Violent threats against Jewish lawyers

In her posts, Lattouf had accused Israeli soldiers of rape and questioned whether protesters had chanted "gas the Jews" outside the Sydney Opera House.

ABC presenter Antoinette Lattouf. Photo: Instagram
ABC presenter Antoinette Lattouf. Photo: Instagram

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) has condemned threats of violence against Jewish lawyers named in a Nine story which claimed a lawyers’ group was linked to the dismissal of ABC Sydney radio presenter Antoinette Lattouf.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on January 16 that “a high-level and coordinated letter-writing campaign from pro-Israel lobbyists” to ABC chair Ita Buttrose and managing director David Anderson demanded Lattouf, who had made social media posts against Israel, be sacked during a five-day assignment hosting ABC Sydney’s morning program. She was dismissed from the ABC after three days on air.

In her posts, Lattouf had accused Israeli soldiers of rape and questioned whether protesters had chanted “gas the Jews” outside the Sydney Opera House.

According to texts obtained by The SMH, a WhatsApp group, Lawyers for Israel, planned a letter-writing campaign to ABC management. On December 20, a lawyer named by The SMH had replied to a text from Robert Goot in which the ECAJ deputy president stated, “I understand that she [Lattouf] will be gone from morning radio from Friday.”

The lawyer had texted back to Goot, “And dismissed from the ABC altogether? Friday is 3 days away – too long” and “the more complaints the better”. The group shared a response from Buttrose in which she noted their concerns.

Since the story appeared, the lawyers have received harassing emails and threatening phone calls. One email stated, “You racist bunch of genocidal c**ts hiding behind a viel [sic]. The chickens have come to roost pieces of s**t.” In the emails, a lawyer was called a “Jewish rodent” and told they would be “hung from a bridge very soon”.

Responding to readers, The SMH stood by its reporting. “As the ABC is funded by taxpayers, the public is entitled to know about such decisions by management.”

Lattouf, who has taken her dismissal to Fair Work Australia, told the BBC she was concerned about people having “high-level access” to ABC management.

However, The AJN understands that Lawyers for Israel wrote to Buttrose on a publicly available email address.

ABC Alumni chair Jonathan Holmes, a former host of ABC’s Media Watch, posted, “If the ABC believed that Ms Lattouf’s earlier social media posts raised questions about her perceived objectivity, it should not have appointed her to an on-air role.”

A group of concerned Jewish community members wrote to The SMH, describing Lawyers for Israel as “no more than a group of Jewish legal professionals bonded by the trauma of October 7 with a need to respond to the recent surge in antisemitism and disinformation. Since when has writing letters of complaint become a crime?”

The Lattouf dismissal has spiked tensions within the ABC, with staff issuing a no-confidence vote in Anderson, an action strongly rebuked by Buttrose as “abhorrent and incorrect”.

“The assumption that either the managing director as editor-in-chief or I would be influenced by any sort of lobbying pressure is quite simply wrong,” she said.

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