By Daphne Anson
As Australia’s publicly-funded national broadcaster, the ABC, Australia’s answer to the BBC, is like Al Beeb itself, obligated to be objective in its presentation of news and current events. Again like the BBC, it is dominated by leftists and a leftist mindset prevails in the dissemination and discussion of news items, with virtual impunity. Where the BBC has openly biased-against-Israel correspondents like Jeremy Bowen and Jon Donnison the ABC has the egregiously brazen journalist-activist Sophie McNeill.
One of the latest examples of the ABC’s bias can be seen in a very recent News 24 interview with the American-educated Palestinian filmmaker Mai Masri, who’s in Australia in connection with the Palestine Film Festival. What’s troubling about the interview is the partisan ambience of the news presenters (one in particular) in conducting the interview with Ms Masri, to the delight of anti-Israel groups like this one:
But it’s not the ABC’s anti-Israel bias with which this present post is primarily concerned, but rather a fresh source of on-screen activity.
It’s greatly to be hoped that the leaders of relevant Australian Jewish communal organisations are watching closely the development of an initiative that, if it goes ahead as planned, seems set to demonise Israel on screens in this country and elsewhere.
The initiative in question is a doco (that’s Aussie speak for documentary) to be called From Under the Rubble, written and directed by Anne Tsoulis, who, like cinematographer Fadi Hossam Hanona, is co-producer.
Blurbs tell us that the doco
“is a powerful story that puts a human face to war and gives voice to the civilian perspective.
The overwhelming majority of collateral damage in conflict zones are dead and wounded women and children who far outnumber the casualties incurred on the combatants.
We live in a time when women and children have limited protection under international law. Zeinat Samouni and her seven children live with the shocking memory of what happened to their family during Operation Cast Lead that saw the father and four year old brother, along with forty-eight other Samouni family members killed and many more injured.
The psychological damage and trauma does not end. It continues on with each ensuing conflict. Zeinat’s six year old daughter, Ansam, and her siblings have now lived through three wars. When the bombings begin, Zeinat blocks the windows and tells her children it is only a storm and what they hear is thunder and lightning.
From Under the Rubble is Zeinat and her childrens’ personal experience of what happened in the week that the IDF came to their farming region to set up their base during Operation Cast Lead from January 2nd – 7th 2009. Their story will be told through the use of archival footage, footage shot in present Gaza and an animation that the Samouni children created as party of their trauma recovery therapy. The documentary will juxtapose the innocent perspective of children with the harsh realities of war. Through their personal story we as filmmakers want to give an insight of the plight of women and children, not just in Gaza, but in conflict zones throughout the world. This story belongs to them all.”
The film’s editor, Ken Sallow, has stated that the intention “is not to make a political diatribe, but a humanist film about survival”.
The producer, John Moore, has averred:
“I am delighted to have recently come on board to work with Anne and Fadi on seeing this important documentary come to fruition. From Under The Rubble takes a very personal POV [point of view], looking at the conflict through the experiences of one Palestinian family. It is a big responsibility telling such an emotive story in the context of such a highly contested conflict. There is however a lot of material to inform our work as the war has been critiqued by an independent UN team in the Goldstone Report and several books have been written about it including by Australian philosopher Raymond Gaita. I hope we can do justice to both sides of the conflict”
A UN team? The Goldstone Report? Don’t they realise that the UN is deeply, probably irredeemably, hostile to Israel? Don’t they know that the Goldstone Report is flawed and largely discredited, repudiatd by Richard Goldstone himself? Er, they probably do. (If Mr Moore is sincere in hoping to do justice to both sides of the conflict he will surely insist on these facts being made clear in the documentary.)
I’ve seen the trailer, and there’s nothing in it that suggests that the documentary will be anything other than a showcase for the anti-Israel narrative.
It features the Israel-vilifying Dr Mads Gilbert.
It features children’s drawings from Gaza, expertly animated. (The pictures in question remind me of those that British activist Rod Cox has exhibited to appreciative anti-Israel audiences up and down the UK; I’ve seen those, and they bear a degree of sophistication, if you take my meaning.)
It features a quote on Cast Lead by Amnesty International.
There are in existence drawings by Israeli children traumatised by Hamas rockets. There’s no indication that they will be shown.
There’s no indication that reference will be made to Israeli victims of Hamas terror.
There’s also no indication that mention will be made of Hamas’s evil policy of situating its weapons and fighters in civilian areas.
A further hint that the documentary is likely to be a prime piece of anti-Israel propaganda is the fact that it’s being spruiked on social media by delighted anti-Israel activists in Australia.
Screen Australia is the federal government’s principal funding agency for this country’s screen production industry and, since it’s an official body and has generously contributed towards the making of this documentary (which apparently costs $A250,000 to make), it is surely incumbent upon pro-Israel organisations and politicians in Australia to insist on a fair representation of Israel’s case. At the very least, the Israeli ambassador to Australia should be given the chance to appear.
Anne Tsoulis has written:
‘….For me, part of the process of making this documentary is also to work with filmmakers in Gaza to help them build up their skills and to assist them to have a voice on an international platform.
I went to Gaza and was overcome by the warmth and resilience of its people. Zeinat Samouni is a lioness, and the mother of all mothers. What she and her children have had to endure defies the imagination. Every day is a struggle for her to feed her children. Evey day is a struggle for her to deal with their emotional trauma, let alone her own that she has suffered. Being a widowed single mother makes it even more difficult for her with the stigma attached. Her last words to me when I left Gaza were, “Anne, don’t forget us.” The words are etched into my brain and makes me determined to make this documentary. Her children stole my heart – they are my children now too.’
And Fadi Hossam Hanona has observed that the documentary
“must show the world what is happening here … Every day here is a struggle for us.”
If so, Hamas can be largely blamed for that.
As we read in the producer’s comments quoted above, the documentary “takes a very personal POV“.
But as he also states “I hope we can do justice to both sides of the conflict”.
That should be honoured in the observance, not in the breach.