Aussie lawmaker attacks national broadcaster over perceived anti-Israel bias

Henry Benjamin

SYDNEY (JTA) — A Jewish member of the Australian government advertised with taxpayer money perceived examples of anti-Israel bias in the media.

Michael Danby paid The Australian Jewish News to publish two half-page ads pointing out treatment differences on two stories reported by the Jerusalem correspondent of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Sophie McNeill.

Danby’s gripe, which was supported in print by one senior secular journalist, was the coverage of the murders of three members of the Solomon family recently by a terrorist as they sat down for their Shabbat dinner. McNeill’s story failed to name the Jewish victims which Danby claims to have dehumanised them.

Another report by McNeill on the eviction of a Palestinian family in East Jerusalem was pictorially enhanced with family members mentioned.


Danby met with leader of the Australian Labor Party Bill Shorten who “made the point that ads weren’t the most subtle way of communicating the message,” Danby said.

“I accept this was his view. I won’t be doing ads on the Jerusalem correspondent of the ABC in the future,” he added in a statement.

Danby has represented the electorate of Melbourne Ports since 1998 which is home to a large Jewish community and he justified the use of taxpayers’ money to make them aware of the government-funded ABC’s bias.

The ABC has strongly defended its correspondent who filed five stories of the Solomon murders.

However, Danby’s has told JTA that the ads were approved by Parliament. A spokesperson said: “Michael Danby’s office have confirmed that the advertisement about the ABC coverage advert has already been submitted and approved by parliament as being within guidelines.”

President of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry Anton Block said: “Michael Danby was correct in saying that Ms McNeill gave more coverage to the fact that the Palestinian Shamasneh family had been evicted from their home in East Jerusalem than it did to the fact that three members of the Jewish Solomon family were murdered by Islamists during a family meal in the West Bank.  She personalized what happened to the Palestinian family and named them, but did not do likewise for the Jewish family.”

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