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Australian Jews accused of pressuring paper

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Australian Jewish officials are outraged at inferences they pressured a major newspaper to censor an article critical of Israel.

Media Watch, a weekly critique of the Australian media on Australian TV, investigated on Monday why a farewell article by reporter Ed O’Loughlin was published in The Age newspaper in Melbourne on May 10 but not in its sister publication, The Sydney Morning Herald.

O’Loughlin, who one Jewish federal lawmaker has accused of “systematic bias against Israel” during his five-year stint as correspondent in the Middle East, told the program of “an intensive lobbying effort to skew The Herald and The Age to a pro-Israel position.” He also said he was “told informally that there were concerns about how the pro-Israel lobby [in Sydney] would react to it.”

In his article, O’Loughlin referred to the Israeli Defense Forces, describing a “culture of denial and impunity, repeatedly condemned by Israeli and foreign rights groups.” He also wrote that he had “reason to fear that someone you can’t see is studying you on a computer screen or through a gun sight.”

Vic Alhadeff, the CEO of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies, in a letter to Joanne Puccini, Media Watch’s producer, said the inference that the Jewish lobby had influenced the decision to spike the article was untrue. Alhadeff said he had made that clear in an interview before the show was broadcast and was appalled that Media Watch “aired an inference which you knew had been denied – as is the fact – and chose not to air that fact.

“We did not know about, and made no representation to the Sydney Morning Herald about, Mr. O’Loughlin’s article,” he wrote in the letter obtained by JTA.

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald are the largest daily newspapers in Australia.

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