Dora McPhee (VIC) replies to the ABC’s Kieran Doyle response re the AM report “Jewish settlements increase tensions in Israel” 8Nov10 November 8, 2010

Dear Mr Doyle,
Thank you for taking the time to reply to my complaint regarding the AM report Jewish settlements increase tensions in Israel. Unfortunately, instead of addressing my criticisms of the program you defend it by suggesting the ABC achieves balance by its other programs, which you have kindly directed me too. However in each of the ones you have listed I find similar complaints on the way the Palestinian side of the story is treated as indicated below.

Mideast peace talks in balance
Nowhere in this report do Tony Eastley or Anne Barker mention that Israel’s colonisation is against international law, the fourth Geneva Convention and binding UN resolutions. Something that is germane to the issue of illegal settlements. Claiming the site has religious significance does not make it right to take the land from the Palestinians who have patrimony over that land under international law – this point is conveniently omitted and as a consequence gives the impression that there are equal claims to the land, thereby not revealing the full truth of the matter.

Jewish settlements increase tensions in Israel
Nowhere in this report is it stated that all settlements in the occupied territories are all illegal and against international law. Nor that the Israeli government’s support of the building of these settlements constitutes an illegal colonisation that is a crime against the Palestinian people. Instead the overall tenor of report seeks to gain sympathy for the illegal settlers at the expense of the Palestinians, which are cast as unwilling to make compromises and therefore suggesting they will be the reason for a return to violence.
This again deliberately misrepresents the situation, when the truth of the matter is that the Israeli government offers inducements for the settlers to colonise Palestinian land and “legalises” settlements with government funded infrastructure that eventually makes them a fait accompli. Listeners would have no idea of the Israeli governments relentless drive to colonise and thereby displace Palestinians – the real reason for the tensions.

Resort again plays host to hopes for Middle East peace
Why is the question not asked why Israel does not recognize the Palestinians right to that land? Why for sixty years Israel has refused them their inalienable right of return? And why Israel continues to colonise land that is not internationally recognized as its sovereign territory in order to further ethnically cleanse the Palestinians from their land? That would add balance to this report.

Israeli settlers block in path to peace
This is an appallingly one-sided piece that seeks to normalize Israel’s claim to the whole of historic Palestine. The Palestinians lived continuously on that land for centuries and under international law as the indigenous people have an inalienable right to live on that land. Anne Barker does not press this point nor does she point out that living under Israeli occupation the Palestinians are systematically refused building permits on what is their land and routinely face house demolition and land evictions, while the illegal settlers are protected and encouraged to illegally colonise the land and this constitutes a crime against the Palestinian people.

Mideast harmony found in Jewish settlement supermarket
While this is an example of how Israeli-Jews and Palestinians can live together it does not tell the whole story.  Surely it would be important to point out that the reason why the Palestinian man cannot invite his Jewish friend home is because Israel has set up an apartheid system.  Nothing tells us that the Israelis are the occupiers and the Palestinians are an occupied people denied their most basic human rights because of Israel’s illegal occupation of their land and the system of apartheid they are subjected to as an occupied people. Since 1967 over 24,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished and thousands have been driven of their ancestral lands. This is what has created the disharmony but your listeners would be none the wiser.

In the so-called interests of balance the settlers voice is represented as if they are a legitimate side, which they are not. It is akin to giving a rapist and his victim equal hearing when the crime of rape is wrong in the first instance. There can be no question of balance in this example and so there can be no question of balance on the issue of colonisation and apartheid.

This makes the ABC complicit with hiding the crime of colonisation that is at the heart of the matter where the Palestinians have had their inalienable human rights serially violated. One has to ask how and why Israel has been allowed act with such impunity that it has now completely fragmented the occupied Palestinian territories with settlements that continue to be built in open defiance of international law and the media bears some of the blame for this, when it treats the issue as one requiring “balance”.

I am yet to be convinced that the ABC is interested in dealing fairly with this issue and have yet to see any program that deals with the core reason for the conflict – the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homeland and the subsequent occupation and colonisation of the remaining part of Palestine not internationally recognised to be under Israel’s sovereignty. Nor has the ABC done anything to expose the system of apartheid where one people are favoured over another that is ongoing today in Israel/Palestine.

For a full study on how Israeli practices in the occupied Palestinian territories constitute colonisation and apartheid I refer you to the South African  Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) May 2009 report “Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid?” , which can be accessed through this link:

Colonisation and apartheid are both crimes against humanity under international law and in such cases it is not a question of balance but one of speaking the truth and exposing the crimes for what they are.

On 1/11/10 3:46 PM, “ABC Corporate_Affairs5″ <> wrote:

Dear Ms McPhee

Thank you for your email regarding the AM report Jewish settlements increase tensions in Israel.

Your concerns have been investigated by Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit which is separate to and independent of program making areas within the ABC.

The focus of this report was the newsworthy issue of the freeze on Jewish settlement construction expiring and its effect on the current peace negotiations.  The report set out the circumstances of a settlement family waiting to build and also included the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, stating that the resumption of settlement activity would compromise the talks.

We believe the report achieved balance in keeping with section 5.2.2 (e) of the ABC Editorial Policies, which state;  Be balanced.  Balance will be sought but may not always be achieved within a single program or publication; it will be achieved as soon as reasonably practicable and in an appropriate manner. It is not essential to give all sides equal time.  As far as possible, present principal relevant views on matters of importance.

has provided a range of perspectives on this issue on a newsworthy basis.  For your reference, I have attached links to a sample of recent AM reports on the settlement issue that contribute to the program’s balanced coverage;

Mideast peace talks in balance

Jewish settlements increase tensions in Israel

Resort again plays host to hopes for Middle East peace

Israeli settlers block in path to peace

Mideast harmony found in Jewish settlement supermarket

has also provided comprehensive coverage from Gaza, describing in some detail the devastation and hardship that Palestinians continue to suffer in the wake of the Israeli incursion 21 months ago and the subsequent blockade of the strip.  The program will continue to do so on a newsworthy basis.

For your reference, the ABC Editorial Policies are available online here
Yours sincerely

Kieran Doyle
Audience and Consumer Affairs

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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