News Ltd's Double Standards On Anti-Semitism


"A fresh wave of racial hatred against the Jewish community, including calls for a Hitler clone and ethnic cleansing, has been sparked by the anti-Israel boycott campaign of the Max Brenner chocolate shop chain."

That was John Ferguson in The Australian on 22 August. To put it charitably, he’s twanging a decidedly long bow, because this "wave of racial hatred" consists entirely of several bigoted remarks posted under a YouTube clip. Under normal circumstances YouTube comments are scarcely breaking news, particularly so in this case given the video itself wasn’t itself racist and the Max Brenner protesters had no ability to moderate it either.

But Ferguson seems determined to make a meal from this thin gruel. He quotes Peter Wertheim from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry: "What is it about their [that is, the protesters’]social media, and the general political line they take, that makes out-and-out racists feel that they have a sympathetic home there for their toxic comments?" he said.

Let’s apply this method more generally and see what happens.

On 23 August, Andrew Crook from Crikey drew attention to the following screed.

"The bleating Jews who actually believe they are God’s people are still combing the world looking for war-crime culprits. […] Of course the "holocaust" happened but it was one of the many episodes of war and far from the worst in terms of human life. But Jews believe they are God’s people… so they are more important."

"The vanity-driven, thieving Jews did not have a country so they stole someone else’s with the West’s (and the East’s) blessing… and we wonder why we are hated. Sure, the Jews are more industrious and inventive than the lazy Arabs. The Arabs have used receipts from the West’s addiction to oil to build crass monuments to themselves. An oil drunk Arab’s benchmark of success is to have a hundred more Rolls Royces than his cousin."

Here’s a fairly unambiguous specimen of old school anti-Semitism. All the traditionally vicious tropes are there, up to and including an attempt to downplay the Holocaust (note those inverted commas).

If the Max Brenner protesters were found posting articles by the author of this tract, they’d be rightfully denounced for their association with with racists. But this vile stuff comes not from a Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) campaigner but from cartoonist Larry Pickering – a man whose drawings still feature on a gallery on The Australian website.

The post about "the vanity-driven, thieving Jews" has now been deleted from, but there’s plenty more from the man’s oeuvre that leaves even the casual reader with little doubt as to his bigotry. As Julia Gillard noted, Pickering’s an overt misogynist and a homophobe, for whom Bob Brown is "back-passage Bob".

Pickering writes that Aboriginals are "the most primitive, under-developed race on earth … it is not until we understand the extent of their innate primitiveness that we can ever hope to help".

Elsewhere, having proven to his own satisfaction that scientists are lying about climate change ("The books and lectures you absorbed in university were wrong!"), he declares similar skullduggery afoot in doctors’ denials of the health-giving properties of tobacco.

"WHO figures have shown consistently for 50 years that smokers live longer," he explains. "These and other extensive world- wide independent studies have been consistently suppressed."

As you would expect, his site has become a clearing-house for racist crackpottery of all varieties, with the bigots often competing for prominence. Thus, underneath one of Pickering’s anti-Gillard posts, someone calling himself "Freemaninchrist" asks: "When will people wake up and realise that our nation has been hijacked by the Jesuit Order?" He’s immediately challenged by a commenter titled "Israeldid911", who explains how "Edomite Jews have infiltrated all the Jesuit orders".

It would be funny if it weren’t so sinister. There’s plenty of hate circulating on the internet, but what makes Pickering different from the average troll is that his traffic has been assiduously bolstered by mainstream journalists. As one of the bloggers explains, the "Pickering Post" first took off when his story "Gillard: The Story She Tried to Kill" was read out word-for-word on air by Alan Jones: "Andrew Bolt then referred to it, other media followed."

Pickering’s fans tell a similar tale. "Wow," writes "Jonny Tomas", "Just discovered the Pickering Post tonight, thanks to Messers Price and Bolt on 2GB. The best thing I have read since this dysfunctional [sic]hard left, ‘we want a one world government’ poor excuse for a government came to power. More Power to you, Mister Pickering!"

Given John Ferguson’s article about Max Brenner, we might expect, then, the Australian to run a story opening like this: "A fresh wave of racial hatred against the Jewish community, Aboriginals, Arabs, homosexuals and other groups has been sparked by the campaign to link Julia Gillard to union corruption."

Except, of course, that wouldn’t be fair. Ferguson’s original piece never claimed that the Max Brenner protesters had any contact whatsoever with the racists who commented on YouTube. The anti-Semite Larry Pickering has, by contrast, been promoted by some of the best-known conservative journalists in the country. They’ve interviewed him on radio and quoted him online, and by so doing have driven thousands of people to his noxious site.

Peter Wertheim suggests that protesters needed to ask themselves why racists commented on their YouTube clips. But that’s a question better directed to the conservative movement. There’s no mystery about Pickering’s politics. Why, then, are so many big names on the Right giving him oxygen, sending him traffic and otherwise helping him build his racist publication?

What does the Executive Council of Australian Jewry make of this? Is Peter Wertheim concerned that prominent pundits seem to have no problem palling around with a racist? If so, will he issue a statement to that effect?

The Australian, in particular, has devoted reams and reams of paper to denouncing the Greens for involvement with the BDS movement, even though no-one from the Greens ever talked about "vanity-driven, thieving Jews". Why, then, won’t the Australian devote equal space to condemning the anti-Semite who has been on its payroll and whose work still features on its site?

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.