It is indeed a jungle out there. Just ask Sydney Morning Herald columnist and former 2UE broadcaster Mike Carlton:
"It is a ferocious beast, the Jewish lobby. Write just one sentence even mildly critical of Israel and it lunges from its lair, fangs bared. 'I rejoice every time a f...ing Palestinian dies, f... them!!!! Israel should flatten Gaza with a nuclear strike and be done with it', said one of hundreds of Jewish emailers this week. 'How dare you insult Israel you overpriviledged [sic] racist white moron, f... you and your stupid article. I wish I could smash your dumb face in'.
"The stupid article was last week's column, which suggested that Israel's attack on the Gaza flotilla was lethal idiocy and that the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was an unprincipled thug addicted to the use of military force.
"Few of the emails were as brisk as that one. Many, though, were nakedly racist, such as this from a man named Schwarz. 'Do Jews do drive-by shootings every other day like in Sydney's south-west? Do Jews or Arabs make up a large proportion of the Australian jail population? Do Jews gang rape young girls in Sydney?' he mused.
"Others like to threaten. A travel agent from Double Bay drafted an apoplectic denunciation and circulated it to his friends. 'The more of us write with a copy [sic] to The Sydney Morning Herald, the more chance we may have that the Herald will change its one-eyed view of the situation and give us a more balanced reporting and maybe even sack Mike Carlton', he said hopefully. One of his chaverim mistakenly forwarded it to me.
"It's standard operating procedure for the lobby to hurl accusations of anti-Semitism with that peculiar Israeli blend of paranoia and belligerance. 'That you are happy to indulge in hate-mongering makes you quite the sadist', wrote a man from Melbourne. 'Your article gives you away as an anti-Semite and as much as you might hide behind the guise of a pro-Palestinian humanitarian, your Holocaust revisionism in comparing the conflict of the modern era to the systematic extermination of the Jews shows your true colours'.
"That is just plain dumb. My Jewish friends would confirm that I am not a sadistic, anti-Semitic, hate-mongering Holocaust denier. But I did enjoy the sneers about my manifold failings as a journalist. 'You are a cheap hack making money out of lies', was typical. 'Journalists are generally recruited if they have an IQ larger than their shoe size', was another. Yuk yuk, guffaw.
"None of this is accidental. The Israel lobby, worldwide, is orchestrated in Jerusalem by a department in the Prime Minister's office with the rather Orwellian name of the Ministry for Public Diplomacy & Diaspora Affairs. Less than 24 hours after the attack on the Mavi Marmara, the ministry hit the internet with 'important talking points' for Jews around the world, the first of which was - surprisingly - that 'the Palestinian people are not under blockade'.
"'Wtite letters to your local newspapers, comment on blogs and news websites, call in to radio programs and post links to social networking sites to help spread the real version of events', urged the deliciously named Mr Ronen Plot, the Ministry Director-General.
"This is all free speech, of course. I just wish they could be more polite." (Funny, they remember their epithets but not their manners, 12/6/10)
Still, if you haven't been savaged by the beast, you're not really doing your job. I sincerely hope that Carlton is made of stronger stuff than former ABC broadcaster and Age columnist, Terry Lane:
"I have said publicly that I will never write or speak on the subject of Israel or Palestine ever again. Here is why: The Zionist lobby in this country is malicious, implacable, mendacious and dangerous. They have caused me a great deal of lost sleep - and in the end my insomnia has not contributed anything to the resolution of the conflict over Palestine. I might as well keep my mouth shut and get some sleep. What's more, once the expression 'anti-Semite' hits the air, or, heaven forbid, the sacred formula 'six million' is uttered, then I know from bitter experience that there is not one manager or editor in the country who will defend an underling. We are thrown to the jackals. In the end the truly tolerant have no defence against intolerance. I surrender. To the Zionists I say: you win. To the Palestinians: forgive my cowardice." (I surrender, Generation, September 1992)
I also hope that Carlton will not be thrown to the jackals. The resistance to lobby pressure shown thus far by the editor of The Age should serve as an example to the editor of The Sydney Morning Herald:
"[Zionist Federation of Australia president Philip] Chester said an article that appeared on the front page of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald appeared to pit 'Muslims against Jews' and put the safety of local Jews at risk. He expressed unhappiness with what he felt was a lack of response from The Age to concerns. 'I telephoned Paul Ramadge, the editor of The Age, to explain that from the point of view of our community, that article should never have found its way into The Age and that he once again has to take responsibility for the fact that what they put in the Melbourne Age impacts upon the safety and security of the Jewish community in Melbourne. 'Let me make it abundantly clear. The editor of The Age neither took my call, nor has he returned my call', Chester said. (Community turns out to hear facts, Australian Jewish News, 11/6/10)