Sometimes the introductory banter to a radio news item is more interesting than the item itself. Take, for example, ABC Radio National's Saturday Extra of May 21, which featured the segment, Views of Israel.
In it, presenter Geraldine Doogue introduced Robin Margo SC, one of two contributors, noting his connection with a new Jewish community organisation called +61j*:
Doogue: I'd like you to explain what +61j is because it's aimed at the Australian Jewish community and you regularly send online reminders to say me, to Radio National. How did it come about?
Margo: Geraldine, it started with focus groups in Melbourne and Sydney. The biggest survey of any diaspora Jewish community was undertaken by Monash University in 2008 and what it found on Middle Eastern issues was there was a wide range of views within the community from left to right with no great majority at any particular point, but that range was not being reflected in public conversation.
Doogue: Well in fact the other group, AIJAC which is perceived as a more conservative end, which has an exceptional information service that goes out to all the media. Honestly, were you trying to counter them?
Margo: Not at all. We want to broaden the conversation. AIJAC has some very liberal positions, for example on refugees** and other matters, and on other matters we've disagreed with them.
The first thing we learn here is that "all the media" receives/ is bombarded by Israel lobby propaganda. The question then arises: to what extent is it lapped up (by Doogue certainly) or ignored? In any case, here we have the fact of the matter confirmed - from the horse's mouth.
The second matter of interest is the pretense, on Margo's part, that, "on Middle Eastern issues" there is "a wide range of views within the community from left to right." This is, in fact, contradicted by the Monash University survey cited by Margo, which reveals a most extraordinary level of identification with Israel/ Zionism:
"It is common for visitors to Australia to comment on the strength of identification with Israel and Zionism within the Jewish communities. Thus Professor Oz-Salzberger, holder of joint professorial appointments at Monash (the Leon Liberman Chair in Modern Israel Studies) and Haifa Universities, recently observed: 'I am yet to find a single Australian Jew who is indifferent towards Israel. There is a level of proximity here that one cannot find amid British or American Jewry, where many individuals are unstirred by their Jewish ancestry, uninvolved with Israel or both. I like telling my Jewish-Australian friends that they are first cousins to us Israelis, while many other communities are second cousins at best.' (AJN, 5/6/09) Eighty per cent of respondents indicated that they regarded themselves as Zionist, while only 13% did not..." (Report Series on the GEN08 Survey Preliminary Findings Melbourne & Sydney, Markus/Jacobs/Aronov, artsonline.monash.edu.au)
Margo is perhaps relying on the statistic that indicates that 29% favour dismantling "all or most" West Bank settlements "as part of a permanent settlement." However, with 80% of respondents favouring the existence of a Jewish state, with all that that entails by way of continued second class status for non-Jewish Palestinian Israelis, and an ongoing refusal to allow Palestinian refugees expelled in 1948 to return home, Zionist hegemony over Australia's Jews indicates anything but a diversity of views. The very fact, for example, that Margo will venture no public criticism of AIJAC speaks volumes.
[*Includes *sigh* Philip Mendes; **Providing they're not Palestinian refugees.]