A LIBERAL Senator has slammed the ABC for its coverage of the recent Israel-Hamas conflict, labelling it “institutionally antisemitic” and saying it has “continuously misled viewers”.
South Australian Senator Alex Antic made the accusations while grilling ABC managing director David Anderson and editorial director Craig McMurtrie during Senate Estimates last Wednesday.
“Why is it that the ABC is institutionally antisemitic and why is it that the ABC has continually misled its viewers in relation to the Jewish people’s ancient connections to the land of Israel?” Antic asked the pair.
Rejecting the characterisation of the ABC being antisemitic, Anderson replied, “I will say that, when there are conflicts such as this, on very complicated matters, there are certainly things that we’ve looked into that have already been published to ensure that they’re accurate.”
To which Antic charged, “The errors, though, unequivocally do swing to the favour of terrorist organisations like Hamas.
“These articles are consistently anti Israel.”
Referring to a story on ABC’s website, Antic noted, “Throughout this particular document, Hamas is referred to as ‘fighters’ and ‘militant organisation’. It doesn’t refer to it as a terrorist organisation.
“Does the ABC accept that Hamas is a terrorist organisation? The Australian and United States governments do,” he asked.
To which McMurtrie replied, “We accept that the Australian government regards Hamas as a terrorist organisation, yes.
“The ABC doesn’t take an editorial position on these sorts of things.”
At the same time, The Australian reported on Monday that it had obtained an internal ABC note advising journalists not to use the word “apartheid” in relation to Israel.
“It has a specific meaning in South African history,” the note reportedly said.
The word was, however, used 11 times on last Thursday’s Q&A program, which featured a panel heavily slanted against Israel.
“The term ‘apartheid’ is not just inapplicable to Israel but it is slanderous. ABC journalists and anyone interested in truthful presentation of issues should never use this term,” Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said.
“That said, the ABC coverage of the recent violence on television, radio and its website, was heavily slanted towards anti-Israel perspectives, with the stacked panel on Q&A being a good example.”
Meanwhile, a petition calling to “Stop the ABC’s biased, unbalanced and antisemitic reporting of the Israel Gaza Conflict” has garnered almost 4000 signatures.
Petition organiser Mel Levy told The AJN she had become increasingly worried about coverage relating to Israel, the recent Q&A episode being the final straw.
“The problem is the underlying facts don’t actually get up. I’m a South African. I lived though the dismantling of apartheid, which had 155 laws mandating segregation. It’s not true of Israel,” she said.
“It would be great to get non-Jewish people to sign it but if every Jewish member of our community signed it, it would make an enormous difference.”