A fortnight ago, Shmuel Eliyahu, an Ultra Orthodox rabbi from the northern Israeli city of Safed issued an obnoxious declaration suggesting that Jews should be given preference over gentiles when seeking to rent land. His objective was unabashedly to prevent the country's Arab population from settling too deeply in the land and he received support from about fifty rabbis including some municipal chief rabbis around the country.
The declaration received swift condemnation from most sectors of Israeli society from Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu down. The Israeli PM asked "how would we feel if someone overseas said that it is forbidden to sell apartments to Jews? Such things should not be said, not by Jews and not by Arabs. Such things should not be said in a democratic country, especially not in a Jewish and democratic one".
Throughout the country and across different parts of the political spectrum, religious and community leaders and the media were equally strong in repudiating the repulsive sentiments expressed in the declaration. Jewish communities across the world, including our own here in Australia, rightly condemned them in the strongest terms.
Yesterday, the Melbourne Age published a piece by Jason Koutsoukis about events in the city of Safed - ARAB STUDENTS GET HARSH LESSON IN RACISM FROM HOLY CITY where a mob of 60 ultra-orthodox Jews intimidated an Israeli Arab chanting ''kill the Arabs'' outside his apartment. Koutsoukis described the atmosphere in the northern Israeli city in the aftermath of the rabbis' declaration. He concluded with a quote from Israeli MP Ahmed Tibi who claimed that ''Fascism has raised its head in Israeli society''.
Taken in isolation the piece by Koutsoukis might be regarded as a worthwhile way to expose of the evils of the disgusting declaration of the rabbis which deserves our condemnation in the strongest terms.
Unfortunately, by telling less than half (correction, a quarter) of the this unsavoury tale, Koutsoukis must face allegations of racism similar to those he exposed in his article.
Koutsoukis quoted one Member of Israel's Knesset (and an Arab member who is customarily hostile to his country's Jewish majority) but failed to mention the overwhelming condemnation throughout Israel of the rabbi's statements, including that of the nation's Prime Minister.
By concealing this, Koutsoukis changed the context of a story about racism by a group of extremist rabbis and their redneck followers who simply do not reflect the views of the people into a comment on all of Israeli society.
The piece encompasses what has become systemic and rotten within the Fairfax organisation: yet another piece seeking to delegitimise the Jewish State, this time with Tibi's equally outrageous claim of fascism which would make no sense at all if Koutsoukis has given some space to revealing the nation's response to the declaration.
Since Koutsoukis arrived in Israel two and a half years ago, he could have written similar articles about anti-Semitic calls by the Palestinian Muslim clergy and about Palestinian attacks on Jews on every single day of his term as Middle East correspondent for Fairfax.
The Palestine Media Watch and Memri websites document hundreds of racist attacks from Palestinian pulpits, the majority of which occur with the blessing of the Palestine Authority in the West Bank and/or Hamas in Gaza.
Here are but two recent examples of news stories that were consigned to the blank pages -
Hamas: Allah, kill Christians and Jews "to the last one"
PA TV broadcasts song calling for Jihad against Israel: "Draw your sword, let it not return"
About these, The Age remains silent.
On Friday the Jerusalem Post described how Palestinians had desecrated and ancient Jewish holy tomb by daubing vile hateful and racist graffiti on its walls but, as is the custome with Fairfax journalism, this story was ignored by Koutsoukis.
Yet, he rarely ever misses an opportunity to highlight bad behaviour from Jewish extremists.
I do not condone the events of Safed or the racist pronouncements of the rabbis. They are offensive and have rightly been condemned in Israel from the top down. However, by selectively highlighting what happens in Israel and then suppressing more common and often more vile instances of racism from the Palestinian side, Koutsoukis and his newspaper show their bias and their true colours.
They are no better than any nasty mob that seeks to intimidate innocent minorities with their stones and with their racist slurs.