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Media Critique #31: Moral Absurdity Downunder

Media Critique #31: Moral Absurdity Downunder

"60 Minutes" in Australia justifies suicide bombings and denying Israel's right to self-defense.


The "moral equivalency" mantra is getting heavy airplay these days. In Australia, one of the highest-rated TV shows, "60 Minutes," recently broadcast a program entitled, "Human Bombs." Presenter Richard Carleton, who produced two previous anti-Israel segments, fills his segment with warped moral equivalency.

View a transcript of "Human Bombs" at:

Please use the following points as a basis for sending comments to the Australian Broadcast Corporation at:

* * *

[Point 1] Carleton suggests that suicide bombers are "justified," because "those who fought for the establishment of the State of Israel did exactly the same thing."

Carleton makes the classic mistake of lacking clear definitions between a terrorist and a freedom fighter.

Freedom fighters respect the freedom of everyone -- my freedom and your freedom equally. Terrorists want to wipe out the other side completely.

Consider this:

Those who fought for the establishment of Israel did not urge the wholesale massacre of Arab civilians and the destruction of their holy places. Nor did Israeli schools, textbooks and official media promote blind hatred of all Arabs. Nor did Jewish maps show a Middle East wiped clean of all Arabs. Nor did Jewish clergymen depict Arabs as "the sons of monkeys and pigs," and as a fascist horror that God wanted them to destroy.

Do you see the difference?

Further, freedom fighter would attack government institutions; a terrorist attacks civilians. There can be no argument that Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah, and Arafat's Tanzim are terrorists by their own definition. They proclaim from the mosques and rooftops how they wish to kill every Jewish man, woman and child they can lay hands on. And they do -- with drive-by shootings, mortars, bombing of school buses, lynching in caves, and suicide bombings of discos and pizzerias.

Is the difference clear?

* * *

[Point 2] Carleton sympathetically portrays 22-year-old Sa'id Hutari, the suicide bomber who murdered 21 Israelis at the Tel Aviv disco. According to Carleton, the bomber's father says "his son was a quiet, happy boy." Carleton encourages viewers to "imagine yourself" as "the father of a Palestinian bomber, a boy with nothing to live for... To the Palestinians... they're glorious heroes."

We recall a 1997 Time Magazine report on the Timothy McVeigh trial. A character witness testified: "If you don't consider what happened in Oklahoma, Tim was a good person." Time's response: "When the prosecution's star witness in the Oklahoma City bombing trial made this observation about his close friend Timothy McVeigh a few weeks ago, he provoked gasps and nervous laughter in the courtroom. The remark was absurd -- an amazing, morally obtuse Yogi Berra-ism."

When it comes to Carleton's portrayal of Palestinian suicide bombers, I believe it is fair to make the same criticism.

* * *

[Point 3] "60 Minutes" demonstrates more bias in discussing the Israeli policy of pre-empting terrorist strikes. In an interview with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Carleton declares: "[Y]ou've taken it upon yourselves to engage in summary execution without trial and without producing evidence."

Peres responds: If someone was coming to kill you, wouldn't you kill him first?

Carleton answers: No, I'd wait until I could gather enough evidence.

Peres: "But he will kill you before you have the chance to produce evidence."

Carleton ignores the obvious logic, turns to the camera, and smugly declares: "Israel's self-issued license to kill attracts world condemnation."

* * *

[Point 4] Predictably, "60 Minutes" allows a Palestinian to get in the final word. After Peres points out that Israel offered virtually all of the West Bank and Gaza -- which Arafat refused -- the segment closes with this bald-faced Palestinian lie: "Just give us our land back and we won't kill anybody."

I ask: If the only Palestinians goal is that Israel relinquish the West Bank and Gaza, why did the PLO begin its terrorist operations against Israel in 1964, years before the Israelis controlled any of the West Bank or Gaza? And why did Arafat reject Barak's offer of virtually the entire West Bank and Gaza last year at Camp David?

The answer is obvious: The Palestinians want the Jewish state destroyed completely.



When a reader complained to BBC about their failure to call Palestinian bombers "terrorists," BBC issued the following statement:

"The BBC World Service does not use the word terrorist or terrorism except in a direct quote. It extends to all conflicts and not just the Middle East. The reason is one of perception. One person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter."

You can use some of the ideas in [Point 1] of this communique, and write to:


August 25, 2001

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Visitor Comments: 7

(7) paul spira, April 4, 2002 12:00 AM

Selective interviewing

60 minutes in Australia and the BBC regularly employ the device of broadcasting selelected interviews in promulgating their biased messages. With this technique it would be a very easy task to depict Nazi Germany as the victim of the second world war.

(6) Anonymous, September 1, 2001 12:00 AM

refute an editorial in the LA Times

This editorial in the LA Times needs to be refuted.

(5) Fred Le Vine, August 28, 2001 12:00 AM

Bigotry or bias

The Australian reporter is proof the both bigotry and bias exists throughout the world press.
I will wager that if the aboriginies of Australia were to do as the Palestinians are doing he would fight to defend himself

(4) Howard Cooper, August 28, 2001 12:00 AM

Offensive byline of PBS

Dear Friends:

I am attaching today's story featured on PBS's website: about Israel. I find it very jaundiced. They can't even tell the truth that the Palestinians have been firing from Beit Jalla into the neighborhood of Gillo in Jerusalem. Instead, it reads that the firing has been going into a " Jewish settlement," nevermind the rest of the biases in the story:

Israeli Tanks, Troops Occupy Palestinian Village
Israeli tanks and troops took up positions in the Palestinian-controlled town of Beit Jalla Tuesday, seeking to flush out Palestinian snipers. And while recent incursions by Israeli forces have been temporary, this time troops set no timetable for a withdrawal from the West Bank town.

One Palestinian was killed and 10 were wounded in a gun battle that erupted as the Israeli force moved into the village near Bethlehem early Tuesday. Sporadic firing continued throughout the day as soldiers took over five homes and an Israeli tank occupied the town square.

Israeli government officials said the incursion was not intended to be permanent, but that troops would stay as long as necessary.

Beit Jalla's Christian population moved out months ago and many of the buildings in the town are deserted.

Israel says Beit Jalla has been the source of Palestinian gunfire aimed at a nearby Jewish settlement, and at the road that runs below the village.

Tuesday's incursion followed more incidents of gunfire, Israel said. It came hours after an Israeli rocket attack in the West Bank city of Ramallah killed Abu Ali Mustafa, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Both sides traded blows during one of the bloodiest weekends of the 11-month conflict, including a raid on an Israeli military outpost that claimed the lives of three Israeli soldiers.

Israel stepped up security Tuesday in anticipation of a Palestinian response to the occupation of Beit Jalla.

Contents Copyright 2001, National Public Radio

(3) Paul Mendelsohn, August 27, 2001 12:00 AM

We are losing the battle

We are losing the public relations battle in the worldwide media and among worldwide political bodies as well.

The Arabs are much more organized and united than ever before. We are disunited in what course of action we want Israel to take.

This is a serious problem. Please keep on reporting like this complete with Points to make and email addresses. I copy your messages into MS Word, reformat them and send them out to the media. It is fast and easy and the least we can do.

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