The Age bias slammed by Jewish community

August 25, 2010 by Geoffrey Zygier
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Jewish Community Council of Victoria President John Searle and Zionist Council of Victoria President Dr Danny Lamm have again strongly criticised Melbourne broadsheet The Age for its ongoing anti-Israel bias over a number of years.

The leaders of Victoria’s peak Jewish bodies jointly observed that during the tenure of Andrew Jaspan and particularly that of his successor Paul Ramadge, The Age had increasingly engaged in a war of words against Israel.  Apart from steering its readership to a more anti-Israel position, Searle and Lamm consider that The Age’s strident line had also had the hopefully unintended by-product of legitimising antisemitism in this country.

“There is no particular reporting or opinion piece that has prompted our criticism at this time.  Frankly, our community has simply just had enough of The Age’s lack of balance”, Searle noted. ”Despite our best efforts to present Israel’s case, there have been too many instances of anti-Israel statements to count, ranging from the blatant such as Michael Backman’s ugly smear job in 2009 to the more subtle and insidious”, Searle continued. “An example of the latter includes a recent article reprinted from The UK’s The Daily Telegraph which stated “Netanyahu will come under fierce pressure from Obama to extend a 10-month freeze on Jewish settlements in the West Bank”. The Age’s version made the following insertions “illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank” (The Age, 070710). Such changes make a world of difference.”

“We make this statement with regret”, Lamm continued.  “However we have spoken to Mr Ramadge on a number of occasions, both privately and in public forums.  While he is adept at making the right noises about The Age’s impartiality, his follow through leaves a great deal to be desired.  We believe that The Age’s record speaks for itself.  Quite simply The Age is not a friend of our community.”

A recent matter of concern was the reportage of Israel’s response to a flotilla of so-called peace activists that broached Israel’s territorial waters in an attempt to reach Hamas-ruled Gaza. The ZCV and JCCV addressed strong letters of complaint (attached) to Mr Ramadge which were ignored.  Searle’s subsequent phone call to Ramadge was not returned.

As Searle concluded in his letter, “The JCCV has had ongoing communication with you for a number of years on The Age’s bias.  Predictably you have consistently stated that The Age is even-handed and that your door is always open to the Jewish community.  I will remind you that these were your exact words when you addressed an audience at the Beth Weizmann Jewish Community Centre on 5 October 2009.   You soberly assured audience members that The Age was interested in their concerns and that you would always be responsive to them.  In this regard, I will also remind you that you took certain such concerns away with you.  To this day, you have not responded, despite our follow-up request that you do so (see attached letter).  And indeed, I am still awaiting your reply to my telephone call to you of 4 June 2010.  Your attitude bespeaks scant respect for the Jewish community.

I am not requesting your response to this letter – because frankly your assurances are no longer seen as credible by our community – other than a clear policy change to even-handedness as evidenced in The Age’s future content.  Until this is forthcoming I have no doubt that those of your readers who value Israel receiving a fair go will dwindle even further.”

Both Searle and Lamm concluded that the JCCV and ZCV will continue to monitor The Age and take any steps they consider appropriate.


3 Responses to “The Age bias slammed by Jewish community”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    How do you all feel now that Benedict has exonerated you; you and your ancestors.
    Maybe your’e holding your cards close to your hearts which is probably wise.
    Justice for expediency is how I see it and audacious to say the least..
    How on earth are all Catholic text books to be changed from way beyond St Augustine, still recomended being a Dr of the Church.
    I’m sorry, none of it sits well with me knowing full well the cunning therein.
    Not to mention the up and coming Pius X11 road to sainthood or forgetting the Holy places they have their eye on.
    Too much for me to swallow I’m afraid, but as always, wishing every good thing to you all.

  2. Lynne Newington says:

    I hope I’m not being presumptious in stating the Age article referred to doesn’t hold the views of all journalist’s of that newspaper.
    Barney Swartz in particular.

  3. MICHAEL KINO says:

    Never thought I ‘d agree with these guys,but good on you.communuity organizations will have more truck than those individuals,even those many who have cancelled long-standing subscriptions in anger and disgust.

    The front page article regarding the PM’s partner after removing Kevin Rudd was disgusting.DFO article stated who was Jewish,but not the religions of anyone else.Not that religious affiliations should be a relevant consideration.
    I still buy it ,as the alternatives are either right wing or populist junk,but boy am I sick of defending it to my co-religionists.
    I have written to the Age to complain several times ,but have never had a letter published or acknowledged.
    Their Israel coverage has slightly improved ,but is a sad joke in terms of how they are blind to the outrageous activities of all of the surrounding states,and most other countries.Two sets of values one for Israel and one for the rest!

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