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The Media, Stereotypes and the Jewish Lobby

Media bias is not necessarily motivated by antisemitism. However, the way in which issues involving Jewish people are reported or addressed in the media, affects the way in which Jews are perceived by the wider Australian public.

Media bias is a negation of journalistic standards of fair reporting. It takes place when news reporting is aimed at conveying the reporter or news station�s political stance, rather than giving an even handed account of the facts. Events and points of view can be downplayed or omitted, and imagery can be used, in attempt to manipulate public perception of the reported incident. It is a feature or editorial disguised as exposition of fact.

There is no single source of media ownership in Australia. In Australia, there are both private media owners and publicly owned radio and television stations. There are laws which regulate and restrict private media ownership according to the type of media and its area of publication. The existence and degree of media bias is varied across this spectrum of ownership and the type of media. Antisemitism can arise in print media, national and international broadcasters, on the radio, and on the World Wide Web.

There are four significant ways in which the media contributes to antisemitism in Australia. These are the stereotyping of Jews, accusations about the Jewish Lobby, the use of the Nazi/Jew analogy, and the vilification of Israel.

Traditional antisemitic stereotypes of Jews as Christ killers, money-lenders and people who possess sinister traits have occurred throughout Australia�s history, but in more modern times have remained on the margins of Australian society. The purpose of such stereotypes is designed to portray Jews as �un-Australian� and undeserving of a place in Australian society. Contemporary Australians largely reject such overt stereotypes. However it is not unheard of for the media to perpetrate a more subtle antisemitic characterisation of Jews. 

The Nature of Bias

Another manifestation of the stereotyping takes the form of equating all Jews with the so-called Jewish lobby. It is assumed that the Jewish lobby has significant power and is even part of an international conspiracy to take over not just Australia, but the world. As such, a vast disproportionate power is attributed to Jews; a power which is presumed to be wielded for sinister and improper purposes.

It is important to recognise that lobbies are natural parts of pluralist, democratic societies such as Australia. Lobbying constitutes a mainstream method of influencing government policy, as a means of enhancing representative government. As such, just as other communities and interest groups have lobbies, there is a �Jewish lobby� � an unwieldy group of individuals and organisations devoted to supporting the needs and interests of the Jewish community. This Jewish lobby is a player in representative government, and its very existence confirms the ordinary place Jews have within Australian politics. The assumption, however, that Jews have a disproportionate power and influence over decision making is what transforms a descriptive reality about politics to an antisemitic argument about Jewish power.

A different but equally damaging characterisation of Jews is their depiction as Nazis who victimise Palestinians in the same way that Nazis persecuted Jews. Whether the figure portrayed in this way is an Israeli politician or another community leader, or whether the form this takes is a desecration of the Israeli flag where the Magen David (Star of David) is replaced with a Swastika, the Nazi/Jew analogy is promoted by sections of the mainstream media. While the formal use of this analogy is a relatively rare occurrence, extremist groups from both the right and the left adopt this as a means of hiding their basically antisemitic outlook.

More common in the mainstream media is antisemitism which takes the form of the vilification of Israel. Legitimate comment and analysis of Israeli politics is totally unproblematic. However, when Israel is singled out for media attention and condemnation in a disproportionate manner; where significant political and human rights issues in other countries are overlooked; where Israel is portrayed as guilty whether or not there is any cause or evidence of guilt, anti-Zionism constitutes antisemitism. Further, the terms Jew and Zionist are used interchangeably. In this regard, the Australian media is at best reckless.


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