Until the discussion moves beyond the strategic conflation of Zionism and antisemitism, people who are suffering will not be heard
Recently 700 journalists and writers signed a petition calling for fuller media coverage of the plight of the Palestinians. Reportage on the Middle East has long been contested. For Zionists the Australian media is a hot bed of biased, leftwing enmity, for Palestinians the lack of a fair hearing and accurate reporting is a given.
The petition triggered a furore as media proprietors and their editors were called out for self-censorship. There is a tacit consensus in newsrooms across the country that attempting objective reporting and honest analysis isn’t worth the grief. Both implicitly and explicitly it is agreed that subjects best avoided are: daily life for Palestinians, the relentless growth of settlements in the occupied territories, the concomitant moral erosion of the Israeli polity, and the complexities at play within Palestinian and Israeli politics.
Believing it to be in the national interest to publish an evidence-based account of the challenges the media confront in reporting on the region, I commissioned John Lyons to write Dateline Jerusalem: Journalism’s Toughest Assignment. Lyons is a veteran newspaper editor who spent six years as a foreign correspondent in Israel and is now head of ABC Investigations. The task was to examine the impoverished reporting on this benighted region. Twenty-three editors, senior journalists and reporters confirmed on the record, to him, that the problem was the Israel lobby.