Randa Abdel-Fattah is a pro-Palestinian supremo. She does gung-ho pro-Palestinianism on prime time television, using programs like the ABC’s Q&A to spew out anti-Israel diatribes. She criticises the media for not giving Palestinian voices enough space.
I sent an invitation to Abdel-Fattah to be interviewed for my weekly radio show ‘The Israel Connexion’ on J-AIR Radio and she replied, “Call me when the state you defend is willing to be held accountable for its crimes against humanity. Until then don’t contact me again. “
For Abdel-Fattah anti-normalisation is a key part of her platform; any discussion with those who might be considered to be ‘tainted’ with Zionism is spurned.
Abdel-Fattah seeks out left-wing publications like Meanjin that are happy to express her Israelophobia, where there is no opportunity to respond or engage. Her latest effort ‘Lobbied: The Palestinian Erasure’ is a case in point. Her very one-sided viewpoint on a controversial subject is not conducive to any kind of meaningful discourse.
Thus, the reason for me writing this article for The Spectator is because I believe we should not be giving the likes of Abdel-Fattah free rein to trot out rampant Palestinianism frequently replete with lies, that has at its core a vicious contempt for Zionism — a movement seeking the right of self-determination for the Jewish people. Abdel-Fattah wants the ‘Palestinians’ to have the right to self-determination but she denies that same right to Jews.
Of course, there are those that say we shouldn’t be giving ‘oxygen’ to those like Abdel-Fattah, who foments hatred for supporters of Israel. However, I would say that it is necessary to counter poisonous views before they spread like a cancer through our society.
Abdel-Fattah decries the efforts of the Israeli lobby, which is perfectly entitled to defend Israel from an incessant stream of vitriol and abuse. There is nothing particularly insidious or sinister about this – that is what a lobby does. As Abdel-Fattah well knows there is a Palestinian lobby operating in our midst, which fights tooth and nail to push out a pro-Palestinian narrative.
The trouble from my point of view is that all too frequently pro-Palestinian activists push out tropes and misinformation that are difficult to counter. Once a lie has been uttered over and over again, without being called out, it is almost impossible to stop it from gaining traction. The vehicles in our media that could provide an opportunity for frank and honest engagement on a controversial subject like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict simply don’t exist.
Abdel-Fattah alludes to an incident in her article in Meanjin where the ABC allegedly passed on a submission from pro-Palestinian activist Samah Sabawi to the Zionist Federation of Australia for scrutiny, without her knowledge or consent. It is of course hard to believe that the ABC is aiding and abetting Zionists when it has built up a huge reputation for anti-Israel media bias.
I can mention an incident that occurred on the ABC’s Saturday Extra radio program in 2019 when some Israeli water experts visiting Australia were interviewed by Geraldine Doogue about drought management. This raised the ire of the pro-Palestinian camp who then pounded the ABC to produce another episode on the vexing issue of water management in Israel-Palestine with an opposing view.
However, that still wasn’t good enough for the Palestinian lobby, because apparently it wasn’t sufficiently pro-Palestinian. The episode in response involved an interview with a Jewish expert on the subject and the Palestinians thought the interviewee didn’t go hard enough criticising Israel for supposedly depriving the Palestinians from proper access to water. Geraldine Doogue succumbed to pressure from the Palestinian lobby by apologising on air that her previous programs about water had not provided sufficient ‘balance’. She then went ahead interviewing a Palestinian Dr Abdelrahman Tamimi, the General Director of the Palestinian Hydrology Group. In fact, ABC Saturday Extra had surrendered to pro-Palestinian pressure by presenting an interview in which Dr Tamimi pursued a highly politicised pro-Palestinian propaganda agenda.
Abdel-Fattah bemoans the fact that anti-Israel campaigns are not plugged for free in our media outlets and that she and her Israelophobic cohort have to actually pay to insert nasty statements, subscribed to by a band of die-hard anti-Zionists, into our newspapers.
At the end of the day, our media covers the Israel-Palestine dispute very extensively and one senses that the complaints from the likes of Abdel-Fattah are that articles bashing Israel don’t appear frequently enough. In the same vein, she needs to note that there are very few reports appearing that extol the virtues and achievements of an extraordinary country that is compelled to spend so much of its resources on defence. Media moguls know all too well that to screen a program or to write an article that shows Israel in a good light is inviting the restive Palestinian lobby to rise up and object.
In the meantime, I continue to produce programs on my radio show that attempt to cover many issues broadly and fairly about Israel. Now that the Australian government has adopted the IHRA Working Definition on Antisemitism we will hopefully see more sanity in discussion about Israel-Palestine.
For me, the name of the game is engagement, something that the pro-Palestinian movement appears to loathe. They are fundamentally dishonest by avoiding being challenged, unwilling to be genuinely accountable for malevolent views they are trying to shove down our throats.
David Schulberg hosts The Israel Connexion on J-Air Radio.
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