Community Relations Commission Challenges “The Promise”

February 3, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
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Stepan Kerkyasharian, the chairperson of the Community Relations Commission of NSW has told SBS  that “The Promise” caused distress to the Jewish community and asked the TV station to “desist from further publication or distribution of the program”.

Stepan Kerkyasharian

In a letter to SBS chairman Joseph Skrzynski, Kerkyasharian said the four part program, which flits between the contemporary position between Israel and Palestine and the 1940s when the British mandate was in place , represents “the portrayal of an entire nation in a negative light as part of a dramatic work is not acceptable”. He has quoted SBS Code 1.3 is saying that the “portrayal” as such is not acceptable.

Referring to the Jewish people as a whole, the CRC chairman said there is “the concern that the series negatively portrays the WHOLE of the Jewish People”. He added that there is “the distinct separation between condemning an action by a government on the one hand and condemning the whole of the people of a nation collectively”.

Kerkasharian has asked the broadcaster to reconsider the “representations from the Jewish community with due regard to the potential destructive consequences of racial stereotyping”  and comply with the request not to rebroadcast the series or distribute the program.

Stepan Kerkyasharian was formerly head of SBS Radio and part of the team which established SBS-TV. He spent ten years as a member of the independent complaints review panel at ABC and has spen the last eight years as president of the Anti-Discrimantion Board and has chaired the CRC for 22 years. He said that the program had particularly distressed “survivors of the Holocaust”.

The Community Relations Commission is the legislated body responsible for promoting community harmony.




8 Responses to “Community Relations Commission Challenges “The Promise””
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    It’s not about the ‘truth hurting’, Adrian – it’s about representation of two eras with omission of facts that negates truth. One needs to be more tenacious in this world than to give up after losing an argument if justice and survival are at risk. Perhaps living in a democracy can make some of us lazy about this.

  2. Please give it a rest and stop complaining about “The Promise” TV drama. You have lost the argument as SBS has rejected all the complaints. Perhaps some Zionists in Australia were distressed to see it but the truth hurts and therefore makes some feel uncomfortable. Well bad luck as we live in a democracy in Australia; not a police state.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      We haven’t lost the argument at all. The rejection of a rational argument is not the kind of “victory” fair dinkum Australians will accept. Reason and decent participation in the democracy you do not seem to comprehend are at play here. And the defenders of prejudice – read SBS & Co. – may give purveyors of hate some sickening satisfaction, but, if you reckon that this is the way civilised Australia should function, then you must have your head burried somewhere in the sand dunes of Persia !

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    Congratulations Stepan Kerkyasharian, on your independence of mind, compassion and sense of fair play, and thank you. Well spoken Paul Winter, however it’s rare that things are ever too late ‘completely and finally’, especially, I think, in the area of justice. If enough Jewish people and others such as Mr Kerkyasharian registered their views by letter, and in a public way, both to SBS and anybody associated with SBS such as funding bodies, and continued to do so, there could still be redress to this situation. It’s important to have the situation exposed and just complaining to one another will not do that.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      And then I looked up again at the heading of this posting and noticed that the THIRTYONE page letter, compl;ex,comprehensive, passionate and rational was enthusiastically received with the now customary ” Yeah, no way !!” by those so used to the Yids winging each time we… provoke them and slap them back with even more insults, because we ( SBS and their ilk ) can’t wait for the mailman. But, hey who am I to stave off a communal tradition so resilient, well entrenched in evey coffee and toast perfumed little private office manned and womanned by the the best, most articulate and restless letter writers !!

      this letter was composed and sent from my private garage.

  4. Paul Winter says:

    I appreciate the Community Relations Commission advising SBS that “racial stereotyping” contravenes SBS’s code 1.3, but it is just a tad late. There was quite a bit of controversy in the media about The Promise and SBS could have been told not to violate their own standards sooner. Possibly Kerkyasharian thought that SBS would behave decently and come to its senses, but even so, earlier action would have been appropriate. Now that SBS has rejected the complaint, it makes it ever so much more difficult for it to start acting in a less arrogant and hostile manner.

    One needs to note that while Kerkyasharian criticises the SBS for causing distress and for stereotyping, he does not criticise it for the historical revisionism, bias and the endorsement of the Arab narrative on which The Promise is based.

    Perhaps the most important thing is that we can use the CRC’s intervention to press SBS more strongly and more promptly in the future. At present we should put the matter into the hands of the politicians, because it is not a matter of free speech, but one where a governmentally funded organisation enters the field of politics in a partisan manner promoting divisiveness and hatred within our community.

  5. Otto Waldmann says:

    Not pouring cold water, but,extraordinary as this is, as a very rare occasion that “someone” else, OUTSIDE the strict Jewish community comes to our assistance, unless the large and seemingly relevat organisation that Mr.K is leading comes out with a STRONGER objection and NORMAL warnings of LEGAL and other public/oficial measures versus SBS, this”extraordinary” gesture will be just a proud addtion to the raft of complaints against the islamo fascists, anti Semitic, unfair and so on SBS.
    The result that really counts is not that more letters are added, but that real and visible changes take place !!!

  6. JohnyGipps says:

    Stepan Kerkyasharian is a wonderful man and a real asset to both the CRC and the ADC. All credit to him for making his voice heard on this important debate.

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