(* With apologies to Monty Python's Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition...)
Now here's an interesting Q&A from Australians for Palestine's 2016 Media Symposium.
Stuart Rees is the former head of Sydney University's Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies. Maher Mughrabi is the foreign editor of The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald:
Stuart Rees: I want to ask you about courage and cowardice. What is required by journalists not to be so intimidated by the Israel lobby? Because compliance with the Israel lobby always looks to me like a form of cowardice. IOW, how do you develop the courage to resist this compliance?
Maher Mughrabi: My experience in dealing with Australian journalists who wander into the Middle East area unawares... the nature of the complaints, the extremely amped up nature of the conflict, the references to World War 2, to the Bible, to genocide, for a common-and-garden journalist who's not a specialist on the Middle East, are extremely frightening and alarming. And what is usually required at that point is not so much courage as knowledge. The standard of knowledge in newsrooms in this country about Islam and about the history of the Middle East is still far too low, and usually, if one of these people come running to me with his hands in the air going 'Look at this complaint I received!' the most important thing I can say to them is 'It's fine, you haven't done anything wrong. That's if you've seen what they've done. The problem is if you don't see what they've done. When it comes out of left field... But what I would say in general is that the first thing that people need is to make sure they check their facts, to make sure they know about what they're talking about... and then the courage is only the courage of knowing your on solid ground. What happens with these people is they're frightened they've missed something because they feel their knowledge is inadequate and that's a deeper problem than the Israel/Palestine problem, that's a problem about the culture inside newsrooms when it comes to dealing with foreign affairs."
What may we deduce from Maher Mughrabi's testimony?
That our journalists know bugger all about the Middle East and about foreign affairs in general. Surely, a damning verdict on our representatives of the fourth estate.
But if only that were it.
Far, far worse is the fact that Israel's fifth columnists in the West appear to have our journos well and truly spooked, with news rooms in a blind funk lest The Zionist Inquisition burst through the door.
Has the 'fearless investigative reporter' been replaced by the spineless investigative reporter?