Readers of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories will recall that his character, Sherlock Holmes, once solved a case by drawing assumptions about a dog that did not bark.

The ABC Media Watch program resumed on Monday with presenter Paul Barry stating the taxpayer-funded public broadcaster “has launched into 2024 with a hot new political drama”. The reference was to the ABC’s decision in late December not to allow Antoinette Lattouf, whom Barry described as a “Lebanese-Australian journalist”, to present the final two days of her five-day contract filling in on ABC Radio Sydney.

According to the ABC, it took action against Lattouf after she defied an order not to post comments on social media. Lattouf had forwarded a post by Human Rights Watch that claimed the Israeli government was using starvation of civilians as a weapon of war in Gaza. As Barry pointed out, the ABC had run the HRW story the previous day. However, he did not mention that HRW is an avowed critic of Israel.

I argued on these pages on January 27 that it was a mistake for the ABC to employ Lattouf in the first place, and a further mistake not to allow her to conclude the final two days of her contract.

Barry was broadly sympathetic to Lattouf. Yet he did acknowledge “she had been vocal about the Israel-Gaza war for weeks and … made it clear where her sympathies lay”. Barry added that Lattouf was “not a Hamas supporter” but conceded she had been “scathing about Israel’s justification that it acted in self-defence” – following the atrocity of October 7 in which more Jews were murdered in one day than at any time since the end of the Nazi Germany Holocaust.

In short, Lattouf is an activist journalist – who is hostile to Israel. Jon Faine, until recently an important presenter on ABC Radio Melbourne, is a strong supporter of the public broadcaster. Asked to comment on the case by Nine newspapers on January 27, Faine said ABC journalists must “surrender yourself” in order to take a presenter’s position.

He added: “On Friday, Ms Lattouf was an activist, on Monday she was an ABC presenter; well, it doesn’t work.” Quite so. It is true that, as revealed by Nine newspapers, a group called Lawyers for Israel complained to ABC management. It is not at all clear that Lattouf’s removal (on full pay) from two shows resulted from this.

Lattouf was an anti-Israel activist before the Hamas terrorist attack of October 7 and remains one today in an atmosphere of virulent anti-Semitism in many Australian cities, especially Sydney and Melbourne.

The rise of anti-Semitism has been evident in recent years in many European nations. This is well illustrated in Jews Don’t Count, by London-based writer and comedian David Baddiel, published by The Sunday Times in 2021. Baddiel, a proud Jew, writes that we are told “that those who do not experience racism need to listen, to learn … when others speak of their experiences – except, it seems, when Jews do”.

Baddiel gives examples of anti-Semitism in Paris, Berlin, London, Amsterdam and, yes, Melbourne. It’s much worse now – in London, Melbourne and elsewhere.

October 9 was modern Australia’s day of shame. A group of protesters undertook an illegal march from Sydney Town Hall to the Sydney Opera House. On the way they called for the elimination of Israel – from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. They were accompanied at the rear by NSW Police.

Despite the fact that this was an unauthorised march, the only arrest made by NSW Police was of a man carrying an Israeli flag. He was subsequently released.

Anglican clergyman Mark Leach told the Sky News Sharri program on February 6 that, at the Town Hall, he heard protesters chanting “kill the Jews” and was chased down the street by a man “running behind me threatening to slit my throat”.

NSW Labor Premier Chris Minns has criticised the protest as “violent and racist”. For its part, NSW Police acknowledged that at the Opera House the chants of “f..k the Jews” and “where’s the Jews?” were heard, but not “gas the Jews”. This despite the fact that, to many who have viewed the video, the protesters seemed to be saying “gas” rather than “where’s”.

In one sense it makes little difference. No one is going to get away with gassing anyone in contemporary Australia. But demanding to know where Australian Jews can be found is deeply threatening. Little wonder that many Jews feel unsafe in their own country.

NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon said at a media conference on February 2 he had overwhelming certainty that the protesters made no reference to “gas” – and that this was the finding of an expert report. He did not state whether the finding was made by someone with expertise in Middle Eastern languages/accents. Lanyon recognised that some witnesses reported hearing the word “gas” but had not been able to identify any such individual. And he did concede that the video footage had not been doctored.

Writing in the leftist Crikey on December 13, Lattouf was probably the first journalist to dismiss the gas comment. On February 2, she said NSW Police had confirmed that this was not the case and said she was looking forward to receiving apologies from those who had criticised her article. She did not suggest that apologies were required from those who shouted “f..k the Jews”.

Which brings us back to Media Watch. Barry declared that Lattouf “was right to question” whether “gas the Jews” had been chanted at the Opera House. He seemed to be of the view that the opinion of one person, which has been accepted by NSW Police without further testing, should be accepted without question. Barry went along with Lattouf’s call for an apology.

However, Barry did not allow viewers to make their own judgment by listening to the actual words that were chanted. Instead, he talked over the video while the volume was turned down. In short, Barry didn’t allow viewers to come to their own opinion. Why? – as Sherlock Holmes was wont to ask.