The ailing Nine Network (Australia) current affairs programme 60 Minutes delved into the realm of fantasy and naked propaganda when it aired a piece presented by Allison Langdon entitled “Unholy War: Inside the Jewish Settlements on the West Bank”.
Sixty Minutes was once a bright star on Australian television’s current affairs horizon winning much critical acclaim, five Silver Logie Award, one Special Achievement Logie, and nominations for a further six Logie awards in its 35-year history but lately, its quality has nosedived and with it, its ratings. I gave up watching a while ago and confess I didn’t see last weekend’s airing but I knew something was up when my Facebook newsfeed went ballistic with friends complaining about its biased reporting. With this in mind, I tried to watch and to be as objective as possible in order to give Langdon a chance.
From the outset, it was obvious that her original objective was to tell a story about Israelis living in the West Bank but events in Gaza overtook her and possibly made it necessary for her to bring that situation into the equation. The result was a very muddle-headed excursion into a complex area that made very little sense in the end.
That there is a connection between what is happening in the West Bank and the current events in Gaza is not disputed but Langdon failed to come to grips with the fact that while there is a possibility (albeit an outside one in the short term) of a resolution of the conflict with the Palestine Authority there is no chance of that happening with Hamas which wants to eliminate Israel and the Jews but that wasn’t considered worthy of a mention. Nor did Langdon consider it worth making mention of the Hamas network of tunnels which has played such a major role in the current fighting. These are the tunnels that were constructed at a cost of millions of dollars and hundred of young Palestinians who died working on their construction; tunnels which required tonnes of concrete and other material to be diverted from their intended use for housing, schools, hospitals and the development of a peaceful civil society for warlike ends.
To omit these facts is to totally distort the conflict. It allows the Israelis to be painted as the bad guys and Hamas and other terrorist groups like boy scouts. And bad guys they are in Langdon’s little world, whether it’s on one part of the Palestinian territories or the other.
She interviewed four people in order to get that viewpoint across; one Arab and three Israelis, none of which represented mainstream Israeli society. By that I mean the great majority of people in the land – Jewish and Arab – who simply want to live their lives out in peace.
The Palestinian family she interviewed were relatives of Mohammed Abu Kadir, who was allegedly murdered by Jewish extremists in response to the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens. The first thing the mother said was that the Israelis were fighting against people with no weapons, that they were trying to get rid of as many Palestinians as they could. Despite decades of peace talks intertwined with intifadas and fighting where there have been numerous instances of Palestinians using weaponry, including munitions, bombs, mortars and deadly missiles (how much vision of that have we seen on our screens in the last three weeks alone?) Langdon made no effort to challenge the obvious lie but rather, inanely uttered, “do you think that’s true?”, eliciting the predictable response, “I know that’s true, I’m living through it”.
But was this woman really living through it?
The family lives in the USA, not in Israel, the West Bank or Gaza which is who Langdon should surely be talking to if you want to inform your audience of what’s happening in the region. Perhaps a home grown Palestinian mother like Amar Abu-Eisha’s mother, who told reporters that if her son was responsible for the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers, she would “be proud of him till my final day”. To carry the story forward to a logical and consistent conclusion, she might also have spoken to another mother whose child was murdered. Perhaps, Rachel Frankel, mother of Naftali Frankel z”l, kidnapped and murdered by Palestinian terrorists. Would it not have shed some light on the true heart of Israel’s Jews by referring to the words of Naftali’s uncle on hearing of the death of Mohammed Abu Kadir: “If the Arab youth was murdered because of nationalistic motives then this is a horrible and horrendous act. There is no difference between (Arab) blood and (Jewish) blood. Murder is murder. There is no forgiveness or justification for any murder,”
Langdon went on to mention that this current conflict was sparked by the four murders making “this war unstoppable”. The truth however, is that rockets have been fired at Israeli civilians from Gaza non-stop for many years now. The murders only led to an increase in the amount of rockets Hamas fired and, in the twenty-four hours before this operation began, Hamas fired 40 rockets into Israel.
Langdon then moved on to report on life in the West Bank, which seems to follow a very specific narrative of occupation, stolen land and apartheid. Without backing up her claims, she begins by saying that Israel apparently “carved out” land between the Palestinian territories. Israel was not created within a vacuum. The 1948 partition plan called for the creation of an Arab state and a Jewish state (one of the first 2 state solutions, if you like). The Jews accepted the plan and called their nascent State, which was situated on part of the original Palestine Mandate, “Israel”, the Arabs rejected it and, as a result there was no Palestinian Arab State with Gaza coming under Egyptian control and the West Bank became a part of Jordan (itself formerly part of the Palestinian Mandate).
I am sure there is a handbook with various propaganda ploys concocted by the Israel-bashing network which requires the Palestinian side to always be depicted as placid, helpless victims (and never as terrorists) while the Israeli side must be represented by the extremes of its society. Langdon followed the handbook with perfection, bringing in settlers David Wilder and David Ha’ivri, both of who take such an extreme stance in relation to the Palestinians that they in no way present anything that remotely is representative of Israeli society. This brought us to Hebron, an area which she falsely claimed that Palestinians were “forced out of” (and failed to mention that as far back as 1929, 67 Jews were murderer by Arab rioters thereby ethnically cleansing the area of its Jews because many of the remainder fled for their lives)
Suddenly, the screen cut to Hamas indiscriminately firing rockets from Gaza and a declaration, “Israel says it must defend itself and does so with overwhelming force”. It should be patently obvious that Israel has a right to defend itself in such circumstances. How many rockets would Langdon tolerate before demanding that her government should retaliate? Does she really think that investing millions on the Iron Dome and building shelters to minimise its own civilian casualties takes away from the fact that every single one of rocket fired against it was fired with murderous intention?
The overwhelming force meant in her words that “Gaza is getting hammered”. No mention of the precise strikes that Israel has carried out from the air. No mention that they sent in ground troops which is far more risky in order to minimise civilian casualties. No mention how Israel warns Gazans to leave while Hamas bullies them to stay. None of this seemed relevant for her narrative.
Back in the West Bank for the next player in the Israel-bashing handbook, an Israeli who supposedly balances the narrative – Langdon’s “voice of reason”, Hagit. She gave her own insight into the security fence depicted by Langdon as a “wall” which is untrue because more than 95% of it is fence and an effective barrier to keep suicide attackers out of the country. Then Langdon somehow forgot to inform her views that the concrete part of the wall was there to protect Israelis from snipers. The wall was there apparently to separate Israel’s illegal settlements from Palestinians who actually own the land – nothing to do with the violence and murder we saw on our news screens during the violent, murderous Palestinian riots in recent decades.
They then stood beside some roads and Langdon talked about how they were “segregated roads” that revealed the “apartheid nature” of Israel. She provided no context for these roads either other than to suggest that Israelis can safely travel on roads above while Palestinians travel underground. The Israeli only roads are for all Israelis, including Israeli Arabs, and were put there not to segregate, but in order to once again, protect Israelis against the same violence Langdon ignored throughout most of what was now becoming a clearly one-sided piece of work.
So all of this funnels into Hamas which rules Gaza.
Gaza. Not the West Bank where she is reporting about but Gaza, the enclave that is being run by a terrorist organisation proscribed by the US, UK, the EU and Australia just to name a few. Now she was ready to talks about extremist on both sides and the innocent victims in between, all of which makes the possibly of a 2 state solution even more remote.
Israel has made peace with Egypt and Jordan, both were once hostile enemies of Israel, so we know Israel is capable of making peace with her neighbours. Additionally, Israel uprooted 8,000 citizens from Gaza ensuring that not a single Israeli remained there, and therefore demonstrating that they were capable of making painful concessions for the sake of peace. When Israel evacuated Gaza, they left behind hothouses, synagogues and an entire civil infrastructure of beautiful farms and fields which could have been used as a basis to build a wonderful country. Instead, Hamas took hundreds of millions of dollars and built tunnels and an enormous amount of weapons, money that could have been spent building, schools, hospitals and mosques.
Langdon missed the opportunity to inform us that Hamas hides rockets in UN buildings, that they often misfire rockets which land within Gaza and kill its own civilians. No mention of where all of the weapons for Hamas came from – places like Iran, or that the Iranians want to arm the West Bank’s Palestinians with the same rockets so that it will be easier to fire on Tel Aviv and Haifa.
For all of her talk about moderate Israelis and Palestinians that do want peace, she did not talk to a single one making her unholy war, an unholy mess and a resounding victory for the forces of true evil in the region.
Media & Advocacy Director
Zionist Federation of Australia