ECAJ calls for apology over headline

A file photo of the Temple Mount. Photo: EPA/Jim Hollander.

THE Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) has lodged a complaint with SBS for running a story entitled “Israeli settlers storm Al-Asqa mosque”.

The report in Arabic from the government-owned multicultural broadcaster’s Ramallah correspondent Amal Dwaikat was broadcast on SBS Arabic24 on Monday.

It related to Israelis visiting the Temple Mount to mark Jerusalem Day, which commemorates the reunification of the city after the Six-Day War.

In its submission to the SBS Ombudsman, ECAJ co-CEO Peter Wertheim outlined the story had “falsely claimed that ‘Israeli settlers’ had ‘stormed’ the mosque”.

“The group were not ‘Israeli settlers’ but Jewish visitors under police supervision. They did not enter the Al-Aqsa mosque at all, let alone ‘storm’ it,” Wertheim said. 

“They peacefully entered the Temple Mount area as permitted by the status quo agreement which allows for non-Muslim visitors at set visiting times. 

“Subsequently, some Palestinians initiated a riot after being incited by false stories that the mosque had been ‘stormed’. Other media which carried that false story have corrected it.”

He continued, “Under SBS Code of practice 2.2, SBS is similarly obliged to take reasonable steps to ensure the timely correction of significant errors of fact. 

“The correction should not only be done online but should also be broadcast in Arabic on the same radio program, with an apology.”

Section 2.2 of the SBS code states that “reasonable effort must be made to ensure that the factual content of news and current affairs programs is accurate, having regard to the circumstances, and facts known, at the time of preparing and broadcasting or publishing the content”.

The same correspondent, Amal Dwaikat, filed a report on SBS Arabic24 on May 20 entitled “Israeli professor calls for a raise in infant mortality in Gaza”.

Examples from her Twitter feed include posting “Israel has yet to learn from previous lessons at the hands of the mujahideen in Gaza” on July 31, 2014, retweeting a post from an account called “Palestinian Information Centre” that referred to “Nazi Zionist bombing” in August 2014 and sharing a Haaretz story about Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven saying knife attacks do not meet the definition of terror on December 9, 2015.

GARETH NARUNSKY