Letters in the Melbourne Age concerning the attack on "The Promise" and the SBS network

Newsboy. Source: http://www.clker.com (free public domain)The AJDS had the lead letter in the Melbourne Age on ‘The Promise Controversy’, accompanied by two excellent others, including Jeremy Kenner, an ADJS member.
The Age, January 18, 2012
Biased, yes, but worth seeing
AS A fictional narrative about the Arab-Israeli conflict, The Promise indeed presents a biased perspective. It is impossible to imagine that any filmmaker, historian or novelist could do other than present a perspective that is biased by their own worldview. If objectivity was a fundamental principle of presentation, then virtually no historical work would be acceptable.
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We agree with the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) that the Jewish characters portrayed are generally unsympathetic in comparison with the Arab characters. But we fundamentally disagree that this bias amounts to anti-Semitism.
The ECAJĀ“s central contention is that the underlying anti-Semitism in The Promise is so pervasive that its negative influence will subliminally affect viewers whose primary aim is to be entertained. The corollary of this perspective is that viewers are incapable of recognising that as a fictional drama The Promise is not a definitive statement of historical truth. We disagree.
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The Promise does deserve some criticism and parts of the ECAJ submission to the SBS ombudsman highlight those failings. But in our view The Promise is a worthwhile contribution to the debates about the intractable conflict.
Harold Zwier and Larry Stillman, Australian Jewish Democratic Society, Elsternwick

Compelling viewing

I WATCHED The Promise on SBS over four nights and thought that it was compelling viewing. For the record, I am pro-Israeli and regard modern Israel as a beacon of liberal democracy in a region whose governance is generally fairly awful (to put it mildly). However, the fact remains that during Israel’s struggle for independence in 1946-49, elements within the Jewish resistance groups behaved abominably, as witnessed by such events as the King David Hotel bombing, the hanging of British sergeants Martin and Paice (one of whom ironically had a Jewish mother) and, most infamously of all, the massacre of Arab civilians at Deir Yassin. (Each of these events was included in The Promise.)
No nation, including Israel (or Australia for that matter, as we are so often reminded nowadays), has an unblemished history. For the record, The Promise was written and directed by a Jew, Peter Kosminsky; it seems a bit odd to regard him as anti-Semitic.
Hugh Weaver, East Malvern
Loaded language
A LEADING Jewish body, in an effort to suppress DVD sales of the SBS series The Promise, has likened the program to Nazi propaganda. This shameful attempt at censorship is bad enough without the use of such loaded language. If the Executive Council of Australian Jewry thinks the show is unbalanced, fine; if they think it is bad television, say so; but to label it Nazi propaganda diminishes the credibility of the council and the dignity of Jews everywhere. I have no doubt that the council would have had no trouble at all with the program if the “consistently negative portrayals” were of Palestinians or British characters or if the “historical inaccuracies” fell in their favour. You may call the program propaganda; I call your public-relations efforts hypocrisy.
Jeremy Kenner, Mordialloc

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