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SBS Ombudsman Response to Complaints about The Promise

January 23, 2012 – 9:10 pm80 Comments

The following response from the SBS ombudsman was sent to a reader:

I write in relation to your formal complaint to SBS about The Promise, a four part series broadcast by SBS on four consecutive Sunday evenings from 27 November 2011. Your complaint was among a number of complaints investigated, then reviewed and determined by the SBS Complaints Committee, chaired by the Managing Director, Michael Ebeid, which met on 17 January, 2012.

The SBS Complaints Committee is constituted under Code 8.9 of the SBS Code of Practice (see annexure 1) and was convened in light of the number of complaints that the broadcast of the 4 part series The Promise breached the SBS Codes of Practice.

The SBS Complaints Committee investigated, reviewed and determined each of the complaints about each and all of the 4 episodes of the series The Promise, including your complaint by email received on 28 November 2011.

This letter is to advise that your complaint was not upheld and the reasons for SBS’s decision.

Your complaint was investigated against Code 1.3 of the SBS Codes of Practice (see annexure 2 below). Some of the complaints investigated also raised the issue of accuracy and balance, perhaps seeking to invoke Code 2.2 of the SBS Codes of Practice (see annexure 3 below). Code 2.2 has no application to this drama, being limited to programs produced by SBS’s News and Current Affairs division. The Promise was not produced by SBS’s News and Current Affairs division.

Your complaint specifically included concerns that The Promise:

  • presented one-sided Palestinian propaganda;
  • was anti-Semitic; and
  • characterised Jews as liars, untrustworthy and wealthy while Palestinians are portrayed as poor, loving and considerate.

That complaint was investigated and reviewed specifically. In addition, the Complaints Committee investigated and reviewed all complaints in respect of three over-arching Code-related issues raised across all the complaints taken as a whole, which, in summary, were that the program:

  • was anti-Semitic;
  • promoted, endorsed, or reinforced inaccurate, demeaning or discriminatory stereotypes (relevantly of Jews and/or Israelis); or
  • condoned, tolerated or encouraged discrimination or prejudice against Israel and/or Jews as a people or a religious group.

Allegations of historically inaccuracy were investigated and reviewed insofar as they related to the above issues. But, as noted earlier, accuracy per se is not a Code requirement in respect of a drama such as The Promise.

Some complaints alleged that the broadcast of The Promise (either in a particular episode or collectively the series) amounted to racial vilification. These allegations have been investigated and reviewed against the Code provisions precluding condoning, tolerating or encouraging discrimination or prejudice. The advice of SBS Legal department also was taken into account in this respect.

In assessing against The Promise against Code 1.3, the Complaints Committee had regard to Australian Communication Media Authority’s test of the ordinary, reasonable viewer as defined by the ACMA’s Investigation Report No. 2537 of 2 March 2011. It states:

“In assessing the content against the Codes, the delegate considers the meaning conveyed by the relevant broadcast material. This is assessed according to the understanding of an ‘ordinary, reasonable’ viewer.

Australian Courts have considered an ‘ordinary, reasonable’ viewer to be:

A person of fair average intelligence, who is neither perverse, nor morbid or suspicious of mind, nor avid for scandal. That person does not live in an ivory tower, but can and does read between the lines in the light of that person’s general knowledge and experience of worldly affairs.[1]

The delegate asks, what would the ordinary, reasonable viewer have understood the program to have conveyed and, in so doing, the natural, ordinary meaning of the language, context, tenor, tone, and inferences that may be drawn.

Once this has been ascertained, it is for the delegate to determine whether the material has breached the Codes.”

The Complaints Committee’s investigation and findings

The Complaints Committee noted that The Promise is a high quality drama series that was written and directed by Peter Kosminsky and produced by DayBreak Pictures in association with Stonehenge films, Canal+ and Arte France. It was produced in association with SBS TV although SBS had no editorial control over the production. It was first broadcast on Channel 4 (UK) in February 2011. It was nominated for a BAFTA TV Award for the Best Drama Serial. Apart from the United Kingdom and Australia, the drama has been sold to SVT Sweden, YLE Finland, DR Denmark, RUV Iceland, RTV Slovenia, Globosat Brazil, TVO Canada.

The Promise is a four part work of fiction. Its dramatic narrative makes reference to some political or policy debates between the Jewish/Israeli and Palestinian communities and, at different times, to the political status of the area. But these references are incidental to the purpose of the series, namely, the dramatisation of the personal experiences of two related people, a grand-daughter and her grandfather, visiting the same region six decades apart.

On the Channel 4 website Peter Kominsky describes the series this way:

This is first and foremost a drama. I wanted to take two characters on a journey – starting pro-Jewish but then becoming less certain, in keeping with the thrust of our research. There are no caricatures – all the characters are based on people we met, read about or interviewed. One character is a soldier who was in Belsen, another is an Arab thrown out of his village in 1948. It would do an immense disservice to a complex situation to attempt to over-simplify it. I’m not attempting to be definitive. It’s not a comment piece. It would short-change the viewer to tell them what to think in a simplistic way.

The series is detailed and the characters portrayed are complex in the interwoven storylines which show a range of political and personal positions. As Mr Kominsky says, the film did not claim to be historically accurate, nor to be a documentary. However, it is fair to conclude that by the end of the series the sympathy of audience is more likely to be with the Palestinians than with the Israelis.

The SBS Codes of Practice do not limit the subject matter of fictional dramas, nor do they restrict the range of political views presented. Consistent with the general principles of freedom of expression, Code 1 (General Programming) of the SBS Codes of Practice acknowledges that SBS will broadcast a broad range of program material:

SBS’s programming can be controversial and provocative and may at times be distasteful or offensive to some. Not all viewpoints presented will be shared by all audience members.

Allegations of anti-Semitism

The Complaints Committee found that the series was neither anti-Semitic nor racist. While many characters in the series display increasing antipathy towards Israel, Israelis and Jews at different times, this is merely part of the dramatic narrative, creating the conflict that provides the momentum of the storyline. As you know, it is quite common to portray individuals, groups or even nations in a negative light as a part of a dramatic work.

The central character is a young English girl, Erin, who appears in the contemporary storyline, and provides the dramatic relief for the historical storyline, whose central character is her English grandfather, a British soldier Len. These two characters are brought together by being shown to make similar journeys, driven by their respective relationships with people who happen to be Jewish, a lover in Len’s case; and a school friend in Erin’s case.

The changing political perspectives of the central characters across the narrative, is a matter of politics, not race or religion. As the characters develop, the series traverses issues of betrayal, trust, love and loyalty. These highly emotional issues are the standard structures of drama on television, stage and film.

It was the view of the Complaints Committee that the series does not, demonise Jews either individually or as a collective, nor deny their individual and collective right to selfdetermination and therefore does not vilify Jews or Israelis.

Further the Complaints Committee does not accept that the program simply made the Jews look bad and by contrast made the Palestinians look unproblematic. True, some Palestinian characters criticise Jews as being “greedy” or having “stolen” land or homes but the Palestinian “suicide” bombers are obvious negative characters among the Palestinians, where the drama finds it colour in actions rather than words.

In addition Erin is critical of Omar’s suggestion that it is disrespectful to leave the home of the of the “suicide” bomber in Gaza she says “…. I didn’t respect his daughter, she murdered three people. I’ve been blown up by a suicide bomber. OK. I know what I am taking about”. In a similar vein, in the contemporary storyline, the principal Palestinian character Omar, is threatened with a gun by a Hamas supporter at the home of the “suicide bomber”, and tells Erin they have to go because “the son is Hamas and he will not have me here”.

The drama presents a range of views and perspectives, and the characterisation of the main Jewish characters, including Paul and Clara are nuanced. The same is true of the Meyer family, who are shown as complex characters. The point is underlined as the Meyer family, individually and as a whole, continues to show Erin respect and provide her with support and hospitality although she challenges and criticises them at almost every level.

Although The Promise has two interwoven stories set in different times, it is about the drama of various human relationships, which happen to involve characters from different cultural and political groups who are brought into conflict. It is the differences and tension that is critical to the drama, not the identity of the players.

Discrimination or prejudice against Israel and/or Jews as a people or a religious group

The Complaints Committee reached the conclusion that the various political or policy debates between the Jewish/Israeli characters on the one hand, and the Arab/Palestinian characters on the other hand were incidental to the main purpose of the storyline in the drama series as a whole; namely the dramatisation of two personal journeys made some 60 years apart as a young girl becomes obsessed with her grandfather’s diary.

Like all drama, there is tendency towards a binary play of “good guys” and “bad guys”. That characterises all drama, to a greater or lesser extent, and is almost inevitable given the need to hold the viewer’s interest. It is an oversimplification to cast the drama as being bad Jews versus good Palestinians.

After a careful investigation and review of each of the episodes individually and the four part series as a whole, the Complaints Committee is of the view that the film does not breach Code.1.3.

Inaccurate demeaning or discriminatory stereotypes

The Complaints Committee noted that many complaints specifically referred to stereotyping of Jews, including allegations that Jews are stereotyped as liars, untrustworthy, wealthy, conspiratorial, cruel, hateful and violent. The Complaints Committee considered that this was an incorrect reading of complex characters, which ignored their individual and collective positive characteristics.

Some complaints alleged that this perspective was reinforced by a contrast with the depiction of other (non-Jewish) characters in a favourable light. Some complaints focused upon the disparity of wealth. For example, in the contemporary storyline, The Promise depicts the Meyers as being rich family. These are Jewish characters, but their wealth has a dramatic function in the narrative, about the effects of political turmoil reaching every Israeli. The drama is set in one Jewish family’s home, almost in isolation.

The Complaints Committee rejects the allegation that the use of one family involves any stereotyping, positive or negative. It is simply a family around whom a drama is hung. There is no suggestion that the Meyer family is a typical Israeli family, they are clearly affluent. However they can be contrasted against the settler family who appear to be only moderately comfortable. The Complaints Committee found that as only two Jewish families are shown, the ordinary reasonable viewer would not conclude that these families typify Jewish or Israeli society.


This is a complex drama, that is obviously presented as a work of fiction. Each of the main characters has many facets. Obviously, some viewers will focus upon particular facets of each character. But in any drama as densely layered as The Promise, characters are depicted at different time in different ways; the loving father may also be a stern taskmaster, the reckless teenager may be a loving daughter too. The portrayals vary with the narrative and the development of the drama. This is typical of all drama.

The Complaints Committee is satisfied that the ordinary reasonable viewer fully appreciated that The Promise was a fictional drama and nothing more than that. The Complaints Committee found that that the characterisations in The Promise did not cross the threshold into racism, and in particular that it did not promote, endorse, or reinforce inaccurate, demeaning or discriminatory stereotypes.

In the light of some early representations after the first episode of the series was broadcast, SBS prefaced the broadcast of each subsequent episode with a reminder that the film was a drama to negate any suggestion it was a historical or documentary film. SBS considers that the disclaimers highlighted what is obvious from the content of the film, that it is a work of a fiction.

If you consider that this response is inadequate you are entitled to take your concerns to the Australian Communications and Media Authority for external review. SBS appreciates you raising your concerns with us, and would like to assure you that SBS presents a wide range of factual and fictional program material on the Middle East.

Yours sincerely

Sally Begbie

SBS Ombudsman

[1] Amalgamated Television Services Pty Ltd v Marsden (1998) 43 NSWLR 158 at pp 164-167


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  • Australian Christian... says:

    I don’t agree with censorship, and I think censoring this would prove to be counterproductive. Can I just say, attempting to censor has only proved to be a propaganda bonanza for the Israel haters..

    But anyway, without doubt,the people most responsible for biased, unfair and negative perceptions of Israel are Australia’s left-wing media (ie ABC, Fairfax, SBS, whatever they say, they do have a left-wing bias).

    “According to The Guardian newspaper, former Fairfax chief executive Fred Hilmer wrote in his memoirs that “he struggled to cope with a left-leaning editorial culture at papers such as The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, and was surprised that journalists saw themselves as advocates rather than simply reporters.” Hilmer said that “Fairfax’s default position was to turn left and be agenda-driven… Journalists often conducted campaigns where they persisted in covering stories long after readers had lost interest.”

    This can be seen in the constant and irritating coverage of the push for gay marriage just as one example. I definitely believe a strong anti-Israel bias exists in these outlets, and they feel need to advocate for the “Palestinian cause”. Fairfax in particular will often use articles from the Guardian, which is easily the most blatantly anti-Israel western mainstream outlet. I also can’t remember the last time I read the ABC’s drum that went one week without bashing either Israel, Jews, or Christians…. Its simply ingrained in the left-wing media.

  • ariel says:

    SBS’s letter above highlights the very problem with the system:

    “Australian Courts have considered an ‘ordinary, reasonable’ viewer to be:

    A person of fair average intelligence, who is neither perverse, nor morbid or suspicious of mind, nor avid for scandal. That person does not live in an ivory tower, but can and does read between the lines in the light of that person’s general knowledge and experience of worldly affairs.[1]

    I think this is a very generous definition of an ‘ordinary, reasonable viewer’ (as discussed in Attempts at Censorship will Prove Counterproductive

  • Jack Chrapot says:

    Apparently, the SBS series I watched was a totally different one to that which was adjudicated on by the SBS ombudsman.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    This is pretty much a similar response to what was ruled by the Complaints authority in the UK.

    Regrettably, there are some very thin skins around. This was a drama, and it clearly illustrated that struggles of all the people involved without engaging in stereotyping in particular.

    Hard-hitting and discomforting, certainly. But the history of the region is hard-hitting and discomforting, particularly for the Britsh with their own sorry engagement during the Mandate (an angle which we forget in Australia).

    The ECAJ in particular, went completely overboard in response to this issue. Remember that SBS has screened other disturbing Israeli films, but no one appears to have complained they were stereotyping or anti-semitic.

  • Sam says:

    It was very predictable that the SBS ombudsman would follow closely the answer of the UK complaints comittee, Ofcom. Why should the local ombudsman have to re-invent the wheel when there is a precedent for a response for exactly the same complaint? Who knows if he/she read the 31 page submission by the ECAJ in minute detail and then checked each detail against actual footage from “The Promise”?
    I think probably not! A drama has different standard of stringency for content with regard to racism, than a documentary.
    I have to agree with the most of Larry’s comment above, that the ECAJ went overboard and should have left sleeping dogs lie.
    This whole episode reminds me of the Salman Rushdie book “The Satanic Verses” that lead to an assasination fatwa against the author. The book had very little interest to the average (intelligent) reader but I believe that it caused sales of the book to go through the roof.

  • Joseph says:

    Yes, the SBS response is indeed similar to the Ofcom response. That’s the problem. The anti-racism standard under the SBS Codes is much more stringent than under the Ofcom Code. I cannot believe that SBS has suggested that it is in order for a work of dramatic fiction to negatively portray entire nations. SBS Code 1.3 does not make any exceptions for works of dramatic fiction.

    No-one complained that the other films engaged in anti-Jewish stereotypes – because they didn’t! The basic complaint is not about the fact that the topic is “disturbing”. It’s about the use of racism to address the topic.

    I have heard that the SBS Complaints Committee were sharply divided about this complaint. It was not as cut and dried as Larry is pretending. The Committee was really bothered by the thought that if a film portrayed all its identifiably Arab or Muslim characters in exactly the same way as The Promise portrayed all of its identifiably Jewish characters, then let’s be honest, the very people who are accusing the ECAJ of “censorship” would be leading the charge to have it taken off the air.

    Far from being over the top, the ECAJ went into an explanation of some 80 examples of anti-Jewish stereotyping. And if you read the whole thing in detail, it’s VERY plausible. If even one of these examples is true, the complaint is justified. Of course the majority will always be slow to see the racism when it’s a minority group that is copping it, whether the minority group is gays, disabled people, Muslims, Jews or Hindus. The majority don’t get it because it doesn’t affect them personally. Racial vilification of a minority group of which you are a member is racial vilification. Racial vilification of anyone else is “free speech”.

    What bothers me is the viciousness and hysteria of the response to the ECAJ. For God’s sake they made a written complaint! They asked for the sale of the DVD to be delayed until their complaint was assessed. This is not unusual at all. If anything was “over the top” it was the orchestrated hate campaign in reaction to the ECAJ complaint. I also heard that many of the letters of support SBS received descended into the vilest and most obscene expressions of raw antisemitism. Many others congratulated SBS for telling the “truth” about the “history”. If that is what the letters of support said, they are evidence once more that the ECAJ complaint was fully justified.

    You’re on the wrong side Larry.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Sam,we may not be able to do much with the bottom dwellers who thrive on anti-Semitism, but we can certainly do a lot not to cry “wolf” when there is no wolf.

    Why not cry “wolf” when SBS shows Waltz with Bashir and (in cartoon form), heartless Israeli killing is depicted? Perhaps it is all because with film came out the UK and not Israel.

    For the pages and pages of ECAJ ‘appendix’ one could retort a different opinion.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Joseph– please provide proof for this assertion “I have heard that the SBS Complaints Committee were sharply divided about this complaint. I “

  • Sam says:


    Much as you don’t, and I don’t like the outcome of the SBS Ombudsman’s response, it appears that the detail of the response can be seen to be not really inconsistent with their Code of Conduct 2006.

    And, you need to read the entire document as the content of Section 1.3 is only a part of what the Ombudsman has relied on.

    Kosminsky has been clever to portray a few scenes to counter the predominantly one-sided bias against Jews.
    For instance the scene where Erin and Paul are injured by the suicide bombing of the cafe by a Palestinian. This seems to be sufficient to provide balance in the eyes of the arbitrator who states:

    “but the Palestinian “suicide” bombers are obvious negative characters among the Palestinians, where the drama finds it colour in actions rather than words.”

    Also your assertion that what bothers you most is the viciousness and the hysteria of the response to the ECAJ letter of complaint, is a pretty extreme characterisation of what I have read so far in the comments of this thread, and the lead up feature, “Attempts at Censorship will Prove Counterproductive”
    BTW have you seen “Waltz with Bashir”, and what is your opinion?

  • Richard says:

    What is fascinating is that the cast and crew were predominantly Jewish and many were Israeli. They clearly had no problem with either the subject matter or portrayal.

    What a great many ‘commentators’ here in Australia can not accept, as it undercuts their very ‘raison d’etre’, is that the situation in Israel-Palestine is very much one sided. An unblinkered reading of the history of the regions since before 1897 would make that very clear.

    There were a couple of scenes that I thought were very interesting.
    The British blowing up the house of one of the King David Bombers clearly shows where the IDF got their inspiration for massive house demolishions. What it did not mention although there was a nod towards it, was the British soldiers who were sympathetic to the Zionist plan and went along with it.

    In particular, one Ord Wingate (he of the Chindits) was very active, training the forerunners of the IDF in ambush, attack and terrorist tactics against predominantly unarmed civilians.

    Finally the Zionist lobby should realise that ‘the great sleep’ is now over. People are waking up to the truth of the situation and are not prepared to be deceived and lied to anymore.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    A couple of points. Not just did the ECAJ make a written complaint, but they went on a media campaign which got them onto the front page of both the SMH and The Age, and I think in the Canberra Crimes as well. Plus a Senator or two joined in the fray and made a complaint. Plus there was spin in the Jewish News and Jwire.

    This is professional lobbying, supposedly in ‘our’ better interest, not the stuff of a struggling group.

    And there is another matter to consider as people still condemn the series.

    The CEO of Channel 4 UK is a David Abraham…with a name like that, need I account for his background? See http://tinyurl.com/bqqx4p4. Or, in the eyes of those who see grand conspiracies, is his role, as well as that of the writer producer, and that of many Israelis involved (and the writer of the music), that of blind or even willing agents of anti-Semitism? Or is it that because they are probably secular and somewhat on the margins of traditional Jewish life, that they are traitors of some sort?

    Or is it, in fact, that there is a different understanding of Israel’s ‘narrative’ (not a favourite word), which flies in the face of nostrums that really don’t make much sense any more?

  • Sydney Daniel says:

    I don’t understand the relevance of David Abraham?
    Can you please explain that Larry.

    “hey.. before you guys complain there is this jewish bloke in a position of power that thinks it ok” So what? We can’t have different opinions?

  • Yoseph says:

    Richard, it’s naive to suggest that “the cast and crew were predominantly Jewish and many were Israeli. They clearly had no problem with either the subject matter or portrayal.” Read this:
    The Promise: Even the extras felt ashamed

    By Marcus Dysch, March 31, 2011
    Follow Marcus on Twitter
    An Israeli woman who appeared in the series said she felt “ashamed and disgusted” after viewing the completed programme.
    Yehudit Collins, a retired office administrator from Jerusalem, and her husband, Chaim, worked as extras on the film.
    They appeared in one scene where Jews were shot at by British soldiers and another in which Israelis celebrated plans for the termination of British Mandate Palestine.
    Mrs Collins said she and her husband had been told by an agency that the scenes were for a film set in the 1940s, called Homeland.
    But after watching all four episodes on DVD, Mrs Collins said: “Director Peter Kosminsky exploited every known antisemitic cliché in this admittedly extremely well-made, and therefore convincing, work of fiction.
    “Many of us extras would never have agreed to be in this production had we known what we were in, and the use to which it would be put, in pushing an anti-Jewish and anti-Israel agenda.
    “The owner of the casting agency said, had he known, he would not have sent people. Personally I feel ashamed and disgusted that in some small part I contributed to this work of ‘faction’.
    “Mr Kosminsky has done irreparable harm to the image of Jews and Israel.”
    Mr and Mrs Collins moved to Israel from Kenton, north-west London, in 1979.
    During his public question and answer session on Tuesday, Mr Kosminsky said: “Every frame of the show was shot in Israel by Jewish technicians. It led to lively debates.
    “We’ve shown the final film in Israel to show to the cast and crew and they loved it. They knew what they were working on.”

  • Yoseph says:

    “In particular, one Ord Wingate (he of the Chindits) was very active, training the forerunners of the IDF in ambush, attack and terrorist tactics against predominantly unarmed civilians.

    Finally the Zionist lobby should realise that ‘the great sleep’ is now over. People are waking up to the truth of the situation and are not prepared to be deceived and lied to anymore.”

    Off course only the jews can be accused of this.You see the Arabs are lily white nor for that matter most nations on this earth when it comes to murdering civilians through history but alas Jewish blood is cheap.
    what the Arabs have been doing to each other and not just the Jews is just a figment of our imagination and if it is happening or what they did then its ok lets ignore it
    Even today look what they do to each other in Syria,Libya and Iraq .The rate of murder and scale of civilians is enormous but off course Richard is on to to the Zionists.(Code for Jews Richard)

  • Richard says:

    Sorry, not interested in reading from jc.com. Unlikely to be unbiased.
    Zionist means… Zionist, be they secular or non secular.
    Jew means… Follower of the Jewish mythology.
    Christian means… Follower of Christian mythology
    Muslim means… Follower of Islamic mythology.
    All based on Assyrian fairy tales from about 4500 years.

    And do try and stick to the point.

  • Yoseph says:

    I dont really give a hoot. Dont you just love these pseudo intellectuals who want to impose on me or most of the Jewish people what our narrative is. And never heard of jc.com.

  • Jack Chrapot says:

    To quote Howard Jacobson:

    “It matters not a jot to me that the writer/director of The Promise is a Jew. Jews succumbing to the age-old view of them and reviling what’s Jewish in themselves has a long history. Peter Kosminsky would have it that his series is about Israel, not Jews, but in The Promise Israel becomes paradigmatic of the Jews’ refusal to be improved by affliction.

    “In a morally intelligent world – that’s to say one in which, for starters, Jews are not judged more harshly than their fellows for having been despatched to concentration camps – The Promise would be seen for the ludicrous piece of brainwashed prejudice it is. Ofcom’s rejection of complaints about the drama’s partiality and inaccuracy was to be expected. You can’t expect a body as intellectually unsophisticated as Ofcom to adjudicate between claims of dramatic truth and truth of any other sort. And for that reason it should never have been appealed to. That said, its finding that The Promise was “serious television drama, not presented as a historical and faithful re-creation”, is a poor shot at making sense of anything. You can’t brush aside historical re-creation in a work of historical re-creation, nor can you assert a thing is “serious television” when its seriousness is what’s in question. A work isn’t serious by virtue of its thinking it is. Wherein lies the seriousness, one is entitled to ask, when the drama creaks with the bad faith of a made-up mind.”

    Ditto in the case of the SBS ombudsman but even more so because of the nature of the SBS charter.

    Kosminsky is an avowed anti-Zionist and I am in no doubt that he attacked this project with great animus towards the cause of Israel. He was highly selective in who he chose to research – there were British soldiers who served during the Mandate while other interviewees included members of ISM whose political agenda of supporting those who seek to destroy Israel including suicide bombers is well documented.

    I strongly question his research among British soldiers. During the period 1967 to 1979, I conducted lengthy discussions with British ex-servicemen who also served there in the post war years. They described several instances of anti-Semitism within their ranks which stemmed not from the behaviour of the minority Jewish groups that took part in terrorist acts in the 1940s but from an inbred hatred of Jews that had pervaded their own country for centuries. None of this is considered in the series.

    Nor is the entire background of the British occupation of the region and the reasons why they maintained their hold on the area. As Professor David Cesarani has pointed out, the British, were the chief architects of the Palestine tragedy but Kosminsky turns them “into its prime victims.” 

    As for the Arabs, the series airbrushes out of existence any of their bad guys. It would have been a major inconvenience for the development of the plot to mention decades of attacks on Jews before WW2 including the Arab riots of the late 30s or the collaboration of parts of the Arab leadership with the Nazis and the final solution. 

    Kosminsky’s rant in fact seeks to validate the proposition that the actions of a minority within a group can lead to justifiable hatred of the whole group. This is precisely the sort of bigotry we should all be fighting against.

    Yet those who attack the ECAJ complaint are diverting attention from the sheer deceit of this propaganda piece and how the script defames Israel and the Jewish people. In doing so they commit an injustice to both sides by polarising opinion, which in turn, makes it more difficult to resolve the conflict in a peaceful manner.

  • sam king says:

    Having written a thesis on this very topic and undertaken extensive studies in Judaic religious and political history along with my partner who is writing her masters in theology, we found The Promise to be somewhat light in its portrayal of the lead up to the events that resulted in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, but considering it was a fictional drama, we are not writing to register a complaint. The fact is that massacres such as those portrayed in the program at Deir Yassin were common place and often far more brutal than anything shown in the series.

    History can be unpleasant, but it should not be subjected to manipulation for political purposes as it is in both Israel and Palestine, especially when it comes to Australian television. The calls from the Jewish lobby in Australia to have this program labelled as anti semitic compare well with the Turkish reaction to suggestions of an Armenian holocaust being formally recognized and should not be allowed to stifle debate, information and especially recognition of the current state of affairs in the Occupied Territories.

    The Appartheid regime in pre Mandela Africa were hardly flattered by the press either, but it is at least a slight step forward in educating people to the very disturbing historical violence that continues today to allow one of the greatest injustices of the last century to continue.

    To illustrate how stifled this debate has become, when UNESCO decided to recognize the Palestinian state at the end of 2011, the US and Israel embarked on a process of collective punishment – the US and Israel immediately withdrew all funding for UNESCO, resulting in the need to now close almost a third of UNESCO missions across the world which will invariably lead to much more suffering in impoversihed countries that really need this assistance. Israel also took the opportunity to seize further parts of the Occupied territories as direct punishment for the statehood bid and the matter barely warranted a mention in Australian Press.

    In any case, for those interested in reading about the events that lead to the creation of the state of Israel in Palestine, it is worthy to note that many of the best writings come from Israeli authors themselves (just as The Promise was also directed by an Israeli) The writings of Noam Chomsky, llan Pappe and Norman Finkelstein are clear examples and should be read alongside Palestinian authors such as Edward Said for those who are really interested in the facts, rather than continuing to promote misinformation and suppression of the debate

    S King

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Sam King – Chomsky and Finkelstein are American, not Israeli… neither is considered a leading historian on this issue, because neither is an historian.

  • Murray says:

    I am a 74 year old, and for a great number of years I have been a strong supporter of the human rights of the Palestinian people. It has always been a puzzle to me as to why there is great support for Israel despite the fact of its 44 year illegal military occupation of Palestine. To achieve this occupation, Israel has ignored at least 56 UN resolutions pertaining to its illegal occupation and treatment of Palestinians with rarely any criticism of its total disregard for human rights and social justice of Palestinians.

    I remember 1967 well, the year that Israel violently expelled some 280,000 to 325,000 Palestinians out of the territories taken by Israel during, and in the aftermath of the Six-Day War, including the demolition of the Palestinian villages of Imwas, Yalo, and Bayt Nuba, Surit, Beit Awwa, Beit Mirsem, Shuyukh, Jiftlik, Agarith and Huseirat and the “emptying” of the refugee camps of Aqabat Jabr and Ein Sulān. Approximately 145,000 of the 1967 Palestinian refugees were refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War? By December 1967, 245,000 had fled from the West Bank and Gaza Strip to Jordan, 11,000 had fled from Gaza to Egypt and 116,000 Palestinians and Syrians had fled from the Golan Heights further into Syria.

    I very much appreciated the SBS program ‘The Promise’ and believe it gave a very good portrayal of the events of that time in Middle Eastern history.

    What I do find surprising is, one rarely hears any criticism of Israel’s behaviour from any Australian politician, either Liberal or Labor.

    What has happened to the Australian value of a fair go that we are supposed to hold so dear? The same value which we claim all new migrants should adhere to and for people be aware of when seeking citizenship? Why do we accept human rights and justice for some people yet deny these basic rights for others? It is important for all countries such as Australia to be even handed. Australia has until recently been a champion of human rights with statements regarding Chinese oppression of Tibetans, Mugabe’s oppression of his people, Burmese military’s oppression of its people and previously strong condemnation of South Africa’s apartheid regime. Yes, there is a right to peace and security for both Israel and Palestine, but ignoring Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine is certainly not the way to go about it. I appeal to both the Australian Government and Israel to show that they are truly intent on peace and not on a Palestinian holocaust.

    By all means we can have friendly relations with Israel, but why allow ‘friends’ to behave in such a manner. It is not only Israel that should have a claim to human rights, but also the Palestinian people should have their human rights respected, something they have been denied for 44 years. “Enough is enough. You must end the illegal occupation”.

  • Jack Chrapot says:

    “I very much appreciated the SBS program ‘The Promise’ and believe it gave a very good portrayal of the events of that time in Middle Eastern history.”

    Then please tell us whether or not you think it’s a work of fiction as claimed by the apologists for the historical inaccuracies and omissions in the series as demonstrated in the ECAJ report.

  • Richard says:

    As anybody could be expected to know, some aspects (persons particularly) would be composites, illustrative. The actual events were not. You are stuck in the groove of the hasbara hordes, asking question, no, demanding responses to comments that are irrelevant obfuscations or strawmen.

    The subject was whether this dramatic representation of some of the events around al Naqba was in any way inaccurate, one sided or gave false, prejudicial portrayals. The answer to all 3 was ‘No’.
    In fact, it was very kind in it’s failure to portray some of the more hideous killings.

  • Sam says:


    “The subject was whether this dramatic representation of some of the events around al Naqba was in any way inaccurate, one sided or gave false, prejudicial portrayals. The answer to all 3 was ‘No’.”

    We know quite clearly where you stand from your comment above.
    I suppose that you might have been there in 1947 or had a close relative that was, and he or she gave you the “facts” firsthand.

    How does your anti-semitism (sorry, I meant anti-Zionism) deal with the The writer and director, Peter Kosminsky. Is he not part of the hated tribe of jewish mythologists?

  • Jack Chrapot says:

    “In fact, it was very kind in it’s failure to portray some of the more hideous killings.”

    Richard, I agree with you entirely about the failure of the series to portray some of the more hideous killings. 

    Kosminsky’s script ignored thousands of Jewish civilian deaths at the hands of the Arabs dating back to the 19th century through to the Nebi Musa riots (5 dead, 1920), the Jaffa riots (47, 1921),  Hebron–Safed riots (133, 1929), the Palestine riots (total deaths unknown, 1933), the Arab revolt (415, 1936–1939),  the conflict with the British (total deaths unknown, 1938–48), the Civil War (408, 
    1947–48), the War of Independence (2,400,  1948-49).

    I could go on and give you the places and in many cases, the names. I could give you some pretty vivid descriptions of the more hideous killings, like Hebron where 67 Jews were so brutally murdered that British High Commissioner, Sir John Chancellor who was generally no friend of the Jews, condemned “the atrocious acts committed by bodies of ruthless and bloodthirsty evildoers… murders perpetrated upon defenceless members of the Jewish population… accompanied by acts of unspeakable savagery.”

    We could fill pages here swapping massacres if you like but the point is simply that people like yourself,  Sam King, Murray and others have swallowed lock, stock and barrel the historical distortions perpetrated in Kosminsky’s script which is founded on complete and utter lies.

    The fact that the Jews didn’t fall out of the sky after the Shoah and in fact were being massacred by Arabs in the region decades before must come as a shock to those who have fallen for Kosminsky’s disingenuous thesis about the behaviour of both Jews and Arabs in the conflict. 

    And none of this brings its resolution any closer.

  • Murray says:

    Jack and Sam,
    Neither you nor I were present in Palestine in the late 1940’s so we can only base our beliefs on recorded history. Neither of us can say that ‘The Promise’ was NOT historically accurate.
    But the following is historically accurate and cannot be denied.

    Massacre at Deir Yassin.
    Early in the morning of Friday, April 9, 1948, commandos of the Irgun, headed by Menachem Begin, and the Stern Gang attacked Deir Yassin, a village with about 750 Palestinian residents. It was several weeks before the end of the British Mandate. The village lay outside of the area that the United Nations recommended be included in a future Jewish State. Deir Yassin had a peaceful reputation and was even said by a Jewish newspaper to have driven out some Arab militants. But it was located on high ground in the corridor between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and one plan, kept secret until years afterwards, called for it to be destroyed and the residents evacuated to make way for a small airfield that would supply the beleaguered Jewish residents of Jerusalem.

    By noon over 100 people, half of them women and children, had been systematically murdered. Four commandos died at the hands of resisting Palestinians using old Mausers and muskets. Twenty-five male villagers were loaded into trucks, paraded through the Zakhron Yosef quarter in Jerusalem, and then taken to a stone quarry along the road between Givat Shaul and Deir Yassin and shot to death. The remaining residents were driven to Arab East Jerusalem.

    That evening the Irgunists and the Sternists escorted a party of foreign correspondents to a house at Givat Shaul, a nearby Jewish settlement founded in 1906. Over tea and cookies they amplified the details of the operation and justified it, saying Deir Yassin had become a concentration point for Arabs, including Syrians and Iraqis, planning to attack the western suburbs of Jerusalem. They said that 25 members of the Haganah militia had reinforced the attack and claimed that an Arabic-speaking Jew had warned the villagers over a loudspeaker from an armored car. This was duly reported in The New York Times on April 10.

    A final body count of 254 was reported by The New York Times on April 13, a day after they were finally buried. By then the leaders of the Haganah had distanced themselves from having participated in the attack and issued a statement denouncing the dissidents of Irgun and the Stern Gang, just as they had after the attack on the King David Hotel in July 1946. A 1987 study undertaken by Birzeit University’s Center for Research and Documentation of Palestinian Society found “the numbers of those killed does not exceed 120″.

    The Haganah leaders admitted that the massacre “disgraced the cause of Jewish fighters and dishonored Jewish arms and the Jewish flag.” They played down the fact that their militia had reinforced the terrorists’ attack, even though they did not participate in the barbarism and looting during the subsequent “mopping up” operations.

    They also played down the fact that, in Begin’s words, “Deir Yassin was captured with the knowledge of the Haganah and with the approval of its commander” as a part of its “plan for establishing an airfield.”

    Ben Gurion even sent an apology to King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan. But this horrific act served the future State of Israel well. According to Begin:
    Arabs throughout the country, induced to believe wild tales of “Irgun butchery,” were seized with limitless panic and started to flee for their lives. This mass flight soon developed into a maddened, uncontrollable stampede. The political and economic significance of this development can hardly be overestimated.

    Of about 144 houses, 10 were dynamited. The cemetery was later bulldozed and, like hundreds of other Palestinian villages to follow, Deir Yassin was wiped off the map. By September, Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Poland, Rumania, and Slovakia were settled there over the objections of Martin Buber, Cecil Roth and other Jewish leaders, who believed that the site of the massacre should be left uninhabited. The center of the village was renamed Givat Shaul Bet. As Jerusalem expanded, the land of Deir Yassin became part of the city and is now known simply as the area between Givat Shaul and the settlement of Har Nof on the western slopes of the mountain.

    The massacre of Palestinians at Deir Yassin is one of the most significant events in 20th-century Palestinian and Israeli history. This is not because of its size or its brutality, but because it stands as the starkest early warning of a calculated depopulation of over 400 Arab villages and cities and the expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinian inhabitants to make room for survivors of the Holocaust and other Jews from the rest of the world.

  • Richard says:

    “We could fill pages here swapping massacres”..
    I think you would find that the IDf and it’s forebears were far more efficient at this.

    “have swallowed lock, stock and barrel the historical distortions perpetrated in Kosminsky’s script which is founded on complete and utter lies.”
    I think you should address such unsupported complaints to people such as Pappe and Morris.
    Oh, and Peled.
    Just remember the cat is out of the bag and no amount of sophistry and false equivalence will change that..

  • Reality Check says:

    How selective are you Murray in your recallection of events in then Palestine. Not a word about how the British treated the Jews or the “maccarces” by Arabs of Jewish seminaries. You only know what those damn Jews did. Every nation has blood on its hands when fighting for independance, but with Jews the blood stains forever.

  • Murray says:

    Reality check,
    As you say, I am aware of what the Jews have done and what they are still doing in Palestine.
    Let’s be clear, an illegal 44 year military occupation does nothing to help the nation of Israel, quite the contrary. Israel has ignored 56 UN resolutions pertaining to its illegal occupation and treatment of Palestinians.
    If Israel returned occupied land to the 1967 boundaries and abandoned the military occupation you would not attract the criticism that you do. Again your settlements built on Palestinian land do nothing to help.
    Can you imagine if the Palestinians had Jews under a 44 year military occupation???
    Since 1967, 18,000 houses Palestinian homes have been demolished in the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem.
    Since 1967, the Israeli military and illegal settlers have destroyed more than one million Palestinian olive trees.
    Operation Cast Lead killed approx 1,417 and 5,380 injured. The Palestinian Ministry of Health stated that 437 children under the age of 16, 110 women, 123 elderly men, 14 medics, and four journalists were among those killed.
    Israel exacted more than an ‘eye for an eye’. Once again can you imagine the condemnation if Palestinians or Lebanese force committed such a barbaric act?
    An ironic twist of history sees Israel the persecuted become the persecutor. The Palestinians are seeing the cruel face of Zionism.

  • Jack Chrapot says:

    Not quite historically accurate Murray but your cut and paste version of Deir Yassin is one of many and this one happens to suit your agenda. As usual, a number of facts are omitted such as the presence in Deir Yassin of troops of the regular Iraki army,  the fact that previous attacks on Jewish civilians had emanated from there, whether the Haganah was forewarned and that the casualty figures are hotly in dispute (in fact disputed by a Palestinian study from Bir Zeit University).

    However, I’m not interested in speaking for the Irgun. Their supporters can do that for themselves. Deir Yassin simply highlights why the series The Promise is precisely what the ECAJ report says it is.

    Kosminsky makes the Jewish people collectively responsible for the actions of a minority group of right wing Jews without making clear that the mainstream Jewish army was defending the people against armed forces that promised “a momentous massacre” of Jews. 

    The Haganah means “to defend”. Kosminsky would have it that the Jews should have laid themselves down and readied themselves for the slaughter but much worse, he converts their success in defending themselves into a crime.

  • Reallity Check says:

    Murray, with your vast, although distorted knowledge, especially the numbers, you appear obsessed with Israel. Got any statices on Syria or Sudan China maybe.

  • Reallity Check says:

    Murray, my comments are useless. Your anti-Jewish agenda is pretty clear. No point discussing anything with you

  • Alex says:

    Reality Check. You haven’t addressed any of Murrays points. All you appear to do is point to other regimes whose treatment of it’s citizens is worse. What has that to do with what Israel is doing to the Palestinians? You refer to the Palestinians and Israeli Arab Citizens as “Arabs”. A sweeping, antisemitic and racist sterotype. No wonder you hear the word “Jews” in anything you feel threatened by. Your mind clearly tuned to think that way with respect to these “arabs”. The cowardice and moral bankruptcy of this Parthian shot is pretty much all that is left in the armoury of those who unquestionably support Israel. Pretty poor, don’t you think?

  • Alex Fein says:

    Alex and your cohorts,

    Parthian? Why on earth are you using an ethnic designation (Parthian refers to the the Pashtun people and nothing else) as a pejorative?

    Your silly comments about “Semites” reveal a tendency to cling to ill-informed anti-Jewish tropes. Please Google “Luigi Cavalli Sforza.” You will see that “Semite” is no longer in use as a term describing ethnicity. There are only “Semitic” languages.

    Only the most disingenuous and shameless try to parse the term, “anti-Semite,” as a way of escaping accusations of anti-Jewish tendencies. All legitimate sources cite “anti-Semitism” as synonymous with anti-Jewish.

    For anyone citing Sands or Pappe, I also highly recommend Luigi Cavalli Sforza’s immense meta-analyses (he is at the apex of the discipline of ethnogenesis) as well as a careful sifting through the references provided in this Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_studies_on_Jews. It will save you the further humiliation of referencing men whose “research” is laughed at by any serious scholar.

    Finally, I second Reality Check:

    I request you all (Alex et al) submit links to your writings on abuses, ethnic cleansing, and killings in the following places (I am providing a truncated list to save you time and effort) –
    . Sudan
    . Congo
    . Syria
    . China
    . Chechnya
    . Saudi Arabia
    . Afghanistan
    . Iraq
    . Iran
    . Indonesia
    . Myanmar
    . North Korea
    . Uzbekistan
    . Turkmenistan
    . Turkey/Armenia
    . India/Pakistan

    If you cannot demonstrate that you have devoted equal time to condemning abuses in at least some of these countries (whose numbers of dead, displaced, tortured and violated dwarfs anything Israel/Palestine has ever experienced), the average reader, Jewish or not, will be left with no option but to assume that Jews are of special interest to you.

  • Reality Check says:

    Alex, take a Bex and carm down. Your sensitivity towards “Arabs” is indeed touching. But it’s that what they call themselves; The Arab League, for example. And Israeli Arabs, I believe that’s what they also prefer to be called. Anyhow reading your thing gives me the disticnt impression that you’re also not terribly fond of us “Jews” so I’ll stop here.

  • Alex Fein says:

    Reality Check, we may need to distinguish between Alexes…

    I’m sure Alex-in-need-of-a-Bex would be horrified to be confused with a rampant Zionist like me. ]

    I, like you, am thoroughly insensitive and refer to Arabs as, “Arabs.”

  • Murray says:

    Get serious you Israeli supporters. This nonsense “you show me what you’ve done and I may listen to what your are saying is a cop out!!!”

    Answer my accusations re – the illegal 44 year military occupation, Israel’s has ignoring of 56 UN resolutions pertaining to its illegal occupation and treatment of Palestinians, your settlements built on Palestinian, since 1967, 18,000 houses Palestinian homes have been demolished in the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem, since 1967, the Israeli military and illegal settlers have destroyed more than one million Palestinian olive trees, Operation Cast Lead killed approx 1,417 and 5,380 injured. The Palestinian Ministry of Health stated that 437 children under the age of 16, 110 women, 123 elderly men, 14 medics, and four journalists were among those killed.
    Israel exacted more than an ‘eye for an eye’. Once again can you imagine the condemnation if Palestinians or Lebanese force committed such a barbaric act?
    These are just a few of Israel’s ignoring of human rights of Palestinians.

  • Alex Fein says:

    What exactly are you trying to achieve?

    Are you interested in anything other than playing to a crowd of like-minded anti-Israel activists?

    If you ever decide you want to engage people who have a genuine attachment to and love of Israel, it’s best to leave the hyper-confrontation behind.

    If you actually engaged us on a human level, you would find that every sane Jew is horrified by any civilian death or injury – that we wish more than anything that Israel and the Palestinians could live side by side and achieve a just peace together.

    We find it very hard to engage with you and take you seriously when you cannot give us a logical answer to a very reasonable question:
    Why is it that your intense vitriol aimed at Israel does not seem to be matched by horror at other far greater cruelties (both in nature and number) elsewhere?

    Your focus on Israel seems disproportionate when you focus on tens and hundreds and ignore hundreds of thousands, if not millions of violations in so many other places.

    If you are equally angry and upset about other injustices, just direct us to your writings on the issues, and we’ll have no reason to suspect your motives.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Alex Fein– “Your focus on Israel seems disproportionate when you focus on tens and hundreds and ignore hundreds of thousands, if not millions of violations in so many other places.”

    I think one of the reasons why people focus on Israel is because the defence of what is often indefensible is so vociferous, the “Lobby” takes no prisoners, and there is no acknowledgement that Israel’s policies have been as much part of the problem as Palestinian rejectionists. Plus, as you know, Israel claims liberal democratic status. No one claims that any of the tin-pot dictatorships defend democracy. Yet so often, Israel claims it is a bastion of democracy–but on the back of Occupation and oppression and military law. It is not just me who says this. Within Israel and beyond, its form of nationalist ethno-democracy is seen as incredibly flawed and in need of major reform if it is to survive. I don’t think that you or I want a theocracy, yet many people do.

    But we are going around in circles here. The issue should really be about the merits/demerits of such a program. Consider then, the recent Hebrew films that I can remember SBS showing and I think there have been many more–The Lemon Tree (about land seizures); Waltz with Bashir (about the invasion of Lebanon); Close to Home (about two women soldiers on patrol in Jerusalem); Lebanon (about soldiers in a tank in Lebanon);Or (My Treasure) (about a young Jewish prostitute); Ushpizin (about a religious Jewish couple), and the list goes on and on, including films about Israeli Palestinian and Druze minorities (The Syrian Bride) or migrant workers and the seamy side of Tel Aviv life (Alila).

    Many of these have arguably a/c the ECAJ way of thinking engaged in stereotypes or antisemitism, involving 1) killing civilians (Waltz with Bashir) 2) pimping and prostitution (Or) 3) exploitation of labourers & funny money (Alila) 4) land-seizures by rich Israeli officers and harassment of Palestinians ( Leomon Tree) 5) maltreatment of Palestinians during inspections (Close to Home) 6) alliances with unpleasant Falangists (Lebanon).

    Yet not a peep!!

    Funny that. Maybe the Promise was too close to the political bone for comfort. That’s the problem, but the way out was to cry antisemitism!

    SBS has probably given Hebrew films unique free-to-air exposure found no-where else in the world and for this, and showing The Promise, controversial as it is, it is to be commended. If I was on the fruit-loop left I would call it a Zionist plot by SBS.

    Or maybe , as the ECAJ idiotically implied about The Promise, these films are a kind of secret left-wing SBS plot akin to the Nazi film Jud Süß to subliminally promote antisemitism as well?

  • Alex Fein says:

    Trotting out the “Israel lobby” cliches does nothing to explain Anti-Zionists’ shameful silence on horrific abuses perpetrated in so many places – abuses that dwarf any misbehaviour on Israel’s part.

    Apart from being inherently suspect, their close scrutiny of Jewish behaviour comes at the expense of support for the violated elsewhere.

    If similar energy were expended on a place like Saudi Arabia, perhaps that country’s appalling gender Apartheid might not be as rock solid as it currently is.

    There’s a whiff here of the soft bigotry of low expectations.

    There is an implicit assumption that non-Western nations cannot be expected to have the requisite sophistication to implement liberal democracy and uphold human rights.

    It’s an old trope, Larry: Israel’s a democracy, therefore it merits closer scrutiny.

    Does this mean the more horrific and tyrannical a regime, the less scrutiny it deserves?

    I’ll leave the last word to you.

    Shabbat Shalom.

  • Murray says:

    Alex Fein,
    You are all evading answering my concerns regarding lack of human rights for Palestinians and Israel’s illegal military occupation.
    Just because there human rights abuses in Sudan, North Korea etc etc does not excuse Israel from it’s necessity to respect the human rights of others and abandon its illegal occupation.
    You say Israel is a democracy but can you name any other democracy that has another people under occupation. Maybe we should just add Israel to your list;
    . Israel
    . Sudan
    . Congo
    . Syria
    . China
    . Chechnya
    . Saudi Arabia
    . Afghanistan
    . Iraq
    . Iran
    . Indonesia
    . Myanmar
    . North Korea
    . Uzbekistan
    . Turkmenistan
    . Turkey/Armenia
    . India/Pakistan


  • Larry Stillman says:

    I think that’s a hoary chestnut or whatever the expression is. I’m not standing up for tin-pots, and I take no pride in the hypocricy of anti-Zionist essentialists who use Israel/Palestine as a platform for an interest in broader revolutionary causes.

    But I also take no pride in the spin of Zionists that nothing is really wrong either.

    But shouldn’t democracy under threat in a country we all seem to care about deeply be subject to scrutiny?

    But I don’t think that is the subject of this the discussion. It is really about SBS etc.

    And I realized, there is another SBS film that was shown last week relating to terrorism in Israel, but its name escapes me. And then, the film about and Ethiopian boy who pretends he is a Falasha….SBS seems very partial to Israeli cinema. I also think Paradise Now about two Palest. suicide bombers was shown on SBS. And of course, Sweet Mud..the list goes on and on.

  • frosh says:


    I know several Indigenous Australians who consider still consider themselves, and arguably with good reason, to be under occupation by the white colonial power.

    Nevertheless, Australia is considered a democracy.

  • Murray says:

    Good try! No indigenous Australians are under a military occupation.
    We do not shoot them, fire tear gas canisters at them, nor build on their land, we do not demolish their homes with Caterpillar bulldozers and build settlements, we have not bombed their villages nor used white phosphorus on them.

  • frosh says:

    Actually Murry,

    The whole of Australia is one settlement after another, is it not?

    But really, the key difference is that are no Aboriginal terrorist governments firing rockets into primary schools and trying to blow up public buses.

  • Reallity Check says:

    Murray,I’ll go back on my word and re-enter this rubbish to inform you that the Aboriginal people aren’t trying to blow up school buses, they don’t fire rockets into white dominated cities or trying to drive the whites into the sea. But with your racist views towards Jews that doesn’t really matter.

  • Marky says:

    Murray writes “If Israel returned occupied land to the 1967 boundaries…you would not attract the criticism that you do”

    So then why were the arabs pre 1967 provoking and insurging attacks into Israel, also saying they would shortly be taking Tel Aviv etc.

    It just shows they were not satisfied with pre 1967 borders. When it comes to Israel, nothing will satisfy them or you regardless of how much land they have..

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Of course, the anti-Semitic conspiracy at SBS continues. Make your complaints then.

    Another film has been screened, now available on playback. I strongly urge you watch it. It reflects all sorts of stereotypes. Made by Israelis.


    We’ve all had experiences like this.

  • Jack Chrapot says:

    Larry, why do you speak of zionists as if we were all cut of the same cloth and all have the same philosophy and attitudes?

    Contrary to what you might think, we’re not all Netanyahu clones. Most of us prefer a resolution to the conflict with the Arabs resulting in a Palestinian state living in peace with Israel and even Netanyahu is in agreement with this. Hamas is not and the PA is now joined with Hamas. 

    To suggest that all zionists are extreme right wing types bent on stifling all criticism is as ludicrous as the suggestion that all anti-zionists are rabid anti-semites (although unfortunately many are).

    I agree that the real issue here should be the  merits/demerits of The Promise. The examples of recent Hebrew films shown on SBS differ from that programme because of the element of truth that underpins their scripts. Indeed, as a zionist I am proud of the fact that Israeli film demonstrates sufficient maturity and honesty to deal with such difficult subject matter as land seizures and the conflicts faced by soldiers in war. To me, they encapsulate in many ways the fulfilment of Herzl’s dream and are testament to the fact that modern day Israel is a vibrant democracy, unlike it’s neighbours who Kosminsky conveniently chose to ignore.

    The Promise is poisonous propaganda conceived by an avowed anti-zionist who bastardises history to promote the deligitimisation and the dehumanising of the Jews of the region both of the 40s and of the current time. Kosminsky takes a snapshot of how he perceives a small minority operates and paints them as mainstream. His use of stereotypes and his whitewashing of the role of both British imperialist double dealing and the history of Arab violence against Jews in the region is to make get across his twisted message is disingenuous and appalling. 

    Kosminsky’s effort isn’t simply anti-zionist. It’s much worse because it seeks to polarise viewers so that they apportion all of the blame for the conflict on one side. When this is done and gains acceptance in wider communities, it makes it all the more difficult to resolve the conflict. 

    Given today’s news about the unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah it’s clear that the work of those of Kosminsky’s ilk is reaping its benefits for the wrong people and will harm Jews and Arabs alike and benefit no one other than the rejectionist influences in the region.

  • Larry Stillman says:


    Who says that I “zionists as if we were all cut of the same cloth”.That is flaw found in many analyses regrettably. I’ve made it clear in lots of places, though I stand outside of Zionist circles, that I don’t at all engage in that kind of characterization of Zionism, though I have strong disagreement with Zionist politics, including the degree to which Israel is a vibrant democracy. I call it a challenged democracy for some,violated by occupation over others (Palestinians, not Arabs as you call them). The Hamas-PA agreement is outside the scope of this discussion, but there are many views on the politics of that and opportunities lost and manipulated by Israel in the past with respect to Hamas. I prefer not to get into a discussion about that here.

    Thus, I think you are really starting to engage in analyzing shades of grey over your distinction between The Oromise and other Israeli films. It is clear that the series was deeply *politically* disturbing and that is the problem. And the film wasn’t about other Arab countries, so Kozminsky can’t be accused of anything there.

    Except for cranks on the left-right fringe who love to hate Jews, very few non-Jews would see stereotyping in the program. They would see politics, that’s all.

  • Sam says:


    Your last comment is an excellent summation of what the majority of the other commenters on this topic feel about the purpose of making this movie which was not really about entertainment.
    Also your conclusions that such productions seek to increase the divide between Jew and Arab and make resolution of the conflict much more difficult are spot on. In this regard it was stupid of Kosminsky as he does no favours for Palestinians either.
    Larry, your view that the Promise was only about politics is quite disturbing, coming from a Jew.

  • Reality Check says:

    His comment about The Promise is about politics is not only disturbing Sam, it’s Jews publishing anti-Semitic propaganda

  • Reality Check says:

    Dehumanizing Jews of the region Jack? Of the world is more like it.

  • Reality Check says:

    Larry Stillman’s arguement is simply two wrongs make a right. Which ofcourse is rubbish

  • Murray says:

    Reality Check;

    Dehumanising Jews of the world???????

    Spare a thought for the Palestinians who have been dehumanized for 44 years by Israel.
    You are yet to respond to my concerns of Israel maintaining an illegal 44 year military occupation of Palestine

  • Reality Check says:

    Over many decades Israel offered land for peace. What Arafat was offered at Camp David, he rejected. If he accepted they would have more than 90% of the west bank, gaza and shared sovereignty of Jerusalem. When former president of Indonesia Dr. Wahid asked Afarat why he didn’t accept Israel’s generous offer he replied that if it takes 150 years “we’ll drive the Jews into the sea. Abbas said recently on Israel’s channel 2 that the Palestinians made a big mistake rejecting the UN resolution for partition in 1947. And so on and so forth. But Murray you won’t accept that and ofcourse it’s all Zionist propaganda. And dehumanizing the Jews of the world: the Jews of Israel and totally linked to the Jews of the diaspora, that’s why Jewish places around the world are also targets. But again, I fully know that I am wasting my time with you.Your mind is made up and any change will alter your whole being.

  • Murray says:

    Reality check,

    You still not answering why your so-called democracy of Israel maintains an illegal 44 year military occupation of Palestine.
    44 years is a very long time you must agree. So……………why not just move out of occupied lands tomorrow?

    Oh sorry, I forgot about the multitude of illegal settlements on occupied land.
    The International Court of Justice and the international community say these settlements are illegal and no foreign government supports Israel’s settlements. Israel disputes the position of the international community. The United Nations has repeatedly upheld the view that Israel’s construction of settlements constitutes violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

  • Sam says:


    Do you know what a troll is? You are one! Don’t waste your time on this site. Get a real job maybe.
    In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response.

  • Murray says:

    So Sam, you also are unable/unwilling to answer my questions.

    If you support the Israel government’s policies you must be able to defend them not just denigrate contributors.

    I assume you cannot support Israeli policies.

  • There has been considerable anti-Semitic trolling activity under both of the articles concerning the screening of The Promise on SBS.

    Galus Australis is not a forum for Holocaust revisionism or attempted delegitimisation of the Jewish people. Trolls are not welcome. Those writing under the names “Ben” and “Murray”, this means you.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Murray – I dont imagine you are too interested in hearing other points of view or looking at the complexities, but you seem to be ignorant of the range of reason why Israel is unable to simply withdraw from the territories – Carlo Strenger explains in today’s Haaretz that Israel is in well, a rough neighbourhood (See Assad)


    “At times, when I hear some of the critical comments on Israel, one might think that Israel is Belgium, and that for unintelligible reasons it keeps attacking helpless Luxembourg.

    …Israel’s critics would do well for the sake of fairness and integrity to acknowledge that it quite frightening to live in a neighborhood in which dictators kill at the scale of the Assad family. Because Israelis wonder: what if these guys, one day, win against us? What exactly will they do to women and children here, if they kill their own? And some of Israel’s critics conveniently forget that Hamas, which in the past won Palestinian elections, has been Assad’s protégé until it decided recently that it is wiser for it not to be seen as supporting him.

    Most Israelis are not ideological right-wingers. To this day two-thirds of Israel’s Jews believe that the two-state solution is the only chance for peace. But they are afraid to move ahead with it: what will happen if we go for the two-state solution, and Hamas, vowing to destroy Israel, will come to power again?

    They want assurances that scenarios like the shelling of southern Israel will not be repeated in Israel’s heartland; and nobody can give such assurances as long as Hamas doesn’t explicitly renounce armed struggle against Israel and recognize Israel’s legitimacy.”

    Strenger is a feirce critic of the current government and believes its policies have played a huge part in the failure of the peace process but there is no point or dignity in discussing this issue with you when you seem totally blind to the reality of the choices that Israel faces.

    And the reference to Syria here is not to deflect and to say – see its worse there, but to explain to you that the Middle East is not the Sunshine Coast.

  • Jack Chrapot says:


    I describe the conflict as one between the Jews and the Arabs because that is what it is and this description fits the context of the political struggle which Kosminsky covers. To suggest that it is something other or that the conflict which began over a century ago can be looked at in a political vacuum ignoring the actions of the local Palestinians and the Arab states which threatened the Jews with massacre in 1948 is ludicrous.

    Moreover, to claim that the Promise “wasn’t about other Arab countries, so Kozminsky can’t be accused of anything there” is disingenuous. The so-called “nakba” arose because of a civil war between Palestinian Jews and the local Palestinian Arab population and because of threatened massacres against the Jews by the Arab League whose armies (commanded by a British soldier) invaded in 1948. Indeed, there is evidence that some outside Arab forces commenced their invasion prior to the end of the mandate. Iraki soldiers were said to be among those who fought and died at Deir Yassin.

    The very occupation that you speak about and which dominates the more modern era aspect of the series came about because of other Arab countries. It’s not possible to even attempt to paint a political picture in the absence of “other” Arabs or the existential threat facing the Jewish people both then and now, let alone to ignore the political realities of Hamas and the PA now supposedly unified.

    That is the epic failure of the series. By airbrushing out much of the background history Kosminsky simply perpetrates a fraud on his audiences. 

    I agree that with you that it’s politically “disturbing”. However, this is due to the  blatant dishonesty of the series and because it serves the forces that seek to promote further hatred among the people of the region.

    You might not see them but many others do and the fact that Kosminsky resorted to the use of sickening stereotypes clearly demonstrates to me the dark spaces that he and apologists for The Promise occupy.

  • Larry Stillman says:

    Should we airbrush this?

  • Reallity Check says:

    And should we airbrush the murder of the two Israelis who wondered off in the wrong place and were brutally murdered by Palesyinians back in 2000. War is hell and truth is the first casualty. But to paint Jews as murderous barstards, that’s another thing. Larry two wrongs don’t make a right.

  • Reality Check says:

    But, Larry, what are you suggesting with your airbrush remark? That The Promise got it right and the Jews were callous murderers who were airbrushed by history?

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I am not suggesting that The Promise was a deep historical work. It was a disturbing drama, that did not, in my opinion, rely on stereotypes. That’s all.

  • Reality Check says:

    Sorry Larry, but I am having trouble understanding what you’re on about.

  • Jack Chrapot says:

    “Should we airbrush this?”

    Absolutely not and I never suggested that we should but if that’s your response, you’ve completely missed the point.

    Should we airbrush almost completely out of existence a century of violence committed against the Jewish population of the region, one example of which is this –
    http://www.pm.gov.il/PMOEng/Communication/IsraelUnderAttack/Kibbutz+Metzer/Kibbutz+Metzer.htm ?

  • Leon says:

    Khader Adnan, 33, a Palestinian prisoner who has refused food for 60 days and petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court on Wednesday against his detention without charge, as thousands took to the streets in solidarity with him.
    Adnan is a loving husband and father, a baker and student at Birzet University and is loved and respected by his community in Jenin.
    Lawyer Jawad Bulus said he had lodged an urgent appeal with the Supreme Court to lift the administrative detention order in light of the rapidly deteriorating health of his client, Adnan, has been held by Israel without charge since December 17 under a procedure known as administrative detention.
    Under Israeli law, a military tribunal can order an individual held without charge for up to six months at a time. Such orders can be extended by further six-month periods indefinitely, if approved in a new court session.
    He began refusing food on December 18 2011, a day after his arrest and is now said to be close to death.
    Adnan in his own words made it clear that his protest is not only for himself, but for all prisoners detained illegally. Adnan has decided not to eat knowing the inevitable outcome. Herein lies his incredible bravery and his power of non-violent resistance.

  • Jack Chrapot says:

    I agree that Adnan should either be formally charged with an offence if it is alleged that he has committed one or, alternatively, be released.

    Leon’s post highlights the fact that Israel does have a legal system that provides an opportunity for all those who come under its jurisdiction to seek relief, even at times when its adversaries fight terrorist wars against its citizens. I trust and hope that the Supreme Court dispenses justice with wisdom and fairness in this and in all cases that come before it – especially those involving complaints such as those lodged on behalf of Adnan. It’s essential if Israel is to maintain its position as a democracy and to set it apart from its neighbours like the regime in Gaza which kept Gilad Shalit in captivity for five years without any legal or humanitarian rights whatsoever. This is one of the differences that actually eludes The Promise and one of the main reasons why the series is so fatally flawed.

    The Supreme Court will also hear that, among other things, Adnan is not just a simple baker but he is also a member of Islamic Jihad (a fact omitted in Leon’s post) and that IJ is not committed to “non-violent resistance” but rather to the destruction by violence of the Jewish State and involved in numerous suicide bombings and missile attacks on Israeli civilians. Extra-judicial murders if you like.

    That said and for better or worse, Israel has laws to deal with the situation it finds itself in and it is up to the courts and not Adnan to determine whether he and other prisoners have been detained illegally. If he has not committed a crime and is not a danger to the safety of the public then he should go free.

  • Leon says:

    Eds: Comment removed. We’re not sure how this article is related to Prof Rees.

  • Leon says:

    Eds, Maybe if you went to the link posted you would be aware of the mention of Prof. Rees…
    Not a great move to seek comments then delete those that do not suit the Jewish cause!!!!

    [Eds: Leon, it’s not “a great move” for you to talk about “the Jewish cause”. It makes you look like some simpleton anti-Semitie who thinks the Jewish community is monolithic in its “cause”.]

  • Reallity Check says:

    Leon, any prisoners you would like to mention held in Syrian jails or in Iran? Of cousre not, Syria and Iran don’t suit your anti-Jewish cause.

  • Reallity Check says:

    And Larry, being the advocate for full identity disclosure, how come you haven’t said anything about Murray or Leon? Don’t want to upset your mates?

  • Larry Stillman says:

    I just saw this–you are talking about posts from a month ago. IN any case, I agree with you Reality Check, and you too should identify yourself.

  • Leon says:

    You have the upper hand to be able to delete postings that are sensitive to your beliefs.
    As well you are then able to use language to denigrate the one who posted the comment.

  • Reality Check says:

    I am glad you agree Larry, but like Zorro and Superman, my true identity shall remain a mystery.

  • Reality Check says:

    Leon, I am not the Eds but as long as you denigrate my people, I am more than happy to denigrate you.

  • Leon says:

    Reality Check, when did I denigrate ‘your’ people. Anything I have written about is factual.
    Nor have I called anyone a simpleton…

  • Reality Check says:

    Try the “Jewish cause”, Leon. Sounds alot like the Jewish conspiracies of the 1930’s and 40’s

  • Leon says:

    Think you are a bit thin skinned Reality Check….

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