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Victoria’s community leaders slam Age’s bias

Jewish Community Council of Victoria President John Searle and Zionist Council of Victoria President Dr Danny Lamm have again strongly criticised Melbourne broadsheet The Age for its ongoing anti-Israel bias over a number of years.

The leaders of Victoria’s peak Jewish bodies jointly observed that during the tenure of Andrew Jaspan and particularly that of his successor Paul Ramadge, The Age had increasingly engaged in a war of words against Israel.  Apart from steering its readership to a more anti-Israel position, Searle and Lamm consider that The Age’s strident line had also had the hopefully unintended by-product of legitimising antisemitism in this country.

“There is no particular reporting or opinion piece that has prompted our criticism at this time.  Frankly, our community has simply just had enough of The Age’s lack of balance”, Searle noted. ”Despite our best efforts to present Israel’s case, there have been too many instances of anti-Israel statements to count, ranging from the blatant such as Michael Backman’s ugly smear job in 2009 to the more subtle and insidious”, Searle continued. “An example of the latter includes a recent article reprinted from The UK’s The Daily Telegraph which stated “Netanyahu will come under fierce pressure from Obama to extend a 10-month freeze on Jewish settlements in the West Bank”. The Age’s version made the following insertions “illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank” (The Age, 070710). Such changes make a world of difference.”

“We make this statement with regret”, Lamm continued.  “However we have spoken to Mr Ramadge on a number of occasions, both privately and in public forums.  While he is adept at making the right noises about The Age’s impartiality, his follow through leaves a great deal to be desired.  We believe that The Age’s record speaks for itself.  Quite simply The Age is not a friend of our community.”

A recent matter of concern was the reportage of Israel’s response to a flotilla of so-called peace activists that broached Israel’s territorial waters in an attempt to reach Hamas-ruled Gaza. The ZCV and JCCV addressed strong letters of complaint (attached) to Mr Ramadge which were ignored.  Searle’s subsequent phone call to Ramadge was not returned.

As Searle concluded in his letter, “The JCCV has had ongoing communication with you for a number of years on The Age’s bias.  Predictably you have consistently stated that The Age is even-handed and that your door is always open to the Jewish community.  I will remind you that these were your exact words when you addressed an audience at the Beth Weizmann Jewish Community Centre on 5 October 2009.   You soberly assured audience members that The Age was interested in their concerns and that you would always be responsive to them.  In this regard, I will also remind you that you took certain such concerns away with you.  To this day, you have not responded, despite our follow-up request that you do so (see attached letter).  And indeed, I am still awaiting your reply to my telephone call to you of 4 June 2010.  Your attitude bespeaks scant respect for the Jewish community.

I am not requesting your response to this letter – because frankly your assurances are no longer seen as credible by our community – other than a clear policy change to even-handedness as evidenced in The Age’s future content.  Until this is forthcoming I have no doubt that those of your readers who value Israel receiving a fair go will dwindle even further.”

Both Searle and Lamm concluded that the JCCV and ZCV will continue to monitor The Age and take any steps they consider appropriate.

Please address any media enquiries to Geoffrey Zygier on 03 9272 5579

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Hurray!Thanks for measured outspokenness. Really, be comforted .... in the minds of numerous THINKING friends of mine who like to get to the truth of matters, The Age no longer figures as a serious newspaper worthy of the name. We all turn to other accounts and opinions re a whiole range of issues every time...sometimes, admittedly, still reading its lopsidedness for somewhat of a sad cynical laugh.

Posted by Anna on 2010-08-29 03:27:37 GMT

This is especially rich considering it is written from the OCCUPIED former aboriginal territories of Australasia. Leave now hypocrites! Go home or shut-up. I cannot wait for the first wave of Islamic Aborigine converts to start wreaking havoc on you. Your time is coming….

Posted on 2010-08-26 12:08:55 GMT

also believe that it is time to stand up and be counted. For obvious reasons, Jews are reluctant to be "seen or heard". Australia is a very suitable environment to make our protests heard. I for one, would willingly join a march or protest. If we are not heard, how can we ever expect change? Paule

Posted by Paule on 2010-08-26 10:48:00 GMT

Mary has got it right about AFP (Australians For Palestine) and why they receive column space in The Age. Melbourne based Sonja KarKar- virulent Israel hater & Palestine lover extraordinaire, is the founder of AFP. Her Palestinian husband John KarKar is a leading QC. They are behind (and signatories to) all the anti Israel ads that appear in the mainstream media ( the Flotilla being the most recent). It was AFP that attempted to disrupt the Israeli tennis player in Melbourne earlier this year. AFP who promoted the "Nakba: Blue Skies Over Gaza" exhibition at Chapel on Chapel in June. AFP who caused dissent at the recent Melbourne Jewish Film Festival after learning there was some Israeli sponsorship of the Festival. AFP who are promoting the BDS conference and other "actions" which are currently taking place in Melbourne shopping Malls against Israeli beauty products. AFP are at the source of all these situations. Their highly sophisticated website, adds daily to Israeli and associated products to be boycotted. From Optus & Motorola to Max Brenner. It would be interesting to know who funds their very sophisticated website and activities. Just reading MM"s comment - I have alerted the JBD in Sydney to all of these problems and they are reluctant to get involved, possibly because they are too busy dealing with all the other events (anti semitism) that occurs on a daily basis. The JBD feels that Melbourne affairs should be dealt with by the ZCV. We have to act from a grass roots level and galvanise ourselves into action. We are starting to do this in Sydney. Michelle Rojas of STAND WITH US can offer good advice on what to do MM - please ask ICJS for my contact details and join our group.

Posted by Elaine on 2010-08-26 08:16:12 GMT

Elaine has hit the nail on the head. As long as we are quiet, then this crap will continue. If we do demonstrate, though, we better make sure that the leader of the demo has been trained with the right sound bite messages and has concrete examples of the bias to quote. Otherwise, it will work against us. We should also definitely demonstrate outside the BDS conference, and have banners outlining what Israel does to minimise civilian casualties (such as ringing homes beforehand), and what our enemies do to cynically maximise them. It will show the conference participants to be very hypocritical and biased. The more noise we make, the better we counter their message. Will our community leaders get this message and make it happen? What about the leaders of AUJS and the various Zionist youth groups? Guys, if you are reading this, we need you now.

Posted by MMSyd on 2010-08-26 07:45:53 GMT

Here we go - round and round in circles talking to each other as usual. Since "Jews Own The Media" and "Rupert Murdoch is Jewish" surely the more enlightened journalists of other mainstream newspapers can be made aware of this story. If I lived in Melbourne, I would already be picketing outside \"The Age\" and more importantly, gearing up to picket the major BDS (Boycotts Divestment & Sanctions) 3 day Conference that kicks off in Melbourne on 29th October.

Posted by Elaine on 2010-08-26 00:41:37 GMT

Tell Jewish schools not to offer or distribute the Age to their students or faculty. $10 per student per year for anti-Israel propaganda is undeserved support for this rag.

Posted by Naomi on 2010-08-26 00:06:13 GMT

Much of what the contributors to this commentary say is sadly true. In my mind The Age is creating the milieu for future anti-Jewish racism in this country. We have a responsibility to fight it. Moreover, the Arab advertising interests (Emirates, Etihad, etc.) overt and otherwise, surely play role in the paper"s policy. What strange bedfellows - the "left" and oil money. Ironic when the Jews are supposedly controlling the media. Ha!

Posted by Adon Emmett on 2010-08-26 00:02:07 GMT

The Age - that has adopted a left wing position on all topics including Australian politics - is merely echoing that paradisgm. In the eyes of the Left, be it Get Up!, the Greens, (let"s not forget the ALP were also complicit in voting against Israel in the UN), the Independent in the UK, the NYT & the Age, just to name a few organisations of that persuation, Israel & the Right are always evil and open to villification

Posted by Jake in Caulfield on 2010-08-25 23:16:10 GMT

For years the Age journalists have allowed themselves to report events from a biased or uneducated viewpoint. It has seen fit to regularly publish hostile and vilifying cartoons(Leunig) and articles which twist the truth. As has been said before the Age seems to operate on the tenet that the truth shouldnt get in the way of a good story, hardly the qualities of good journalism (or ethical behaviour). And I agree with previous sentiments in this column which state that the propaganda which delegitimised and dehumanised the Jewish people in pre war Europe contributed to their dire fate. The Age is complicit in facilitating the perception of Israel as a pariah state

Posted by r rosenblum on 2010-08-25 22:56:02 GMT

The day after the Flotilla episode, a work colleague of mine threw the age front page article at me and flew into a total rage about Israel. A few of my other colleagues were there. After they calmed him down, I was able to effectively counter the Age"s article to the extent that he apologized. Good that I was there. I wonder how other people reacted to that article

Posted by Ray Reed on 2010-08-25 22:41:41 GMT

It is about time our community representatives took off the gloves and said it as it is. \"Nice\" does not work! Since the days of the second intifada we have known that the Age is virulently anti Israel We have conveyed our concerns in a polite and respectful manner with to no avail. To now reach a point where Jewish community leaders are disrespected and ignored is outrageous and unacceptable. I don\"t believe Ramadge and his comrades are naive or ignorant enough to be unaware of their fuelling the flames of antisemitism

Posted by kalz on 2010-08-25 22:40:39 GMT

It"s good to see outspoken comments from ZCV and JCCV. The Age certainly deserves such criticism. Too often its reporters have a culture of accepting on face value any lies told to them by anti-Israel groups, as it fits with the biases and lack of knowledge of many of the reporters. Having an influencial Palestinian as Age Foreign Editor doesn"t help, as not only are articles slanted to his propaganda, but he presumably casts an eye over letters accepted too. The AFP (Australian for Palestine), a hateful group of apologists for Hamas, always seem to be assured plenty of space for their vitriolic articles and letters. In contrast, Jewish and Zionist organisations, let alone individuals, find it tough to gain such access, even though Israel is supposedly a democratic ally of Australia. One wonders whether the Age team is just naive or ideologically brainwashed? (i.e. loony leftists supporting the Islamists) ... or is there some loaded funding from the Arab world to explain this??

Posted by Mary on 2010-08-25 22:39:48 GMT

I"m happy to join a demonstration outside the Age. When is it?

Posted by Ruth on 2010-08-25 20:28:41 GMT

Why is it that the place where 100 Arabs live somewhere - anywhere - is called a "village" while 100 Jews living somewhere are called a "settlement"? Why is "illegal" pre-pended automatically to "settlement"? This is bias in itself.

Posted by Jake in Jerusalem on 2010-08-25 16:50:20 GMT

well said!!

Posted by David on 2010-08-25 12:54:15 GMT

The other point I should have made - self-evident to journalists, though not perhaps to others - is that the insertion of those words "illegal" and "occupied" indicates a deliberate editorial policy. No sub-editor would take it upon him/herself to alter copy in that way; they would be directed to do so. Most media is slanted in some way or other, but The Age"s anti-Israel bias belongs to a different category. It"s not just a "position" or lack of balance. It"s vilification and this time, The Age has been caught red-handed.

Posted by Zelda Cawthorne on 2010-08-25 12:35:32 GMT

Adon Emmett is right: picketing The Age is required to stop its campaign of hate. The Jewish community and its friends should publicly be asked to niether buy The Age nor advertise in it and complaints about its misreporting should be made to the press council. Newspapers have a right to independent comment, but they have a responsibility to firstly report accurately and fully.

Posted by paul2 on 2010-08-25 12:24:08 GMT

Where was this article published, if anywhere, or was it simply a Press Release by the two Councils? The Age? Unlikely. The poster below (Zelda) is absolutely correct, that protests of media bias and gross violations of journalistic ethics (if the Age has any)be taken up with the relevant professional regulatory bodies, assuming they are not equally biased. They say newspapers are the first, rough draft of history; personally, I"d rather read the history itself. However, newspapers are unquestionably leading entities in that all important thing called "political opinion formation", that which helps believe what they believe, and their lies must not go unchallenged. It"s no co-incidence that after Hitler, perhaps the most important role in what happened there was orchestrated by Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda and many more "organs of social, cultural and political formation".

Posted by GP on 2010-08-25 12:10:25 GMT

Nice try fellows, but I fear - too little, too late. Picketing the paper may be effective - more newsworthy especially if the other media are alerted in advance.

Posted by Adon Emmett on 2010-08-25 11:56:11 GMT

Tampering with copy as The Age has done in its "version" of the Daily Telegraph"s report is a serious breach of journalistic ethics. A formal complaint should be made to the Australian Press Council and copied to Britain"s Press Complaints Commission. Mr Ramadge and the editor-in-chief of the Daily Telegraph should be informed of this action. It"s likely to have rather more teeth than simply delivering a bollocking to The Age.

Posted by Zelda Cawthorne on 2010-08-25 11:17:17 GMT

Well done indeed. Smug bigotry is what you are opposing, and a world view captivated by deception and prejudice.

Posted by Mark Durie on 2010-08-25 10:51:53 GMT

Well done John and Danny. It is about time that "The Age" was called to account. In my opinion, that paper has done more to foster anti-Semitism than any other media outlet including the ABC. Not only is that paper not a friend of our community, its actions are those of an enemy!

Posted by Wazza on 2010-08-25 10:21:31 GMT

My two bob"s worth: The so-called leftist Age is tapping into, nay inciting, pure unadulterated racism by its little word twists.

Posted by Ralph Zwier on 2010-08-25 10:01:27 GMT

When we read The Age’s relentless drum beat against Israel and Judaism we see how 1930s style propaganda worked. Imagine an economic depression into this toxic menticidal mix and prospects would look very bad for a vilified ethnic minority.

Posted on 2010-08-25 09:43:26 GMT

Good on you.

Posted by John H on 2010-08-25 09:04:12 GMT