Nine Entertainment, following acquisition of Fairfax Media, owns the three pre-eminent newspapers in Australia – the Sydney Morning Herald, the Melbourne Age and the Australian Financial Review. (Murdoch owns everything else, except for Nine’s Canberra Times and Seven West Media’s West Australian.) The Age and the SMH, once markedly different papers because of the varied histories of Victoria and New South Wales, thanks to cost-cutting are now near twins. I thus take the SMH as representative of the ‘best’ of Australian journalism.
The SMH’s masthead is ‘Independent. Always’. This is a lie.
I outlined the heady ‘fake news’ component of the SMH’s ‘World’ section on Australia’s Pearls & Irritations in November 2019. The ‘World’ section is essentially a subordinate arm of Anglo-American establishment propaganda against its designated enemies. The New York Times, Washington Post, Bloomberg, etc., are glibly reproduced as the global standards of quality independent reportage. This lackeydom must be an embarrassment to the SMH journalists who write ably on domestic issues.
The fake news in our quality media continues unabated.
There was the late June news bonanza (from ‘informed sources’) that the evil Russkies are paying bounties to the Taliban to kill American soldiers bringing freedom and democracy to the Afghanis. On cue, international editor Peter Hartcher jumped on the bandwagon before putting brain in motion. Initiated by Russophobe Zbigniew Brzezinski, the US spent USD$20 billion plus in building mujahideen forces to kill some 15,000 Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Bounties anyone? The consequences of that ‘cunning little plan’ are still with us.
On 17 July (courtesy of the ever-reliable 5-eyes intel network) we have Russian hackers launching ‘despicable’ attacks on western medical companies and research labs.
Ultra-fake news. The Skripals, father and daughter, resuscitated from certain death from Russian Novichok poisoning by peerless British medicos, are to find new life in far off New Zealand (6 June). Rather, the hapless Skripals are held incommunicado in Britain, courtesy of the official story itself being deadly poisonous.
I read of the in-house crisis at the Age in Melbourne-based Schwartz Media’s Saturday Paper, 27 June (paywall), resulting in the overnight departure of the editor. It is there disclosed that one Michelle Griffin has been World editor at the Age and SMH. More, Griffin has been elevated as acting editor of the Age.
It turns out that Griffin has been the ‘beneficiary’ of a trip to Israel in late 2019 — Jwire (6 September) and Australian Jewish News (17 September) oblige. Joining Griffin was a gaggle of Murdoch hacks. It is reported that:
“They said the program had expanded their first-hand knowledge of the region and given them a deeper appreciation of the complexity of the issues that affect Israelis and Palestinians that are not as black and white as they are sometimes reported in Australia.”
This catechism is a bilious blancmange of bullshit. The story is straightforward. Israel was conceived, created and is maintained on the singular motif of ethnic cleansing. Period. The latest troupe of journalists on whom we depend to be well-informed return from their junket as mental and moral zombies.
This school for unenlightened journalists has been active for decades.
Journalist Claudia Wright was approached by the gang in the mid-1970s to go on a brainwashing jaunt to Israel. Wright was then the most prominent voice in Melbourne media. She was sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, as for others suffering oppression – as such a prime target for seduction. Wright declined the offer and was placed in the gang’s bad books thereafter. Wright later moved to the US, achieving a reputation as journalist and essayist there, but her work continued to be monitored. When the carrot is refused, the stick is applied.
That was 45 years ago. In that time, how many journalists on relevant desks have not been bought off? Miracle, given the pressure, some Australian media journalists posted to the crucial role of Middle East correspondent – notably Jason Koutsoukis and Ruth Pollard (Fairfax), Sophie McNeill (ABC), John Lyons (Murdoch’s The Australian) – resisted the carrot, resulting in endless complaints of ‘bias’ to their respective employers and pressure for reporting censorship.
The issue of buying support from influential decision-makers and opinion-makers received atypical attention in 2009 (28 March). The then Defense Minister, Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon, acknowledged that he had earlier taken two sponsored trips to China without registration of that fact. The apparent influence-peddling by foreign governments amongst parliamentarians had been widespread, and without meaningful official concern.
Alleged large scale influence-peddling by China has since become the current Liberal-National Coalition government’s top priority. Eryk Bagshaw (25 July) trumpets: “After years of cyber warfare, intellectual property theft, subversive foreign interference and human rights transgressions at home …”. This multi-faceted condemnation applies equally to Israel.
In 2009, Israel was listed as second behind China in attempted influence-peddling through financing MPs’ junkets. Ross Burns, sometime ambassador to several Middle Eastern countries including Israel, noted (13 April): “The heavy reliance on subsidised visits to Israel has taken its toll in terms of Australia’s wider interests. Most MPs and ministers who visited until recently followed programs that gave a heavily sanitised view of the Israel/Palestine situation”.
The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies’ Vic Alhadeff has ready access to the Fairfax/Nine pages. On 24 November 2012 he claimed that the pro-Israel lobby is just like “a farmers’ lobby or a teachers’ lobby, it’s part of democracy”. No it isn’t. It is transparently an undermining of Australian democracy, in the interests of a foreign power. The well-populated ‘Friends of Israel’ in federal parliament is effectively a fifth column, and Australia’s abominable record with respect to perennial UN votes regarding Israeli perfidy is Exhibit A for the prosecution.
Israel and its Australian Zionist backers have long been a protected domain in Australia’s mainstream media (MSM). Different standards apply, not least regarding access and denial of same to detractors. John Lyons’ 2017 Balcony Over Jerusalem (Ch.15, ‘The Lobby’) provides substance. Lyons notes: “[A senior Israeli Army officer, with family connections in Australia] painted an extraordinary picture of the Israeli lobby in Australia. ‘The Israel lobby in Australia … is the most powerful lobby in the world in terms of impact it has within its own country’”.
After the 12 December 2019 British general election at which Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party was trounced, the SMH published a piece by Vic Alhadeff (17 December) claiming: “Whoever replaces Corbyn must immediately treat Labour’s festering wound”. Alhadeff has converted a monstrous propaganda fiction into a fact. There was no ‘festering wound’ (of anti-Semitism) to treat (c/f Media Lens, 12 September 2018). The real festering wound is a now derelict Labour Party infested by reactionary Blairite and Zionist interests.
On 3 January 2020, a US drone assassinated Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and others. Who appears in the SMH as expert commentators? Colin Rubenstein (9 January) and Ahron Shapiro (9 January) – apparatchiks at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council. For Rubenstein, Soleimani’s death is “militarily and morally justified”. Agnes Callamard, United Nations Special Rapporteur on ‘extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions’, begs to differ (Ritter, RT, 8 July). Rubenstein claims that this assassination will inhibit regional Iranian ‘destabilisation’. Rather it serves to enhance Israeli, US, Turkish, Saudi & UAE regional destabilisation.
Complementing Rubenstein, Shapiro waxes hysterical about Iran’s purported nuclear weapons threat, bizarrely ignoring that Iran was fulfilling its obligations under the July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action which the Americans destroyed. Shapiro was given space in the SMH a year earlier (14 February 2019) to laud Jared Kushner’s oxymoronic ‘Peace Plan’, under the nauseating title ‘The key to Middle East peace is getting Palestinians to say “yes”’.
On 25 June, the SMH published a piece submitted by international law academic Ben Saul – a rare critical voice regarding Israel. Saul noted that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s proposed annexation of a good chunk of the West Bank “has provoked near-universal condemnation” and “would be a violent, predatory, lawless act”. Quite.
Comes the inevitable response, for ‘balance’, 26 June, from law academic Gregory Rose. Rose has the annexation (classed a misnomer) as a means to “ultimately enable Palestinian Arab self-determination”. Tell that to the Palestinians who have not been consulted on their ongoing dehumanisation and displacement. Rose also claims: “Yet the Palestinians have rejected repeated Israel offers since 1967 … of full self-determination in the majority of this land”. This is egregious rubbish, and straight out of the hasbara playbook. Rose vilifies Saul’s prior article as “incandescent” – a gratuitous slur. Rather, Saul’s article is a paradigm of legal conservatism.
On 13 July and 19 July there appeared articles in the SMH implicitly critical of Israel’s leadership, given its mismanagement of the Covid-19 crisis. Such criticism in Australia’s MSM is rare indeed, but the story implicit in these accounts is the seeming robustness of Israeli civil society. Yet missing from these accounts is what is happening in the Occupied Territories. We find there a strategic intent not to ameliorate but to enhance the destructive impact of Covid-19 (videMondoweiss 16 July and 23 July). Charming! The only good Palestinian is a …
On 15 July a puff piece appears on someone called Bari Weiss who has resigned from her plum job at the New York Times out of ‘principle’. This woman, known to be rabidly anti-free speech for those objecting to the Israeli boot on the collective Palestinian neck, is of no consequence whatsoever, but this storm in a US MSM teacup is considered newsworthy for an educated Australian readership in the midst of myriad global crises.
On 24 July (‘When hateful racism becomes this shocking, police do go knocking’) Vic Alhadeff claims an alarming spike in anti-Semitism in Australia. Alhadeff claims that part of this ‘spike’ involves “accusing Israel – with zero basis in reality — of teaching American police officers to kill black citizens”. That US ‘forces of order’ have been advised by their Israeli counterparts on means of brutal repression is a fact. Alhadeff appears to have trouble with the facts, for which Nine’s editorial appears to have no concern. And what does reference to a particular country’s well-known instutitonalised brutality have to do with anti-Semitism? Is global Jewry to be implicated in Israel’s crimes?
Alhadeff’s article is predominantly oriented to recounting a ‘heartfelt cry’ from a 15-year old, purportedly experiencing abuse at school. Alhadeff reports as part of her message: “One of my history teachers … also compared Palestinian terrorism to Jewish resistance during the Holocaust.” This account readily arouses suspicion. Is ‘Palestinian terrorism’ the teacher’s phrase? Is this a 15-year old speaking? Who is socialising who? The vignette strains credibility.
Alhadeff could play a key role in combatting ‘hateful racism’ by employing his stature to disentangle Australian Jewish faith schools from their ‘love of Israel’ (see representative mission statements) and thus from that country’s structured racialist character.
The scholarly ‘love of Israel’ socialisation received a setback in 2010, when a feted graduate of Melbourne’s zionist Bialik Collage died mysteriously in an Israeli prison. Ben Zygier, reputedly the compleat individual, moved to Israel and joined its secret services but came to a grisly end. No lessons appear to have been learned by Zygier’s tragic death.
With his confreres, Alhadeff could also work to extricate Australia’s official Jewish organisations from their dogged endorsement of Israeli criminality, liberate Australia’s Jewish community from the stain, and subsequently combat what genuine anti-Semitism remains.
Given that Fairfax/Nine (with the Murdoch media) is cowardly with respect to the pro-Israel lobby, it becomes an integral part of that lobby, debasing its privileged and crucial medium and sacrificing its integrity. This in tolerating the systematic attempted buying off of its journalists and in opening its pages readily to racist apologists. In short, it’s an ongoing obscenity.
*(Top image: Prime Minister Scott Morrison (ScoMo) on receiving the Jerusalem Prize last year in Sydney. Credit: The Facebook page of Zionist Federation of Australia)