's kind of a framework where the Jews don't have to be so bad for an ISIS person. I think that's him personally just just wasn't a thing.

DX = Was there anything about the personalities of these people that you've started to recognise as, despite their ideological convictions? Isn't something at base quite similar? About one being extremist?

JF = Yeah, well, one thing is, it can be a shortcut to becoming a king. So having status sort of the ego, well, yeah, it's gonna be getting out of prison soon. So I'm going to be very tread very lightly about it. I'm also I didn't say it was ego.

MF = Yes, though, because that's a sin. Yeah.

JF = It's what I how I interpreted it was that if you had like a conventional upbringing, and you're in your early 20s to mid 20s, and so you ended up becoming a labourer, and you've got good getting good money coming in, and you know, you got a family of your own. And so and you know, people don't know whether that's what you're meant to do. So you've got a bit of status, or alternatively, go and study to become a lawyer or a doctor or whatever, or an architect, and then you're in your mid 20s, and as a man, and you've just got a bit of status. And then if you didn't do that, kind of a shortcut to being a king in a very small pond, is to start up a little radical grouplet. And then yes, especially on the far right, and notice that it was like it, suddenly, you've got this little gang around you and you're a king. you're a king in a very small kingdom. And yes, I'd say it just gives you status, even if it's a bit of what he called, you know, Emperor's New Clothes status. But still, you can, you can do that you can you can kind of get a shortcut to status without having to do a six year medical degree.

DX = How does that compare with the far left, or the anarchists that you spoke to? Do you see that kind of same sense of being a kingdom in a hierarchy free kingdom? Or is it more complicated than that?

JF = I spent less time with them? But I mean, there's all sorts of things going on. On the far left, you definitely have a lot of people who I don't reckon will be far left when push came to shove. They just generally people who are into human rights and how refugees are treated, or how Aboriginal people are treated. And so that’s where they end up. But whether, I mean, I basically, I didn't spend enough time with the left. I think in Australia, I didn't spend enough time to find these kind of real super radical leftists which there are because in America, this all this crazy stuff has gone down Reno recently with the Tifa, and the fights on the streets and murders. And so clearly, there is a an aspect of that, but yeah, the ones in Australia, with just the way I engage with them, at least was more or these people who sort of, for me, it was more simple than that. At least in the context that I saw them it was just like, oh so this is racist. So let's go to a counter counter rally or whatever. But I mean, they could be annoying, because I say really, but I guess it was like a weird moment - was hanging out with him because it was this whole thing of because I guess the heart lift generally more about class. And so on some level, the hard left on really accepting so much as I can leverage it. They're not really into this kind of identity politics of like breaking people into little groups. because ideally, if you're on the hard left, it's like all of us workers, no matter what background we're from, and we're against the bosses. And so I think when I was hanging out with them, it was becoming this thing, like the real growth of identity politics having this like, power, where like, sit, sit down white man or whatever it's like, Well, okay, well just say you're in a on the Hot late for does that mean like, does that mean white people shouldn't talk and I really got the impression from most of the people on the hard left that they'll kind of riding out identity politics because I didn't kind of know how to handle it. Like they, you know, like they kind of got that it's like, bad optics or it's got to be a bit of poor taste to kind of tell some brown person. Well, actually, it's about class. But uh, yeah, I got the impression that we're more kind of riding it out. And rather than sort of agreeing with this kind of identity politics, but I know everything becomes so complicated because there's so many versions going on out there. I got really confused by I don't know if the hard left, but this, the the left and how they dealt with Jews or whatever, like on all sorts of weird ways. Like the first day I went out to a rally for my book, and I didn't even know I was doing a book then I just went down to the rally just out of curiosity, because these things are going to be skinheads on the streets of Melbourne are descended, like really weird. And I guess part of my mind was going on, maybe I can write something about this or whatever. So I turned up, and we're seeing like, an hour within under an hour because like tweeting sarcastic things about the rally. Like I just saw a guy who took a photo of a guy with a swastika on the back of his neck. And I was like, oh, listen, I don't want to jump to any conclusions. He could be a Buddhist if my v symbol does this, doing all these sarcastic things. And then I got like, a bit of flack, like I just didn't understand it, because I couldn't believe it were that one dude. And this was from a lefty perspective was like, anti racism doesn't need any more white people to speak on its behalf. And, like having a go at me for being in a rally were there’s Nazis, and sort of being against the Nazis. Like, that's problematic, because for some reason, I'm not I'm not Jewish. I'm white. And I was just like, this is weird. And first, I thought, and there were a couple and the other thing was these were from tastemakers like these weren't from and when I say tastemakers, I mean, you know, the kind of people who might write articles for websites that deal with leftism and anti racism and shit like that. So it wasn't like just regular idiots or something like that. He didn't get it. It was like, these people surely knew. Nazis don't like us. And then you're asking questions like this still playing this card. I thought I thought it was this just must be some odd thing. Like, are these pretty funny, I put it and I put it in the first article I wrote, I wrote it as an article in the paper before a book. And people got shitty about that, like I, because I dealt with that humour humorously. Where I was like, that the whole thing of being a Jew at a anti-Nazi rally on the left, telling you, you're problematic. And so I thought, I thought I just like stumbled across some weird glitch in the Matrix. And I just continued, and then I just realised, no, it wasn't, it's like this real contorted strange. It’s a combination of not knowing enough about history and, and a combination of how we filter the world these days. And, and then a bit of the Israel Palestine conflict gets in there. And then there's things about where their basic argument is the same as the far right, which is Jews are privileged. And so therefore, the far right is telling you, Jews a privilege, and then the far left is our Jews a privilege.

MF =  And so therefore, then that's because the argument is that your optics was white facing people, or both?

JF = It's both. Well, it's at least three things. It's that we're economically privileged, which is kind of a bit dodgy, for instance. I mean, this is all just talking very generally. But like, if you just look at like the poverty in Australia, it's like the poverty rate amongst the Jewish communities, pretty much online with the general community. So you've got to kind of put that in the mix. But anyway, regardless, that's what one of the things is we were just economically privileged. And so therefore, and racism is about is power. So because Jews have power, they can't be the victims of racism. And and then there's also this white thing, which Yeah, we should talk about that that's really fascinating where it's like, we're just, we're white. And and so happen white people suffer racism. And then what's the other one? And just generally, it's this like weird thing and thought out thing where we've just blended into the mainstream. And therefore we can't be victims of racism and all these things. I think there's a real disconnect with me in the left about these issues because I've like looked into anti semitism in the long run. And so a lot of the things kind of touch on these real fucking raw nerve. For instance, the best way I can compare it is, like, you know, if an American comes to Australia, and this has happened, like an American musician, and or comedian going and just said, Oh, man, man, I met this Aboriginal dude. And yet, yet he had really white skin. And like, that just seems like that. I mean, from his perspective, that's fine or whatever. But we know because we know more even it's not average at that. It's like that's actually touching on some real fucked up stuff about a simulation, about assumptions about what Aboriginal identity means. And stolen and everything like a touch it. So I'd love to the stuff where a lefty thinks they're being very clever. It really touches on things like that, for Jewish people. I mean, I guess the thing is, it's one of these things where it's got truth to it, but kind of so what because lots of things have truth to it. So it's more, it's more the context of focusing on that and not focusing on other things. For instance, if Pauline Hanson says, All the burqa is a symbol. Women shouldn't be forced to wear the burqa, because it's sexist and misogynist, and it comes from Assad genetic code, or whatever, like the left hand go, oh, let's examine like the colonel. The truth is that or someone else said, they just kind of know what she's up to. Like he's trying to weaponize an issue to try to win some seats. Yeah. And denigrate Muslims and to have people shun them or whatever. So this whole thing of like, the left as they seem, excuse me, that they'll say something, and it's got like, a layer of like, yeah, that's a fine. That's a fair enough argument to have in some contexts. You know, like, you know, Jews wine or whatever, but, but they did. They just like pulling hands, and they're not doing it as some like little good faith. argument. It's like, it's some fucked up thing.

DX = What do you think that is? Our guess, is what I'm trying to ask you like, what does it come down to? Is it? Is it as simple as drawing from a history of anti semitism?

JF = Yeah, I think one of the problems, especially in Australia, I think this would be a lot easier in pretty much any country except Australia, because part of the issue with Australia, I've noticed is that mainstream Australia often doesn't think about Jews one way or the other. So yeah, so it's like, my argument isn't that there's this Oh, my God, this is dangerous mainstreaming of anti semitism in Australia, It's like, it's more or less this ugly thing on the fringes that can burst into the mainstream. And that's, that's, that's more the issue. But I mean, one of the if you go down to these rallies, where they're like anti muslim, you have people with all sorts of arguments, why are they there and got real malicious ones, you've got naive ones, and all that kind of stuff. But it’s not really up to the Muslim community to kind of go into the hearts and minds and sort of like, look at the positive side of this anti muslim rally like oh my god, what's really unfair that you're criticising this anti muslim rally because actually some of the people they're kind of like haven't thought it through or whatever. So there's a bit of that with in the context of Australia with anti and the far left with anti Jewish sentiment like they just haven't thought it through. So it's sort of sometimes it's kind of hard to pin down but but they it's this is like really strange stuff. I'll give you like some examples. So you know, I'm not mad like beyond being told I should leave an anti racist rally because I'm white. In same week, as there was this massacre in America of at a synagogue, the University of Sydney newspaper ran this full page like article, which was about had Jewish students at the University campus are like Israelis on Palestinian land. It was like it was meant to be a joke piece or whatever. So I saw that, like Tom sent it to me. And I was like going, Oh, this is pretty edgy. And I was going, Oh, okay. And I was waiting till I saw I’d flick through the magazine and just see, I was like, Oh, cool. It's like SouthPark 90s transgressions, but I'm into this. But then I'm like, turn the pages, and everything's like, unspeakably woke unspeakably. We're not gonna step on any toes, we're not. And then this, this is one page, saying Jewish students at the University campus are unwanted and problematic. And it's like, it's just so bizarre like, well, how can it be like, everything's going in one direction of, you know, don't step on eggshells, and then you've got this one thing where it's just totally outrageous. And, yeah, that's just how, but that's just how it is amongst the fringe with how they say Jewish people, like I say, and how confident they are. Like, these are the people who would never like they'd rather chop off their hands and Miss gender, a trans person, the kind of people who like right for the University of Sydney magazine. They're happy to just run a piece, oh, Jewish students problematic on this on the university campus. It's just really strange.

MF = Yeah, I've never really thought about how both sides of the political spectrum, or united extremes in this way.

JF = And one of the other things is kind of confused a bit of a head fuck for a Jew is that it kind of be different. There's 1000s of issues out there. So if someone's just not interested in Jews, or anti semitism, that's cool. Like, there's 1000s of things. I'm not addressing because I don't, but the problem with the left is that they do want to use the Jews, when it's beneficial to them. So they hate Trump, for instance, even like Scott Morrison. And so if there's any, if there's anything where they can use anti semitism or Jews to like, beat the right, like, you know, accuse Trump of being anti semitic, they love it. So it's like, they bring it they dip it into us, when it's convenient, when it's gonna wait. And then suddenly, they know where to be seen when it's inconvenient.

DX = I have seen a number of online confrontations between anti racists using that word, you know, specifically the anti racist kind of ideology. And, and Jewish people trying to figure out where they fit into that. And that's what you're talking about. Right? Do you actually fit into the, into the kind of woke ideology? Like, where's John Saffron in that world? And that, is that what you refer to as the glitch in the Matrix?

JF = Yes definitely. For instance, in the New York Times recently that there was an article about Louis Farrakhan. You know, that guy from the nation. Yeah, yeah. So he's like this fully. It's like an American sect, which, despite its name isn't actually considered Islam by most Muslim people. Because it's very evangelical, isn't it? Yeah. He's like, not even no one can defend him because he doesn't use any code words. Usually if people want to go the Jews, they try to say, Oh, no, I'm just talking about Israel. I'm not talking about Jews. He's talking about Jews and I was like, dips into like, the New Testament and everything so so it's just impossible to stand up for him like he's going yeah, I think Jews are the sons of the devil because of this Bible quote. They don't even get that kind of like the left really standing up for him. Anyway, so this this writer wrote this piece about sort of a bit of a puff piece about him about how he was a he's misunderstood because he really helped the women's march in some way. And anyway, so a couple of some Jews online are like what the hell why doing a puff piece on the Jews other children of the devil guy or whatever? And then the writer the response was, and she was black the writers response was, people who have become white shouldn't tell people of colour how to you know write their articles or something like. So basically you lob things that the Jews as Jews, and then you shape shift them into white people as soon as they want to go well hang on, now that you've brought up Louis Farrakhan like suddenly we're not Jews anymore suddenly we're white people and that kind of like the shows a bit of like the little game that people I don't know what you want to call them like on the woke wake side say things Another thing is that they do I've noticed is I have this thing where they make it it's really complicated. To stand with the Jews like are so complicated because Jews are white. It's a complicated because of the Israel, Palestine conflict and maybe, yes, Jews with bad faith can do that. And they might get it's really complicated, which it's true. It's complicated, but you pull the lens out, it's like, everything's complicated. You know, like, for instance, if you want to be against the intervention in the Northern Territory, you know, there's a, you know, there's a Royal Commission saying there's child abuse in the Northern Territory among them. So, but the left don't get all kind of tripped up over their shoelaces about that. It's not like, Oh, well, how can we stand with Aboriginal people when there's that? Or there's corruption in this Aboriginal organisation that is sort of like know how to, like, cut to the chase in a good way and get on with it. And also, obviously, with like, you could just be derail any defence of Islam or Muslim people by kind of go, Well, what about this terrorist attack? Or, oh, well, what about the Quran? What about like, on the left, never, they're not there, you know, the left weren't failing to turn up to rallies against Islamophobia. Like they weren't so complicated, because, you know, when Pauline Hanson says there's terrorism, she's kind of right. or when it like, they just kind of cut to the chase. But then when it comes to the GS, there seems to be this thing where they, they make it so complicated, and it's like, No, it's not. Well, it's only as complicated as everything else is complicated. So I don't buy that. It's a complicated thing. And also, it's kind of just highly suspicious. Because the whole history of anti semitism is you tag the Jews with whatever is the bad thing at the time in your own community.

DX = Yeah. Do you want to actually just go into that the protocols kind of thing? Because I feel like, I have a bit of background because Sure, yeah, that's pretty interesting history, how that's been used?

JF = Sure. So there was this forge document which purported to be this the minutes of a meeting of powerful Jews on how they're going to run the world. And I think it's from a couple of 100 years ago, from Russia, and it kind of caught fire. And people just still to this day, people, enough people think it's true. And so looking at me, like, you would say that the protocols do say that they will send out little agents.

MF = But I was gonna say, and if you could explain what Zionism in contemporary means. Because people link the two.

JF = Sure. But this is this is where it gets really weird in the context of Australia, because you can just assume everyone's got the bare essentials, but like, there's so much out there like, in the same way, I just don't have the bare essentials about what's going on with Pakistan and India or whatever. I would like to I don't have the bare essentials, about like, 1000s of things. So yeah, I think a mistake I've made I've always assumed just because I you know, Schindler's List is pretty mainstream. And he read his own news all the time. And, you know, there's lots of Seinfeld. Surely, everyone knows about, you know, the Jews or whatever, but it's like it the Jews are weird glitch in this whole discussion about racism that goes back like 1000s of years, and can be really in a good way. I think this isn't a good way because of which what a modern Australian of, of any background would be thinking at least most of them or whatever, like, you know, it goes back to the Jews killed Jesus Christ. And as in like, we live in a real secular country here. So just people will probably not connect that to the modern world, or they think anyone was bizarre if they connected to the modern world. But if that that long history of the Jews killed Jesus, or at least the New Testament says it does with the cooperation of the Romans or whatever. Regardless, I don't know November, we got people think that Jews killed Christ. Like if you got in Poland or Hungary, today, like that still has weight that the Jews killed the Messiah. And it’s distaste in the community or whatever. And I mean, you see some of that in the like, the first Borat movie where Sasha Baron Carnes making fun of, you know, the running of the Jew and all these, these sort of conspiracies and this hatred or whatever, but it's like a, it's like, based on a real thing. You know, it's like, even though it's not a real modern beer, even though you're not gonna find too many people in Australia or America who were like, the Jews killed Christ, and whatever it's still like a freakin freakin powerful thing. I guess. It's understandable because you just think about how powerful religion is.

MF = Not Mel Gibson made a movie.

JF = And you think about how powerful these books are and So you've got this whole, like weird strand of anti semitism going to that. And that's sort of also the fact that the Jews sold out Jesus or a Jew, Judas sold out Jesus for money. So that I think might be the origin story of Jews will do anything for money. And then that led into this is really rough stuff, you know, you know, like, just, you know, like, I'm looking into the data details or whatever. But then you get into the, the laws passed that in Europe that Jews weren't allowed to have all sorts of jobs. And also, that Christians weren't allowed to have jobs that involve lending money because it went against their Christian beliefs. SO then they said they’d get the  Jews to do this. So then the Jews got involved in the money trade that way. And then that became like, the sound that compounded that thing, where it's like, all the Jews can make money and the Jews are bad news or whatever. So there's that. And that still exists to these days. And then God, I don't know, you might know more about this. But you know, what, there's, that's just the Christian side of things or whatever. And then there’s the start of communism. the way the very root of communism they use, like in the papers, you know, like Marx or whatever, no, he's Marxist, dude. Yeah. Like, they used us as a reference point as, like, what's wrong with capitalism? And, you know, and so the Jews are tied in with the capitalists. There. So we're just this kind of figure in all sorts of real big belief systems. Like, where this villain, or at least this contentious figure, and yeah, and so. And, and so, what about with Islam. I don't know, like they did.

MF =  think it goes back to the first war, right. Mohammed went back to, and this is stretching my Islamic history. But yeah, I think there was a dispute is over.

JF = So it's, at the very least, like I know less about that. It's also confused, because people say they got the Jews and Muslims used to live together in such peace and harmony. I've never been able to kind of dig into that. I always been suspicious about how I,

MF = yeah, I'm not sure. I know. When I when I was in Morocco, there was. Yeah, they seem to be very proud of the history and relationship, but then you never know the reality. I mean, I don't know how they were treated in their quarters by the population and stuff like that.

JF = But yeah, and then then, at least at the very least, like the Quran, a bit like the New Testament, the Quran has got really contentious, or that go broader than that claim to know what's the Quran or what's, you know, the Saudis or whatever, generally, Islamic scripture, you can very least cherry pick things out of it that are like really contentious and have real negative portrayals of the Jews or whatever. But I mean, they'll say, on either but there's good stuff, too. It's like a I'm sure there is and I'm sure there's good stuff in the New Testament to and also put it out there is this bad stuff in the Jewish Torah. I'm not denying it, although the Jewish tore up because it's the first one it doesn't actually beg the other two because they haven't yet the other two haven't happened yet. But it bags homosexuals and everything. So I hope this doesn't sound like I'm like, ragging on the New Testament, and the Quran and the Torah.

MF = How does that all fit in with because a lot of these guys on the far right, always, uh, you know, going on about design as yet, how does that relate to the protocols of, I think what narrow

JF =  Zionism is Jews who thought, oh, listen, we're just so unwelcome in the broader world. So we made it our own homeland and say that we're going for Israel, which was Palestine at the time. And their argument was, well, this was our land, you know, in the time to the Bible. But there were other there are other locations that were being considered. Em, and a couple of them were in Australia. That would have been cool. Because this was in the context of when Zionism really got powerful or hwen people bel;ieved this was a good argument was the Holocaust. Were like 6 million Jews had been killed in Europe, for being Jewish. And it was like, Oh, hang on. I really do have a point that this is sort of like anti semitism out there. And then they  and then there was enough leverage because of that, I guess that Israel, yeah, Jews got to set up Israel. And then obviously Palestinians were living there. And there were wars. And there's that continues to this day. So then that becomes, that becomes a complicated thing when you talk about anti semitism, because you'll get people who will say, Well, I'm not at all It's nothing to do with anything. But these are all Palestine conflict, which I'm sure there are people like that. So I'm not saying there isn't or whatever. But going back to my other point about how everything, everything is complicated, not just this. Yeah, I don't hear any lefties kind of going well, you hate Aboriginal people, or you're totally dismissive of Aboriginal people, but for the right reasons, because, you know, you can cherry pick issues in that. And I don't say that about Muslims. I don't say that, that I kind of take your shoes that have like, kernels of truth to them to sort of totally dismiss other cultures. It's just the Jews for some reason, suspiciously. And actually, the whole thing about talking about the Holocaust is, which just really infuriated me when I was told, I wasn't welcome at an anti racism velvet rally in Australia, and not only an anti racist, anti Nazi rally in Australia, it's like, What the fuck are you talking about? It's like, I am in Australia, because my grandparents had to flee the Nazis in Poland and all their family were killed by Nazis. Fuck, you know, like, it's just so obnoxious and to be then, like, have twisted things around that it's problematic for me to be in Melbourne, protesting Nazis. And then also, well, if you've got a problem with me, being in Australia, it's not my fault. I'm in Australia because my family don't have a home in Poland anymore. You know?

MF = Yeah, it's, I mean, I wonder if, if we're creeping into the age where, you know, wars become so distant. I remember speaking to Valerie about this. And he talks about like, the way in universities people admire certain Stalinist like ideologies and stuff like that. And he was like I fuck he talking. Like, or they, you know, wearing for me as an Afghan, my parents fled Afghanistan because of this, you know, so get invasion. So my family fled from Latvia for the same reason.

DX = Yeah, yeah. And Stalin represents a figure of like, kind of atrocious figure in the kind of background of my fat like, inherited terror of Russia and the consequences of Stalinism is, is something like, almost like innate.

JF = My grandparents after they fled Poland, they were in the, you know, the former Soviet Union. My mom was actually born in Uzbekistan on the run. But, so, yes, they had a bit of a negative vibe about the communists. And I remember when I was in university, I was never that kind of, I was more into the art side of things rather than reading about politics or whatever, both thing I'd read some Chomsky, and I was blabbering to my granddad about it. And my dad was my dad disguise like he fled communists, you know what I mean? Like, how cool of the Communist? Yeah, yeah, I'll sign that. I don't even know what else I'm actually surprised I even got into politics deep enough to have a fight with him. I do remember that. And I was going I yeah, people just have a bit different backstories and you can't just leave in the present tense

DX = And no sense of historic literacy that you're talking about that makes it so important to understand. Like there's an enormous number of people who are completely it's not that they deny the Holocaust. Haven't they just don't even know that, that it happened.

JF =  Yeah, that's really interesting. And also, even if it's not dangerous, it's really annoying to me. Yeah, I think the government should enjoy an education department should introduce a policy or a policy of like, how do we teach children our school kids enough? So they stopped being really annoying to John Safran.