The Age hits a low pursuing discredited narratives about Oct. 7 attack

Jul 10, 2024
White block calendar present date 7 and month October on wood background

Melbourne tabloid The Age has done its already sagging reputation no favours by running, as an exclusive, an article that claims to detail what it calls the “denial and disinformation facing October 7 survivors” – Israelis who were attacked by Hamas – with the centrepiece of the article being an interview with an Israeli reservist – who was interviewed twice in 2023.

The story, written by the publication’s chief reporter Chip Le Grand, contains a surprising number of errors and omissions, with the actual premise driving the story being somewhat unclear at the end. As far as one can determine, it appears to be a bid to target, among others, two Australians – Mary Kostakidis, a former SBS broadcaster, and Randa Abdel-Fattah, an academic and author of Palestinian origin – for allegedly raising doubts about what mainstream media claimed transpired during the Hamas attack.

Right at the start of his yarn, Le Grand made a classic blooper, by writing about a federal MP who, he says, was approached by three women soon after October 7, to voice their dismay about the events transpiring in Gaza. But right there, Le Grand makes it clear that the politician in question was someone who was Jewish – and that narrowed down the field for anyone who wanted to make an educated guess as to who this MP was. This reflects poorly Le Grand’s journalistic skills.

The reservist, one Nimrod Palmach, was interviewed by the UK’s Jewish News on November 30 last year; he was interviewed again by Cameron Stewart, a senior journalist at The Australian on December 8, again in 2023. How Le Grand and The Age could claim an exclusive on the third attempt is a mystery. A simple web search would have brought up these articles and killed off the “exclusive” tag.

Le Grand’s whinge, that people he describes as “avowed feminists” are trying to play down the atrocities that allegedly occurred on October 7, is not restricted to Kostakidis and Abdel-Fattah. There are others, males too, whom he accuses of taking a similar stance. His version of events comes mainly from one source which he cites numerous times: a story in The New York Times of December 28 which was republished in The Age.

But Le Grand did not bother to mention that serious doubts have been raised about the accuracy of this NYT story by two senior American journalists: Ryan Grim and Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept, a site set up by Glenn Greenwald among others. To quote Scahill, “The New York Times has grave, grave mischaracterisations, sins of omission, reliance on people who have no forensic or criminology credentials to be asserting that there was a systematic rape campaign put in place here.” What is disturbing about The NYT story is that there are no corrections listed within it – even though the story has been changed numerous times and the version linked to in this article is among the latest, revised in June 2024.

Additionally, Anat Schwartz, a woman who is also listed as one of the three authors of this story, was sacked by The NYT after it was found she had liked pro-Israel posts on social media, including one that called to turn Gaza “into a slaughterhouse”.

Exactly why The Age chose to publish such a washed-up tale at this point isn’t clear. However, it came on the same day that the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published a detailed story about how Israeli officers had repeatedly issued what is known as the Hannibal directive; as the Haaretz story says, “Documents and testimonies obtained by Haaretz reveal the Hannibal operational order, which directs the use of force to prevent soldiers being taken into captivity, was employed at three army facilities infiltrated by Hamas, potentially endangering civilians as well”. This, of course, would mean that a fair number of the Israelis killed on October 8 were slaughtered by their own side.

Apart from not providing the full facts about The NYT story, Le Grand also made no mention of another more recent story about the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry report which has cast doubts on the prevailing Israeli narrative about the October 7 attacks. It was published in June in The Times of London, a publication owned by Le Grand’s former employer, Rupert Murdoch. Of course, quoting from the Times story would have killed off this great exclusive body and soul.

Le Grand’s communications with Kostakidis and Abdel-Fattah can only be described as unprofessional. He probably didn’t bargain for the fact that both [1, 2] women promptly published his emails on X [formerly Twitter]. To Abdel-Fattah, Le Grand wrote, in part: “Why do you describe as specious a New York Times article [republished by my paper (The Age)] titled ‘Screams without words’ given the breadth of material and witness accounts it relied upon?” Plenty has been said about this NYT yarn above.

Kostakidis was quoted in The Age story as standing by what she had said about the issue, but Abdel-Fattah does not appear to have responded to Le Grand, merely commenting, “File this as yet another example of how mainstream media perpetuates anti-Palestinian racism and launders Israeli propaganda and lies.”

In his missive to Kostakidis, Le Grand said, in part: “Notwithstanding the difficulties the [UN] commission confronted in confirming specific instances of rape where the victims were murdered by the perpetrators or either killed or never caught, particularly in circumstances where they were unable to access Israel or Gaza, do you accept it is likely that Israeli women were raped on October 7? If not, why not?”

Le Grand also seemed convinced that denial of the Israeli narrative of what transpired on October 7 is just one step away from Holocaust denial. It would be the understatement of all time so say that such a conclusion could only be drawn by one who is uneducated about the events in Europe in the run-up to World War II, and one who has never taken the trouble to find out the backstories of infamous people like Reinhard Heydrich, Adolf Eichmann, and, above all, failed to read Mein Kampf.


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