How Israel can be discussed in the media without fear or favor
This book tells the story of why many Australian publishers and journalists fear to upset these people and therefore, in my opinion, to censor themselves. This is the story of how the Israeli-Palestinian issue is the one issue that the media will not cover with the rigor with which they cover all other issues. And, more importantly, it’s the story of how the Australian public is cheated – denied reliable factual information about one of the most important conflicts of our time.
Documents that the lobby opposes publication in Australia are regularly published in Israel.
Depriving Australians of objective information about Israel and its occupation of the West Bank means that they, as citizens, cannot assess or question Australia’s vote for Israel at the United Nations, no matter what the issue. , or whether Australia’s continued support for the Israeli occupation for the past 54 years is met. our values ââand interests.
Some media believe that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is receiving too much attention. Schwartz Media is the most remarkable of them. Founded by Melbourne-based property developer Morry Schwartz, the group publishes Saturday newspaper, Monthly, Quarterly trial, Black Inc books and Australian Foreign Affairs.
Schwartz Media’s coverage of Israel prompted a social media campaign against it, which Morry Schwartz said is motivated by anti-Semitism: âThe campaign is like information terrorism. We are being targeted by an extremely savage social media campaign. And do you know why this is happening? In my opinion, it is because I am Jewish. In my opinion, this is anti-Semitism. I come from a Holocaust family and know what anti-Semitism looks like.
In 2014, Schwartz launched Saturday newspaper. The person chosen to be its editor, Erik Jensen, contacted Hamish McDonald and told him he would like McDonald to be the global editor of the publication. McDonald said yes. But then, McDonald recalls, Jensen said “something like, ‘There’s a touchy subject – Morry [Schwartz] is very sensitive to stories about Israel. He would not like to see Israel being attacked â.
It’s worth reflecting on this conversation. There were two journalists there as far as it is physically possible to be from Israel, and the editor tells the potential global editor that Israel is a “sensitive” subject. Whether intentional or not, the impact of these discussions can be that if you want to be successful in this organization, the best thing you can do is to avoid this “sensitive” topic. This can lead to self-censorship.
Jensen, when I presented him with the McDonald’s recollections of the conversation, said, âI shared with him the owner’s personal perspective on how the media covers Israel and Palestineâ¦ it was by no means case a directive on coverage. And Schwartz, when I tell him about the McDonald’s memory, says, âWhat that probably refers to is when I started out. The Saturday newspaper, I told the staff that I didn’t want Israel to be too coveredâ¦ But I’m a publisher, and when there is big news, it should be covered, which we showed during the recent conflict in Gaza.
Finally, on the most important language question of all: that the charge of anti-Semitism cannot be used to close the debate. In recent years in Australia we have seen tough and difficult reporting on the Australian military. ABC’s Mark Willacy, Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, and Nine’s Nick McKenzie and Chris Masters [the owner of this masthead]revealed horrible things that were done in the Australian uniform in Afghanistan. No one could reasonably suggest that in making this report they were “non-Australians”.
Likewise, the idea that anyone who criticizes Israel or its military is anti-Israel or anti-Semitic is nonsense.
Likewise, the idea that anyone who criticizes Israel or its military is anti-Israel or anti-Semitic is nonsense. Worse than that, in my opinion, it is used far too often to try to dissuade the media from reporting without fear or favor. I have spoken to dozens of senior journalists and editors for this book, and I have been told over and over again words to the effect, “No publisher wants to be accused of being anti-Semitic.”
The Australian media must get to a point where the reality of Israel can be discussed. Israelis can read the opinions of more than 300 retired senior members of [their foreign and domestic intelligence agencies] The Mossad, the Shin Bet, the IDF and the Israel Police are part of a growing group called the Israel Security Commanders. The group rejects the claim that Israel cannot support a Palestinian state because it would endanger the security of the country: âThere is no basis for the intimidating claims that a political arrangement compromises security. The opposite is true!
In Israel, this kind of statement is part of the dialogue, but if it were reported in Australia, this kind of news would be characterized as one-sided, anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. One of the most eloquent recent warnings about the misuse of anti-Semitism came from former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans in a letter to Herald: âCalling on China for its persecution of Uyghurs must not be a Sinophobic racist. To call Myanmar for its crimes against the Rohingya people is not to be anti-Buddhist. Calling on Saudi Arabia and Egypt for their murder and crackdown on dissidents should not be Islamophobic or anti-Arab. And calling on Israel for its sabotage of the two-state solution and the creation of a de facto apartheid state must not be anti-Semitic. “
This is a point made by former Rupert Murdoch editor Chris Mitchell. He says that while there are indeed anti-Semites, the charge of anti-Semitism is too often used to block debate.
AFP’s Philippe Agret says he thinks the end of Israel’s party is Eretz Israel [a âGreater Israelâ which annexes the Palestinian territories]. The overall picture, he says, is: âLet’s do it gradually, gradually, quietly, building, building, building. We cannot have Nablus, so let’s leave Nablus in Bantustan. We can’t get parts of Hebron, so let’s leave Hebron as a Bantustan. “
I ask Agret who censors himself in his reporting on Israel. Without hesitation, he replies: âEveryone.
Australians deserve better.
This is an edited excerpt from Dateline Jerusalem: journalism’s most difficult task by John Lyons, published October 1 as part of Monash University Publishing In the national interest series.