The Guardian and John Lyons accuse Australian Jews of ‘targeting’ journalists

Australian journalist John Lyons was among those in the media who, in 2014, leveled entirely false accusations that Israel sadistically tortured Palestinian children, abuse which purported to include whippings, beatings while tied to a cross and the practice of “caging Palestinian children outdoors”.  As CAMERA noted at the time, Lyon’s report for Australia Broadcasting Corporation’s (ABC) “Four Corners” was based entirely on uncorroborated Palestinian claims, and – in contravention of basic journalistic ethics – Israeli officials were never given the opportunity to respond to the charges.

Senior IDF officials later characterised accusations by Lyons as “completely fictitious”. 

Greg Sheridan, a colleague of Lyons at The Australian, referred to the Four Corners hit job on Israel as “a crude piece of anti-Israel propaganda that revived some of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes”. 

These false charges that Israel tortures Palestinian children resulted in a row between Lyons and Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), a group which advocates the interests of Australia’s Jewish community.  Echoing narratives that those who follow our blog would recognize, Lyons claimed in his 2014 op-ed at The Australian that AIJAC stifles criticism of Israel by bullying journalists, a narrative which he developed further in a book published this year which was the focus of a July 28th Guardian article by Amanda Mead.

The first sign that Lyons is going to receive sympathetic coverage from the Guardian is the headline:

It becomes clear in the article that the highly evocative term “targeting” refers to the evidently insidious practice of attempting to hold Australian journalists accountable to accurate reporting about Israel. Here are some of the ‘shocking revelations’:

Pro-Israel advocacy groups in Australia targeted the Middle East correspondent of the Australian newspaper and two ABC reporters, a new book claims. John Lyons says he was subjected to consistent pressure from the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) while based in Jerusalem for the Australian for six years, as were the ABC’s Sophie McNeill and the veteran ABC correspondent Peter Cave.

In his Middle East memoir Balcony Over Jerusalem, Lyons says Cave told him another group prepared dossiers on Cave and other ABC reporters “and sent them to like-minded journalists and members of parliament”.

Of course, “dossiers” in this context all but certainly refers simply to publicly available information, such as past examples of reports which were biased or inaccurate.

It gets better:

Lyons says pressure also came from inside his own paper. He says the former editor of the Weekend Australian Nick Cater refused to publish his work and the pro-Israel lobby bombarded editors with criticism of his reports.

Whilst we don’t know why Cater refused to publish Lyons’ work, note how he attempts to frame mere criticism of his reports by pro-Israel groups as something sinister.

Another putative example of intimidation cited in Lyon’s book was a 2015 file sent by AIJAC to Jewish members of the ABC board with information on ABC Middle East reporter Sophie McNeill – a file which evidently included examples of her egregious anti-Israel bias.  Lyons contextualized AIJAC’s criticism of McNeill as a line of attack “employed by lobby groups internationally”.  

The ‘conspiracy’ by AIJAC to influence media coverage of Israel then gets even deeper:

Lyons writes that AIJAC director Colin Rubenstein had unprecedented access to the Australian, speaking regularly to editors and even suggesting articles the paper should run.

However, “speaking regularly to editors” and “suggesting articles” are what lobbying and pressure groups – off all ideological persuasions – in a democracy do, and it’s hard to understand why Lyons would contextualise it as something improper or even sinister.

A final quote from Lyon’s book is telling:

“For more than 20 years, Australians have read and heard pro-Israel positions from journalists, editors, politicians, trade union leaders, academics and students who have returned from the all-expenses-paid Israel lobby trips. In my opinion, no editors, journalist or others should take those trips: they grotesquely distort the reality and are dangerous in the sense that they allow people with a very small amount of knowledge to pollute Australian public opinion.”

It’s remarkable that Lyons, who was so easily manipulated by Palestinian propagandists to believe entirely false charges that Israel tortures children, can criticise pro-Israel advocates for “grotesquely distorting the reality”.  But, that’s not the worst part. Lyons doesn’t simply state his passionate, reasoned disagreement with Australian Jews, but instead evokes toxic canards of Jewish control by suggesting that such journalists couldn’t possibly come to their pro-Israel conclusions independently, and that only through the nefarious workings of the Israel lobby can Australian public opinion become so “polluted” with pro-Israel positions.

The fact that the Guardian found Lyon’s conspiracy theory for pro-Israel attitudes in Australia credible would not come as a surprise to anyone even vaguely familiar with the media group’s record on issues pertaining to Israel and antisemitism.

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29 replies »

  1. However, “speaking regularly to editors” and “suggesting articles” are what lobbying and pressure groups – off all ideological persuasions – in a democracy do, and it’s hard to understand why Lyons would contextualise it as something improper or even sinister.

    Ah, but these are Jewish people who speak and suggest, and you know about Jewish people don’t you? All Cretans are liars, except Moyshe, and he is of course a Cretan. How old is that particular way of describing people?

  2. Remember, don’t travel to Israel yourselves. Trust the reporting of Lyons, Beaumont, Sherwood, Goebbels,,,

  3. Oh this is straight out of the Israel lobby playbook. Somebody says xyz did such and such. Xyz are Jewish.This becomes a claim that Jews do such and such. Antisemitic conspiracy theory.


      • This Bellamy thing manages to turn the definition of antisemitic conspiracy theory on its head, and yawns.
        He bores even himself.

      • Bellamy, you may be interested in attending the meeting – next Tuesday at 8pm – of the Elders. They’ll be discussing modifications to chapter 5 section 3 part b4 of the Playbook.

    • “Oh this is straight out of the Israel lobby playbook.”

      How interesting Stephen. If you at telling the truth you will have no problem in writing which chapter, or page, this is in this ‘playbook’.
      You do have a copy of this ‘playbook’, don’t you Stephen?
      I do not, nor indeed have I ever read such a ‘playbook’. So I would be grateful if you can inform me who wrote it, and who it is published by then I can order a copy from Foyles or Waterstones or Blackwells. IF this book exists one of those will have a copy.

        • Ok Stephen if the names of the writers are too numerous for you to write in a post. Then on the copy that you own there will be a publisher and ISBN No. they will be enough for me to order a copy of this book I want to read.

          • Gerald maybe you should think of as more like the Homeric poems. A kinda oral tradition. Also Waterstones don’t stock every playbook do they? I mean they don’t stock the Green Bay Packers playbook do they ?

            • So Stephen you do NOT have a copy of this alleged ‘playbook’
              You have NOT read a copy of this alleged ‘playbook’.

              It is something you have made up in your own imagination.
              It is also noticeable that yet again you are unable to answer direct questions and resort to attempts to divert attention away rather than answer direct questions.
              Poor little Stevie Bellamy caught again in another lie.

                • Little Stevie resorting to infantile insults when you are caught out in another lie, or unable to answer direct questions put to you may work in the playground of your infants school, but, in the adult world they do not work.
                  Grow up.

                • Gerald’s mental state is fine. He just rightly loathes you, which is not commensurate with having cognitive issues. Mostly it means he can read your shite posts and respond properly to them.

            • “I mean they don’t stock the Green Bay Packers playbook do they..”

              Stephen do you try hard to make yourself an ignorant clown or does it just come naturally to you?
              This is a link to the Waterstones site where they are selling Vince Lombardi’s Playbook.

              Now try very hard and see if you can guess which team Vince Lombardi was the legendary coach of?
              That is right little Stevie, the Green Bay Packers.

              • Not the same thing Gerald.

                Oh this is gratuitous cruelty I should be ashamed of myself. I guess I should put you out of your misery. Gerald its a metaphorical playbook.

                • No Stephen I am not in any misery.
                  Although I admit that highlighting the errors and downright lies in your posts is a very easy task. Making you look like a complete fool is very easy because Evolution, or God if you’re religious, made you a complete fool.

                  You are correct when you write “I should be ashamed of myself” Indeed you should, for all the lies, half-truths, distortions, factual errors, and infantile conspiracy theories you have posted here. But if you had any shame Stephen you would not be the anti-Semitic wassock you are.

  4. The people who cry about not being allowed to criticize Israel are the ones who perpetuate the notion that all negative feedback of the quality of their reporting can only possibly be conducted by a well oiled machine known as pro-Israel advocacy. Harrumphadeedumph.