GERARD HENDERSON’S MEDIA WATCH DOG
ISSUE – NO. 407
25 May 2018
The inaugural issue of “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” was published in April 1988 – over a year before the first edition of the ABC TV Media Watch program went to air. Between November 1997 and October 2015 “Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch” was published as part of The Sydney Institute Quarterly. In March 2009 Gerard Henderson’s Media Watch Dog blog commenced publication.
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Stop Press: Alice Workman’s Tax Confusion; A Loyalist Men’s Shed on Outsiders; Fitz Gets a Gig on the ABC
Jackie’s Take on The Saturday Paper: More Ads – Less News
Can You Bear It? Katharine Murphy; Leigh Sales; Julia Baird; Janet Albrechtsen & Murmurs, Groans and Leftist Rants on Q&A; The Australia Institute’s Leading Survey Questions
Media Fool of the Week: Saul Eslake’s “Insight” Into KGB & Gestapo Tactics Down Under
An ABC Update – In Which The Drum & 7.30 Demonstrate Ignorance on the Public Broadcaster’s Very Own Cover Up of Child Sexual Abuse
Correspondence: Roy Clogstoun (ex-DFAT) Steps Up on Gaza, Insiders & All That – But not Hamas
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ALICE WORKMAN’S TAX CONFUSION
What a stunning performance by Alice Workman on ABC Radio National Breakfast this morning. She was part of a politics panel on what was termed “Australia’s intergenerational gap”. Hamish MacDonald was in the presenter’s chair and the other panellists were Ann Evans and Stephen Koukoulas.
Let’s go to the transcript to learn what Alice Workman had to say about the Turnbull government’s tax reform proposals:
Alice Workman: …And if you consider this year’s budget, what it was – which is a pre-election budget – and the Coalition’s basic pitch to swinging voters and people that they lost in the last election, people that they want to vote for them, then I think that they really don’t give a shit about millennials and they don’t want them to vote for them….
Alice Workman: The government’s plan for tax also means that Uni grads earning 60,000 dollars a year will be hit with the same amount of tax as people earning 200,000 dollars a year in 7 years’ time if they get re-elected. But, you know, young people all get hit by levies, Medicare levies, banking levies, all these other kinds of levies that other generations get hit with.
What a load of absolute tosh – which was uncorrected by the presenter or other panel members. First, it’s ridiculous to assert that any government does not want the support of any age-group in the electorate. And it is hopelessly wrong to assert that, following the implementation of the Coalition’s tax proposals, a person on $60,000 a year will pay “the same amount of tax” as people earning $200,000 annually. Ms Workman is chief of Buzzfeed News’ Parliament House Bureau. [Perhaps this should have been placed in our hugely popular Can You Bear It? segment. Just a thought. – MWD Editor.]
A (LOYALIST) MEN’S SHED ON LAST NIGHT’S OUTSIDERS
Alas, on Sky News’ Outsiders last night, Ross (“I’m a Marcus Aurelius Fan Boy”) Cameron said nothing about the finding of the Joint Investigation Team in the Netherlands that the missile that brought down MH17 in 2014 came from a Russian anti-aircraft unit based near Kursk. 38 Australians died when the Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down.
However, there was a you-beaut discussion on the monarchy and all that, presided over by Outsiders co-presenters Ross Cameron and Rowan Dean. Could it be that Outsiders is now channelling the ABC? – albeit in a different direction.
You see, the discussion was one of those debates which are oh-so-prevalent at the taxpayer-funded public broadcaster where everyone agrees with everyone else. All three panellists were members of the Australian Monarchist League – including the organisation’s founder Philip (“God Save the Queen”) Benwell. And then there were two younger types. Namely, Satyajeet Marar from Sydney and Wilson Gavin from Brisbane.
And so it came to pass that Philip agreed with Satyajeet who agreed with Wilson who agreed with Philip who agreed with Ross who agreed with Rowan who agreed with Philip who agreed with himself – that a constitutional monarchy was good for all of us. No other view was heard.
Watching the debate, Jackie’s (male) co-owner had a sense of deja-vu and experienced flashbacks to the early episodes of The Contrarians (alas, now departed). Why? Well, last night’s episode of Outsiders resembled a Men’s Shed (of the loyalist kind) – with not a sheila in sight. That’s why.
MWD just loved it when Young Wilson said that the republic was a fringe issue within the Liberal Party. He seems to have forgotten that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Liberal Party deputy leader Julie Bishop both favour Australia having an Australian head of state. And your (young) man Gavin declared that he was “Irish Catholic” – despite that fact that he looked and sounded Australian.
THE RED BANDANNAED ONE – YET ANOTHER LEFTIST PRESENTER ON THE ABC
Meanwhile MWD eagerly awaits the appearance of the Australian Republic Movement chairman Peter FitzSimons on the ABC – coming soon. The Red Bandannaed One told readers of “The Fitz Files” in the Sun-Herald last weekend that he will do a “guest stint on the ABC shortly” – “with the fee donated” to someone or something or other.
This tells you more about the ABC than it does about “The Fitz Files” columnist. Tasked with filling a guest spot – ABC management looks around and appoints another leftist to the gig, thus maintaining the ABC as a Conservative-Free Zone. Quelle surprise!
Meanwhile The Red Bandannaed One has been telling anyone who will listen – along with those who don’t want to – that the Prince Harry/Meghan Markle union helps the republican cause Down Under. How delusional can you get? – especially in view of the fact that some 5.5 million Australians watched the Royal Wedding last Saturday night.
Delusional? Sure. But not as delusional as the Australian Republic Movement’s belief that Australians will embrace an organisation which is led by a millionaire middle-aged journalist who lives in fashionable Neutral Bay and spends his waking hours with a red rag on his head. Now, that’s delusional.
THE [BORING] SATURDAY PAPER – MORE ADVERTISEMENTS THAN NEWS
Whatever Morry Schwartz’s The Saturday Paper is – it is not a newspaper, in that it contains scant news. More like a weekly leftist house-journal. The problem is that The Saturday Paper goes to press on Thursday evenings. So when it comes out on Saturday morning its “news” is already 36 hours old. That’s why Hendo reads it on Monday – what’s the hurry? Even Martin McKenzie-Murray (The Saturday Paper’s correspondent) acknowledges that he writes incoherently and is inherently uninteresting. (See Issue 404). [You can say that again. – MWD Editor.]
Last Saturday, Morry Schwartz’s leftist-house-journal’s (editor-in-chief, Erik Jensen) ran for 32 pages. Or did it? There were no fewer than six full-page and four half-page advertisements. That is, a quarter of the paper. The break-up was as follows:
Abercrombie & Kent (luxury travel) 1 Page
The Horne Prize (sponsored by Aesop) 2 Pages
* National Gallery of Australia 1 Page
* Sydney Theatre Company 1 Page
* Museum of Contemporary Art 1 Page
Rolex 1 Page
* International Women’s Development Agency ½ Page
Mountain Goat Beer ½ Page
* Vivid Ideas ½ Page
* Medicins Sans Frontieres ½ Page
All the organisations marked with an asterisk are beneficiaries of government funding to a greater or lesser extent. How about that?
MURPH’S CONFUSION ABOUT MARCUS BASTIAAN’S IDENTITY
Without question, The Guardian’s Katharine Murphy is MWD’s fave in the Canberra Press Gallery. Despite the fact that she is such a luvvie. Indeed, there’s not a fashionable Sandalista cause which Ms Murphy has not embraced at some time or the other.
Last Saturday morning, around Hang-Over Time, Jackie’s (male) co-owner noticed that Murph had written a piece in The Guardian titled: “A conservative putsch is fast turning into the Liberals Victoria problem”.
It was the latest version of the familiar Canberra Press Gallery line that the Liberal Party in Victoria is being taken over by – shock, horror – Christians. Yes, Christians. Like Robert Menzies, Malcolm Fraser, John Howard and Tony Abbott – who are the only Liberals to win government from opposition by defeating the Labor Party at an election. This is how Murph’s piece commenced:
It’s one of those dilemmas politicians like to call wicked problems. Politicians, at least the folks still on the planet, know that it’s important to build a political movement from the ground up, but such movements can sometimes produce outcomes that are uncomfortable for people in power.
One of these case studies exists presently with the Liberal Party in Victoria, where Malcolm Turnbull has been used as a recruitment tool, and not in a positive way. Conservative forces in the Victorian branch have used the rolling of Tony Abbott and Turnbull’s alleged progressivity as a rallying cry to recruit new members.
An army is being raised in Melbourne’s outer-eastern suburbs with the objective of taking the Liberal Party back from the Costello clique – the group that rose to a position of influence when Peter Costello was the most significant centre-right political figure in Victoria. The grassroots recruitment drive has been active amongst conservative church groups looking for a home after the collapse of the Christian micro-party Family First.
Confused? Well, Hendo was. What Ms Murphy appears to be suggesting is that a group of conservative Christians are involved in taking over the Liberal Party in Victoria from the “Costello clique”. The only problem with this analysis is that Peter Costello is both a conservative and a Christian. So, what’s going on? Murph does not seem to know.
Later on in her piece, Katharine Murphy had this to say:
The insurgent group in Victoria is led by a millennial activist called Marcus Bastiaan. He was once a protege of the state party president Michael Kroger, but according to some internal accounts no longer needs his numbers and his patronage.
Turn it up. The person in question is not “a millennial activist called Marcus Bastiaan”. He is Marcus Bastiaan. Can You Bear It?
LEIGH SALES FORGETS THAT SHE ONCE SAID SHE WAS TOO MUCH IN DOUBT TO BE A CONSERVATIVE
As avid readers are aware, Hendo just loves it when journalists talk to other journalists about journalism. After all, what’s wrong with a bit of intellectual in-breeding among (media) friends?
How wonderful, then, when ABC fave Leigh Sales defended the ABC against the criticism that it is a Conservative-Free Zone – this to the acclaim of another ABC fave, namely Julia Baird, whose Twitter feed is headed “Dr Julia Baird”. How about that?
Here we go.
MWD’s position is that the ABC does not have a conservative presenter, producer or editor for any of its prominent television, radio or online outlets. That’s all.
Ms Sales does not seem to understand that even if she voted for the Liberal Party in the past five elections – this would not necessarily make her a conservative. After all, many senior Liberals vehemently deny that they are conservative. In any event, Leigh Sales argued in her 2009 essay On Doubt that she does not adhere to any belief system of any kind since she proudly possesses a “doubtful mind”. [I understand that there is a new edition of On Doubt out – it would be worth purchasing a copy. Maybe, I’m not sure. MWD Editor.]
In any event, if Leigh Sales really believes that the ABC is not a Conservative Free Zone – all she has to do is name the conservatives on prominent ABC programs. So far, she has not done so. As to Ms Sales – how do we know that she is not a conservative? Because she has told us so – that’s how. Can You Bear It?
TWO DOCTORS IN THE RING: DR BAIRD v DR ALBRECHTSEN
While on the topic of Dr Julia Baird (for a doctor she is) what about her Twitter exchange with Dr Janet Albrechtsen (for a doctor she also is).
It followed the debate on the ABC as a Conservative Free Zone – with Julia Baird stating that conservatives will not appear on her show The Drum [Well, I wonder why? MWD Editor]
Which raises the question. If the ABC so values the insights of conservatives – how come the taxpayer-funded public broadcaster does not have one conservative presenter on any of its prominent programs? It’s a distraction for Dr Baird to focus on the token conservative who occasionally gets a gig on the ABC as a mere panellist. Can You Bear It?
MURMURS, GROANS AND LEFTIST RANTS ON LAST MONDAY’S Q&A
While on the topic of token conservatives on ABC panels, consider the fate of Greg Sheridan (The Australian’s foreign editor) on Q&A last Monday. It was the usual Q&A two conservative/three left-wing “balance”. Greg Sheridan and the Liberal Party’s Jane Hume were up against Randa Abdel-Fattah, Labor’s Julie Collins and Peter Singer. Plus a leftist stack in the Q&A audience – which led to a situation where the official ABC transcript of the program records “audience groans” following Jane Hume comments on three occasions and “audience murmurs” in response to a comment by Greg Sheridan. None of the left-wing panellists ignited groans or murmurs from the overwhelmingly Sandalista Melbourne audience.
As avid MWD readers will know, Q&A presenter Tony Jones is wont to let a leftist member of the panel have a long rant – of a kind which is denied to conservatives. Let’s go to the transcript where Randa Abdel-Fattah’s rant on Gaza of 488 words is followed by Greg Sheridan’s response of a mere 99 words, before he is interrupted by Tony Jones:
Randa Abdel-Fattah: Where do I start? Let’s start with why Palestinians are protesting in Hamas…in the Gaza strip. I think it’s important to put this into context if we’re really to make sense of this conflict. They are protesting a brutal siege. They are an open-air prison – the largest concentration camp in the world, as it has been described by a prominent Israeli sociologist. They are about 1.8 million people in a size of about 355 square kilometres. There’s about 41km by 10-12km. They have a blockade for the last 11 years. Israel described it as economic warfare, where they were calculating the number of calories that Palestinians could live under, just short of starvation. They have a population of 75 per cent under the age of 25. 51 per cent of those are children. 97 per cent of the water is poisonous. It is undrinkable. And why is that? Because Israel denied them a water desalination plant and bombed their water treatment facility in the 2008 and 2009 siege.
It is an area that is trying to send a message to the world that, after 11 years of being besieged, of being traumatised, of having no sense of dignity or hope and being trapped – they’re not even allowed to leave – they’re trying to tell the world, “Wake up. It’s been 11 years now. What more do we have to do for you to take notice?” And they did it in a non-violent protest. And what were they met with? Nuclear-armed state drones. They were met with live fire by snipers. They were met with people who – The IDF tweeted and then quickly took it down, tweeted that they acted precisely, that they knew exactly where those bullets were landing. And as Lieberman said, he said that every person there at the protest was a Hamas operative. Was Leila [sic] Ghandoor, an eight-month-old baby who died, a Hamas operative? He said that there were no innocent people in Gaza.
And this is the dehumanising rhetoric that we get when it comes to the Palestinians. That when they protest against something that we would all protest against, they are considered terrorists, and they are blamed for their own murder, as Julie Bishop implied in her tweet, where she put first, before any criticism of Israel, that the Palestinians should exercise restraint. So she is clearly siding there with people who are using expanding bullets on children, on people who are protesting, people who are 700m from a perimeter fence.
So, yes, I’m angry on behalf of Palestinians that it takes us this long for the world to wake up. Wake up to what’s happening to Palestinians under our watch. It’s a shame. It’s a disgrace that Australia voted against something that doesn’t even need an investigation. It’s no mystery. It’s no mystery what happened. There’s live testimony. There’s video evidence. There’s photographic evidence. We don’t need another investigation, and then what’s going to happen after that? Nothing. Nothing.
Tony Jones: Greg, I’m going to bring you in because…I think that, like some of the audience, you reacted when Randa said it was a non-violent demonstration. I presume that’s because there were stone-throwers among the crowd?
Greg Sheridan: Uh, well, no. Tony, I don’t want to say anything which I haven’t said, if you know what I mean. So, look, you’ve gotta give me a couple of sentences of context if I’m to answer this. The Israelis withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and they said, “Make this place work and we’ll have a partnership together.” They had six open points. They thought a lot of people from Gaza would come in and work in Israel. They left behind their agricultural industry, and so forth. Now, because of Hamas, which took power and murdered many, many Palestinians –
Tony Jones: OK, Greg, I’m going to interrupt you, only to go to –
Greg Sheridan: No, you – No, look, you’ve got to let me – you’ve got to let me give context –
So there you have it. Ms Abdel-Fattah’s 3.38 minutes rant was not interrupted. But, after being invited to respond, Mr Sheridan was cut off by the presenter after a mere 34 seconds. Can You Bear It?
[MWD Editor’s Note: It now appears likely that Layla Ghandour died tragically of natural causes due to a congenital heart condition.]
THE AUSTRALIA INSTITUTE’S LEADING QUESTIONS IN ABC SURVEY
Thanks to the avid reader who drew MWD’s attention to the left-wing Australia Institute opinion poll on the ABC which was released on 14 May 2018. That is, around a week after the Turnbull government announced in the budget that the ABC’s funding over the next three years will not be indexed to take account of inflation. According to the ABC, this will result in a reduction of funding of around $84 million over 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21. That is, about $28 million a year out of a budget of over $1 billion annually.
On the weekend after the budget, The Australia Institute went into bat for the ABC by commissioning a survey. It announced the results in a statement headed “Most voters oppose cuts to ABC funding: Poll.” This was taken up by The Guardian’s Amanda Meade who reported the survey under a similar heading, viz: “Majority of voters oppose budget cuts to ABC funding – poll.”
This is how The Australia Institute announced the results of its survey:
New polling released by The Australia Institute today shows that most voters support a long term boost to ABC funding and oppose funding cuts to the ABC and SBS. The Australia Institute surveyed 1557 Australians with a series of questions about their attitudes towards the ABS.
▪ 70% agreed a “strong, independent ABC is critical to a healthy democracy”.
▪ 60% agreed the ABC needs a “boost to long term funding”, including a majority of voters for all parties.
▪ 58% disagreed “The ABC and SBS should get less funding and provide fewer online and streaming services, so that they don’t undermine commercial media”
Well, that’s one way of putting it. Another is to look at the three propositions that were asked about the taxpayer-funded public broadcaster. Here they are:
▪ A strong, independent ABC is critical to a healthy democracy.
▪ The ABC needs a boost to long term funding
▪ The ABC and SBS should get less funding and provide fewer online and streaming services, so that they don’t undermine commercial media
Those surveyed were invited to respond with reference to the following categories: (i) “Strongly agree”, (ii) “Agree”, (iii) “Disagree”, (iv) “Strongly disagree” and (v) “Don’t know”.
Talk about leading the witness. First up, those surveyed were invited to respond to positive statements about the ABC and then the first option given for a response was “Strongly agree” followed by “Agree”.
Here’s an alternative set of questions – devised by Jackie’s (male) co-owner:
▪ A taxpayer-funded broadcaster like the ABC, which is a Conservative Free Zone, is harmful to a healthy democracy.
▪ The ABC should be able to make do on over $1 billion in taxpayer funds a year.
▪ The ABC and SBS should not be using taxpayer funds to provide more online and streaming services which cost journalists’ jobs in the commercial media.
Needless to say, The Australia Institute did not ask these kinds of leading questions. And yet The Guardian’s Amanda Meade accepted The Australia Institute’s survey methodology without question. Can You Bear It?
SAUL ESLAKE COMPARES MALCOLM TURNBULL TO JOE STALIN & ADOLF HILTER
Once upon a time – not so long ago – Saul Eslake was a long-winded, but sensible, economist. He was wont to talk about the state of the economy at considerable length – but usually made sense.
And then your man Eslake went to Hobart – aka Sandalista Land where the Greens were founded by the sainted Bob Brown. He took up the position of Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Tasmania. In his role as a self-proclaimed independent economist, Mr Eslake is heard frequently on ABC TV and radio talking about the Australian economy and more besides.
Since his move to Hobart, Saul Eslake has become vocal in the national security debate – he believes that Australia is spending too much money on defence and anti-terrorism. Mr Eslake has now embraced the fashionable leftist line –prevalent in fashionable Battery Point – that a person is more likely to die as a result of a car accident than as a victim of terrorism.
This is a trite point. As an economist, Saul Eslake would be aware that a car accident which results in a fatality will see a road closed for some hours. Whereas a terrorist attack can see much of a city locked down for days – as occurred following the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013.
Writing in The Saturday Paper last weekend in an article titled “Exclusive: Ex-ABF chief questions Dutton’s 10 powers”, Karen Middleton reported that Roman Quaedvlieg (the former head of Australian Border Force) has queried aspects of the Turnbull government’s decision to give the Australian Federal Police powers to stop any person at an airport and ask for identification.
For some reason or other, Ms Middleton went to the Hobart-based independent economist to get an expert opinion on the Turnbull government’s decision to enhance airport security. Saul Eslake obliged – with a leftist rant. Here it is, as reported in The Saturday Paper:
This week, Eslake condemned the planned new measures. “Malcolm Turnbull said when he became prime minister he was going to lead a thoroughly liberal government. Now he’s going to give the police the kind of stop-and-demand-ID powers that the secret police in the KGB in the Soviet Union used to have, or the Gestapo. It makes me want to puke.”
He accused the Labor Opposition of being “supine” in the face of further encroachment on civil liberties.
What a load of absolute tosh. [It makes me want to puke. – MWD Editor] Saul Eslake told Karen Middleton that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull intends to give police the kind of powers to demand identification – just like the KGB in Josef Stalin’s time in the Soviet Union or like Adolf Hitler’s Gestapo in Nazi Germany.
This is not only a massive hyperbole. Saul Eslake’s comments also do enormous disservice to the victims of the communist and Nazi totalitarian regimes at the hands of the KGB and Gestapo.
Saul Eslake: Media Fool of the Week.
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AN ABC UPDATE
MARGO KINGSTON AND LEIGH SALES (APPARENTLY) UNAWARE OF THE ABC’s OWN COVER-UP OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
Last Tuesday in Newcastle, Archbishop Philip Wilson was found guilty by a magistrate of a crime stemming from his failure to report an instance of clerical child sexual abuse when a junior Catholic priest in the Hunter Valley in 1976. He may or may not appeal the decision.
The magistrate’s finding was received with concern on the ABC – with presenters and panellists alike expressing astonishment that such an event could ever have occurred, even in the mid-1970s.
Let’s go to the transcript for The Drum on 22 May 2018:
Ellen Fanning: Margot [Kingston] the defence seemed to be in part, that he [Philip Wilson] was being judged on today’s standards – that at the time this was not seen as a problem, a young man coming to him with the details of sexual abuse. Is there anything to that? And the court’s found not – so what are the implications of that?
Margo Kingston: Yeah, well that statement you read out it was sort of a lighter version of – I was just reading about this story and I’ve come to this sentence that says: “His defence was that child abuse was not considered a serious crime in the 1970s”. And you go, [gasp]. Whoa.
And let’s go to the transcript of 7.30 for 22 May 2018 where presenter Leigh Sales asked Fr Frank Brennan the following question:
Leigh Sales: Let me ask you about something that may weigh on the mind of Catholics – when an ordinary person sees the Archbishop of Adelaide found guilty of covering up child sex abuse, how can they not lose faith in the church? It is just so crushing.
It seems that Ms Kingston and Ms Sales are blissfully unaware of the ABC’s very own cover-up of child sexual abuse, also in the mid-1970s. This has been extensively documented in MWD.
In July 1975, the ABC Radio Lateline program interviewed three pederasts in the public broadcaster’s Sydney studio. Self-confessed pedophile Richard Neville was the presenter. The tapes of the program were subsequently destroyed. The crimes of the pederasts were not reported by ABC management to NSW Police at the time – or later. The ABC has never attempted to adopt a duty of care to the victims of the three pederasts – who, if alive today, would be in their mid-50s.
In July 1975, Professor Richard Downing was chairman of the ABC. He wrote a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald on 19 July 1975 rationalising the fact that the ABC presented the “Pederasty” special. On the same day, Professor Downing told the Sydney Morning Herald, in his capacity as ABC chairman, that “in general, men will sleep with young boys”.
To this day, the ABC has declined to repudiate Professor Downing’s statements of 1975 – even though they are documented in the semi-official biography This is the ABC (MUP 2006) which was written by historian K.S. Inglis.
It would be interesting to learn what Margo Kingston and Leigh Sales think about historical child sexual abuse cover-ups by the ABC. MWD will publish any comment they may choose to make. In the meantime, here’s another opportunity to update the Scoreboard.
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This overwhelmingly popular segment of Media Watch Dog usually works like this. Someone or other thinks it would be a you-beaut idea to write to Gerard Henderson about something or other. And Hendo, being a courteous and well-brought up kind of guy, replies. Then, hey presto, the correspondence is published in MWD – much to the delight of its avid readers.
There are occasions, however, when Nancy’s (male) co-owner decides to write a polite note to someone or other – who, in turn, believes that a reply is in order. Publication in MWD invariably follows. There are, alas, some occasions where Hendo sends a polite missive but does not receive the courtesy of a reply. Nevertheless, publication of this one-sided correspondence still takes place. For the record – and in the public interest, of course.
As MWD readers are aware, The Guardian Australia’s deputy editor Katharine Murphy put out the following tweet on 6 June 2014 at 4.33 pm – when that issue of MWD was “hot off the press”. Here is Ms Murphy’s tweet: “Without in any way wanting to breach anyone’s human rights or free speech – why do people write emails to Gerard Henderson?” It’s a very good question. Thankfully, not everyone follows Katharine Murphy’s wise counsel – not even Ms Murphy herself (See MWD Issue 297).
ROY CLOGSTOUN AND GERARD HENDERSON re THE GAZA STRIP, THE ISRAEL DEFENCE FORCE, HAMAS AND INSIDERS
Gerard Henderson appeared on the ABC TV Insiders program last Sunday. Early in the program, when discussion turned on the Israel Defence Force’s reaction to the violent demonstrations at the Israel/Gaza border, your man Hendo supported the response of the IDF in the defence of Israel’s borders. This upset Insiders viewer Roy Clogstoun – who, until recently, worked at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. [Note that neither of Mr Clogstoun’s letters have been edited to correct grammar – MWD Editor.]
Roy Clogstoun to Gerard Henderson – 21 May 2018
Dear Mr Henderson
Your defence of Australia’s actions at the HRC on Insiders was a disgraceful indictment of the pusillanimous Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull. Yes we voted “no” on a technicality but there was no morality at all involved in the decision. Like-minded countries such as the UK, Germany and Japan abstained. Yes, Israel has the right to defend its borders but the IDF response was heavy handed and murderous, as Israel has done to Gaza over the years.
Israel is now running the biggest concentration camp in the world. Similar to the Lodz and Warsaw Ghetto but only mush bigger. It has starved Palestinians living in Gaza for years and prevented having decent standard of living. Its block access at the border, the sea and the air. The UN has indicated that Gaza will be inhabitable by 2020. The whole system is close to collapse, with no hope whatsoever for the residents of Gaza.
And still people like you and that egregious Greg Sheridan sit and pontificate on whether or not it is permissible to breach the border fence. Israel is an apartheid state and the oleaginous Netanyahu has no interest in negotiating a two state solution.
Shame on you
Gerard Henderson to Roy Clogstoun – 23 May 2018
Dear Mr Clogstoun
I refer to your email of Monday 21 May 2018 concerning my appearance on Insiders the previous day – with respect to Australia’s decision not to support the United Nations Human Rights Council’s resolution to investigate the recent killings of Palestinians on the Gaza/Israel border. The resolution condemned “the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians, including in the context of peaceful protests, particularly in the Gaza Strip….”
You refer to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop as “pusillanimous”, describe Greg Sheridan as “egregious” and classify Bibi Netanyahu as “oleaginous”. For my part, I do not believe that abuse enhances an argument.
You also claim that my comments on Insiders last Sunday were “disgraceful”. As you will recall, I criticised the UN Human Rights Council’s statement about the alleged “disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by the Israeli occupying forces against civilians, including in the context of peaceful protests”. For the record, I do not regard Gaza as being occupied by Israel. Israel withdrew all its soldiers and citizens from Gaza in 2005.
Moreover, the protests on the Gaza/Israel border were not “peaceful”. They were organised by the terrorist group Hamas with the clear intention of dismantling the border between Gaza and Israel and sending thousands of Hamas operatives into Israel intent on killing and violence.
I have visited both south-west Israel and Gaza and I understand just how physically close the two entities are. I also understand that south-west Israel has been part of the nation of Israel since it was created by the United Nations in 1948. In other words, it is not part of the occupied/disputed territories in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Golan Heights.
In my view, nations have a right to defend their borders from attack. Contrary to some earlier media reports, it appears that around 50 of the estimated 65 Palestinian fatalities were Hamas militants. All the militants who were killed by Israeli fire were in civilian clothes – making it difficult for members of the Israel Defence Force to distinguish between militia and civilian protestors.
As I understand it, the IDF attempted to quell the demonstrators by non-lethal force – tear gas and the like. When the violent demonstrations continued, the IDF fired live ammunition. It did so to defend Israel’s borders and to protect some 4000 Israeli citizens who live close to the Gaza Strip.
You blame Israel for the sad plight of Gaza. But you do not criticise Hamas, which presides over a dictatorship that suppresses its own people. Hamas is even an enemy of the Palestinian Authority based in Ramallah.
It is Hamas’ decision to spend the money it obtains from the citizens of Gaza and from overseas aid to build rockets, dig tunnels and so on – with a view to waging war on Israel. It is the Hamas leadership which is primarily responsible for the economic disaster that is Gaza today.
Your suggestion that contemporary Gaza is similar “to the Lodz and Warsaw Ghetto” is simply hyperbole. If Hamas was to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist within its own borders, there would be a working relationship between the two entities. This would bring about a situation whereby, once again, Palestinians from Gaza could work in Israel and support families in Gaza. This is not possible at the moment – due to Hamas’ continuing intention to destroy Israel.
On Insiders last Sunday, I was not pontificating about anything. I was simply stating that the view that Hamas militants who were attempting to bring down a border fence so they can march into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem were not peaceful protestors. That’s all.
I acknowledge that Australia could have joined with Britain, Germany, Japan, South Korea and ten other nations in abstaining on the UN Human Rights Council resolution concerning Gaza. But I am pleased that, along with the United States, Australia voted “No” in this instance – since this sent an unambiguous message that Australia supports Israel’s right to exist within secure borders, including on the Israel/Gaza border.
In conclusion, your comment that Israel is an “apartheid state” is just propaganda. As you will be aware, about 20 per cent of Israelis are Arabs – some of whom sit in the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) and others on the Supreme Court. That’s not apartheid.
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For the record, I was in a minority of one last Sunday. Fellow panellists Karen Middleton and David Crowe did not support the Turnbull government’s “No” vote. Nor did presenter Barrie Cassidy. And nor did Anthony Albanese, when interviewed later on the program.
So it was a four-to-one occasion. In my view, programs like Insiders work best when not everyone agrees with everyone else. It’s called debate and discussion – and balance. Yet you regard my comments as an occasion of “shame” since you do not want to hear views with which you disagree.
Roy Clogstoun to Gerard Henderson – 24 May 2018
Dear Mr Henderson
Thanks for your substantial reply. There are a number of points I would like to make in response.
I like to point out that I have no problem with having dissenting voices on panel discussions. I respect your support of the Turnbull government to vote “no”. That’s what democracy is all about. In this case, however, it looked as if the panel was discussing the Ottoman Empire’s murder of the Armenians. Everyone agrees that it was genocide while one member of the panel make a point that it was in the strategic interests of the Ottoman Empire to engage in the murder of Armenians. I have a lot of respect for the view of David Crowe, who I know personally.
The use of the words “pusillanimous”, “oleagenous” and “egregious” are not abusive. It may be in your narrow “Catholic” view of the world, but it is legitimate in the context of the Queens English. I’ll explain why to you if your read further. If you see these s abusive terms then your lexicon of English words will be rather limited.
Gaza, you failed to see it in the border context. It was frankly a public relations disaster for the Israelis, which was deemed by many like-minded countries to be a gross over-reaction. No Israelis were killed and a few were injured. I described the Government’s action as “pusillanimous” (all it means is fait hearted and not a word of abuse) because not only did they stand out in opposing an UN resolution with the US. If they had a moral fibre in their body, they would have called in the Israeli Ambassador, as the Irish Foreign Minister did, to explain why Israel engaged in such a disproportionaly excessive use of force. The Australian Government (and the ALP) naively believes that the under Nethanyahu the “The Two State” solution is still on the table. You and I know that it is long since dead and buried and the Palesinians have to live under the IDF jackboot. The US can no longer to considered to be a honest broker for the implementation of a peace process.
Israel would like very much to ignore Gaza but it is deeply involved in the starvation, and immiserisation of the population. The IDF controls the coast and the air space. Contrary to your perceptions, Gaza is not a state, it is an Israeli prison. It is one of the most miserable and crowded places on earth. The tap water is undrinkable and it has one of the world’s highest jobless rates (44%). Israel controls all goods that come, rations electricity and only a small fraction of the Palestinians are allowed to enter for medical treatment.
Yes, Hamas are no angels as you say. Its a pit that they have not abandoned the idea of “armed struggle”. They refuse to engage in non-violent demonstrations. I would like to point out that if they only accepted Israel’s right to exist, it would expose Israel’s currently unwillingness to create a Palestinian state.
I stand by my description of Nethanyahu as an “oleaginous” leader. As one of John Howard’s foreign policy advisors to told me (I worked for DFAT for 30 years) he is a “snake oil salesman”. He lacks the vision of a Peres or a Rabin (not even a Sharon). He is more interested in survival and runs the most right wing government in Israel’s history. As Yossi Berlin, the architect of Oslo said, when he speaks to moderate Israelis he says I am ready to speak to the Palestinians and committed to the two state process, whereas when he speak to the hawks, he says “it will not happen under my watch”. To put it politely, he is two-faced and untrustworthy. The continuing police investigation will be an interesting space to watch.
I stand by my comments that Israel is an apartheid state. Its not propaganda as you say. Israeli government policy towards non-Jews operate on the time honoured principle of divide and rule, seeking out minorities within the minority. The country’s 1.6 million Arab Israeli’s are poorer than its Jewish citizens and face discrimination in housing, land allocation, employment, education and services. The Druze, who have served the state loyally for decades complain of widespread discrimination in everything from jobs to housing. Their crowded towns are underdeveloped , and they often struggle to receive construction permits from the state, which forces them to build illegally and risk their homes and businesses being demolished. Why is Israel the only country that allows Jews from anywhere in the world to settle in Israel and not the original inhabitants of Palestine? Have you been through Lot airport? The are no signs in Arabic and Palestinians on the West bank and East Jerusalem are not allow to exit Israel from that airport.
The Israelis have divided the Palestinian areas in Area A into a number of “Bantustans” similar to white minority government in South Africa. Palestinians visiting Israel from the West Bank have to humiliatingly wait and check points for hours, while settlers have special roads that take them straight to their illegal settlements. Even the number plates are different. If this is not apartheid then what is. The economic disparities between Israeli citizens and Palestinians on the West bank and Gaza are enormous. The GDP per capita in Israel in 2015 was US$37,700 while in the West Bank US$3,700 and in Gaza US$1700. The basis of Israeli society is dispossession for some and wealth for others. If this is not an apartheid society then I don’t know what is.
Lastly, I should have not played the man rather than the ball. I noted Greg Sheridan got his just desserts at the last Q & A session by the very erudite Palestinian author.
Gerard Henderson to Roy Clogstoun – 25 May 2018
Dear Mr Clogstoun
I refer to your email of 24 May 2018. My responses are as follows:
- The plight of the Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire circa 1915 is in no way comparable to what occurred at the Gaza/Israel border of recent weeks. I am not aware of any commentator who has used the term “genocide” in this instance. David Crowe, for whom you have respect, argued that Australia should have abstained on the UN Human Rights Council resolution. If he supported your view that “genocide” was involved, that I am sure he would have advocated a “Yes” vote.
- Your view that I have a “narrow ‘Catholic’ view of the world”, on account of the fact that I do not regard abuse as a substitute for argument, is just old-fashioned, anti-Catholic sectarianism. You don’t have to be a Catholic – or, indeed, a former Catholic – to hold the view that abuse is just abuse.
- You may regard it as clever to depict Benjamin Netanyahu as “oily” and a “snake oil salesman”. In my view this is just abuse.
- If Israel is an apartheid state – it is surprising that so many Arabs want to become Israeli citizens.
- It is true that, some years ago, Israel closed its borders with Gaza. It is also true that Egypt did the same thing. I note that you have not criticised Egypt in this instance. Nor have you made any substantial criticism of the terrorist group Hamas that controls Gaza.
- In your email, you made the following point:
Yes, Hamas are no angels as you say. It’s a pity that they have not abandoned the idea of “armed struggle”. They refuse to engage in non-violent demonstrations. I would like to point out that if they only accepted Israel’s right to exist, it would expose Israel’s currently unwillingness to create a Palestinian state.
How naïve can you get? You say that it is a “pity” that Hamas has not abandoned the armed struggle and refuses to engage in non-violent demonstrations. But that is what Hamas is about – namely, the destruction of Israel by violent means. What you are saying is that it would be better if Hamas was not Hamas – but it is.
- You may rejoice in the fact that Greg Sheridan got interrupted and shouted down on Q&A last Monday. But, then, you don’t much like people appearing on ABC TV with whom you disagree.
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As far as I am concerned, this correspondence is concluded.
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Until next time.
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