Australia/Israel Review

Conspiracy theories, antisemitic tropes and half-truths

Jun 29, 2022 | Ran Porat

Graphic advocating for convicted juvenile terrorist Ahmad Manasra – without mentioning his undisputed crimes – by Sydney-based writer Sukoon Quteifan
Graphic advocating for convicted juvenile terrorist Ahmad Manasra – without mentioning his undisputed crimes – by Sydney-based writer Sukoon Quteifan

Recent events in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict again resulted in anti-Israel hate content, often with antisemitic overtones, being published in Arabic in Australian media outlets. This time I will be focusing on the Australasian Muslim Times (AMUST), a community newspaper which took an active role in this ugly wave.


Israel “essential” for Christian supremacy

One event triggering the latest attacks against Israel in the press was the tragic death of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh during clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in Jenin on May 11.

At the time of writing, it was still unclear who was responsible for Abu Akleh’s death. The Palestinian Authority refuses to hand over the bullet that killed the journalist to Israel to determine who shot her – an IDF soldier or a Palestinian gunman. Instead, the PA accused Israel of intentionally killing her. Without proof, and even before the PA reached any conclusion on the matter, many were quick to not only pin the blame on Israel, but to even call it a premeditated, deliberate murder intended to shut up pro-Palestinian journalists who criticise Israel.

The May 2022 edition of AMUST repeated this narrative, running several articles and an editorial accusing Israel of intentionally assassinating Abu Akleh to silence her criticisms of the Jewish state.

Soon after Abu Akleh’s death, AMUST’s Mohamed Ainullah cried foul, suggesting that there is an “Outcry over media downplaying of killing of journalist by Israel” (May 13). Providing no evidence for his claim, Ainullah opens his piece by stating that “There has been an uproar in social media over the downplaying of the deliberate killing of the Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aklah by an Israeli sniper.” He later lambasts US officials because they “failed to mention Israel by name as the perpetrator of the deadly incident in spite of eye witness reports and video evidence.”

Similarly, in “Why will Israel get away with the murder of Shireen”, published in AMUST on May 20, Dr Aslam Abdullah claims without offering any evidence whatsoever that an Israeli soldier “had the specific orders to target her. The Zionist government had already written the plot.”

Abdullah rejects Israel’s right to exist, blaming its existence solely on Jewish religious beliefs. “The inhabitants of the Zionist entity,” he posits, “base its claim on Palestine on a mythical, biblical notion that the God of Israel gave the so-called holy ground to his chosen one. When they regard God as their main backer, they can justify everything. The apartheid state has justified every act of brutality as an act of God.”

The UN 1947 partition resolution, an international legal decision confirming Israel’s legal right to exist (and which also called for the creation of an Arab state) is described by Abdullah as “forcibly imposed by primarily Christian nations in 1947.”

“Israel is a brutal, ruthless killing force without regard for human life and dignity, and its majority regard Palestinians as cockroaches deserving annihilation. The state thrives on the backing of European Christian nations, the United States, and other white settlements like Canada and Australia,” says Abdullah.

His explanation for this support is that “Israel and its existence are essential for the supremacy of Christians. The US Christian charities have donated billions to Israel to develop illegal settlements on the Palestinian land, hoping to create a biblically mandated country for the return of Israel.”


“Zionist media control”

The May 2022 Australian Federal election resulted in the victory of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), which can be considered potentially more friendly to the Palestinian cause than its Coalition predecessor. Specifically, in 2021, the ALP adopted a policy in its party platform calling for a future ALP government to “recognise Palestine as a state.”

Elated by the ALP taking government, mathematician Prof. Shahjahan Khan’s article “Australia’s recognition of Palestine: Long overdue,” published in AMUST on May 30, addresses this ALP platform point.

“If Australia genuinely believes in ‘two-state’ solutions, why has the Government recognised only one state?” he asks. “Why the Australian Government has been turning blind eyes on the ongoing occupation, continuing land grabbing?” Repeating the Palestinian version of events, Kahn also lists “the brutal murder of Palestinian Christians (remember Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh) and Muslims struggling to protect their land and identity.”

Khan then introduces the classic antisemitic trope about Jewish control of world media and politics: “In spite of Zionist media control and undue influence on western political institutions, 138 countries have already recognised the State of Palestine including European countries. Unfortunately, Australia is a laggard.” (Not really. While many Soviet bloc and third world nations have recognised “Palestine” since the Cold War, the only Western democracy to recognise “Palestine” is Sweden.)

In his concluding sentence, Khan calls on the Australian Government to “play an important role to ensure that Palestinians have a right to self-defend and deny all occupation and apartheid rules imposed on them by the foreign illegal settlers.” One suspects that, to Khan, all Israelis are “foreign illegal settlers”.


Calling for the release of a terrorist

Also in the May edition, AMUST published a call to release Palestinian Ahmad Manasra, currently in an Israeli jail.

Manasra was arrested on Oct. 12, 2015, when he was 13, after he and his 17-year-old cousin attempted to murder Jews in Pisgat Ze’ev. The two stabbed several Jews with a knife, badly wounding one. His cousin was shot and died, while Manasra was injured and arrested.

In a false propaganda campaign, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claimed that Manasra had been executed by Israel. In response Israel published pictures of him being treated in hospital.

During his interrogation, Manasra said that he and his cousin went to stab Jews because of their belief in the popular Palestinian fabrication that Israel violates Muslim rights on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

Yet, all these facts were irrelevant for the author of one AMUST article, Sydneysider Sukoon Quteifan. According to her, Manasra was simply “arrested by the Israeli occupation authorities as a child when he was no more than 13,” as if he had been sent to prison for no reason and the stabbings never happened.

Ignoring Manasra’s terror attack, which was caught on film and never denied by Manasra, Quteifan says that Manasra’s only “fault [leading to his jailing] is that he was born a Palestinian in an occupied country.”


The ‘Al-Aqsa in danger’ lie again

Responding to tensions and clashes at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (April), AMUST Editor in Chief Zia Ahmad claimed (April 22) that “Israeli forces desecrate Al-Aqsa Mosque restricting Muslim worship.”

Rehashing the libel that ‘Al-Aqsa is in danger’, Ahmad falsely tells readers that “Palestinian Muslims are continuously being brutally attacked inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque while praying during Ramadan with hundreds injured and arrested by the Israeli occupation forces.”

According to Ahmad, “Regular videos have appeared showing dozens of Israeli police brutally hitting old men, women and children and firing stun grenades on worshippers inside the mosque continuously now for over a week. The Haram al Sharif compound is forcibly evacuated of Muslim worshipers during Ramadan several times in a day with groups of Jewish visitors in their religious clothing allowed in, protected by Israeli armed forces.”

What really took place in Jerusalem during that time were riots and processions, with Palestinians carrying the flag of the terrorist organisation Hamas and shouting slogans calling for the killing of Jews. Within the Temple Mount itself, Muslim youth were hurling stones and fireworks, corrupting and desecrating their own holy site, for example by playing soccer inside the mosque and stockpiling rocks and other weapons. The Israeli police arrested rioters and protected Jews visiting the compound – which does not require Muslims to evacuate the Mount – while making sure the Jewish visitors did not breach the status quo by praying on the Temple Mount (though Orthodox Jews are of course allowed to wear their traditional clothing, which Ahmad seems to feel is terribly offensive.)

AMUST doesn’t seem very interested in providing its readers with accurate and complete reporting – or even basic fairness and context – when it comes to Israel.


Dr. Ran Porat is an AIJAC Research Associate. He is also a Research Associate at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University and a Research Fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Reichman University in Herzliya.


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