The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) and Sydney-based Palestine Action Group (PAG) have condemned the Australian Jewish Association (AJA), political leaders and media outlets that distributed and reported on an inaccurately subtitled video claiming that protesters chanted particular phrases that potentially constituted a hate crime during a protest at the Opera House on 9 October 2023.
APAN and PAG’s condemnation comes after the NSW Police this morning confirmed that a months-long investigation showed there was no evidence that protesters chanted “Gas the Jews,” as was purportedly shown in a subtitled video distributed on social media by the AJA, a vehemently ant-Palestinian organisation.
APAN President Nasser Mashni said the outcome of this police investigation was a damning indictment of those individuals and outlets that used the inaccurate video to demonise protesters and clamp down on pro-Palestine protests.
“In the days and weeks after 9 October, we saw MPs at both state and federal levels and media outlets across the country use what has now been confirmed to be a deliberately inaccurate and maliciously subtitled video to sow discord and hate towards Palestinians and our supporters,” Mr Mashni said.
“We heard Opposition leader Peter Dutton call for people who chanted ‘Gas the Jews’ – a phrase this investigation has confirmed as false – to be deported.
“We heard our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister condemn protesters based on this video, and the NSW Premier Chris Minns use the video to create a sense of fear in the community, restrict the right to protest and ‘strengthen’ hate speech laws.
“And we’ve seen the mainstream media publish stories about this video, using it to smear people protesting in support of Palestinians, and to sow division and hate in our community.
“This has all caused very real harm and damage.
“The confirmation that this subtitled video was faked must compel every politician who relied on it to spread hate and fear to issue a public apology, and every media outlet that trumpeted it as part of their campaigns to discredit and vilify protesters to publish front-page corrections.”
Mr Mashni said the distribution of and misinformation about the doctored video damaged Australian social cohesion and undermined public confidence in the Australian media and political establishment.
“How can we trust our media and leaders when they uncritically amplify misinformation and unverified information like this?” Mr Mashni said.
“Today’s revelation, when added to the series of leaked WhatsApp chats showing malicious and targeted coordination by Zionist lawyers, creatives and academics, must spell a change of course for our media and politicians.
“It must surely mean they can no longer trust a word the AJA says, and must also mean that media and politicians make a point of independently verifying every statement issued by pro-Israel and Zionist lobby groups.
“The public expects our media and politicians to present us with accurate, credible information and this has been an appalling betrayal of that trust, which the public will not forget.”
PAG organiser Josh Lees said the false claims of antisemitism were used to silence critics and divert attention from Israel’s violations of international law in Gaza.
“Unfortunately, false claims of antisemitism are a common tactic use by those who support this racist state, including the current genocide being committed in Gaza, to try to silence critics and divert the discussion away from Israel’s crimes,” Mr Lees said.