Australian Jewish News – 6 February 2009
You Don’t Say
One common problem with media coverage is the selective quoting of officials. An excellent example occurred in a report by Natalie McGregor for the ABC TV “Midday Report” on January 27. In a report on the controversy about the BBC’s decision not to broadcast an appeal to raise funds for Gaza, she played footage of EU Aid Commissioner Louis Michel saying, “We condemn military operations that target the Palestinian people and their property. All such acts are flagrant violations of international humanitarian law.” Mr Michel had also asserted that Hamas bore full responsibility for the war and said, “I intentionally say this here: Hamas is a terrorist movement and it has to be denounced as such,” added that it had used human shields, said that years of rocket fire had been a provocation and said that “when you kill innocents, it is not resistance. It is terrorism.” None of this appeared in McGregor’s report.
Former Federal MP Barry Cohen, in the January 26 Australian, noted, “Since Israel decided that 60 rockets a day was more than any country should have to tolerate, the global media has accused Israel of every evil imaginable. They have been aided and abetted by, supposedly, non-political UN Relief and Works Agency officials who are more extreme in their anti-Israeli venom than Hamas terrorists.” He asked, “How many thousands more rockets must Israelis endure before they are permitted to defend themselves?” and speculated that Australians’ reactions should it happen here would be “wipe the bastards out”. He complained, “Israel’s critics demand that it negotiate with Hamas, Hezbollah and Fatah, to create a Palestinian state, conveniently forgetting that Israelis have tried repeatedly to do so without success. How do you negotiate with those who, at the end of the negotiations, say: ‘No matter what we agree to we will destroy you’? and concluded, “The only way, to deter Israel’s enemies is for the US to say unequivocally that it would never allow Israel to be destroyed.”
In the January 26 Age and Sydney Morning Herald, Jason Koutsoukis covered an under-reported aspect of the war. He interviewed a Palestinian ambulance driver, who told him of Hamas’ illegal use of ambulances. The driver told Koutsoukis that when he found three Hamas gunmen in a house, “They dropped their weapons and ordered me to get them out, to put them in the ambulance and take them away. I refused…And then one of the fighters picked up a gun and held it to my head, to force me.” The report made clear this was a common Hamas tactic.
Unfortunately, on January 28, both papers also carried a Koutsoukis report strangely querying whether Palestinians detained by Israel in a giant sandpit were used as human shields, even though the Palestinians were protected by two-metre high walls of sand made by the Israelis, and the soldiers stood between the Hamas fighters and the civilians, not behind the civilians.