Australia/Israel Review


Media Microscope: Our APBC – The Activists for Palestine Broadcasting Corporation

Sep 27, 2012 | Allon Lee

Allon Lee

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) repeatedly gave a platform to radical anti-Israel political activists during August and September.

Discredited Israeli-born historian-cum-extreme anti-Zionist Ilan Pappe told Geraldine Doogue (ABC Radio National “Breakfast”, Sept. 17) that the “mainstream Zionist leadership from the very beginning understood that… they could not have a Jewish state as long as the Palestinians remained in Palestine”.

The fact is that the mainstream Zionist leadership accepted and still accepts partitioning the disputed territory into Jewish and Arab states, and did so in 1922 (when Jordan was created), 1937, 1947, 2000, 2008. Moreover, Zionist documents have always discussed the expectation that the Jewish state would have a non-Jewish minority.

Pappe told Doogue “every Jewish settlement is built on the ruins of a Palestinian village” – labelling all Israeli cities as “settlements” – and that Israeli Jews were brought up to believe that the “Palestinians left voluntarily and that’s why actually there are very few of them in the land of Palestine.” This is nonsense – around 6 million Palestinians live in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

That night Pappe insensitively appeared on ABC TV’s “Q&A” live discussion program on the first night of the major Jewish religious holiday of Rosh Hashana – precluding most Australian Jews submitting questions, participating or even watching.

Pappe made similar claims to those on “Radio National”. Jewish barrister Irving Wallach offered some balance: “the real tragedy of 1947 and 1948 was that there was no Palestinian state established… The United Nations proposed a partition plan… the Palestinian people forcefully… rejected the concept of having a Jewish state next to a Palestinian state. Had they accepted the plan… then… the war and… what happened afterwards would never have arisen,” ABC TV “Q&A” (Sept. 17).

The next morning (Sept. 18), Doogue interviewed Israeli historian Benny Morris – doyen of historians dedicated to re-interpreting Israel’s founding. He characterised Pappe as someone who “invents documentation, mistranslates, invents whole sentences in the things he supposedly quotes.”

The refugee issue is a result, Morris said, of “Palestinian Arabs launching an attack on the Jewish community, followed by an attack by the Arab states during which, in self-defence, the Israelis occupied Arab towns and villages, some of which they expelled… there was no pre-planning, and no systematic… ‘ethnic cleansing’.”

On September 19, Pappe appeared on Melbourne ABC Radio 774’s “Conversation Hour” hosted by Jon Faine in Melbourne and ABC TV broadcast his address to the National Press Club in Canberra.

ABC Radio National’s “360documentaries” (Sept. 9) series featured a program presented by leading Australian anti-Zionist activist Peter Slezak. The episode was produced by Cathy Peters – a NSW Greens party councillor instrumental in proposing the notorious BDS motion in Marrickville Council in 2010.

Slezak was introduced merely as a “Jewish writer and commentator” without mentioning his activism.

The program featured an array of one-sided claims made by highly politicised anti-Israel NGOs and UN bodies. Neither Hamas nor any Palestinian violence was mentioned.

The following week, 360documentaries featured a program by Reese Erlich, an American Jewish journalist and left-wing activist, focusing critically on the Jewish community in the West Bank city of Hebron.

He interviewed two settlement movement spokespeople, an anti-settlements activist and had a very brief exchange with one mainstream Israeli journalist.

Erlich did not include any reference to the unprecedented Palestinian terror that forced Israel to erect the West Bank security fence. He also misleadingly characterised statements by both settler leaders interviewed as calling for the “transfer” of West Bank Palestinians.

After Erlich’s segment, 360documentaries executive producer Claudia Taranto interviewed Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Paul Hirschson to discuss claims about alleged abuses of Palestinian minors in Israeli detention.

Hirschson explained that “the entire Palestinian population in the West Bank is subject to military law under international law… that is why we are working so hard… to find a way to convince the Palestinians to come back to the negotiating table… on rare occasions sadly there are abuses by Israeli soldiers and we have a record of… trialling and jailing Israeli soldiers for abuses,” ABC Radio National “360documentaries” (Sept. 16).

Meanwhile, John Safran interviewed visiting Israeli conscientious objector Sahar Vardi, brought to Australia by Palestinian activist groups, ABC Radio “TripleJ” (Aug. 26). Earlier, Sophie McNeil had interviewed Vardi, Breaking the Silence co-founder Micha Kurtz, Israeli Australian Josh Dishon and AIJAC’s Or Avi-Guy, ABC Radio “TripleJ” (Aug. 16).

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