Some choice excerpts from Pro-Israel advocates in Australia targeted three journalists, new book claims (Amanda Meade, 29/7/17):
*Lyons, Sophie McNeill (ABC) and Peter Cave (ABC) "were subjected to consistent pressure from the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC)." AIJAC "prepared dossiers on Cave and other ABC reporters 'and sent them to like-minded journalists and members of parliament'."
*Lyons "says the former editor of the Weekend Australian Nick Cater refused to publish [Lyon's] work and the pro-Israel lobby bombarded editors with criticism of his reports. 'I phoned Cater and he confirmed that he'd asked for my work to no longer appear in the Inquirer... I let [editor-in-chief Chris] Mitchell know that... the exclusion from the Inquirer was just the latest in a long series of disagreements with Nick Cater... he intervened and told Cater that excluding me from the Inquirer was not acceptable."
*"Lyons writes that an Israeli embassy official was invited by Cater to the Australian's head office in Canberra, and told editors that the embassy was not happy with them. 'To me the idea of an officer of a foreign government wandering the floor of my newsroom criticising me was outrageous'."
*"In 2015, AIJAC sent a file on McNeill to Jewish members of the ABC board, including the then chairman James Spigelman, and this file claimed among other things that she was unsuitable because she had said 'one of the saddest things I've seen in my whole life is spending time filming in a children's cancer ward in Gaza'." The then ABC managing director Mark Scott ordered a detailed response from corporate affairs, which he took to the board. 'I will not cower to the AIJAC,' Scott said, according to Lyons. Scott was also forced to defend McNeill from attacks at Senate estimates after the dossier was sent to key parliamentarians."
*"Lyons writes that AIJAC director Colin Rubenstein had unprecedented access to the Australian, speaking regularly to editors and even suggesting articles the paper should run... Mitchell, who was supportive of Lyons, later told him that Rubenstein would go behind his back and call Cater if he refused to take his call, Lyons writes."
*"Lyons argues that Australian journalists should not accept the trips to Israel organised by the lobby - 'During my time in Israel I would come to believe that Australia's uncritical support of Israel is both illogical and unhealthy,' he writes. 'For more than 20 years, Australians have read and heard pro-Israel positions from journalists, editors, politicians, trade union leaders, academics and students who have returned from the all-expenses-paid Israel lobby trips. In my opinion, no editors, journalists or others should take those trips: they grotesquely distort the reality and are dangerous in the sense that they allow people with a very small amount of knowledge to pollute Australian public opinion'."