The Power Broker: Mark Leibler, an Australian Jewish life
by Michael Gawenda
Monash University Publishing, $39.95 hb, 371 pp
Michael Gawenda’s engaging biography of Melbourne lawyer Mark Leibler traverses matters of Australia’s migration history, Jewish identity, and political influence. What has it meant to live a Jewish life in an Australian city? What have been the intergenerational impacts of the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, and the establishment of the State of Israel? How, if at all, might the balance depicted between commitment to minority cultural distinctiveness and broad societal participation exhibit a way forward for multicultural futures?
Mark Leibler’s life, as a successful Australian lawyer and a publicly committed leader of Jewish organisations, has emerged from the remarkable history of refugees who lost their families in the Holocaust. From small business beginnings, a significant number became upwardly mobile and in Melbourne some achieved great success. Leibler’s parents were young middle-class members of the Jewish community in Antwerp, Belgium, who moved to Australia months before the start of the Nazi horror in September 1939.