Truth Tiptoeing through Antisemitism Minefield

By Vacy Vlazna

That an Australian Senate Complaints Committee will be holding a hearing in February on a complaint about the broadcaster SBS promoting antisemitism for its screening of Kosminsky’s The Promise is testimony to the egregious influence of the Zionist lobby in Australia.

The Promise dramatises the political upheaval in Palestine in the final period of the British Mandate and the Palestinian Nakba through the perspective of a British soldier and also the contemporary ongoing violence of the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine through the perspective of his grand-daughter.

Peter Wertheim, the executive director of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) wrote an epic 31 page complaint to the SBS Ombudsman maintaining it "promotes, endorses and reinforces demeaning stereotypes about Jews as a group." He makes a hackneyed comparison to the Nazi film ‘Jud Suss’ and takes a clichéd jump to a fantastic conclusion –

"The ancient libel that holds all Jews throughout history to be collectively guilty of killing Jesus has been segued into the equally ludicrous proposition that all Jews are collectively guilty of the wanton shedding of innocent blood, a staple of contemporary Palestinian propaganda."

Wertheim measures the series’ anti-Semitism from the standards of the "Working Definition of Antisemitism" developed by the EUMC in 2005 which extends the basic definition- that of the hatred and persecution of Jews – to the sanctioned deflection of any criticism of Israel i.e. "denying the Holocaust …. [and] lists ways in which attacking Israel could be antisemitic, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor, or applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation"[Wikipedia ]

It is ironic that Holocaust denial has been criminalised in many European countries and in Israel, yet in Israel, where thousands of holocaust survivors reside, Nakba denial – the denial of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine with its destruction of over 500 villages and forced deportation under the Zionist transfer plan of over 750,000 indigenous Palestinians by Zionist militia (deemed terrorists by Britain)- is state policy.

In 2009, the Israeli Education Ministry ordered the removal of the word ‘Nakba’ from a school textbook for Arab children.

In March 2011, the Knesset passed the Nakba law: "The Nakba law, once implemented, will make it illegal for public bodies, or agencies that receive funding from the State of Israel, to claim that Israel should not be a Jewish state, and that the practices of the government are not democratic. Furthermore the commemoration of ‘Nakba Day,’ the anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, following the Yishuv’s ethnic cleansing of the majority of indigenous Palestinians from what became Israel, has also been made illegal."

This month the Israeli High Court rejected a petition against this controversial ‘Nakba Law’.

The flurry of complaints about the screening of The Promise, in Australia and in Britain, is yet another facet of the Zionist Nakba denial campaign.

On 21 April 2011, the UK broadcast regulator Ofcom dismissed similar complaints in a 10 page report defending The Promise as a "serious television drama, not presented as a historical re-creation which would not incite crime, harm or prejudice against Jews."

The Promise is not antisemitic. Every enacted or alluded to historic event can be verified… the British attempts to stem Jewish immigration, the hanging of captured Jewish Irgun fighters and the demolition of their homes (a practise copied by Israel ); the Zionist Irgun terrorist attacks on the British forces  including The King David Hotel bombing and the massacre of the villagers of Deir Yassin, the forced expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians who still have no right of return….by historians such as in Israeli  Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine and Professor Adel Safty’s Might over Right.

In the drama’s 2005 setting, the suicide bombings by Palestinians, the Israeli refuseniks, the daily harassment of Palestinians by extremist colonists in Hebron, the demolition of Palestinian homes by Israeli Occupation Forces, the solidarity of Palestinian and Israeli peace activists are well documented.

The Promise fulfils standards of historic truth within its fictional frame and confirms that in the Palestinian tragic narrative, the past and the present are in a vicious grip of death, violence and hasbara.

Wertheim’s treatise on Israel’s history has the imprimatur of the Orwellian Ministry of Truth. According to him the justification for a Jewish state was the attempts by Palestinian and Arab forces to prevent it.  Wertheim, unlike reasonable persons, does not consider that such opposition is valid to the imposed colonisation and partition of Palestinian land. Likewise, when in 1939, Isaac Steinberg proposed a Jewish colony in the Australian Kimberley region it was rejected by the Menzies government on the grounds that it ran contrary to ‘the ideal of one Australian family of peoples, devoid of foreign communities.’

While Wertheim accuses Kosminsky of factual omission, he omits mentioning that Britain’s Balfour Declaration favouring the establishment of a Jewish homeland was illegal for it breached the terms of Mandate A which was the temporary administration of ex-Ottoman territories that "have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory" and equally that the United Nations had no legal mandate to partition foreign countries.

The Australian government and mainstream media, including SBS, though the ABC is worse, have shamefully capitulated to Zionist pressure to endorse a pro-Israel bias and the cynically fabricated antisemitic paranoia in Australia.

In 2010, the ABC withdrew its offer to acquire the pro-peace documentary, ‘ Hope in a Slingshot’ by Australian Inka Starfrace on the grounds of preserving its ‘commitment to impartiality’ which wasn’t a moral barrier to its screening of the duplicitous pro-Israeli propaganda ‘documentary’ Gaza – Collision Course (BBC’s Death in the Med) which presented Israel as the innocent victim of its own act of piracy and murder of 9 unarmed aid-workers on the Mavi Marmara flotilla. The ABC reckoned it ‘scrupulously balanced’ though eventually the BBC Trust Committee found three breaches – two related to accuracy, the other to impartiality.

Each victory of Zionist hasbara signifies that truth is abandoned and with it the Palestinian people are abandoned to systematic Israeli brutality which daily violates international law.

Hopefully the Senate Complaints Committee has the intelligence to throw out Wertheim’s absurd charge of antisemitism. 

(Peter Wertheim’s letter can be found here)

– Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 and was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001. She contributed this article to

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