Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Media Microscope: The Peters Principle

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Allon Lee


Cathy Peters is an ABC producer and is also the former Greens councillor who spearheaded the campaign in 2010 for Marrickville Council to adopt an official policy of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. She remains active in various pro-BDS groups today.

ABC Radio National's "Earshot" recently broadcast a two-part documentary on east Jerusalem made by Peters. These programs made a mockery of the ABC's statutory requirement to report fairly and accurately.

Part one (July 27) - featuring only Palestinian and radical-left-activist Israeli interviewees - repeatedly claimed that Palestinian houses are being illegally confiscated in east Jerusalem, and the occupants evicted so that Jews can move in.

Shawan Jabarin from the Palestinian NGO al-Haq claimed Israel's "policy is... to expel Palestinians from their city". Similarly Micha Kurz, co-founder of Breaking the Silence, said that Jerusalem "is being ethnically cleansed... it's towards the end of the process."

Yet in 1967 there were 55,000 Palestinians in east Jerusalem, while in 2014 they numbered 300,000. The Palestinian population has increased also as a proportion of the city's inhabitants. Moreover, currently, only 2,000 Jewish Israelis live in east Jerusalem's Palestinian neighbourhoods.

Jabarin complained about foreign companies that "try to buy property... using different means."
These properties were clearly legally purchased but Jabarin wants to make it illegal to sell to Jews - which is racism.

Peters claimed that since 1967 Israel has demolished "2,000 Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem."
In fact, the Jerusalem municipality estimates there are 20,000 illegally built Palestinian homes in total and between 2000 and 2010 the municipality demolished only about 100 illegally constructed homes a year - of which 40% were Jewish-owned. But the program featured no response from either the Israeli government or Jerusalem municipality to any of the allegations in it.

Without using the word, the program repeatedly implied Israeli administration in east Jerusalem is effectively apartheid.

According to Peters, "Palestinians...don't have equal status to Israelis... They're classed as residents." Radical Israeli MP Haneen Zoabi said, "Israel has prevented any [Palestinian] representation" in Jerusalem, and accused Israel of putting "Jerusalem into a siege long before... Gaza".

Yet Palestinians in east Jerusalem can become Israeli citizens if they choose to and many do. Even if not citizens, they can vote in municipal elections. Jerusalem residents can travel freely both into Israel and the West Bank. These facts were not mentioned.

Disgustingly, Kurz implied the Jewish religion is to blame, saying Israel uses "Jewish holidays...to promote fear...[at] Passover... we...sing...that [in] every generation somebody [seeks] to annihilate us...and the solution is to close ourselves into this militarised civil society."

Peters even snuck BDS into the program with Kurz lauding it as a "silver lining" enjoying global "momentum".

Part two (July 30) attempted to discredit Jewish links with Jerusalem and denigrate Israeli archaeology, particularly at Silwan where, in Peters' words, the "so-called... excavation" of the City of David is happening.

Peters referred to the Temple Mount only by it Muslim name and called it "the third holiest site in Islam" and "a site of great historical significance in Judaism." It is in fact Judaism's holiest site.

Ross Burns, former Australian ambassador to Israel and a recent board member of the Australian pro-Palestinian lobbying group APAN - a fact that was not disclosed - said that since 1948 Israeli archaeology has been used to identify sites as "having Jewish heritage... to make sure the existing Palestinian population is moved out of the way". Burns used the Palestinian term "Nakba" (catastrophe) to refer to Israel's creation.

British expert Sarah Irving claimed that Israel was "imposed" and is "artificial". She acknowledged past "Hebrew" rule in the city, but dismissed it as only one brief period among Roman, Greek and Islamic civilisations.

Yet the Romans and Greeks ruled over a Jerusalem that was recognised as the capital of the Jews and even the Koran acknowledges Jerusalem's Jewish heritage.

Meir Margalit, a former Jerusalem councillor with the far-left Meretz party, called archaeologists working at Silwan "settlers" whose conduct is "no different to what... ISIS are doing now in Iraq." This is vitriolic nonsense, as millions of Christian and Muslim tourists who travel each year to Jerusalem can attest.

Following the programs' broadcast, the ABC added an introduction on its website noting Peters' "long association with the pro-Palestinian cause" and identifying the shows as "her perspective". It appears even the ABC is now accepting that they are nothing more than propaganda.

 

This article is featured in this month's Australia/Israel Review, which can be downloaded as a free App: see here for more details.

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