If you can’t invent the truth, distort it.
That appears to be the thinking behind recent misrepresentations of the views of ABC management and Labor Party members.
We’re all used to seeing conservatives attacking the ABC, we see it almost daily from the IPA and the Coalition. So I guess it should have come as no surprise that the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) would join the lineup to take potshots at poor old Aunty.
The ABC, to their credit, gave ECAJ an opportunity to come in and state their case with Managing Director David Anderson and his Chief of Staff and CEO Ita Buttrose, who had to cancel due to an injury. The meeting was held “in good faith”.
ECAJ’s concerns were based around;
“a pervasive culture of bias, if not antipathy, towards Israel and the mainstream Australian Jewish community, within the unit responsible for organising and producing the Q + A program”.
The Q&A episode was one during which the escalation of continuing attacks on Palestine by Israeli occupying forces was discussed. This also led to a discussion of the system of apartheid forced upon the Palestinian civilians that survive the armed settlers stealing properties, racist death squads, and missile attacks on schools, hospitals, and media organisations from the ‘Jewish State’ whose interests ECAJ represent.
Two questions were asked on the program, and ECAJ’s had an issue with the program’s bias against Israel. So let’s look at those questions.
“Why is the suffering of innocent civilians being attacked…is innocent Israeli civilians being attacked and the Hamas being ignored?” – Suzanne Rutland
This question included a heartfelt preamble that Hamas rockets that were being fired at Tel Aviv in retaliation for the scores of children dying amongst the rubble in Gaza were causing her son’s dog to be ‘totally distressed’.
— QandA (@QandA) May 28, 2021
The other question;
“How, then, does the Australian Labor Party reconcile its recent policy of recognising a Palestinian state – with a likely government being Hamas – with its support…supposed support of a two-state solution involving a Jewish Israel and a Palestinian…an Islamic Palestine coexisting as peaceful neighbours?” – Malcolm Bersten
This question included a preamble about Hamas being terrorists.
I would agree that the questions appear to be significantly biased, however, I would argue that they are distinctly anti-Palestinian.
ECAJ’s real issue was with the responses.
The entire point of a program like Q&A is that guests provide unscripted answers from their own perspectives. ECAJ’s complaint was basically that the responses on the program did not paint Israel in a favourable light. The ECAJ view equates to, a little bit of sugar makes apartheid easier to swallow, whereas the Q&A program chose to stick to its principles and allow open discussion.
ECAJ would be aware the tide has turned in relation to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and they are seeking to covertly influence media organisations to slow the flow of support to Palestinians. Increased media coverage and social media have given the public greater visibility of the reality in the region and it’s safe to say the public don’t like what they see.
ECAJ emerged from the meeting and promptly pumped out a media statement claiming;
“During the course of a wide-ranging discussion, David Anderson readily acknowledged that the Q + A program and the ABC’s news and current affairs coverage of the conflict had contained “many errors” for which he apologised. He also acknowledged the validity of the ECAJ’s earlier detailed critique of an “Explainer” document that had been published on the ABC website at the start of hostilities, before being corrected. That matter is still under investigation by the ABC complaints unit.”
Apologies, acknowledgement of critique, and admission of errors. One would assume that ECAJ had emerged from the ‘good faith’ meeting with a few wins.
That was until the ABC put out their own media release stating;
“The ABC’s position has been misrepresented by a statement issued today by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.”
Well, if you can’t believe the propaganda unit from a pro-Israeli regime lobby who can you believe?
The ABC’s media statement emphasised that their meeting with ECAJ was held “in good faith”.
This month the very same publication that published a series of attack adverts directed at the ABC’s Sophie McNeill saw one Labor MP and one Labor Senator misrepresent themselves as shadow spokespeople for foreign affairs.
The Australian Jewish News ran a full-page advert authorised by Josh Burns MP and Senator Kimberley Kitching. An interesting side note is that Mr Burns is a former staffer of Michael Danby. Danby, of course, ran, and organised for taxpayers to foot the bill, for the attacks on the ABC’s Sophie McNeill.
Whist not there at the time of the McNeill attack ads, Burns has now taken over Mr Danby’s position in parliament, some say in more ways than one.
This advert appeared after a motion passed at Queensland’s Labor Conference that condemned Israel for its actions resulting in so many civilian deaths and casualties.
It is worth noting that this apparently controversial motion was overwhelmingly passed by Queensland rank and file members with not a solitary member speaking against the motion. None.
The advert must have been comforting to the like-minded folk in the right-wing press such as Andrew Bolt and Rowan Dean who came out bagging Labor after the motion passed unchallenged.
The advert also comes on the back of recognition of the Palestinian State as a matter of urgency being added to the Labor Party Platform.
This week, despite emails and phone calls, neither Senator Kitching nor Josh Burns would answer who was paying for the advert, or its design, which is clearly an attempt to both undermine and misrepresent the views of the party membership.
We know Bob Hawke was not approached about having his name attached as apparently agreeing with their views, however, what they don’t mention in the advert is that Bob supported recognition of a Palestinian State. Bob also knew a thing or two about fighting apartheid as he led the fight against it in South Africa, neither Mr Burns or Ms Kitching mention his comparisons of Israeli policy to the apartheid in South Africa. These views of Bob should have been easy for the MP and Senator to find, they were written about in the AJN where the article currently carries their banner advert above it.
Mr Burns and Senator Kitching also refused to confirm whether they support and stand by the Labor Party platform, something I would have considered pretty important.
A recent one-sided article in the Fairfax media that read like an ECAJ media release saw Mr Burns and Senator Kitching attempting to misrepresent the meaning of the commonly used slogan;
“From the river to the sea Palestinians will be free”
They would like us all to think this cry to end apartheid means that those who say it are somehow calling for a massacre of all the Jews in the region. Quite a stretch…
Palestinians already live everywhere between the river and the sea, they have for thousands of years. If Kitching and Burns don’t want these people to be free, and the notion of that freedom is so offensive, what exactly do they want for them?
Incarceration? Enslavement? Or death?
Maybe they should reflect on how those options fit in with Labor Party values.