As news comes from France of possible terrorist attacks being planned for Australia, Australia itself is more concerned not to offend PC sensibilities. Broadcasters there can’t refer to Hamas and Hizballah as terrorist groups, even though the Australian government lists Hizballah as a terrorist group and is likely to add Hamas soon. From CNSNews.com, with thanks to Jean-Luc:
Australia’s national broadcaster has instructed its staff not to identify Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizballah as terrorist organizations, because they have not been designated as such by the United Nations.
The instruction comes despite the fact the Australian government has listed Hizballah as a terrorist group, and is likely to add Hamas and Islamic Jihad to the list soon.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s head of international operations, John Tulloh, confirmed the policy Friday, in response to emailed queries.
An internal memo to ABC staff reportedly reads: “Please be careful with Middle Eastern references. Several recent slip-ups have attracted justified complaints. The ABC follows U.N. guidelines on proscribed groups: Hamas, Hizballah, and Islamic Jihad are not included in the U.N.’s list of terrorist organizations and therefore must not be described as such.”
Tulloh declined to elaborate on the “justified complaints,” saying that correspondence from ABC listeners and viewers was private.
Tulloh’s memo reportedly continues to say that while the groups shouldn’t be called terrorist, it is appropriate for the ABC to describe “a suicide bombing or similar outrage” as an act of terrorism, and to call a suicide bomber a terrorist.
Last year, Australia’s federal parliament passed a law specifically listing Hizballah as a terrorist group.
Tulloh confirmed on Friday, however, that the ABC policy regarding Hizballah stood despite that law. . . .
After the Oct. 2002 bombings in Bali, in which 88 Australians were killed, parliament passed a law enabling the government to ban terrorist organizations.
But a civil liberty safeguard, incorporated into that law at the opposition’s insistence, prevented the government from listing as a terrorist group any organization not on the U.N.’s terrorist list.
The U.N. list, which was drawn up by a committee set up prior to the 9/11 attacks to monitor sanctions against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, is restricted to “individuals and entities” linked to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
This has left Australia in the position of not being able to outlaw organizations that are not affiliated to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, despite serious concerns about other groups’ activities. Hizballah is an exception, because of the specific legislation passed last year. . . .
Asked whether any future designation of Hamas and Islamic Jihad as terrorist groups would change the ABC’s policy with respect to the two organizations, Tulloh replied: “not at this stage.”
Invited to comment, Tzvi Fleischer of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) said Friday the identification of terrorist organizations was not the problem the ABC claimed it was.
“Terrorist attacks are attacks directed primarily at civilians, and are generally readily identifiable, as even the ABC’s own memo concedes,” he said.
“A terrorist organization is one whose leadership espouses or claims credit for such attacks, or which has been identified by a legitimate court of law as having carried out such an attack, regardless of the cause in which the attacks was carried out. By this criteria, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizballah are unequivocally terrorist organizations.”
Fleischer also questioned the policy of a taxpayer-funded Australian broadcaster to appeal to the U.N. as the “ultimate authority” when it came to designating organizations as terrorist.
“The U.N. is neither a judicial body, nor a world parliament, and the ABC was established to represent an Australian point of view, and not that of a political multinational organization in New York,” he said. . . .
Critics have frequently accused the taxpayer-funded ABC of anti-establishment and left wing bias, and last year its coverage of the Iraq war came under fire from the minister responsible for communications.
Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, both Palestinian groups, have claimed responsibility for scores of suicide bombings and other attacks, costing hundreds of Israeli lives.