David Macilwain (VIC) writes to ABC Current Affairs re report by Anne Barker on AM 23Sep10 September 23, 2010

Dear ABC current affairs.

As a follow to the phone conversation this morning, and also to a number of e-mails I have sent to Foreign Correspondent on the subject of their screening of Israeli propaganda doco -”Death on the Med”, I would like to set out my complaints on the ABC’s current lack of ‘balance’ in its reporting of the ‘Israel-Palestine’ conflict, and as well, request some sort of justification for this policy.

This morning’s report by Anne Barker was a particularly stark example of misleading and unbalanced reporting and marks a new low in her reports from the Middle East.

As explained in Tony’s preamble, tensions are high at the moment as the Israelis are set to take the brakes off settlement building this weekend, while it is only two weeks since the ‘peace talks’ were finally restarted.  In this context Anne’s report is at best highly irresponsible, and at worst criminally misleading, and the more so because of what it leaves out rather than what it includes.

Let me take out a few quotes:-

ANNE BARKER: Tahila and Eitan Depau, like many young couples, dream of moving into their own home with their two children. Last year they bought a block of land and were all set to build a house.

They ‘bought a block of land’.  How is this possible? From whom? This is Palestinian land so did they buy it from a Palestinian in the nearby village of Hares?

But the Depaus are Jewish settlers; they live at Revava, a small religious settlement right near the Palestinian village of Hares in the occupied West Bank.

The occupation of the West Bank was ruled illegal in 1967 by the UN and a resolution was passed requiring them to withdraw to the ‘Green Line’.  It is against the Geneva Conventions for an occupying army to settle its nationals permanently in occupied territory. Such settlement constitutes annexation.

The Depaus are Jewish settlers from where?  Why are we not told?  From Eastern Europe?  Were they refugees who needed a home? Or did they abandon their comfortable home in the former Soviet Union or America or Australia, and with the help of grants from the Jewish National Fund, come to settle illegally on someone else’s land to create the ‘facts on the ground’ that prevent the formation of a Palestinian state?  You don’t need to do much reading, even in Israel, to discover that this IS the case.

Is it possible for Palestinians, who don’t have decent homes in the refugee camps in neighbouring countries, and in Gaza, to come here to the West Bank and buy their own land back and build houses for their families?  Why not?   Why do we support Israel’s racist and apartheid state?

ANNE BARKER: Ten months on the Depau family is still living in a tiny demountable, barely bigger than a caravan. And with a third child due in February they say living conditions are desperate.  The Depau family are just one among hundreds, if not thousands of Jewish settlers affected by the settlement freeze who’ve been forced to find alternative accommodation.

How would these ‘desperate’ living conditions compare with those of a young family in Gaza, still living in tents or in the wreckage of their former home a year and ten months after the Israeli army wantonly destroyed it, and as a result of the blockade on building materials will be living in this state for some time to come, along with the one and a half million fellow Palestinians confined illegally in this open air prison.?

But not a mention of these niceties in Anne’s report; nothing to take the light away from the pain being suffered by these illegal settlers wishing only for a better life at someone else’s expense.

The worst however she saved for the end:-

Such a compromise though would only enrage many Palestinians already opposed to the peace process. And past experience suggests that violence like that seen in Silwan this week will only escalate if the peace talks continue.

What exactly does this mean?  Why are Palestinians ‘opposed to the peace process’? Already? What sort of ‘peace’ are we talking about?  The Palestinians, if I dare speak for them, are opposed to the ‘peace process’, as operated by Israel for the last twenty years – it has produced nothing for them except continuing settlement building on their land and demolitions and evictions in Jerusalem. They are also opposed to the sort of ‘peace’ that Israel wants; that is the peace where they stop resisting the colonisation of their land, while Israel controls the airspace and border crossings and keeps ALL its arms, including the illegal ones,- cluster bombs, white phoshorus bombs, flechette missiles, Nuclear warheads etc.

And why will violence ‘escalate if the peace talks continue’? Please explain.

While we are on the subject of Anne Barker’s transition to Israeli spokesperson, I was also highly disturbed by the end of her recent report on Honour Killings. There could be no argument that the man she spoke to was seriously deluded and criminal, by our reasonable standards, even though such behaviour is condoned in many countries, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon —- But we needed a story about the West Bank to show that this sort of nasty ( Islamic primitive) thing goes on there, and then to link it to Hamas — So at the end we are told that “all the Palestinian MPs” want an end to such killings, but the law can’t be changed because there is no elected government, because ‘Hamas wouldn’t take part in elections’ in January.

Why would this have been?  Surely Hamas is already the elected government? No?  Abbas? Why are half the Palestinian MPs in Israeli jails?  Why is Abbas still the “President” when he was not re-elected?  And why do you , that is the ABC, collude with this charade that Mahmoud Abbas is a representative of the Palestinian people when he neither represents them or supports their legitimate claims to live free from Occupation on their own land.

I look forward to your response, but I would also like to see some action to redress the imbalance in your coverage of the Israel – Palestine situation; the first thing you could do very easily would be to screen Hope in a Slingshot, as soon as possible, so that some people may have the benefit of a view that Israel does not want them to see.

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