New Zealand Media accused of anti-Israel bias

Despite some people claiming that our coverage of UN Resolution 2334 was a beltway issue of little importance to New Zealand the New Zealand mainstream media eventually decided to cover it. Over the past three weeks, the New Zealand Herald published in total 46 articles, letters and opinion pieces on UN Resolution 2334. It was good that they covered it so well but was their coverage balanced? According to an article on honestreporting.com, it wasn’t. Twenty-three items were for the resolution, fourteen were against and nine were neutral.

Mainstream New Zealand media published some opinion pieces which drew attention to the imbalance and faults of UNSC Resolution 2334 and gave some historical context for the Arab Palestinian/Israel conflict. The unusual alliance with the undemocratic nations of Malaysia, Senegal, and Venezuela to sponsor Resolution 2334 led to serious questions within New Zealand and abroad.

A diplomatic crisis with Israel ensued…

…Some commentators have crossed the line from legitimate criticism of Israel into anti-Semitism or straight-out lies. Below are a selection of the worst offenders, in chronological order. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the ignorant and hateful writing we have seen.

Alexander Gillespie (28 Dec, NZ Herald)

The Waikato Professor of Law boldly claimed “There is no question in international law that these settlements are illegal.”

…the question of legalities is nowhere near as concrete as the professor claims. He also stated that “The resolution in question condemned the Israeli settlements on territory which they acquired by military force in 1967 and never returned,” without acknowledging the Six-Day War was defensive for Israel and Israel did return most of the land to Egypt in return for peace…

John Armstrong (04 Jan, TVNZ)

…Mr Armstrong stated that “Such rapid change in demographics in the occupied territories [because of settlement expansions] threatens to make a separate Palestinian state unviable.” The facts are that there has been very little change in settlement land since 1993 and Israel has shown a willingness to swap land for peace (even forcibly removing settlers).

However, Armstrong went beyond simply being mistaken and made suggestions along an anti-Jewish conspiratorial line when he raised the idea of a “Jewish lobby” in New Zealand and tried to lump those against the resolution as “The usual crop of Republican Party figures.” In fact, there has been widespread bipartisan condemnation of Obama for abstaining from the biased anti-Israel resolution and a broad range of New Zealand citizens have spoken out against the attack on a long-time ally.

Malcolm Eves (05 Jan, Hawkes Bay Today)

This opinion of a local conspiracy theorist was immediately shown to contain classic anti-Semitic tropes by HonestReporting and in a subsequent opinion in the same paper also. The editor still maintains there was nothing wrong with the piece.

Janfrie Wakim (06 Jan, NZ Herald)

A veteran anti-Israel activist and prolific NZ Herald letter writer, Wakim…claims the settlers are “a non-reversible demographic injection designed by Israel to thwart the two-state outcome.” …she fails to acknowledge the fact Israel has given up land and removed settlers for peace in the past…

…she also fails to properly describe the Six-Day War, saying “In 1948 the Israeli military expanded well into the land designated for the Arab state and expelled more than 700,000 Palestinians from Palestine.” She fails to properly represent the current situation, saying “While about 20 per cent of Israeli citizens are not Jewish, the Israeli Government can usually manage to live with that minority.”

The reality is that Israel flourishes with the 20 per cent Arab citizens who are afforded equal rights while the PA insists that a future state will be Judenfrei. This is consistent with a historic stance that refuses to acknowledge the presence of a Jewish state.

Brian Rudman (11 Jan, NZ Herald)

In a piece that also discussed “casual racism” against Maori, Rudman showed great contempt towards the “local Zionists [who were] highly indignant at New Zealand’s vote at the United Nations Security Council… I couldn’t help wondering what their response would be when a coffee-coloured local turns up to their homes in Auckland’s leafy suburbs and tells them to pack their bags, he’s claiming his indigenous rights to his ancestral land.” It seems Rudman has no concept of the history of Israel or how Israel was formed and settled. It also seems Rudman struggles to identify casual racism when it emanates from his own pen.

Chris Trotter (09 Jan, The Press)

Chris Trotter uses the polarizing trial of a young soldier as a pretext to expound on a deeply flawed narrative of Israel’s history, disturbing in its implications. He ignores facts, details, complexities of war, the context of a particular historical period and cherry picks historical events to support his thesis. His conclusion perversely twists the admirable fact that Israel was willing to bring proceedings against one its own sons and presents it as a sinister example of ‘dark Zionism.’

Trotter is also blind to the way Palestinians celebrate and glorify murderers while chastising Israel for finding a soldier guilty of the manslaughter of a Palestinian terrorist.

Fred Frederikse (10 Jan, Wanganui Chronicle)

This self-directed student has possibly learned his history from some neo-Nazi websites given that he speaks of the one-state solution requiring “Zionists to give up on their ideal of an exclusively Jewish state.” It would be beneficial for Frederikse to direct himself to some legitimate sources to discover how even the early Zionists, led by Theodor Herzl,  yearned for a Jewish state that was also a pluralist democracy – with Arabs and Jews having equal rights. And that is what Israel is today.

Frederikse also slips in some not-so-subtle classic anti-Semitism referring to a statement from Jewish community spokesperson Juliet Moses, which included reasons for keeping the Israeli embassy open as her “not missing the business opportunity.” Frederikse is factually wrong that Israel has “0.2 per cent of the world’s population” (it’s actually 0.1 per cent) but his follow-on that “Israel continues to be the single largest recipient of US military aid… warfare is big business” both smacks of conspiracy theory and ignores the reason there is a need for such protection.

Robin Briant (13 Jan, NZ Herald)

Robin Briant recounted her experience of living in the West Bank and Gaza in 2003-4 while working for a “large humanitarian medical organisation.”

…“I have witnessed thousands of men, women and children humiliated at checkpoints… just made to wait for no reason other than they, the soldiers, can make them wait.” – Robin Briant

Astute observers, apart from detecting many lies in her article, will have noted that Briant’s experiences were during the height of the Second Intifada, which broke out after the Palestinians rejected the Clinton parameters, including Barak’s offer of 92 percent of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip, and a land swap in exchange for Jewish settlements in the West Bank. This was a period when Israeli civilians were subjected to an onslaught of terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, planted bombs, shootings, stonings, stabbings, lynchings, rockets, and other methods of attack. Thousands of Israelis were killed and injured. Israeli parents dealt with the unfathomable anxiety of wondering every day whether their children would come home from school. This was only brought to an end after Yasser Arafat’s death.

Briant’s piece was also taken apart in more detail by HonestReporting.

-honestreporting.com

By sponsoring UN Resolution 2334 Murray McCully has pushed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict onto our front pages and into our opinion sections and it has exposed the imbalance in our news coverage. This is why Whaleoil is needed as a counterbalance in the Media landscape.

Cameron Slater journalist/blogger Tel Aviv beach

When Cam was invited as a journalist and blogger to visit Israel he was asked why he didn’t provide balance by visiting Gaza. Cam replied, ” I am the balance.” At the time he was travelling all over Israel which included experiencing a rocket attack in Sderot while the MSM journalists all stayed in Gaza.

Pie Chart-whaleoil.co.nz


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