Arab Federation believes allegation of anti-Israel bias by the ABC is politically motivated. The Federation has written to ACMA on this issue
I am writing on behalf of the Arab Australian Federation in relation to your investigation of an episode of the Q+A program on ABC, which aired on 27 May 2021. We understand you are investigating a complaint, which alleges anti-Israel bias on the part of the ABC, that we believe is both factually incorrect and politically motivated.
You would be aware that most media outlets, including the ABC TV, SBS TV and Commercial TV stations as well as commercial radio stations and major newspapers, are generally speaking biased in favour of Israel on most Middle Eastern issues, regardless of what the issue is. Programs or articles that are considered balanced by most, would be attacked for not advocating the Israeli point of view. Most journalists and media producers and executives are usually worried about the reactions of pro-Israel lobbyists and are therefore afraid to air any criticism of the policies and practices of the Israeli authorities. They are careful not to air a different perspective which would give some scope to Palestinian political and human rights advocates or to Palestinian voices. The slightest and mildest criticism, even against the violation of human rights and international law, is silenced and wrongly portrayed as Anti-Semitic.
The Q and A program referred to was broadcast in the heat of the onslaught of the Israeli killing machine on a helpless population within Gaza and the occupied Palestinian Territories. It followed the eviction of Palestinian families from their own homes in Jerusalem, the expansion of settlements (illegal under international law) and the direct and intentional ethnic cleansing policies against indigenous Palestinians. It is natural for good decent human beings in such situations to fault the aggressor and feel for the victim. There were two questions from the audience on the subject during the program and both were clearly from pro-Israeli members of the audience. All panel members were independent thinkers and answered with sincerity what they believed was the situation. None the less, the Israeli point of view was articulated by Mr David Sharma, who was the Australian Ambassador to Israel and current MP whose views on the subject are well known to be proactively supportive of Israel.
We found it odd that the complainant only raised the program aired on 27 May 2021. If you were to expand your investigation you would find that this program was a rarity in Australian media and the ABC management, and the Q and A producers, should be congratulated for providing some balance on the representation of the issues in question. If the complainant wants a representative of the Israeli point of view to be represented on any media panel, then that must be equated with another panellist of the opposite view.
The complainants are motivated by a desire to silence Palestinian voices on the rare occasions where they are broadcast. Overall, the platforming of Palestinian voices in the Australian media is the exception, not the rule. ACMA must not enable this racist, vindictive, and politically motivated harassment of Palestinian voices and the media platforms that dare to broadcast them.