It's sometimes difficult to know just where a ms media interviewer is coming from.
Take Radio National's James Carleton, for example.
His ABC bio bills him as "specialising in national and international politics, especially the Middle East." I assume this means he has at least some knowledge of the modern Middle East.
Now you'd think that a feeling, thinking individual with more than just a passing knowledge of today's Middle East and its historical antecedents couldn't possibly be anything other than an anti-Zionist, right?
Yet, when it comes to the subject of Israel, there's barely a hint of criticism, let alone anti-Zionism, in Carleton's interviews. I can only conclude, therefore, that either his knowledge of the issue simply isn't up to the task, or that he believes that playing the devil's advocate is what interviewing is really all about, or both.
In any case, he's so damn irritating.
You might recall his interview with George Galloway last year, which you can read about in my 16/7/13 post Our ABC Owned.
Now consider the questions he addressed to Bishop George Browning of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) on the subject of the Abbott government's terminological tangle over OCCUPIED East Jerusalem on Radio National's Breakfast program on June 17:
Q1: "But isn't this really a semantic argument because on the ground we have the PLO [sic] on the West Bank now forming a unity government with Hamas in Gaza and recently as April Hamas said 'We will not recognise Israel. This is a red line that cannot be crossed.' He's not talking about East Jerusalem, he's talking about Israel proper, Tel Aviv, Haifa."
So? Does Carleton seriously expect a Palestinian, any Palestinian, to say: I accept that my ancestral homeland is now someone else's ancestral homeland?
Q2: "Yeah, but... suburbs like Gilo in Israel will become part of Israel. IOW the places that are so-called occupied now will become part of Israel by Palestinian agreement presumably. There'll be land swaps so doesn't that make this argument somewhat academic?"
Gilo is not in Israel. It's an illegal settlement built on Occupied Palestinian land. And what is this "so-called occupied land" shit? Is Carleton trying to channel Senator Brandis, or does it just come naturally?
Q3: "Quite right, and your position, correct me if I'm wrong, is dead in the middle, namely that there are two valid narratives in terms of Jerusalem. If you're a Palestinian, you're dispossessed from your East Jerusalem home, it's an occupation. If you're an Israeli Jew who's been expelled by Jordan in 1948, it's a disputed territory. Both narratives have their place."
An "Israeli Jew who's been expelled from Jordan in 1948"? Is Carleton for real? And just look at that last sentence: "Both narratives have their place"!!!
You'd think Carleton was a spokesman for - how shall I put it? - an 'ABC Israel Advocacy Network'.
OK, it may be difficult to work out where some ms media interviewers are coming from, but not, I feel, in Carleton's case.