John Lyons latest book: ZFA has its say

October 4, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The central thesis of John Lyon’s new book, Dateline Jerusalem: Journalism’s Toughest Assignment, is that journalists covering the middle east are bullied into submission by an extremist “Israel Lobby” who prevents the media from fact-based reporting.

Jeremy Leibler

In an extract of the book published in last Saturday’s The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, Lyons suggests that journalists based in Jerusalem, who “report what they see in front of them” are “trolled and abused”.

The aim of this abuse, he writes, is to “make journalists and editors decide that, even if they have a legitimate story that may criticise Israel, it is simply not worth running it because it will cause more trouble than it’s worth.”

 Jeremy Leibler, President of the Zionist Federation of Australia answers Lyons’ points:

“The notion that the Australian media suppresses debate about the Israel-Palestinian conflict is patently false to anyone who reads the newspapers, listens to the radio or watches television.

Of course, supporters of Israel call out media bias or inaccurate reporting when they see it, as they should. To suggest this is somehow improper only proves the point that there is a serious problem in reporting the Middle East, including by Lyons himself as a former foreign correspondent.

He ascribes zero responsibility or blame to anyone other than Israel for the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, and then uses his powerful platform as a journalist and author to scream from the rooftop that people who disagree with him are bullies, who have cowered the Australian media as a whole into silence.

The irony is palpable.

Lyons’ book argues that people and organisations like the ZFA, ECAJ and AIJAC who support Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, alongside a future Palestinian state, are not entitled to play the same role as other interest groups – groups that lobby on behalf of migrant communities, religious communities, environmental causes etc. Only John Lyons can answer why he holds that view.

Contrary to Lyons’ claim that the “accusation of antisemitism” is used to shut down debate, no communal group has suggested or believes that legitimate criticism of Israeli Government policies or practices is tantamount to antisemitism. That said, Lyons is well aware that his sweeping, generalised conspiracy-like theories about undue influence on the media are a gift to antisemites.

Like everyone else, John Lyons is free to express his opinions, but he should not portray them as unbiased journalistic observations.

Those of us who support and advocate for Israel are all too aware that the Israeli–Palestinian conflict is not going to be resolved by either party attacking the other side’s right to express their views. It’s a lesson John Lyons has yet to learn but, in the meantime, we will not be intimidated by his flamboyant, one-eyed accusations.



6 Responses to “John Lyons latest book: ZFA has its say”
  1. Leon Poddebsky says:

    What I call “the Arab Palestinian war against the Jews ” is a better description of the reality than the glib, obfuscatory “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” The latter is as misleading as the trite, “the two-state solution.”

  2. Leon Poddebsky says:

    I hope that the Zionist Federation and the other Jewish organisations and decent people generally will not be intimidated into silence and supineness by the ultra-sensitive pro-Hamas and pro-Palestinian Authority journalists, who, like the notorious British “Guardian” journalist, confessed that he lies about Israel “in the name of a higher truth”[sic].

  3. Liat Kirby says:

    John Lyons also does his reporting from the safety of Jerusalem. Ensconces himself in Israel to report on the realities and complexities of Middle Eastern affairs, then bites the hand that feeds him. Cowardly.

  4. Adrian Jackson says:

    John Lyons was on ABC Radio Melbourne on Virginias morning show (05 Oct 21). He said that some in the Melbourne Israel lobby are more extreme than Israeli officials and IDF commanders on the ground in the “Occupied Territories” a term the Melbourne lobby does not like but senior IDF officers acknowledge that Israel is in the Occupied Territories. An IDF commander said that moderate Palestinian leaders were easy to get along with. Collin Rubinstein was criticized by Lyons on the wireless broadcast this morning. Some organized tours to Israel accepted by Australians like journalist. MP’s and business people are shown to selected location in most cases Lyons said. Those that did get away from the “propaganda” tour were left concerned when they saw cases that did not fit the official Israeli spin Lyons said. Anyhow the interview is on ABC radio archives for people to listen too I assume.

  5. Eion Isaac says:

    The tribalism in the dispute cannot be the Jews by themselves .
    Tribalism is everywhere and a balance is needed always .

    • Sue Edmondson says:

      The response by Jeremy Leibler to the article by John Lyons on his latest book can be criticised on the very grounds he accuses Lyons. It is ‘flamboyant’, ‘demonsing’, and uses anti-semitism to shut down debate. The question as to whether any reasonable discussion of Israeli-Palsetinian issues occurs in mainstream media is a useful one. Perhaps that debate needs to take place amongst those most directly affected. As a reader of mainstream media I have had to turn to books, direct news from Israel, groups which work for justice and peace, to gain a more nuanced view. The last two occasions that I recall Israel-Palestinian hostilities were reported in the Canberra Times, a view from AIJAC was published on the same day, and from a similar source the day after on the other occasion.

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