Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Back in November I wrote [in PALESTINIANS GET HIGH: JEWS GET BLAMED] about a news story aired on ABC radio's flagship programme AM in which claims were made that Israeli authorities were turning a blind eye to the trafficking of drugs and that this was part of a deliberate plan to destroy the fabric of Palestinian life. According to the report by ABC Middle East correspondent David Hardaker, Israelis were allowing Palestinians to become addicted so that Jews could oppress them and steal their homes. I made the point at the time that the report provided no balance or scope for the Israeli authorities to counter the claims and that it exhibited a paucity of research on the part of ABC staff that put together this blood libel against Israel and the Jews.

In it's own sort of way, the ABC now agrees having considered the complaint made by a medical professional about blatant errors in the Hardaker report. It has amended the report PALESTINIANS STRUGGLE WITH SURGE IN DRUG USE and added the following:-

Editor's Note: Parts of this story have been amended or omitted and the audio removed to address issues of factual correctness. The story was also found to have lacked balance because there was insufficient opportunity for Israeli authorities to respond. The ABC apologises for these instances of inaccuracy and lack of balance.

The ABC is playing cute by admitting the lack of balance in the story but it does very little about what it recognises as a clear problem with the report. The making of a cut here and there and adding a single word simply cannot repair the inestimable damage done when it aired this piece of scurrilous Israel bashing propaganda more than three months ago.

It took that length of time for the ABC to investigate the matter but rather than transparently provide listeners with a separate report on what moved it to amend, omit and remove parts of a story "to address issues of factual correctness" they are given a mere postscript at the end of the offending story, itself carefully massaged but still repeating the same odious message and still failing to provide an Israeli response.

Remember, the correspondent in question produced this piece on "The art of Middle Eastern conspiracy theories" and started off by stating that "the reporter's job is to get the facts."

In this case, the reporter clearly did not get the facts and despite three months of investigation by the ABC the matter has not been dealt with at all adequately and it must be taken further.

The ABC's own amendments have highlighted the scandalous way in which the presentation of news from the Middle East can be manipulated by those who have an agenda of maligning on particular side in the conflict. In this case, the report took up the cause of a Palestinian drug worker who was more concerned with beating Israel and the Jews across the head than with the welfare of the growing number of Palestinian drug addicts on his watch.

The following shows parts of the original report and how it was amended. Deletions are shown in blue and additions are shown in red.


Middle East correspondent David Hardaker reports.
DAVID HARDAKER: Not so long ago illicit drugs were virtually unheard of in Palestinian life. Now they’re freely available.
HOSNI SHAHIN: We are working very hard, day by night.
DAVID HARDAKER: It’s Hosni Shahin’s job to try to stop it but it’s only getting worse.
HOSNI SHAHIN: We are seeing that the numbers are increasing and this makes us crazy.
DAVID HARDAKER: Hosni Shahin is in charge of the Palestinian effort to stop the spread of drugs.
[, but the figures are defying him.]
[A just-completed study shows up to 60,000 Palestinians in the West Bank use drugs, with 11,000 being addicts.]
In the east side of Jerusalem, where Palestinians live, the problem is even more acute. Hosni Shahin counts 20,000 drug users. Hashish is the most common drug. Then heroin.
HOSNI SHAHIN: Some of them try to sell their houses to the Jews in [their own] the old city.
DAVID HARDAKER: To get money for drugs?
HOSNI SHAHIN: To get money for drugs. If he is ready to destroy himself, you think that he is caring to destroy his family, or his brother, or his son?
DAVID HARDAKER: Researchers have found the reasons for increased drug addiction are poverty, unemployment and despair about the future. They’ve linked that to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, but they’ve also faulted the Palestinian Authority for not taking the problem seriously.
A former addict, Imad Shweiki, now works with the Palestinian anti-drug office.
(Imad Shweiki speaking)
“It’s easy for Palestinians to get drugs, especially in Jerusalem”, he says. “Here the borders are open. I have contacts with the Israelis”.
[The research backs up what Imad Schweiki says. Young Palestinians are getting their drugs in areas where they’re in contact with Israelis, either in Jerusalem itself or around the giant wall, known as the separation barrier, between Israel and the West Bank.]
Hosni Shahin.
HOSNI SHAHIN: There is no caring from the Palestinian side for this, and there is no caring from the Israel side for this. So you can say this place is, around the wall, it is a free market for commerce of drugs.
DAVID HARDAKER: The drug dealers are nearly always Arab-Israelis, sometimes working with Palestinians.
The Palestinian drug workers allege that while Israeli border security is generally ferocious, when it comes to drugs it is uncharacteristically lax.
Head of the research, Doctor Luay Shabaneh.
LUAY SHABANEH: There is something has to be worked out with the Israeli side, at the checkpoints and at the border points, to minimise the transfer of the drugs.
DAVID HARDAKER: From what you know, are the Israelis deliberately allowing drugs to come into the Palestinian area, or are they simply being neglectful?
LUAY SHABANEH: Well I can’t claim that they’re doing this on purpose. Maybe they are lazy, maybe are careless. I could say maybe they are careless, because they don’t feel that they are affected very much.
DAVID HARDAKER: So, in other words, that it might not matter to them. Is that what you’re saying?
LUAY SHABANEH: Yes. Yes, because I mean, we are the recipients. The drugs are coming from their side, therefore we are mostly affected not them.
DAVID HARDAKER: Israeli authorities have flatly denied using drugs as a tool of occupation. Drug workers on the ground can’t prove it, but they’re convinced that the inaction of Israeli police is deliberate and that it’s aimed at pacifying angry young Palestinians.
Hosni Shahin.
HOSNI SHAHIN: For all occupations, all over the world, the most dangerous thing for them - the youth people. So the occupation, if he can keeps the youth calming down all the time, the occupation will be, avoid a lot of problems, they will avoid it.

So while the ABC recognises that the report was unbalanced and factually incorrect, the amendments do little to correct what is a despicable attack on Israel and the Jewish people. Together with the footnote they are supposed to represent some form of correction and apology but very few listeners to the original AM programme will ever become aware of this travesty. Moreover, the amended version only makes Hardaker and the ABC look even more stupid, almost O'Loughlinesque.

The addition of the word "Arab" after Israeli is tantamount to a clear admission on the part of the ABC that the entire report was at the very least fundamentally flawed and at most something far more sinister. If the drug pushers were Israeli Arabs then the claim that this was all a plot by evil Zionists is a complete nonsense and proof that the entire production was a blood libel against the Jews. Remember, Hardaker knows about the art of Middle Eastern conspiracy theories and yet here he was becoming complicit in the broadcasting of one that is awash with all of the components of classical anti-Semitism.

To compound the situation, the ABC won't even admit that this piece was anti-Semitic both in its original and its current forms. The procedure governing complaints about this sort of reporting from the ABC is as flawed as the story. The ABC sits in judgement on itself and duly absolves itself of spreading hatred and lies - shameful!

POSTSCRIPTS: Aussie Dave at Israellycool has more on this story Drug Libel IV: The Admission of Wrongdoing. Rumour has it that Hardaker has left the ABC and is working for the government in Dubai.

It also appears that the ABC did broadcast some form of apology on ABC National at some time yesterday. Pathetic really!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The original story seemed to be alleging that it's Israeli government policy to allow drug dealing to take place, implying that it's part of a Jewish conspiracy to keep the Palestinians down and dirty.

Turns out that it's actually Arabs selling drugs to Palestinians.

Go figure?

This is news that people don't really want to hear from our ABC.