Feb 13, 2011

#BDS: Boycott vote in Sydney suburb sparks media furor, death threats

"On 15 December 2010, the councilors of Marrickville, a suburb of Sydney, Australia voted by a 10-2 majority to support the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS). A month later, they have belatedly become the subjects of vilification in the press owned by international media proprietor Rupert Murdoch and death threats from Australia's lunatic fringe.

"What does the desert theocracy of Saudi Arabia have in common with Marrickville Council in Sydney's Inner West?" howls an article in Murdoch'sTelegraph, under a headline comparing the local authority to North Korea. The piece -- which manages to be factually inaccurate on subjects as diverse as kosher food laws and Palestine Liberation Organization factions -- goes on to hail Israel as "one of the most innovative and entrepreneurial countries in the world. Its products and inventions find their way into computers, mobile phones and medicines." The online version of the article seeks to demonstrate Israel's virtues by illustrating it with both a photo gallery of Israeli swimsuit model Bar Refaeli and a video of her writhing in the sand on a photo shoot.

"This is what passes for 'journalism' and commentary over Israel/Palestine in Australia," laments Antony Loewenstein, the Sydney-based author of Australian best-seller My Israel Question and co-founder of Independent Australian Jewish Voices. His blog also points out the inconsistencies and omissions in recent coverage of the incident by The Australian, supposedly a more serious paper than the TelegraphThe Australian quotes Anthony Albanese, a member of the Australian federal parliament whose constituency covers Marrickville council's turf. Albanese claims that "Foreign policy is a fair way outside the parameters of the role of Marrickville Council" and suggests that the local authority stick to "local" issues."

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