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David Marr, host of Media Watch at the time, describes AIJAC's conduct in relation to Justice Goldstone and the organisations' playing of the Australian media after the fact:
In October 2003 AIJAC released a report, SBS-TV and the Middle East, alleging systematic bias at SBS news and current affairs in relation to the Israel-Palestine conflict: 'A review of SBS current affairs reveals a decade-long pattern of favouring overwhelmingly anti-Israeli documentaries or material severely critical of Israel, no matter how biased or unreliable'.
Sol Salbe, a member of the Melbourne-based, progressive Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS), questions AIJAC's report, arguing that AIJAC's definition of what constitutes bias is 'essentially, any program that does not fit into its world view'.
This one is a good case in point as an example of what AIJAC does not say: 'The screening of the series in Israel caused considerable public controversy, including criticism from then Communications Minister Limor Livnat, for its largely negative focus.' All true, but the argument is disingenuous.
SBS management treated the AIJAC report seriously, ordering an investigation by the news and current affairs department and the policy section.
A senior SBS source later revealed to me what had occurred, providing a fascinating insight into the internal confusion about how to handle AIJAC's claims.
Following this, Martin threatened to resign unless his response to AIJAC was authorised, and Milan caved in.
I eventually received a bundle of documents that confirmed my suspicions: the vast majority of 29 letters of complaint submitted to SBS news and current affairs management about Middle East coverage were from AIJAC's Colin Rubenstein or other AIJAC staff, and all fit a similar pattern: SBS news reports 'lacked fairness and balance' and often contained 'political overtones'.
AIJAC found a handful of factual errors, but the vast majority of complaints related to journalism that challenged Israel's aggression in the occupied territories, supposedly positioned Israel as the aggressor in the conflict, or ignored Israel's consistent 'striving for peace'.
This was primarily the result of intense pressure from Zionist lobbyists at AIJAC and a handful of Liberal and ALP senators.
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