When was the last time you saw a decent documentary on the contemporary Middle East on the ABC? The last I recall was screened as long ago as 2003 (Israel's Secret Weapon)! All we ever seem to get these days are wildlife, ancient history, or World War II.
But the government broadcaster hasn't just been playing it safe. This year saw it engage in a bizarre process of literally fending off a push to have an Australian doco on Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories screened. (See my 11/11/10 post Words Behind Words)
It's not as if the absence of documentary meat is the only evidence we have for what seems to be the adoption of a deliberate policy of not frightening the horses. How's this for an admission?
"The ABC managing director, Mark Scott, has told an audience of film and television producers that the way he had been able to secure additional funding was by convincing the government the national broadcaster was working in its interests." (ABC chief tells how to win funds & influence people, Karl Quinn, Sydney Morning Herald, 18/11/10)
And if we have a government that seems constitutionally incapable of sensibly distinguishing between the national and the USraeli interest, is it any wonder that the 'B' in ABC can only stand for 'bland'?
I wish I could say though that that's as bad as it gets, but I can't. The ABC has reached the sad point where it is now deliberately promoting Israeli propaganda:
We got our first inkling of what's afoot when we learned, in October, that the ABC's political editor (and co-anchor of the coming post-Kerry O'Brien 7.30 Report), Chris Uhlmann, was to join a 17-member politico-media caravan to Israel led by Zionist lobbyist Albert Dadon and set to depart this month.
The climactic moment of this mass rambamming was reported to be a ceremony at Yad Vashem to honour Aboriginal activist William Cooper, promoted by Dadon as the "only man in the world who had the courage to protest and stand up against Kristallnacht." (See my 25/10/10 post Record Rambam).
Dadon's attempt to co-opt Cooper's memory should, of course, be viewed in the context of the Israel lobby's strategy of courting indigenous Australian spokespersons in an effort to mask Zionism's assault on indigenous Palestinians. (See my 11/2/10 post Zionism Goes Native)
In a sign of things to come (?), The 7.30 Report ran an item on Cooper on December 1, featuring Dadon and insinuating familiar Zionist propaganda tropes:
"You look at the de-legitimization that Jews were subject to at the time and perhaps it took someone else else that was himself de-legitimized to recognise the humanity of those people." (Dadon)
"We, the Jewish people were people without land and the Indigenous people were able or could have their own land, but others prevented it." (Shmuel Rosenkranz)
Cooper, we were told, "will be honoured by an academic chair [in Studies of Resistance] established in his name [at Yad Vashem]."
To entertain the idea that this might include indigenous Palestinian resistance to Zionist dispossession, colonisation and apartheid would, of course, be to invite derision.
So far, however, the ABC's deliberate peddling of Zionist propaganda has been most evident on Radio National - on, of all things, The Science Show.
A headline in The Australian Jewish News of 26/11/10 said it all: The science of promoting Israel.
The AJN went on to report: "A series of ABC Radio programs is highlighting Israel's scientific credentials and achievements. Host of Radio National's The Science Show, Robyn Williams, recently visited Israel as a guest of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he interviewed more than 20 top scientists from both the university and elsewhere in Israel. The interviews are now being featured on the weekly program. 'I was delighted to be invited', Williams said, while praising the state of Israeli science. 'Innovation is going brilliantly... and much to my surprise, an awful lot of the research being done is not necessarilly that which relates to the country's own immediate need'. Scientists in Israel are working on diverse projects including diabetes and HIV research, nanotechnology and fish farming in Uganda. Williams is the first ABC Radio journalist in what businessman Leon Fink, who has instigated and financed several initiatives to promote Israel's scientific achievements, hopes will be a continuing program. Fink said he established the program in response to negative press the Jewish State had received recently."
So far, in this series on what Williams calls "Israeli science," we've been treated to a nanotechnologist who talks of seeing "nano Stars of David" under his electron microscope, a Palestinian scientist "working in Israel" who gives the thumbs down to BDS, a scientist who is "helping the starving children of Uganda to eat," and an item on the Einstein archive at the Hebrew University in which we were informed of exhibitions in "Jewish museums in Sydney and Melbourne" which focussed on the great atheist's "Jewish identity**."
[*See my 16/11/10 post Oh Puh-lease! ;** Just how tiresome Einstein took the business of identity politics emerges in a review of the 7th volume of his collected papers: "One of his first attempts to sum up relativity for the layperson appeared in an article for The Times on November 28, 1919. An earlier issue of the paper referred to Einstein as a 'Swiss Jew', prompting a witty analogy: 'By an application of the theory of relativity to the taste of readers, today in Germany I am called a German man of science, and in England I am represented as a Swiss Jew. If I come to be regarded as a bete noire, the descriptions will be reversed, and I shall become a Swiss Jew for the Germans and a German man of science for the English!" ('With fame I become more stupid', PD Smith, The Guardian, 31/8/02)]
I'll leave you with some "Israeli science" I very much doubt will be getting a look-in on The Science Show. How about the Hebrew University's Talpiot program, for example:
"[T]he program... operates mostly out of view. During a rare recent visit to the classified program, housed on the Hebrew University campus... officials would not disclose the work done during the military phase of the program and identified cadets only by their first initials... Each year, the program selects the most prominent high school graduates in science and submits them to 3 years of grueling study, paid by the government, followed by 6 years of paid service in the military... [But] instead of serving in combat units, Talpiot graduates are charged with improving the armed services through technological innovation. Some of the cadets delivered. Avi Loeb, who entered Talpiot in the early 1980s, developed a way to make projectiles travel at more than 10 times existing speeds... Another Talpiot innovation came from Amir Beker... During his military service under Talpiot in the late 1980s, Mr Beker learned that Israeli helicopter pilots were suffering from severe back pain from vibrations during flight. To build a better seat, he first had to determine how to measure the effect of vibrations on the human vertebrae. Together with a Talpiot classmate, Mr Beker led a team that installed a custom seat in a helicopter simulator, cutting a hole in its backrest. Training a pen on a pilot's back, the team used a high-speed camera to photograph the marks caused by a range of vibrations. The researchers analyzed the computerized data to come up with a way to redesign the seats." (How an elite military school feeds Israel's tech industry, Christopher Rhoads, The Wall Street Journal, 6/7/07)
Just imagine the sparkling repartee if ever Robyn Williams were to get within cooee of these blokes:
Robyn Williams: Jeez, Avi, enabling the IDF to take out Palestinian civilians 10 times faster must have been an enormously satisfying achievement?
Avi Loeb: Yes, Robyn, but one can't rest on one's laurels. I'm now working on making our projectiles 1,000 times faster!
Robyn Williams: Amaaazing!
Avi Loeb: Yeah, ain't it though.
Robyn Williams: Strewth, Amir, imagine how much more comfortable it must be now for those helicopter pilots firing their 10-times faster Hellfire missiles at Palestinian civilians.
Amir Beker: And don't forget the collateral benefits, Robyn - a surefire cure for Palestinian back pain too.
Robyn Williams: Pure genius, Amir!
Amir Beker: High fives, Robyn!
Oh, yeah... and I'd like an interview with the Israeli scientists who invented the 'skunk bomb'.