Ali Kazak, a former Palestinian ambassador in Australia, has written a stinging open letter to the ABC, criticising its pro-Israel bias in its coverage of the war on Gaza.
The October 31 letter called on ABC managing director David Anderson to stop dealing with the war “from an Israeli perspective, adopting all its claims, propaganda, and deceptions without examining their credibility”.
“While Israel is bombarding the hell out of the people of Gaza, the ABC Radio (RN) and TV (7.30) bombards us with Israeli propaganda, interviewing Israeli and pro-Israelis one after the another,” Kazak said.
He said it is “giving the [Israeli military and government] a free platform to spread their lies and deception without interruption or challenge”.
“The ABC deals with the Israeli Palestinian conflict from an Israeli perspective … adopting all its claims, propaganda, and deceptions without examining their credibility.”
He said it overlooks that “Israel is a colonial apartheid state established on the destruction and occupation of Palestine and ethnic cleansing of over 70% of its people on racial grounds.
“Israel is an aggressor and occupier, racially discriminating against the Palestinian people and denying them their inalienable right to return to their country, equality and self-determination.”
When the ABC interviews Palestinians “they are subjected to aggressive interruptions, demanding they repeatedly condemn Hamas and the killing of Israelis”.
The ABC never asks Israelis “to condemn Israel’s killing of Palestinians, nor condemn Israel’s occupation, racial discrimination against Muslim and Christian Palestinians” or “to condemn Israel’s ethnic cleansing and denial of their right to return to their country because they are not Jews”.
Kazak singled out 7.30 presenter Sarah Ferguson’s aggressive interview with Dr Mustafa Barghouti on October 10, where she repeatedly demanded he condemn Hamas for its military operation against Israeli colonies built on Palestinian villages.
“She also repeated the same aggressive questioning with a Hamas leader on 17.10.2023 and in her interview on 30.10.2023 with the Palestinian [United Nations] deputy ambassador Majed Bamya, but never once did so with Israelis and their apologists ...”
Kazak criticised Ferguson for giving Israel’s former foreign minister Tzipi Livni on October 16 and an Israeli army spokesman on October 19 “a free platform to spread their deceptions and propaganda”.
He said ABC Radio National is adopting the same line. “ABC presenters often use Israeli terminology and repeat Israeli propaganda and lies without substantiation as if they are facts.”
On October 31, an ABC reporter in Israel repeatedly said “Hamas and other terrorist groups”. “Does the ABC regard all Palestinian resistance organisations, including Fateh and the Palestine Liberation Organisation, as terrorists?” asked Kazak.
“ABC reporters and program presenters always refer to Hamas’s non-recognition of the right of Israel to exist, but they never mention the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party does not recognise in its charter the right of Palestine to exist. Why?”
“I have been watching 7.30 for over forty years, during which Israel practicing apartheid, committed tens of massacres of Palestinians, carried numerous aggressions, continued its occupation, gross violations of human rights, international law and hundreds of UN resolutions … all of which are well documented and internationally condemned, but I have never seen the ABC journalists and presenters question Israelis in such an aggressive way nor demand their condemnation of these crimes. Why?”
Kazak asked Anderson what explains the ABC’s “huge concern of about 230 kidnapped Israelis and the feelings of their relatives” when it shows a “lack of concern” about the more than 10,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli detention camps for years and the more than 1000 kidnapped prisoners, who have not even been charged, let along convicted.
“Don’t all these different standards amount to blatant ABC racism against the Palestinian people?
“The hypocrisy and double standards are too obvious and do not serve the ABC’s credibility and reputation.”
Kazak said the ABC’s bias had been evident for some time and is “getting worse”. He finished his letter calling on the national broadcaster to “deal with colonial apartheid Israel as it dealt with all aggressors and occupiers, and as it treated Indonesia in East Timor, the apartheid regime in South Africa and the way it treats Russian aggression and occupation of Ukraine”.
[Ali Kazak is a former Palestinian ambassador and head of delegation to Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific region. He is a founder of the Australia-Arab Affairs Council and the not-for-profit Palestine Publications.]