Aussie lawmaker attacks national broadcaster over perceived anti-Israel bias

SYDNEY (JTA) – A Jewish lawmaker in Australia used taxpayer money to pay for ads criticizing alleged anti-Israel bias by the state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC).

Michael Danby took out two half-page ads in The Australian Jewish News saying that Jerusalem correspondent Sophie McNeill in her reporting on a West Bank terrorist killing in July dehumanized its victims – three members of the Solomon family – by not naming them. 

By contrast, he noted, members of a Palestinian family, the Shamasnehs, who were evicted from their home in eastern Jerusalem were mentioned by name.

Danby justified the use of taxpayers’ money to make them aware of the government-funded ABC’s bias. However, Danby said the leader of the Labour Party, Bill Shorten, made the point when the two met “that ads weren’t the most subtle way of communicating the message.”

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

Danby represents Melbourne Ports, home to a large Jewish community.

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

However, Danby’s office told JTA that the ads were approved by Parliament.

“Michael Danby’s office has confirmed that the advertisement about the ABC coverage advert has already been submitted and approved by parliament as being within guidelines,” a Parliament spokesman said.

Anton Block, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said Danby was correct in pointing out the disparity in coverage, saying McNeill “personalized what happened to the Palestinian family and named them, but did not do likewise for the Jewish family.”

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