Senator Eric Abetz – Question about definition of anti-semitism

photo of Senator Eric Abetz
March 3, 2020

Questioned whether the ABC refers to and applies the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism.

Finally, is the ABC aware of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism?

Whole interaction with Mr David Anderson (Managing Director, ABC) during Senate Estimates (Environment and Communications Legislation Committee, Communications and the Arts Portfolio).

Senator ABETZ: Finally, is the ABC aware of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism?

 

Mr Anderson : I don’t know. I am not aware of that definition, but it could be that someone in the ABC is.

 

Senator ABETZ: Is it referred to at all by the editorial team? You’re the chief editor, are you not?

 

Mr Anderson : It hasn’t been referred specifically to me, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t referred to it amongst themselves.

 

Senator ABETZ: I encourage the ABC to learn about this definition and ascertain whether they might seek to apply it. I especially ask whether this definition was used to inform the publication of Salman Abu Sitta’s article on 15 January 2020, which in part claimed the state of Israel is a racist endeavour. That is up on our national broadcaster’s online service for all to read, without any sort of commentary. That sort of language is, according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism, actual anti-Semitism. It’s pretty ugly. I would have hoped and thought that the national broadcaster might ensure that that sort of stuff not be broadcast or published, and, if it were to be, that there would then at least be a very strong counter so that there would at least be some balance.

 

Mr Anderson : I am aware of that piece. Religion & Ethics do commission opinion pieces by others, for us to reflect a range of perspectives. There was a counter piece that was, I believe, commissioned a week later to put a different perspective.

 

Mr McMurtrie : It was from the director of public affairs at the Zionist Federation of Australia, and—

 

Senator ABETZ: Yes, but that was in response to this. They responded, saying, ‘This is pretty ugly. What are you doing?’ So you then gave, as I understand it, the right of reply. Surely the national broadcaster has an obligation from the get-go to provide the balance, because if the Zionist Federation would not have observed that which was on the ABC, it would have stood there without any point of view. That is what my concern is. If you can have a look that definition and see if that could be incorporated in editorial policy, I think it would be a very good move. Stacks of questions on notice are coming your way!

Link to full Hansard transcript.

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