Doing “a job” on ex Ambassador Michael Oren

December 24, 2015 by Michael Danby
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As any of us that travel to Israel know, it is almost impossible to reconcile the vital, passionate, funny, modern and indeed happy Jewish state with the grotesque caricature presented by Australia’s two (Jerusalem-based) advocacy journalists.

The Age newspaper has lost 40% of its AB (University educated, business and professional) readership over the years because of the intolerably biased reporting by lamentable Middle East reporters Ed O’Loughlin, Jason Koutsiukis and more recently Ruth Pollard (of the soon to be closed, Jerusalem-based Fairfax office).

Sophie McNeill

Sophie McNeill   Facebook

Sophie McNeill is the new, more capable/crafty, Jerusalem correspondent of the ABC.

Contrast any day her ‘angles,’ with the fair, critical and nuanced journalism of the other ABC Middle East correspondent Matt Brown.

Ruth Pollard or Sophie McNeil present Israel through the prism of conflict with the Palestinians. Australians through Pollard and McNeill’s eyes see Israel as some kind of Sparta. Anyone who travels there and mixes with Israelis in Ashkelon, Herzliya, Netanya, Jerusalem or Ramat Gan knows it is a modern, high-tech version of classical Athens. For example, neither Pollard nor McNeill ever see the newsworthiness of nearly every Israeli start-up being bought or sought by European, American or Chinese interests.

The Israeli dairy products company Tenuva has recently been sold to Chinese interests.

They report tourist numbers are down for Bethlehem. There are never reports of the joys of Hanukkah of the 6 million Jews who they live amongst and who remain, as they did at the beginning of their posting, total aliens.

Just last week, Pollard took two-and-a-half pages, including the front page of  The Age, to report in micro-detail the Australian connection of one of the alleged Jewish perpetrators of violence, from a tiny group of isolated juveniles, called the ‘Hilltop Youth. What would you expect from those the rabbis would describe as effectively as members of Amalek?

But it is not often that I have been in a position where unbeknownst to the reporter and indeed me, I’ve been an active participant in one of these distorted media interviews. This time I can actually attest to the false impression given by one of these biased advocates.

At the tail end of the stabbing of innocent civilians in Israel, I was present in Tel Aviv on the 9th of December prior to the commencement of the Australia-UK-Israel Parliamentary Dialogue. Amira Malka, (Amanda) and I were invited to dinner where present, amongst others, was the newly-minted Israeli MK, Michael Oren, a famous historian and immediate past Israeli Ambassador to the United States. Oren apologised to the assembled guests he had to pop out, to participate in an interview with the ABC’s Sophie McNeill, on the issue of house demolitions.

House demolitions are a controversial policy, a recently revived measure, amongst other policies whose aim is to stem the flow of stabbing attacks on innocent Israelis. This harsh policy, hopes that homicide attackers who know and indeed wish to die as a ‘shahid’ (martyr) might be dissuaded however by the possibility that their family will be disadvantaged. Before he went out, Oren relayed that he would make three salient points:

1) that the demolitions had to be approved by the Israeli Supreme Court (in other words, they were not some whim of some bloody-minded official);

2) that the number of demolitions in the last year had been around 10; and, finally,

3) that one of the fathers of a potential suicide stabber had turned his son in before the event in order to save the family home, as well as not wanting his son killed in this action.

Later Oren returned to the dinner party some time later, ebullient that Ms McNeill was not as bad as her reputation and that she had given him five minutes. He was satisfied that he had been able to give some context to this controversial policy.

The transcript of Michael Oren’s interview with the ABC on Wednesday 9 December shows two of the three points on the ABC website and in the transcript were not broadcast. ‘Israel faces backlash from human rights group over house demolition policy’, only the point about the Supreme Court made by Michael Oren was incorporated into Ms McNeill’s broadcast. Not only was this context excluded, but the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem extensively juxtaposed with Ambassador Oren’s comments. As well as the terrorist’s family who was interviewed, protesting that “he was an innocent man.” Classic Sophie McNeill.

Ahron Shapiro’s profile “Should the ABC have given journalist Sophie McNeill the keys to its Jerusalem bureau?” warned about her modus operandi before her appointment. “McNeill said that the journalism she wanted to do was to frame stories from the point of view of the people who are “really suffering” in a situation. Both the examples she offered referred to Palestinians….” Shapiro went in his analytical report: “ McNeill has acted on her self-proclaimed sympathy for the Palestinians by appearing on a panel at two pro-Palestinian events, including one sponsored by Palestinian groups and speaking alongside two other speakers who called for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), the movement to sever all economic, educational and cultural ties with Israel…..”

“McNeill credits John Pilger as her inspiration when she was 15 for becoming a journalist….”

“Similarly, she sings the praises of Robert Fisk for showing her the ropes during her time reporting from Beirut…..” Shapiro reports.

“In 2011, in an interview with ANU’s Victoria Mason ahead of a lecture she gave at the university entitled “Reporting from Conflict Zones”, McNeill offered two examples of how she prefers to frame stories from the point of view of the people who are “really suffering in a situation.” Tellingly, both examples she gave were Palestinians…..”

So what were you poor ABC consumers to expect?

Sophie McNeill’s style is; ‘you advance your advocacy and views by incorporating ‘the other side,’ in this case Oren to show you have been ‘fair’, or even ‘professional’. The bigger the name of the interviewee you are citicising the better, the more credibility and standing it will give your report. Besides, the poor shmuck who you are using, will probably hear or see the interview. It’s in the can. They’ll have no come back. You top and tail and intersperse all of the “facts” that will give lie to what the “devil” Israeli will say and leave out crucial facts which may detract from the thrust of your report.

What really pisses me off is that these people never openly reveal their politics although, anyone reading Mr Shapiro’s open-source profile of McNeill would have known that the ABC’s General Manager, ‘the nice Mr Scott’ should never have appointed someone with such strong views to such a controversial and difficult role. As so it goes…

Part1 of  the Sophie McNeill Saga. Which I will return to with further inside stories about her broadcasts.

Michael Danby is the Federal Labor MP for Melbourne Ports.

 

Comments

38 Responses to “Doing “a job” on ex Ambassador Michael Oren”
  1. Michael Burd says:

    Mr Herzog reckons I have an obsession with
    labor Party ,is he serious a week does not go by when we don’t read rubbush in the AJN from Comrade
    Herzog defending his precious Labor party . At least I am fair and balanced in my views constantly praising Michael
    Danby A labor MP,s efforts to defend Israel in a hostile political environment against Israel and Jewish Human rights amongst his own party.
    A s far as being accused of being critical of Muslims Mr Herzog I would say I am as fond of them as Muslim community members such as Lakemba,s HizBut-Tahir Muslims are fond of you and I .

    • Henry Herzog says:

      QED Mr Burd. your response proves my point. And I only defend the ALP when you and your mates on the right, who also have this obsession, rubbish it. And when you rubbish the ALP you also rubbish Michael Danby, and reduce his chances of being re-elected. And if anything, your paranoia with the Muslim community and silly little attacks only helps the extremists. IS relish such silly attacks. One more thing; How are your incessant attacks on Mark Dreyfus doing anyone any good. And why are you so silent about Mr Frydenberg? Haven’t seen anything from him defending Israel lately? Of course, he’s a Liberal. I’ve wasted enough time responding to you.

      • Michael Burd says:

        Mr Herzog I think you misunderstood me about your Mr. Dreyfus MP I think he represents his largely Muslim constituency well thye would be pleased with him,
        Unlike Mr Frydenberg MP who comes out in the public domain and openly states the obvious connecting terrorism and extremism with Islam. Dreyfus would never dare do this let alone speak up unequivocally for Israel and Israeli Jewish human rights in the public domain.
        As just one example we all witnessed Mr Dreyfus dismal performance on the ABC Q&A program when the subject of Israel came up even his Jewish supporters [ not you of course ] were embarrassed . .
        This is all I have to say on the subject time to move on ….

    • Ian Katz says:

      Michael like many others, I actually stopped buying the Jewish news when I turned to the letters page and I saw incessant codswallop on the letters page from herzog Seems he likes to hear his own voice more than others want to hear it

      I wonder what herzog has to say about his hero fought Whitlam who whilst as labor prime minister refused to meet isi leibler and a Jewish delegation when it looked like Israel was going under in the yom kippur war Whitlam told leibler he was too busy as he had to go swimming. Then there is the inconvenient fact of bill Hartley the patron saint of the PLO in Australia who was a heavyweight in the ALP. Add Carr parke vamvikolou to the equation. I know who I would prefer mr herzogs comrades or josh frydenberg ,a decent guy who supported his leader and came out against the mufti who has been supporting Hamas , unlike Burke and Michelle rowland

  2. Elaine Black says:

    Michael, thank you for taking the time and effort in your very busy life to expose the murky BS churned out by Sophie McNeil and her ilk, in her biased and twisted rhetoric of our beautiful little patch. Not a nice person. As for Mark Scott, he has so much to answer to, but clearly never will. Sadder and more concerning, is that others like her, who have emerged from our universities with their left wing learning and adulation for the Pilger/Fisk and Lynch POV’s, will continue to find their way into jobs at the ABC & newspapers of Australia. It is no different in the UK, where so many anti Israel/pro Palestinians, take their knowledge from The Guardian, and their reading from the Fisk/Finkelstein/Pappe school of thought. I come across them all the time, in the most polite of companies, and they are all vegetarians too! Go figure!!!

  3. Michael Burd says:

    Why is it Michael Danby is the sole
    Jewish MP defending Jewish Human rights
    outside the confides of the Jewish community
    Where is Mr Danby,s comrade Dreyfus I suspect he dare not
    Stand up for Israeli Jews in the public domain responding to obsessive
    ABC Arabist journalists like Mac Neill for fear of upsetting his large
    Muslim constituency .
    Perhaps one day he will come outside the closet but we should not
    hold our breathe.

    • Henry Herzog says:

      And how many Muslims are there in Mr Frydenberg’s electorate.He is a minister and he’s been silent. His voice would be much louder than any opposition MPs. Yet again Mr Burd’s obsession with the ALP is stronger than with support, or should I say, aggression towards the Muslim community. Oh yes, Frydenberg did have a go an Islam, but it had nothing to do with Israel.

      • Ian Katz says:

        Once again Henry herzog has enlightened us with his profound comments about the domestic political arena
        Josh frydenberg is a minister. Anyone who has spent 5 minutes involved with or analysing the Australian political scene would testify to the fact that back benches have far more flexibility to esppuse their views than ministers that are bound by rules of cabinet. Mr frydenberg has been bravely vociferous in challenging the appeasemt paradigm that his new boss has in relation to the position of the Islamic leadership in Australia which is virulently anti Israel. As a cabinet minister it would be inappropriate for mr frydenberg to commit to Israel just as Susan ley is required to keep her anti Israel position low key

        Additionally I would be grateful if herzog could outline the position of the Queensland ALP branch , Maria vamkikolou bob Carr Melissa parke tony Burke and Michelle Sent on Israel and the mufti Surely they are as worthy of criticism as mr Abbott who was steadfast in his support for Israel at the UN despite mr carrs comments

        • Henry Herzog says:

          Yeah, whatever.

          • Ian Katz says:

            When it comes to Melissa parke tony Burke Maria vamvakinou and bob Carr it appears that mr herzog is lost for words. Well as they are good ALP folk it doesn’t matter that they have a go at Israel at any opportunity does it mr herzog?

  4. L. King says:

    Putting the infighting of the other commentators aside, I’d like to commend the editors and Michael Danby for publishing this article. Though I, and I hope others, always read the news of the day with a degree of cynicism that journalists rarely give us the whole picture, I am nonetheless appalled at McNeill’s blatant and persistent partisanship, which I regard as worse than many forms of individual terrorism.

    Journalism, by keeping us truly informed of the events and issues of the day, fulfills an essential role in any democracy. By cleaving to a standard of truth, come what may, the 4th estate’s social contract is to keep society well enough informed so that the decisions we make and attitudes we take are based on at least a close enough approximation to objective truth.

    By skewing and prefiltering her reports not only does McNeill betray the public’s trust, to the extent she is successful she robs us of our own integrity, and that is the greater ongoing crime worth noting.

    • Michael Danby says:

      You are precisely the kind of person I was trying to get thru to……..
      Interestingly ms Mcneils devotees have become very agitated after she retweeted professor Gerald Steinbergs earlier dissemination of this JWire story.
      Hundreds,perhaps thousands have had access to another view thanks to her whinge(tweet containing a link to the JWire story) about being criticised over Xmas…..those bloody Yids Have they no respect?
      Seriously though another 2 innocents going thru the main tourist access point to the Old City,the Jaffa Gate,dehumanised in her ABC report .No names of the victims,no human interest profile,no explanation of how terrorists frightening people away from the Arab shouk.Again it’s what you leave out that is so revealing…….Tacked onto her Boxing Day report & the story’s main purpose was a complaint about the Security Barrier in Beit Jala.Now that wouldn’t be related to the arch of the new high speed train that I saw in the background to her story.As we say in Australian:”Fair dinkum, you must think us mugs are thick”
      Not all ABC staff are cut from the same cloth& I must acknowledge that ms Mcneil did a program on incitement on Dec 4 the night Parliament concluded which referred to the moving story of retired professor Avni who was stabbed to death by one of these Palestinian homicide stabbers

      • Douglas Kirsner says:

        Well said Michael. All the action in neighbouring Syria, Iraq, ISIS, etc. doesn’t seem to make any difference to the mindsets of those blaming Israel and excusing the Palestinians every time .Will the new Managing Director will take action? No way in this taxpayer funded politically correct staff run collective that runs the ABC..

  5. Michael Burd says:

    I think the world is getting tired of the constant
    whinging and woe always me victim mentality of the Palestinians time to move on.After all most international disputes have been resolved but the Palestinians would rather they didn’t, have their own state more than playing the international community and the naive Jews for suckers and attempt to bring down Israelis to their level.
    If the Arabs would have accepted the original umpires decision resolution 181 back in 1947/8 one state for the Jews and one state for the Arabs perhaps the Palestinians would be fending for themselves and not living off handouts for the last 70 years or so.
    It is obvious nothing will ever change the mindset if these people and their Arab/ Muslim brothers will do everything in their power to ensure the conflict is not resolved so they can continue to use the Palestinians as their cannon fodder to keep up their war against the Jews .

  6. Lynne Newington says:

    I can’t believe your selling your interests off to the Chinese……or anyone else for that matter; unless I’ve misunderstood something.

  7. Maggie Grayholme says:

    I was very concerned to read what the former head of Shin Bet, Carmi Gillon, had to say in the Times of Israel on 25 December 2015 about the Israeli right wing terrorist group which Michael Danby MP refers to as a “tiny group of isolated juveniles”. Gillon said “the threat posed to Israel by a terrorist “underground” of religious far-right extremists has reached unprecedented levels, worse even than in the lead-up to prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995”. He warned these extremists seek to “destroy” Israel.

    I am having difficulty reconciling Mr Danby’s benign assessment with the existential threat referred to by the former security chief.

    This is the link to the article: http://www.timesofisrael.com/ex-shin-bet-chief-far-right-threat-today-is-worse-than-before-rabins-murder/

    • Ian Katz says:

      Is maggie grayhorne worried about the Palestinian government teaching it’s children to blow up Jews stab them and that they have no right to live in this world. The reward is 72 virgins in paradise. Like lots of lefty human rifghts advocates it’s only the behaviour of Jews and Israelis they are interested in when it comes down to it.

      Yet to see the tolerance of diverse opinion in the Arab world that there is in Israel

    • Ian Katz says:

      Judging by your twitter posts maggie, you seem to have a bit of an unhealthy preoccupation with Jews and Israelis. So I gather it’s quite okay for the Palestinian government in gaza to
      Shoot kneecap and throw off buildings anyone they don’t agree with them or is at odds with the Koran. What do you think happens to human rights advocates in the gaza strip maggie and larry? Do you agree that Palestinian children should be enslaved to dig terrorist tunnels from gaza into Israel or be taught from the age of 4 to suicide bomb Jewish kids? Do you agree with the Palestinian policy of victimising Christians homosexuals and women? Do
      You agree that Palestinians firing rockets from
      The hospital in gaza and the Palestinian leadership taking refuge in the gaza hospital as being progress of human rights there since the end of the ” occupation ”

      I am sure you will find some ridiculous and morally and intellectual
      Bankrupt excuses for all of these events by your
      Palestinian comrades in arms

      • Maggie Grayholme says:

        Nothing unhealthy about defending human rights and exposing abuses, Ian. You on the other hand seem to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to undermine human rights advocates.

        • Michael Burd says:

          Hey Saint Maggie can you please give us some links to where you have posted such passionate defense of Israeli Jewish human rights .
          I imagine just as you are free to advocate for Pakestinian Muslim human rights on Jewish
          Blog / web sites such as this one you would have many of your
          Posts defending Israeli Jewish human rights on many Palestian/ Arab / Muslim blog / websites ?
          I await your response with interest.

        • Paul Winter says:

          I agree with you that there is “Nothing unhealthy about defending human rights and exposing abuses…”, Maggie.

          I have no doubt that you will agree with me that it is entirely unhealthy to fabricate and magnify faults and to present them without their contexts.

          You will also agree with me that presenting damnable personal and societal defects of your enemy in contrast to the perfection of your own side were the true and tried tactics of the Nazis and the Communists and that they are currently the tactics of islamofascists among whose members we can count Hamas, the PA and their supporters.

        • Ian Katz says:

          Maggie greyholme : the champion of everyone’s human rights with the exception of Israelis and Jews. Nice one st maggie

  8. Ian Katz says:

    Could Stillman provide the names of Jewish terrorists over the decades?

  9. Ian Katz says:

    Stillman says Israel is intolerant and at warfare. Oh right stilman , i suppose thousands of rockets hundreds of suicide bomb attacks and scores of stabbings may have something to do with it not that you would care about that

  10. Ian Katz says:

    Sophie cordell: worried about bricks and mortar but not worried about Jewish children getting stabbed. That’s not reprehensible is it Sophie ?

  11. Michael Burd says:

    Stillman and his AJDS comrades are the best Palestinian advocates they have they make me ashamed to be a Jew.

  12. Ian Katz says:

    I wonder what fixation Sophie McNeill and Larry still man would have if those reprehensible Israelis and zionists ceased to exist Michael. Well maybe Sophie and still man after celebrating Israels demise ,would then have to turn their attention to the Saudis who stone and behead women the Iranians who hang homosexuals and the gaza Palestinians who throw homosexuals off roofs and the gazans who
    Machine gun Christians and assads forces who have murdered 380 000

    Now these are things that larry and Sophie aren’t worried about as there are no zionists involved

    • Peter Doyle says:

      Sophie & Larry should rejoice in Israel’s existence. If Israel was ever removed, a total bloodbath would ensue. Hamas versus Fatah versus Hezbollah etc. No Islamic utopia. Just another atrocious Islamic death worshipping festival of war and horror.

      The Jews really are extraordinary in that they manage to flourish under such challenging circumstance; surrounded by a deranged, murderous hatred; their interrupted postage stamp of smiling, welcoming, egalitarian democratic land produces 1000 times the useful scientific and technological output than does the entire Muslim world.

      If the Earth had a heart and brain, it would have arranged for Israel to “occupy” a much, much larger parcel of land.

  13. Sophie Cordell says:

    Sounds like she gave both sides an airing (balanced) but you think not enough of your side was on. Perhaps you just don’t like the reprehensible home demolition policy being discussed at all.

  14. alan hamilton says:

    Thank goodness for Michael Danby, who has the courage to speak up and to speak eloquently and passionately about Jews and Israel

  15. Larry Stillman says:

    Oh please, enough! Responsible elements on the right and of course the left in Israel are deeply concerned about the growth of violent anti-democratic, nihilistic Israeli fascism, and you think that is not news? Come off it. Even the President of Israel thinks its a problem.

    “A a modern, high-tech version of classical Athens” Ah, that included slavery you know and a good dose of warring. Please, look for a better analogy. Just stick with Israel: an amazing intellectual and industrial power, but one which has compromised its democratic future for something its founders would be shocked to see: an increasingly intolerant and anti-democratic permanent warfare state.

    I’d also love to see your mathematical proof for ” 40% of its AB (University educated, business and professional) readership over the years because of the intolerably biased reporting by lamentable Middle East reporters Ed O’Loughlin, Jason Koutsiukis and more recently Ruth Pollard (of the soon to be closed, Jerusalem-based Fairfax office).” That’s it? Not because of the move, across the board of all print media to social media.

    I’d also like you to explain why over the decades, no Jewish terrorist has had his family’s house demolished as an act of collective punishment.

    Please try harder. Israel is deeply challenged. A Palestinian generation whose grandparents (!) grew up under military occupation have well, nothing to live for. It can’t be papered over anymore.

    • Paul Winter says:

      A nice attempt at obfuscation, Stillman, but it won’t do. Like your advocacy journalist idols, you ignore the issues and the tactics and manufacture then magnify flaws. And no context ever is mentioned.

      The issue raised by Danby was advocacy journalism. It is unethical, designed to mislead and violates Australia’s code of conduct for journalists. You would have us ignore that by concentrating on your libellous confected faults of Israeli society,

      Danby used the example of Athens the attributed birthplace of democracy as opposed to militaristic Sparta because Israel is a democracy. Any person who claims that Israel is not a democracy is a liar and an antisemite.

      Whinging that Israel is not the state its founders set up ignores history. Israel failed as the socialist utopia because of stifling socialist bureaucracy and Soviet bloc hostility. The democratic creative Jewish ethos moved it to the right and it is a dog in the manger attitude that condemns that social process. As regrettable that that social experiment failed, people who support liberal democracies must respect that outcome and such people must also condemn all arrogant totalitarians who seek to destroy any society that does not conform to their ideology.

      Your sneer that Israel is intolerant is given the lie by the presence of hostile reporters and ant-Israel gangs in Israel. That Israel is anti-democratic is proven false by the electoral process that allows antisemitic antidemocratic treasonous hostiles to be elected to the Knesset. The falsehood of Israel being warlike is shown by the fact that Israel goes to war only to counter attacks by its implacable mohammedan jihadi enemies.

      I do not know where Danby got his 40%, but it would be on the basis of statistics. Collecting data for statistical purposes is not a mathematics.

      Jewish homes have not been demolished because there are extremely few Jews who could be described as terrorists and those who are do not have their acts praised by their families and fellow Jews. The Arab mohammedans who take pride in murderous acts against Jews identify with those acts and demolishing their homes is a small measure of the punishment they deserve. And demolishing a home is not collective punishment as you well know; collective punishment has a specific legal term (subsequently perverted by the Arabs who call themselves “Palestinian”) to refer to the execution of the death penalty on a group for the offence of one of its members, like the massacre of the men of Lidice for the assassination of Heydrich.

      Interestingly, the Pally supporters never call acts of violence against random Jews collective punishment. Rather they call it acts of heroic “resistance” even when infants are its victims. And such barbarians you support! Shame on you!

      Your final point is about the poor, poor ageing refugees. They would not have become refugees if they had accepted the illegal UN partition resolution (which violated article 80 of the UN Charter). They also started wars and lost them without learning a lesson. Their fellow Arabs kept them in camps, even in Arab cities. Their leaders stole from them and exploited them for political purposes. They now demand the flooding of pre-1967 Israel with Arabs born outside of Israel and also demand that their own interim statelet be Jew free. And this too you support and praise the so-called journalists who ignore all these facts. Disgaceful!!

      • Paul Winter says:

        Sorry, forgot three vital points to my last paragraph:
        1) the Arab rejected offers of statehood by Barak and Olmert and continue to reject statehood because it peace terms would also require the acceptance of Israel
        2) the “Palesinians” a malevolently concocted people, refuse to recognise Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people
        3) the Arabs refuse to negotiate with Israel and run to international bodies to have their absolutist terms imposed on Israel

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