THE airing of Stone Cold Justice on ABC1’s Four Corners on February 10 elicited, predictably, numerous expressions of raw anti-Jewish hatred, notably on the ABC’s Facebook page.
The program made many claims, most of them uncorroborated, about Israel’s alleged treatment of Palestinian minors in the West Bank and omitted vital context, including Unicef’s acknowledgment that the Israelis have been working closely with it to deal with real problems that have been identified.
The purpose of this article is not to critique the program itself, which has already been done by others, but to highlight the toxic nature of many of the responses to the heart-wrenching scenes portrayed in the program and the accompanying commentary.
Four Corners created six posts related to the program. These posts elicited more than 470 comments. About 100 of these comments were overtly anti-Jewish in one way or another. Several comments referred to Jews as a cancer and called for Hitler to return.
Some of the comments were deleted or edited by ABC moderators. However, many anti-Semitic comments have remained online for more than a week, spewing forth the gamut of traditional anti-Semitic themes.
Old and new religious anti-Semitism found expression in comments such as: “Orthodox Judaism is a cult that represses women and brainwashes children and has no place in the 21 century”; “Judaism is increasingly looking like a very ugly religion hiding behind a false conception of god”; “the Synagogue of Satan”; “(Jesus) was sent 2b crucified by the Jewish officials ... !”; and “God (sent) his Son to Earth to sort out Judaism.”
Other posts compared Israel with Nazi Germany: “The Israeli (sic) are acting like modern day Nazis”; “are no better than what Hitler’s army did”; “A gas chamber away from Nazis - the persecuted becoming the persecutors!”
Israel was accused of committing “genocide against the Palestinians” and “a holocaust against the Paelstinians (sic)”; “It is only a matter of time before Israel implements it’s (sic) final solution.”
By any academic standard, such comparisons are historically ludicrous. These comments do not seek to engage in debate or analysis but only to demonise Jews and Israelis, and to minimise, justify or excuse the suffering and mass murder of Jews during the Holocaust, a standard technique for assuaging or blocking out any sense of guilt.
A more subtle technique for achieving the same outcome was use of the theme “You Jews of all people should know better”.
Some examples: “Very disturbing and sad that this can be done to children and their families by people who should know better, people who have survived the holocaust and know what it feels like to have pain and suffering inflicted on them!”; “I thought they of all people would not do this”; “You’d think the Jews would have more empathy.”
As observed by non-Jewish writer Chas Newkey-Burden: “Let us strip the ‘they of all people’ argument down to its very basics: gentiles telling Jews that we killed six million of your people and that as a result it is you, not us, who have lessons to learn; that it is you, not us, who need to clean up your act. It is an argument of atrocious, spiteful insanity. Do not accept it; turn it back on those who offer it. For it is us, not you, who should know better.”
A fourth theme was the age-old calumny about a “world Jewish conspiracy”.
Examples included: “With all the Jewish politicians in the American congress & all the banks own by Zionist interests ... the media is owned by the wealthy jew/americans”; “The world is owned by these fascists and that is why they have a blank cheque!!”; “Support for Israel in the West has been managed via media control, blackmail and bribery”; “A story of oppression that has been going on for 65+ years, which the Jewry has been able to keep under wraps through various means of media control.”
These comments reprise the falsehoods contained in the proven forgery and fabrication known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Online comments of this nature, usually by people sheltering within the coward’s castle of anonymity, are depressingly familiar.
Less easy to explain is the decision of ABC moderators to permit such racist comments to remain on its Facebook page.
Is there a line to be drawn between the factually selective and emotive content of Stone Cold Justice and the laxity of the ABC’s moderators on Facebook in tolerating racism from those responding to the program? The ABC has a case to answer.