ECAJ Slams Fairfax
The President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Dr Danny Lamm, today slammed a story alleging maltreatment of children by the IDF which appeared in Fairfax newspapers on Monday.
“How sad it is that once-great broadsheets like the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have been reduced to featuring crude propaganda on their front page.
Their story alleging maltreatment of children by the IDF relied on statements supposedly made by ex-IDF personnel to the veterans’ group ‘Breaking the Silence’. But the thrust of these statements is a rehash of reports published in previous months by a group of British lawyers who visited Israel’s military courts and by the NGO, Defence of Children International, and they appear to be based on the same or similar sources.
The statements published by ‘Breaking the Silence’ were characterised by the Herald and the Age as “testimonies” but in fact they are anonymous, non-specific as to times and places, devoid of critical detail and untested by any kind of cross-questioning. The photographs of crying children lack any detailed explanation or context and are calculated to play to the emotions of readers, not to inform.
It is impossible for the IDF, or any organisation, to investigate allegations of such a generalised nature, especially while Breaking the Silence insists on maintaining the anonymity of all of its sources and with-holding other relevant information. One suspects that their complaints are not being made with a view to having them investigated and
addressed but solely for their propaganda effect.
If Breaking the Silence is genuine in its complaints and is not simply seeking to pursue a political agenda, it has a moral duty to make all relevant material available to the office of the Attorney General or the Military Advocate, who have repeatedly offered to investigate any complaints as soon as they have something concrete to investigate. They have never shrunk
from investigating, and where appropriate prosecuting, specific allegations of wrong-doing that have been referred to them.
Sadly, many Australians will have read this story in a superficial way or merely viewed the headline and the photographs. They are being left with the false, indeed ridiculous, impression that the IDF is a serious abuser of children’s rights, indeed the most serious abuser of such rights in the Middle East. There is not a word in the story about the systematic indoctrination of Palestinian children at school and through the media and the deliberate use of children as combatants and terrorists by armed Palestinian organisations.
It was also telling that a genuine and substantiated report about a massacre of approximately 300 civilians by the Asad regime in Syria the previous day was relegated to a minor story on page 7 of the Herald and was unaccompanied by photographs of dead and dying Syrian
children, which are distressingly easy to find online.”