Media Week – Statehood Stand-off; ABC’s Boycott Boost


Statehood Standoff

The Palestinian unilateral move for the UN to declare them a state again produced a vast array of media comment. The Australian (19/9) featured pieces by Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem and head of the General Delegation of Palestine Izzat Abdulhadi. Abdulhadi gave a history of the peace process that somehow omitted the offers of a Palestinian state and the Palestinian terrorism. Instead, he claimed, “Negotiating in good faith for 19 years, Palestinian people have not achieved freedom and independence in their own state, nor the end of the Israeli occupation.”

Seizing on statements by Palestinian President Abbas that a UN declaration would “pave the way for the internationalisation of the conflict as a legal matter,” Ambassador Rotem wrote, “It is therefore obvious that peace is not the Palestinians’ goal. Their unilateral declaration would be exploited to launch a new frontier of war against Israel. Palestinian ‘lawfare’ against Israel can only fan the fires of conflict.”

An editorial in the Australian (20/9) also recognised this tactic, and stated that Abbas “should not be allowed to succeed with this.” It also noted that the move would “set back peace hopes and open up opportunities for the Hamas terrorist movement.”

Yet Dennis Altman, in the Age (19/9) stated that “the Israeli government’s opposition to recognition of a Palestinian state is puzzling.” Ignoring the offers of a Palestinian state, he claimed, “Since the 1967 war, Israel has consistently placed short-term tactical victories ahead of longer-term strategic thinking.”

Greg Sheridan, in the Australian (22/9) stated that the “UN moves are part of the ugly demonising of Israel. The debate is grossly lop-sided and unfaithful to reality. The UN moves continue the wholly distorted picture that the only obstacle to peace is Israeli intransigence. That is just plainly untrue.”

Prime Minister Julia Gillard in the Australian (21/9) noted that “the only durable basis for resolution of this conflict is negotiation” but said that the government would “carefully” consider any resolution before deciding how to vote.

An Age editorial (20/9) that seemingly endorsed the Palestinian push ignored the Palestinian intransigence that has scuttled all peace hopes, referring to the “impasse in which both sides have trapped themselves”.

Former Canadian Attorney-General Irwin Cotler, in the Age (22/9) noted the Palestinian move would “undermine all accepted international frameworks for peace” and would “violate existing Israeli-Palestinian agreements.”

A sub-editor at Adelaide’s Advertiser seems to have swallowed the Palestinian narrative, titling an article on the issue “Palestine pushes for peace”.

ABC’s Boycott Boost

The ABC TV series “Foreign Correspondent” (20/9) covered the BDS campaign against Israel. Without actually stating it, reporter Eric Campbell’s line seemed to be that Israel’s West Bank settlements are illegitimate, that the boycott is only about the occupation, and that the BDS is therefore legitimate. Certainly, there was no mention of the ample evidence that BDS activists seek the end not of the occupation, but of Israel, while Campbell mentioned that any peace deal would be based on the 1967 lines, but not the consensus that land swaps would leave settlement blocs within Israel.

Jamie Hyams