"Four journalists who participated in the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies' Journalist Mission to Israel reported back to the community on Tuesday night." (Israel trip journos report back, The Australian Jewish News, 7/12/12)
Hm, so what exactly did these intrepid souls discover in the home of the IDF coward and the land of the unfree Palestinian?
The Daily Telegraph's national political editor, Simon Benson, who, were are informed, "received the biggest applause" from the assembled believers, presumably for such staggering revelations as this:
"The difference is that one side fires indiscriminate rockets into civilian populations with the express intent on terrorising people or killing them. The other side seeks to defend itself and makes mistakes and kills innocent civilians." (For further news of Simon's stellar career as a reporter of every twitch of the Israeli nerve as their sun was literally blotted out by nuclear-armed Palestinian ICBMs recently, simply click on the SB label below.)
Sky News presenter Brooke Corte, mere inches from those indiscriminate Hamas rockets, took a break from being terrorised or killed by Hamas rockets just long enough to gush:
"On the bus fleeing Beersheva trying to get out of the rocket range, I logged into my Twitter and watched the propaganda war between Hamas and Israeli officials unfold in real time. To be in that situation and watch how the two sides covered that on Twitter in real time as it was happening was a truly unique experience."
Boring, but so typical of the younger generation of twitterati! For example, just compare Brooke's limp 15 November tweet - "In northern Israel today looking across Lebanon and Syria. Beautiful and yet a little close for comfort" - with the literary flair and drama of the 40-something rambamee Peter Phelps MLC's 16 July tweet: "Just peered into Gaza, now I know how Frodo felt when he first gazed upon Mordor." (See my 20/7/12 post Frodos Gaze Upon Mordor.) See what I mean?
Sydney Morning Herald's Saturday edition editor, Judith Whelan, apparently a victim of the dreaded Jerusalem syndrome, poor thing, said that "since she has returned from her trip, every dinner conversation at home with her children has focused on Israel. Whelan, who spent a lot of time reading and studying the Bible in her youth, said Israel is a unique country. 'While standing on the Mount of Olives, I looked down at the huge Jewish cemetery, down the other side a huge Christian cemetery, and then a huge Muslim cemetery. And there, on the Mount of Olives, even in death you have this immense longing for this place. It is the holiest of places for three religions. Can we be surprised that it is constantly fought over?"
Surely proof, if needed, that thinking straight is often in inverse proportion to the mind's religious clutter. (For Whelan's thankyou note to the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, see my 19/11/12 post Israel Lobbyist Asks: Why do we bother?.)
Now to the biggest of the JBoD's catch - Michael Ebeid, managing director of SBS. Young Michael, I remind you, was at the centre of the storm over SBS's decision to screen the British drama, The Promise, in November-December last year. In particular, he was assailed on the subject during a senate committee hearing by a gaggle of Israel's useful parliamentary fools (Senators Ryan, Fifield & Kroger). (See my 1/3/12 post In Senate Estimates They can't Hear You Scream.)
One would have thought that, after being forced to defend the public's basic right to watch The Promise and make up its own mind about it from a concerted and sustained attack by elements of the Israel lobby, he'd be wise to the buggers. But no, they got him in the end and packed him off to Israel for reprogramming.
A faint taste of what he'd been through with the lobby, however, can still be detected in his report-back from the experience. After first "reflect[ing] on Israel's great [!] democracy," Ebeid is quoted thus in the AJN:
"'My final general observation is that within Israel there seems to be more varied opinions and moderate views on Palestinian issues than what I've tended to see in Australia. But while I found Israelis do tend to have thick skin, often in the Diaspora community they tend to have a heightened sense of sensitivity around how Israel is portrayed here, and I think this is understandable because often the media is very black and white about how they present the issue.'"
Certainly, since the screening of The Promise nothing has appeared on this subject on SBS television that I'm aware of. Can we, therefore, conclude that Ebeid's rambamming was successful? The only other evidence we have that this may be the case comes from his tweets, which, I'm sorry to say, are hardly encouraging:
On 14 November he saw fit to retweet this typically thuggish threat from IDFSpokesperson: "We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead."
On the same day he tweeted: "Here is a great report by @simonbenson who I was with today in Sderot near Gaza." Simon Benson, for God's sake!
On 16 November he tweeted: "Being in Israel [this] week has reaffirmed my high respect for journalists who travel the world's hot spots to bring us the news." Of the heat in Gaza - nothing!
On 17 November he breaks into fluent Israeli with: "A video explaining the tactics Hamas terrorist group uses in Gaza. Sadly Palestinian people caught in the middle."
Finally, on 18 November, a killer tweet which reveals Ebeid's essential shallowness like no other: "Over Israel vs Hamas? Then switch over to SBSTWO at 11pm for Brazil vs Spain Futsal WC Final."
Fair dinkum, it's enough to make you weep.