For those of you who may have missed it, there was a horrendous piece on 60 Minutes (20th September) entitled Hate thy neighbour. If you only click on one link, let it be this one as here you will be able to view the clip and read the transcript of the piece.
There was a time when one expected a report on a reputable current affairs programme to have some balance and to view the issues from both sides of the equation. If you have such expectations, they will not be fulfilled by viewing the product of 60 Minutes reporter Liam Bartlett. As it was pointed out to me, one could not get through 30 seconds of his work without discovering a point made by him that was completely one-sided and quite frankly, ill-researched. Such reporting is blatantly irresponsible and totally unprofessional and one can only hope that this sort of reporting on any issue does not become the norm.
Bartlett travelled to the West Bank in order to show us what he claims is a “day in the life of the West Bank”. This would be fine, except a day in the life of Liam Bartlett’s West Bank takes an extreme element of Israeli society and makes them appear as the poster children of Israeli ideology; as he puts it, the West Bank is a place “where neighbourhood disputes are settled at the point of a gun”. Extremist Israeli guns that is!
There is a lot we can say about this point alone and about many of the others which Bartlett attempted to make with his shallow effort and this has been done very adequately in a comment from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. To read the comment, click here. The Zionist Council of Victoria has also officially responded – click here for President Dr. Danny Lamm’s letter to 60 Minutes.
I do not want to go over the same points but what I will say is that Bartlett’s assertion that this is a snapshot of a day in the life of the West Bank not only misrepresents Israelis, but it also does a disservice to the Palestinians of the West Bank.
There have been a number of recent examples on the progress in the West Bank over the past few years, particularly through grassroots co–operation between towns in Israel and the West Bank (see more here and here.) This is what many people describe as a sort of “quiet revolution” for which the Palestinian Authority’s security forces must take some credit for creating a deeper sense of personal security and economic potential in areas such as Nablus, Ramallah and most notably Jenin, a town which was once a hotbed of terrorist activity.
These are positive stories that Australians should be seeing instead of so-called exposes into a small minority of the more extreme elements of Israeli society – a minority that must be dealt with but which pales into insignificance when compared with the extremist side of Palestinian society. If one wants to help bring about peace and reconciliation between peoples, surely it would be helpful to expose the stories of hope and progress rather than to point fingers at a small minority within a small minority of the Israeli population?
Yet Bartlett and others of his ilk would like their audiences to believe that the biggest, and only, obstacle to peace is the issue of the settlements. There’s nothing new with that assertion but by adding his own editorial spin, Bartlett must think his viewers are idiots who are unable to make up their own minds if they were presented with the real truth. To the Bartletts of this world, the key to Middle East peace and prosperity: “The settlers will have to move out” as did the 9,000 Jewish settlers who moved out of Gaza in 2005 only for Israel to be met with thousands of missiles fired by Palestinian terrorists from the territory they vacated.
Eventually Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas (or their successors) will have to come to an agreement on the many issues that confront them but if the awkward handshake they staged a few days ago with the help of President Obama is anything to go by, these talks are still a long way off. Until that day, it is not up to Liam Bartlett to make bold assertions and present them as fact.
If history is anything to go by, then we know that it will take a lot more than just disengagement from settlements for true peace to prevail. Not a single Jew lives in the Gaza Strip today (apart from abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit) and yet that region is hardly a picture of peace and harmony. What needs to be done is some honest and frank negotiation from both sides of the table and painful concessions on both sides will have to be made.
Honest Reporting has picked up on this issue and provides a great analysis.