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Australian Press Council Raps Newspaper for Offending Jews

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The Australian Press Council has castigated one of the country’s major newspapers for publishing a commentary judged offensive to Jews.

The Sun Herald, a Sunday newspaper published in Sydney with a nationwide circulation of over 550,000, was taken to task for consistently rebuffing efforts by the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies to correct a false commentary.

The Press Council, a voluntary association that includes most Australian newspapers and news magazines, decided that the Sun Herald item “breached the ethical standard that material should not be harmfully disparaging of a group by reference to their race, nationality or religion.”

The offensive column was written by the Sun Herald’s news editor, Alex Mitchell, who alleged that students would be evicted from campus accommodations to make way for a new Jewish residential college and academic center at the University of Sydney.

Numerous attempts by the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies to meet with the editor were rebuffed, and the paper’s administrators refused to consider the claim that the item was both inaccurate and “most offensive to members of the Jewish community.”

It was “likely to exacerbate interethnic tension among the citizens of New South Wales,” the Board of Deputies said.

Professor Graham de Vahl Davis, chairman of the Board of Deputies Public Relations Committee, praised the Press Council for recognizing that “the contemptuous response” of the Sun Herald’s editor to the complaint “was totally unacceptable and required strong action to be taken.”

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