ABC’s North America correspondent Ben Knight waxed nostalgic about his days in Israel as the public broadcaster’s Middle East correspondent in a recent contribution to the network’s “Correspondents Report” radio program – which features reporters’ personal reflections on the stories of the week. (Correspondents Report, 15/9)
Knight, who had not visited Israel since his reassignment in October 2011, was rushed to Tel Aviv earlier this month under the assumption that a US air strike on Syria was imminent.
While the trip was rendered redundant after the US pursued a Russian-backed diplomatic initiative, Knight filed this story, which offered a positive snapshot of life in Israel at a time of regional tension.
Notably, the report was peppered with appreciation for the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel – a perceptive sentiment that was both rare and gratifying to hear from an ABC journalist.
“It was the things I’d forgotten about that brought smiles to my face,” Knight said, “I’d forgotten that each time a plane lands at Ben Gurion, the passengers burst into applause.” He said that he had once asked Israelis why this happens.
“[Some Israelis] told me it was more likely just the joy of them having arrived back in the homeland – Eretz Yisrael, the Jewish state,” Knight said. “And that’s the answer that made most sense to me.”
Later in the story, he recounted his chat with a Jewish taxi driver in Jerusalem. “He’d never left the country, and he didn’t want to,” Knight recalled. “He didn’t want to risk dying outside of Israel.”
RN’s anti-Israel twofer
It was tag team Israel-bashing night on Radio National last week, when Phillip Adams rolled out the red carpet for controversial UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian territories Richard Falk and Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions director Jeff Halper. (“Late Night Live”, 17/9)
Noting that Falk has blamed Israel for provoking Palestinian violence, Adams asked the leading question, “Does this suggest that, in its heart of hearts, Israel doesn’t want peace with the Palestinians?”
To this Falk answered, “Israel is very satisfied with the arrangements that presently exist.”
Later in the interview Halper kept this narrative going with the canard that “Peace isn’t on [Israel’s] agenda.”
The irony obvious to everyone except the people in the studio, of course, is that Israel has been bending over backwards for peace, recently agreeing to release over 100 Palestinian terrorists just so the Palestinians would agree to return to direct talks that continue to this day!
Adams gave Halper ample opportunity to share his highly politicised view on the Israeli demolition of thousands of illegally-built Palestinian houses since 1967. What Halper described as “a proactive policy of trying to drive the Palestinians out of the country”, however, has actually been Israel’s only defence against a determined Palestinian strategy to create facts on the ground and undermine Israel’s right to enforce existing laws. An eye-opening probe into this misunderstood topic can be found in the book “Illegal Construction in Jerusalem”, published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in 2003.