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Media Week - "Neutral" stance comes up Trumps/Biffo by Richo

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"Neutral" stance comes up Trumps

American Palestinian commentator Ray Hanania told ABC News Radio (March 3) that American Muslims should back Republican presidential aspirant Donald Trump and ignore his call to ban Muslims from entering the country because "on the issue of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians...he said he would be neutral."

According to Hanania, Trump's neutrality call was "not a strategic statement if you're trying to win votes in the United States. The Arabs don't vote in this country as much as the pro-Israel community... He said he'd be neutral. That's unprecedented in a presidential race in this country because in all the past presidential elections the debate has been which candidate is going to be more pro-Israel. That's always been the argument, the battle, who's more pro-Israel and that person would usually win...If I were Muslim I would say okay, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on the immigration/terrorism issue because that neutral statement is so significant. He's worth giving a chance."

While Americans overwhelmingly want Washington to actively back Israel's security in principle, there is little evidence to show the issue decides elections. Furthermore, Hanania seemed ignorant that the inconsistent Trump has also said he is "totally pro-Israel" and that Netanyahu is a "a good friend" and Trump even shot a commercial in support of Netanyahu's 2013 election campaign.

Biffo by Richo

In his regular Australian column (March 4), former Labor powerbroker Graham Richardson advised NSW Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane to drop his lawsuit against the Australian's Sharri Markson for an opinion piece that Moselmane claims smeared him as an antisemite.

Richardson made it pretty clear that his sympathies lie with the Palestinians, essentially reducing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a dispute between an Israeli cabinet that "contains a majority opposed to a two-state solution" (it doesn't) and Hamas whose "constitution...demands the destruction of...Israel", but he agreed that Moselmane had used harsh language "to describe what could be called ‘the Jewish lobby'" in a speech to the NSW Parliament in 2013.

As Richardson recounted, Moselmane used parliamentary privilege to say, "I accept the right of people to express their views, even when they are wrong, naive, ill-informed, indoctrinated and blinded by the power of a lobby group that is cancerous and malicious and seeks to deny, misinform and scaremonger."

In response, Markson had accused Moselmane of "broadcasting this anti-Semitic sentiment within the walls of the NSW Parliament."

Richardson wrote, "words like ‘cancerous' and ­‘malicious' are not used gently or moderately. In my view, if you use that kind of language, then you should not be too surprised that someone may respond in the way Markson did."

Although Richardson defended Markson as "tenacious and fearless" and a "good advertisement for modern journalism" he said he "didn't agree with much of her column" but MPs should be guided by the principle "You gives it, you takes it and you don't...grumble."

- Allon Lee

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