> Israel > Media Objectivity

Media Critique #31: Moral Absurdity Downunder

May 9, 2009 | by

"60 Minutes" in Australia justifies suicide bombings and denying Israel's right to self-defense.

The "moral equivalency" mantra is getting heavy airplay these days. In Australia, one of the highest-rated TV shows, "60 Minutes," recently broadcast a program entitled, "Human Bombs." Presenter Richard Carleton, who produced two previous anti-Israel segments, fills his segment with warped moral equivalency.

View a transcript of "Human Bombs" at:

Please use the following points as a basis for sending comments to the Australian Broadcast Corporation at:

* * *

[Point 1] Carleton suggests that suicide bombers are "justified," because "those who fought for the establishment of the State of Israel did exactly the same thing."

Carleton makes the classic mistake of lacking clear definitions between a terrorist and a freedom fighter.

Freedom fighters respect the freedom of everyone -- my freedom and your freedom equally. Terrorists want to wipe out the other side completely.

Consider this:

Those who fought for the establishment of Israel did not urge the wholesale massacre of Arab civilians and the destruction of their holy places. Nor did Israeli schools, textbooks and official media promote blind hatred of all Arabs. Nor did Jewish maps show a Middle East wiped clean of all Arabs. Nor did Jewish clergymen depict Arabs as "the sons of monkeys and pigs," and as a fascist horror that God wanted them to destroy.

Do you see the difference?

Further, freedom fighter would attack government institutions; a terrorist attacks civilians. There can be no argument that Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah, and Arafat's Tanzim are terrorists by their own definition. They proclaim from the mosques and rooftops how they wish to kill every Jewish man, woman and child they can lay hands on. And they do -- with drive-by shootings, mortars, bombing of school buses, lynching in caves, and suicide bombings of discos and pizzerias.

Is the difference clear?

* * *

[Point 2] Carleton sympathetically portrays 22-year-old Sa'id Hutari, the suicide bomber who murdered 21 Israelis at the Tel Aviv disco. According to Carleton, the bomber's father says "his son was a quiet, happy boy." Carleton encourages viewers to "imagine yourself" as "the father of a Palestinian bomber, a boy with nothing to live for... To the Palestinians... they're glorious heroes."

We recall a 1997 Time Magazine report on the Timothy McVeigh trial. A character witness testified: "If you don't consider what happened in Oklahoma, Tim was a good person." Time's response: "When the prosecution's star witness in the Oklahoma City bombing trial made this observation about his close friend Timothy McVeigh a few weeks ago, he provoked gasps and nervous laughter in the courtroom. The remark was absurd -- an amazing, morally obtuse Yogi Berra-ism."

When it comes to Carleton's portrayal of Palestinian suicide bombers, I believe it is fair to make the same criticism.

* * *

[Point 3] "60 Minutes" demonstrates more bias in discussing the Israeli policy of pre-empting terrorist strikes. In an interview with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Carleton declares: "[Y]ou've taken it upon yourselves to engage in summary execution without trial and without producing evidence."

Peres responds: If someone was coming to kill you, wouldn't you kill him first?

Carleton answers: No, I'd wait until I could gather enough evidence.

Peres: "But he will kill you before you have the chance to produce evidence."

Carleton ignores the obvious logic, turns to the camera, and smugly declares: "Israel's self-issued license to kill attracts world condemnation."

* * *

[Point 4] Predictably, "60 Minutes" allows a Palestinian to get in the final word. After Peres points out that Israel offered virtually all of the West Bank and Gaza -- which Arafat refused -- the segment closes with this bald-faced Palestinian lie: "Just give us our land back and we won't kill anybody."

I ask: If the only Palestinians goal is that Israel relinquish the West Bank and Gaza, why did the PLO begin its terrorist operations against Israel in 1964, years before the Israelis controlled any of the West Bank or Gaza? And why did Arafat reject Barak's offer of virtually the entire West Bank and Gaza last year at Camp David?

The answer is obvious: The Palestinians want the Jewish state destroyed completely.



When a reader complained to BBC about their failure to call Palestinian bombers "terrorists," BBC issued the following statement:

"The BBC World Service does not use the word terrorist or terrorism except in a direct quote. It extends to all conflicts and not just the Middle East. The reason is one of perception. One person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter."

You can use some of the ideas in [Point 1] of this comm, and write to:


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