Opposing Op-Eds

October 25, 2011 by Emily Gian
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Today’s Age carries an Op-Ed by the broadsheet’s foreign news editor, Maher Mughrabi entitled ‘Prisoner swap unequal to task’ about the deal to release Gilad Shalit…writes Emily Gian.

Emily Gian

Last Thursday, the Age published a fantastic Op-Ed by Stephen Pollard, who is the editor of Britain’s The Jewish Chronicle, entitled ‘Why Israel is rejoicing in the face of apparent defeat’. Mughrabi’s piece is an apparent response to Pollard’s, though one must wonder whether Mughrabi, in his role as foreign news editor for a newspaper which routinely overlooks the transgressions of Palestinian terrorist groups yet often gives credence to unsubstantiated accusations against Israel, can really be taken seriously.

Not surprisingly, Mughrabi, like many sympathisers of the Palestinian cause, attempts to turn the 1,027:1 ratio on its head so that it somehow means that Israel believes that one Jewish life is worth a thousand times more than a Palestinian life.

This echoes the views expressed in The Guardian newspaper by Deborah Orr entitled ‘Is an Israeli life really more important that a Palestinian’s?

Orr makes similar outrageous statements about the 1,207:1 ratio, declaring “All this, I fear, is simply an indication of how inured the world has become to the obscene idea that Israeli lives are more important that Palestinian lives”.

Mughrabi and Orr are both delusional.

They ignore the fundamental fact that it was Hamas that established the ratio and set the price – a price that basically remained the same from five years ago when Gilad Shalit was abducted until two weeks ago when the deal for his return was consummated.

In that time, Hamas, which its apologists are quick to describe as having been “democratically elected” held Gilad Shalit hostage and deprived him of any basic rights usually afforded to a prisoner thereby, committing what is, in effect, a crime against humanity. But Mughrabi and Orr care nothing of this.

Rather, Orr takes it one step further and reverts to a level of anti-Semitism that one could only read in the British Guardian or Independent when she wrote that the transfer “tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe – that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbours”. (Interesting analysis of Orr’s piece and her usage of the terminology “the chosen” can be found here and here)

Mughrabi also suggests that the whole situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians is a question of power and that somehow it is the powerlessness of the Palestinian people that leads them to act badly. He then declares “The occupied seize (and kill) who they can; the occupiers seize (and kill) who they like”.

I believe Mughrabi probably left out a word in the first half of his sentence – the occupied sieze and kill who they can indiscriminately. How else can he explain the woman who calmly drove a terrorist into the heart of Jerusalem, dropped him off outside a pizza parlour and detonated a bomb that indiscriminately killed fifteen people, eight of them being children? The same woman beamed from her prison cell when she learnt she had killed more children than she had originally thought. Not surprisingly, Mughrabi makes no mention of that woman or the other mass murderers who were released in this hostage swap.

This woman and most of the others who were released were not seized and killed but rather imprisoned and were serving time for their crimes. Additionally, it is Israel’s respect for human life which sees its soldiers placed in danger time and time again in order to arrest these thugs. Mughrabi does not realise that this is not just a question of numbers – in this case, 1,027 – but a question of who these people were. Not even once did Mughrabi attempt to discuss who these “prisoners” were and why they were in Israeli jails.

Additionally, Mughrabi ignores that Israel’s prisons as well as all of the other arms of the government are subject to and do undergo regular judicial review and that there are processes in place to ensure the fundamental rights of prisoners.  Hamas does not subject itself to any such scrutiny as was evident by the brutality of holding Gilad incommunicado for so long and the pale and frail state in which he emerged from his dungeon (in comparison to many of the tanned and well-fed Palestinians that returned to the other side of the border). Read Ynet’s prisoner comparison for more information.
The bigger question is how an organisation such as Fairfax can claim, as it often does, to provide news reports from the region in a balanced fashion when its foreign news editor presents arguments as he has done and has featured in today’s Op-Ed.

Emily Gian is the Israel Advocacy Analyst at the Zionist Council of Victoria and a PhD Candidate in Israeli Literature at the University of Melbourne.


4 Responses to “Opposing Op-Eds”
  1. MIchael Burd says:

    It is worrying that Mughrabi who is a full time Palestinian advocate , he also opened the Arab Film festival in Sydney and sits on the foreign desk at al’ age is allowed free access to our Jewish kids to promote his cause as regular guest speaker of the head of our largest Jewish study department at Monash Univeristy.

    I just wonder how many Zionist speakers have the same rec carpet treatment at Islamic and Arab study departments at Australian Universities.

    It’s a disgrace.

    Michael Burd

  2. tererce dean says:

    good on you Emily

  3. david singer says:


    Mughrabi has been less than sensible in openly displaying his anti-Jewish bias by posting his own op ed. He should at least try to remain above the fray as foreign news editor and fairly and accurately report the news – not try to make it.

    Now that he has outed himself in the way he has – this should lead to the management giving seriouc consideration to his posting to a less sensitve position within the Age.

    His op ed also appeared on the Herald web site today.

    Fortuitously my subscription to the Herald expired yesterday and I had decided not to renew it some weeks ago because of what I perceive to be bias against Israel in its reporting. I’m glad I did and I hope others decide to act accordingly after reading this piece by Mughrabi..

    I hope our roof bodies are prepared to approach the Age and the Herald to express their disgust.

  4. Gabrielle says:

    Even after seeing the gaunt Shalit exchanged for more than a 1000 well fed terrorist prisoners they managed to turn Hamas into the helpless victim.

    This is not analysis, this is bias of the worst kind.

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