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Melbourne Jewish leaders sever ties with newspaper

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SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – Jewish leaders in Melbourne have severed ties with the city’s major broadsheet newspaper over its treatment of Israel.

Jewish Community Council of Victoria President John Searle and Zionist Council of Victoria President Dr. Danny Lamm issued a joint statement last week accusing The Age newspaper of pursuing a continued “war of words against Israel” and a “clear and consistent vilification of the world’s only Jewish state.”

The leaders of Victoria’s major Jewish bodies said they had addressed the newspaper’s “strident line” against Israel on several occasions with Paul Ramadge, the editor in chief, but to no avail.

But in an e-mail Aug. 24, Ramadge said because of the complexities of the Middle East conflict, his paper would never be able to report “in a way that pleases both sides all of the time.”

While Searle and Lamm said there was no one incident that triggered the severing of ties at this time, the paper’s coverage of a Turkish-flagged ship’s attempt to break the blockade of Gaza in late May was the final straw.

The newspaper had a correspondent and photographer aboard the flotilla when the Israeli Navy intercepted it on May 31, leading to the deaths of nine Turkish passengers. A subsequent front-page article in The Age said the Israeli naval commandos “hunted like hyenas” before “tightening the noose” — language described by the Jewish organizations as “incendiary.”

Ramadge said his staff “reported what happened accurately, fairly and to the best of their abilities.” 

Searle and Lamm said the problem dated back to Ramadge’s predecessor, Andrew Jaspan, adding that The Age’s alleged bias also had the “hopefully unintended by-product of legitimizing anti-Semitism in this country.”

“We believe that The Age’s record speaks for itself,” they said. “Quite simply The Age is not a friend of our community.”
 

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