Weekend Oz apologises for slur

Peter Wertheim (left), Stephen Lewis. Photo: Nadine Saacks

EDITOR of the Weekend Australian Nick Cater has apologised for an inflammatory headline that ran in the magazine last week, sparking outrage from Jewish readers.

The headline “Living under the cloud of Israel’s cruel apartheid” appeared with an article by John Lyons on Palestinians living in Israel.

“In a nutshell, it’s a headline that shouldn’t have got through, but did,” Cater told The AJN.

“It was deeply embarrassing because of the subject matter and because of the emotive and offensive nature of the words in the headline.”

In a statement, Cater further distanced the publication from the offensive headline, and said he would review the procedures that failed to pick it up before the magazine went to print.

“It is extremely regrettable that a poor headline written against the pressure of deadline has let our readers down. At the very least, there should have been quote marks to indicate it was a view not fact.”

Cater said the slip-up did not represent a change to <I>The Australian’s<P> long-standing policy of support for Israel.

“[The editorial position of the paper] is as it has been since 1964 and is well known. I like to think we’re very consistent in our editorial line and our support for a democratic nation surrounded by hostile neighbors.”

Cater also wrote to the Israeli embassy, explaining that, “the headline was a reference to a contentious view expressed by a  person interviewed in the article, and was not intended to be read as a statement of fact”.

Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim described the oversight as “appalling”.

“As Israel’s opponents become more and more desperate, their rhetoric becomes increasingly mendacious. They  bandy about words like ‘apartheid’, ‘colonialism’ and ‘military dictatorship’ with reckless abandon, barely understanding their true meaning.  It is appalling that this kind of polemic, usually confined to far-left fringe groups, found its way into a headline in <I>The Australian<P>.

The article itself tells the story of a Palestinian family living in Israel and the day-to-day difficulties they face. Detractors have argued it lacks context, but Cater is steadfast in his defence of its author.

“This wasn’t a pro or anti-Israel story, it’s just what happens when bureaucracy gets in the way. I can see why people might feel those stories reenact always complimentary to his host country, but that’s what a reporter does, whether he’s in Bangkok, Washington, or Jerusalem.”

ADAM KAMIEN

Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim said the oversight was appalling.

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