Dora McPhee (VIC) writes to ABC AUdience & Consumer Affairs re report by Anne Barker on AM 24Sep10 September 24, 2010

I write to make a formal complaint of Anne Barker’s report from Jerusalem featured on Tony Eastley’s AM radio program on Thursday September 23, 2010. It displayed an outright pro-Israeli bias in its framing and by its omissions clearly guided the listeners into feeling sympathy for the settler families while implying the Palestinians only want violence.

In telling the story of the settler family affected by the construction freeze Anne Barker completely leaves out the missing piece of information that they should not be building homes in the occupied Palestinian territory in the first instance.

Israel’s colonisation is against international law and binding UN resolutions as well as the fourth Geneva convention. The Depau family have no business being in the occupied territories and the Israeli state that condones it and encourages them to build there is acting illegally. Yet this relevant fact is missing from the report.

Nor are we told that the rate of population growth of Jewish settlers in the occupied territories is three times the rate of the Jewish population growth in Israel proper within the 1967 borders. This is clear evidence of a deliberate attempt to change the demographics in the occupied Palestinian territories, particularly in east Jerusalem, which has seen Palestinian families evicted from their homes in favour of Jewish settlers.

In short,  we are not told that the Israeli state is attempting to colonise as much of the territory that should become a Palestinian state through financial inducements to encourage its Jewish citizens to settle illegally in the occupied territories. Omitting these facts makes Palestinian anger and opposition to the peace talks seem unreasonable. In fact we are not told why Palestinians are opposed to the peace talks at all. One  very good reason is that they are being conducted outside the framework of international law whereby their rights would be protected.

We are not told that tens of thousands of Palestinians have had their houses destroyed since Israel’s 43 year long illegal occupation and that many face house demolitions today because Israel refuses to grant Palestinians building permits, while allowing illegal Jewish settlers to build on occupied territory not internationally recognised as Israel’s sovereign territory.

This is clearly a one-sided pro-Israeli report that condones Israel’s blatant disregard for the rule of law thereby continuing the denial of
justice for the Palestinians. Every settlement and additional settler family is a slap in the face for Palestinians and a very provocative statement that “this space belongs to Israel”, when under international law it does not. This is a crucial reason why peace has not been achieved but Anne Barker does nothing to explain this.

The simple fact is that Israel’s occupation violates Palestinian human rights on a daily basis and our media is criminal in its silence on this and in allowing reports that deliberately misrepresent what is happening. Anne Barker’s report is a prime example of just such a distortion and omission of facts parading as a human-interest story while disingenuously influencing people’s perception of those involved.

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