Monday, January 12, 2015

Anti-Israel Australian media

They will twist anything to push their message of hate

Qanta Ahmed

On a recent trip to Australia I was booked by Ch7′s Weekend Sunrise to discuss Project Rozana, an Israeli-Palestinian initiative to train West Bank physicians (predominantly Palestinian Muslims)in Israel’s Hadassah hospital. As an ambassador for the Project, I was lock step with my ideals both as a physician and as an observing Muslim opposed to virulently anti-Semitic Islamism.

A veteran media commentator, my suspicions should have been raised when the producers didn’t indicate the nature of my interview, nor even confirm that I would be discussing Project Rozana. Minutes before live broadcast, the young segment producer Maddy still ‘didn’t know’ what the anchors would be asking.

The cameras began rolling and I described my experiences at The Technion, The RamBam Medical Center and at Hadassah Hospital, responding to the anchors’ evident curiosity. The close knit and fully integrated coexistence with which Israeli and Arab Palestinian scientists and physicians interact with their equally diverse Israeli and Arab Palestinian patients surprised my interviewers.

Later we discussed Islamism, a movement which as a Muslim I recognise masquerades as the great monotheism of Islam but is starkly totalitarian in ideology with a foundational tenet of subjugating democracy. More significantly, Islamism harbors cosmic enmity to all Jewish and by extension Israeli entities and institutions. It is because I am an observing Muslim that I can emphatically reject Islamism – neither anti-Semitism nor anti-Zionism have basis in Islam.

Ending the segment, the anchors were broadly smiling and engaged. This had been the last of 27 scheduled commitments for my eight-day visit. Satisfied I had been informative and shared a novel perspective, I moved to exit the studio.

An elegant woman stopped me in my tracks. Meeting her blue-gray eyes, I was surprised to find tears filling to the brim. Touching her heart, she said: ‘I am the senior producer of this segment. My name is Iman. I am very close to the Palestinian people of Gaza, but after hearing you speak, you have opened me to new ideas.’ She confirmed she was of Egyptian heritage and like me, also Muslim. Intrigued, I suggested coffee.

Tears promptly dissipating, Iman grabbed her wallet. Over lattes we compared notes, talked about the Project and spoke about Gaza. Iman mentioned that she had formed an independent documentary production company. Immediately, I invited her to collaborate with Project Rozana – by chance the Project is keen to do a documentary on Israeli medicine to reveal the kind of coexistence to which I had referred. We left on a high note. I felt my work in Australia had ended in the best possible way.

Hours later, I received the link of the broadcast (you can watch it here). The shock was physical as I witnessed my exploitation. At each description of the pluralism and egalitarianism I had witnessed in Israeli medicine, the screen split to show the rubble of decimated North Gaza during the Israel-Hamas war, or the launching of an Iron Dome interception missile.Then the screen split to the Security Wall, shown from the Palestinian, not Israeli side.

The war footage had clearly been assembled in advance of my live interview without prior knowledge of what I would say. In an unseen control room, to the producers’ signal, as I responded with words like ‘coexistence’, ‘integration’ or ‘pluralism’, a technician pulled the trigger and rolled the stock ‘Israel as a terrorist state’ footage; detonating my truthful and universal message.

I had been reduced to an instrument of rank media opportunism. Worse, it was possible the tearful Iman had been the architect of my on-air vivisection. Self-described as the senior producer and ‘very close to the Palestinians of Gaza’, Iman had withheld remarking on this footage during our 30 minute coffee.

In my ignorance, I had unwittingly collaborated in my own exploitation by the Australian broadcaster who chose to cast me not as an anti-Islamist Muslim physician volunteering in pursuit of coexistence but as a vapid tool serving the malignant media construct of a two-dimensional anti-Semitic caricature of Zionism. This was a deliberate and opportunistic objectification of my identity as a Muslim and a physician, of the Jewish state reduced to an anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist mannequin, and of my political position as an opponent of Islamism; a position which entails significant personal and professional risk. This is neither journalism nor broadcasting; it’s pure pro-Hamas propaganda .

The producers hadn’t bothered to insert Hamas foot-soldiers which include recruited Palestinian children and youth who wage war on Israelis, nor reveal the damage wrought by its hundreds of rockets on Israeli civilians (of whom 23% are non Jewish – mostly Sunni Muslim), nor did Australians see the industrially rendered labyrinth of Hamas tunnels so central to the recent conflict. Weekend Sunrise prostituted my goodwill in the service of personal or official anti-Israeli and pro-Hamas propaganda.

This is what Israel faces, that which no other nation embattled with the lethal threat of Islamism wrestles: the battle over narrative. While Pakistan wages a far more indiscriminate campaign against Islamists in tribal areas, while Afghanistan has been under siege by the Taliban for a decade and a half, while Britain, Canada and America target, prosecute and eliminate Islamists, while Egypt wages war on Islamists and criminalizes their ideology, while Saudi Arabia incarcerates Islamists, while France defends Mali from Islamists, while Kenya and Nigeria flail against Islamists, only Israelis are to be dehumanized, judged apart from humanity as they face Islamist threats on every border. Only Israel must be denigrated, reviled and excoriated in her efforts to secure citizens and territories from the ambitions of genocidal anti-Semitic Islamism.

I felt intensely angry. To be whored out as I strive as an ambassador for a philanthropic mission with universal reach, to be debased as an instrument despite my decades long authority as a physician and Muslim humanist is nothing but obscene.

An on-air apology wouldn’t come amiss.


Climate change: Why some of us won't believe it's getting hotter

Peter Martin, Economics Editor of the Leftist "Age" newspaper  presents below an argument with all the usual Warmist holes in it.  Once again we find an argument from authority, with not a single actual climate datum mentioned.  It is his central contention below that  climate skeptics are ideologically motivated but it apparently has not occurred to him that Warmist scientists might be ideologically motivated!  Typical one-eyed Leftist reasoning. Awkward facts, such as the disablingly high temperatures reported in Sydney in 1790 (Yes. 1790, not 1970) don't swim into his view  at all.  But he would have to be an unusual economist to know anything about climate, of course.  He is just gullible -- and only the gullible would believe him

What is it about the temperature that some of us find so hard to accept?

The year just ended was one of the hottest on record. In NSW it was the absolute hottest, in Victoria the second-hottest, and in Australia the third hottest. Doesn't that tell us that it is regional variations we are looking at, not something global?

The measure is compiled by the Bureau of Meteorology. It dates back to 1910. A separate global reading prepared by the World Meteorological Organisation has 2014 the hottest year since international records began in 1880. Not a single year since 1985 has been below average and every one of the 10 hottest years has been since 1998.

That it's getting hotter is what economists call an empirical question – a matter of fact not worth arguing about, although it is certainly worth arguing about the reasons for the increase and what we may  do about it.

But that's not the way many Australians see it. I posted the Bureau of Meteorology's findings on Twitter on Tuesday and was told: "Not really". Apparently, "climate-wise we are in pretty good shape".

If the bureau had been displaying measures of the temperature on a specific day or a cricket commentator had been displaying the cricket score, there would be no quibbling. The discussion would centre about the reasons for the result and its implications.

But when it comes to the slowly rising temperature some of us won't even accept the readings. And that says something about us, or at least about those of us who won't accept what's in front of our faces.

I am not prepared to believe that these people are anti-science. Some of them are engineers, some mining company company executives. Like all of us, they depend on science in their everyday lives.

Nor am I prepared to believe they've led sheltered lives, although it's a popular theory. In the United States a survey of six months of coverage on Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Channel found that 37 of its 40 mentions of climate change were misleading.

The misleading coverage included "broad dismissals of human-caused climate change, disparaging comments about individual scientists, rejections of climate science as a body of knowledge, and cherry-picking of data".

Fox News called global warming a "fraud", a "hoax" and "pseudo science".

Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal fared little better. 39 of its 48 references were misleading.

In Australia it's not as bad. Rupert Murdoch's The Australian gives more space to climate change than any other newspaper. Its articles are 47 per cent negative, 44 per cent neutral and 9 per cent positive, according to the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism.

It's impossible to read The Australian's articles without feeling at least a bit curious about climate change.

Another theory is that it's to do with psychology. Some people are more threatened by bad news than others, making them less able to accept that it's real.

And now a more sophisticated theory suggests that it's not about the facts at all. It's really a debate about the implications, disguised as a debate about the facts. Troy Campbell and Aaron Kay, a researcher and associate professor in neuroscience at Duke University in North Carolina find that belief in temperature forecasts is correlated with beliefs about government regulation and what those forecasts would mean for government regulation.

They assembled a panel of at least 40 Republicans and 40 Democrats and asked each whether they believed the consensus forecast about temperature increases. Half were told that climate change could be fought in a market friendly way, the other half that it would need heavy-handed regulation. Of the Republicans, the proportion who accepted the temperature forecast was 55 per cent when they were told climate change could be addressed by the free market and only 22 per cent when they were told it would need regulation.

(Democrats were about 70 per cent likely believe the temperature forecast and weren't much swayed by how climate change would be fought.)

The finding is important. It means that the first step in getting people to at least agree that it's getting hotter is to stop talking about how to prevent it. Muddying the two, as we do all the time, gets people's backs up.

It is getting hotter. Seven of Australia's 10 hottest years on record have been since the Sydney Olympics. Last year was 0.91C hotter than the long-term average. Last year's maximums were 1.16C hotter than long-term average maximums.  Warming is a fact. The Bureau of Meteorology accepts it, the government accepts it and it shouldn't be beyond our abilities to accept it.

Then we can talk about what to do.


Amnesty International and the Human Gripes Commission need a rethink

It should come as no surprise that Amnesty International supported the Lindt Cafe murderer, Man Haron Monis, in his application for asylum status in Australia.

This support, in 1997, reflected Amnesty's ideological position that the overwhelming majority of asylum seekers, including those who  destroyed their documents, are entitled to asylum status in Australia.

Amnesty could not reasonably have foreseen that it was giving support to a dangerous person but there are problems with self-appointed non-government organisations getting involved in the asylum seeker process.

I find it curious that since the Abbott government was elected it has been subject to an unending barrage of criticism over asylum-seeker policy by Amnesty and others even as the refugees quota has been increased, the number of undocumented arrivals has plummeted, the number of children in detention has steadily dwindled towards zero, the drownings at sea have ceased, detention centres are being closed and the number of people in detention has fallen.

In short, the disastrous policies of the previous Labor governments have, within a year, been replaced by a larger refugee stream which is much more orderly, more fair, and replaced the people-smuggling trade, a legal quagmire in the courts, a burgeoning number of detention centres and the practice of fait accompli.

You would not know this by reading the Amnesty Australia website on which can be found the extreme slogan: "Australia – sending people to torture since 2014."

One of Amnesty's organisers in Australia, Sam Hagaman, has used Twitter to engage in wide-ranging criticism of the government which go far beyond human rights issues. A sample of her more recent tweets include these:

"Take back half of News Corp tax rebate, easily fund our ABC."

"Put climate back on the G20 agenda ...  Please tell Tony Abbott to get out of the way."

"We're mapping every asylum-seeker turn-back, tow-back and arrival ..."

"Letterboxing the truth on offshore processing."

"Australia's offshore detention policy is kept secret from those who pay for it. YOU!"

There can be no doubt that the organisers and volunteers of Amnesty International are altruistically motivated to confront human rights abuses, but the organisation also has a wider political agenda.

Similarly, the Human Rights Commission is an organisation of noble intent but for many years it has engaged in a search for relevance in one of the least oppressive countries in the world, where its annual cost to taxpayers is $25 million a year.

Since the election of the Abbott government, despite all the progress listed above, the president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Dr Gillian Triggs has been a consistent critic of government policy.

I was struck by her recommendation to remove a political refugee, John Basikbasik, from detention after seven years.

Dr Triggs thinks keeping Basikbasik out of the community is a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, finding that a $350,000  payment be awarded.

Basikbasik entered Australia by boat in 1985, bypassing immigration. He has since built a long criminal record in this country. In 2000, he bashed his wife to death. In prison, he engaged in assaults. Upon release, he routinely breached bail conditions. Psychiatric assessments deemed him intractably violent. While in detention since 2007, he has incurred some 50 infractions, including an assault. He has fathered 14 children by four different women. He has not been deported to Indonesia because of a prior involvement with the West Papuan independence movement.

A psychiatrist's review in 2011 states that Mr Basikbasik's behavioural problems "are associated with his prolonged detention and that there is a risk that his mental health will deteriorate if his detention continues ...

"There is no information before me to indicate that the Commonwealth considered whether any risk which Mr Basikbasik posed to the community could be mitigated by a management plan to assist with his rehabilitation or by a requirement to reside at a specified location, with curfews, travel restrictions or regular reporting. It does not appear that it was necessary to detain Mr Basikbasik in an immigration detention centre."

In a recommendation in another detention case, Dr Triggs recommended a $300,000 compensation be made to a convicted serial swindler because he was detained while engaged in legal action.

This action, to avoid deportation, was described by a Federal Court as "frivolous, vexatious, embarrassing".

However, Dr Triggs thinks he deserves $350,000 and a written apology. She also banned the media from reporting his identity despite 14 different judges in the Queensland Supreme Court, Federal Court and High Court of Australia naming him, with none countenancing suppression orders.


New controversy brews over 'offensive' ginger beer brand using Hindu imagery

Ganesha is the Lord of success and destroyer of evils and obstacles. He is also worshipped as the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and wealth.  So I don't see what is wrong with promoting that.  I have a large statue of Ganesha in my entrance hall, as a a matter of fact.  Various Indians have seen it but all have been merely amused

A brewery on Sydney's northern beaches is facing renewed criticism from some Hindus that the company reneged on an agreement to remove an insensitive label from its ginger beer.

Brookvale Union, which shares staff with the 4 Pines Brewing Company in Manly, faced calls in late 2013 to redesign the ginger beer packaging and remove an Indian-themed design that appeared to show a figure with the head of Hindu god Ganesh and the body of the goddess Lakshmi.

At the time, the brewery apologised and announced the label would be redesigned. Alterations were made to the design, which still has an Indian style and depicts an elephant's head on the body of a woman.

Yadu Singh, a Sydney-based cardiologist and the president of the Indian Australian Association of NSW, believes the changes didn't go far enough and he is calling on businesses to remove the product from their shelves.

"They have gone back on their word which they gave to us and many others, and they still have those pictures, even though they have made minor changes," Dr Singh said.

"Having a picture of a very prominent, respected and highly regarded deity of Hinduism [on] a beer bottle … this is offensive. "I have been in Australia since 1991; I haven't seen any beer bottles with Jesus Christ on [them]."

4 Pines Brewing Company co-founder Jaron Mitchell said the labels were redesigned on the advice of Dr Singh and other Australian Hindus who identified aspects of the design that needed to be changed.

Mr Mitchell said the elephant head depicted on the label was redesigned to remove any resemblance to the god Ganesh.  "It's just like an animal, it's not a godlike kind of a face," Mr Mitchell told Fairfax Media.

The revised figure has only two arms, and the image of a cow, which is a sacred animal in the Hindu faith, was replaced with a bowl of fruit.

"We're certainly not in the business of offending people," Mr Mitchell said.  "It's certainly not a unified Hindu opinion [that the image is offensive]. I know that because I've had Hindus say, 'look, don't listen to these guys'."

Rajan Zed, a Hindu leader in the US state of Nevada, has been raising international awareness of the labelling controversy.

"We Hindus being such a large group, about 1 billion, there is the possibility of some disagreements," Mr Zed said. But he added that most Hindus would be offended by the image of a deity being used to sell liquor.

Brookvale Union has urged anyone offended by the label to contact it directly.



Paul said...

Good to see that the Trojan horse known as Amnesty International doesn't fool everybody.

Paul said...

Channel Seven? Kerry Stokes? Anti-Israel?

There'll be an ulterior motive somewhere here. This is the whole problem. People being people can and will work together, and when the provocateurs aren't around no-one really cares that much about religion and race when there are better, common objectives to be achieved. By provocateurs I mean the rabid pro-Israel lobby as much as for the anti-lobby. You know my opinion. I think Israel is the dumbest idea anyone ever had, up there with the annexation of Austria, but reality is reality, and sometimes I wish that as a nation and as a people we had some of their focus and sense of purpose, deluded or otherwise.