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Media Microscope: Carrtoonish claims

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Allon Lee


Former ALP foreign minister Bob Carr's increasingly deranged views of Israel were laid bare yet again.

The Australian's Christian Kerr reported (Dec. 4) Carr's baseless claims at a pro-Palestinian function in late-November alleging that "the people of Palestine are seeing street by street the character, the nomenclature, of Jerusalem being changed... The story of Jerusalem is now being fabricated.

Judaising and eliminating the Arab character of this great Arab city is a shocking thing to take place."
Carr also said that MPs "are being seduced and bribed ... with paid overseas trips to Israel", calling these visits "disgraceful".

Did Carr ever express concern that other participants in the Israel study visit he led might also be guilty of taking bribes? Or over the fact that the Australia-China Research Institute he heads is reportedly largely funded by pro-government individuals and bodies in China?

In the Australian (Dec. 5), Joe Kelly reported ALP Senator Glenn Sterle likened Carr to a "champion offsider for the lunatic communist side of the Green party," citing Carr's praise for Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon.

Sterle also attacked Carr's bribery accusation, saying, "it is inflammatory... I have met with the Palestinian Authority twice. I have met with the PLO. I have been to Ramallah twice... They have no desire to talk about a two-state solution."

Courier Mail columnist Rowan Dean (Dec. 7) said Carr's actions were the equivalent of "scream[ing] ‘Fire!' in a crowded theatre. It is calculated to do nothing other than provoke a fearful, panicked response" and to "curry Muslim votes for Labor in Sydney's western suburbs."

Serendipitously, Carr's claims that Israel study tours are bribes were contradicted by the published reports of Australian media professionals who had just returned from an Israel study tour organised by AIJAC and the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies.

The Australian Financial Review's Deputy-Editor Aaron Patrick noted (Nov. 27) that the "representatives of our sponsors who travelled with us didn't proselytise. They let Israel speak for itself.... We received briefings across the political spectrum, from a member of the Jewish settler movement to representatives of the Palestinian cause."

Patrick noted that Australian diplomat Tom Wilson introduced the group to spokespeople for the Palestinian Authority at its headquarters in Ramallah.

According to Patrick, "Palestinian culture celebrates the violence. Martyrs and rock throwers are heralded on Palestinian television. Newspaper cartoons revile Jews. Political leaders refuse to condemn attacks on Israeli civilians."

Daily Telegraph Deputy-Editor Ben English expressed astonishment (Nov. 28) at the pervasive incitement he witnessed in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas.

In Bethlehem, English saw TV footage of terror attacks by Palestinians overlaid with songs extolling "martyrdom", and murals on walls "celebrating yet more soldier ‘martyrs' of the cause. Blood is the dominant motif."

English quoted former PLO journalist and now Jerusalem Post senior writer Khaled Abu Toameh's explanation that "the PA uses its complete control of the media to saturate its populace with anti-Israel dogma... it is now all but impossible to bring Palestine to any form of settlement because its citizens have been brainwashed to hate and distrust Israel so deeply."

Toameh, English reported, explained the incitement is often expressed as "blood libel" including "claims that Israel assassinated Arafat", 9/11 was orchestrated by Israel and that the "Jews release rats into the old city of Jerusalem to drive Arab families out of their homes, as if the rats can distinguish between a Jewish family and an Arab family."

English observed, "It's a lurid narrative that is largely ignored on the world stage... [and] to the newcomer, it is hard to conceive from the militant imagery of the West Bank, the emotion-laden words and pictures of television, Facebook and Instagram, that anybody here could ever contemplate - let alone wish for - peace with the ‘occupying force'."

The Australian's senior writer Sharri Markson (Nov. 21) said she asked PA spokesperson Xavier Abu Eid "why Palestinians involved in the attacks had appeared on posters and were celebrated on national television, [but] he could not answer the question."

On "Crikey" (Nov. 23) Myriam Robin attacked Markson and Patrick for filing reports without disclosing how their visits were funded. Robin claimed that, "the vast majority of junkets journalists are sent on are paid for by private companies. But some are paid for by governments or those associated with them."

Both AIJAC and the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies are Australian organisations, whose funding is locally derived, and neither act as agents of the Israeli government.

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