Robert Birch (NSW) writes to SBS Ombudsman re directive to journalists not to sue the term “Palestinian land” when describing the Occupied Palestinian territories 14Sep09 September 14, 2009

It has come to my attention that you, in your role as ombudsman for SBS, have directed SBS journalists to not use the term “Palestinian land” to describe the occupied territories of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

According to a memo from the Head of News the status of these territories “remains the subject of negotiation” and should be described solely with reference to their geographical location, for instance, “Israeli settlements on the West Bank”.

May I remind you that the status of these territories is not the subject of negotiation. East Jerusalem and the West Bank (and thank you for having the good grace not to call it Judea and Samaria) are territories under military occupation by Israel. Their status is determined by international law, not by some Zionist whimsy.

Israel has carried out a sustained program of ethnic cleansing and dispossession of the native population from East Jerusalem and the West Bank under the military occupation since 1967. This has been accompanied by a media campaign to expunge the terms “Palestine”, “Palestinian territories” and, in fact, “Palestinians” from the lexicon.

I wish to express my disappointment that SBS, a publicly-funded broadcaster, has seen fit to bow down to pressure from the pro-Israel lobby  in taking this misguided and unethical stance.

Bob Birch

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