Palestine protesters challenge TVNZ over Israeli ambassador’s ‘propaganda’

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Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA) secretary Neil Scott today
Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA) secretary Neil Scott today . . . criticisms of TVNZ's Q&A programme featuring Israeli Ambassador Ran Yaakoby. Image: APR

Pacific Media Watch

Palestine solidarity protesters today demonstrated at the Auckland headquarters of Television New Zealand, accusing the country’s major TV network of broadcasting “propaganda” backing Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza.

About 50 protesters targeted the main entrance to the TVNZ building near Sky Tower and also picketed a side gate entrance for media workers for about an hour.

The protest climaxed a week of critical responses from commentators and critics of TVNZ’s Q&A senior reporter/presenter Jack Tame’s 45-minute interview with Israel ambassador Ran Yaakoby last Sunday which Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA) secretary Neil Scott described as “a platform for propaganda to excuse the genocide happening in Gaza over the last six months”.

Waving Palestine flags and placards declaring “Bias”, “silence is complicity — free Palestine,” and “Balanced journalism — my ass,” the protesters chanted “Jack Tame, you cannot hide – you’re complicit with genocide.”

Protester Joseph with a Palestine flag outside the entrance to TVNZ's headquarters today
Protester Joseph with a Palestine flag outside the entrance to TVNZ’s headquarters today. Image: APR

Chalked on the pavement and on the walls were slogans such as “Jack ‘Shame’ helped kill MSM”, “TVNZ stop platforming genocide and Zionism”, “TVNZ genocide apologists” and “137 journalists killed” in reference to the mainly Palestinian journalists targeted by Israeli military forces.

Across the street, a wall slogan said: “TVNZ (Q&A) broadcast Israeli lies about Gaza”. Other slogans condemned the lack of Palestinian voices in TVNZ coverage – there are about 288 Palestinian people in New Zealand, according to the 2018 Census.

Palestinian advocate Billy Hania of the Palestinians in Aotearoa Coordinating Committee (PACC) said: “We demand TVNZ refrain from parroting the Israeli propaganda narrative and return to practise its duty of professional journalism.”

Ironically, TVNZ tonight screened a rare Palestinian story — a heart-rending report about the tragic death in Gaza of a baby girl, Sabreen Joudeh, “Patience” in Arabic, who had been saved from her dying mother’s womb after an Israeli air strike on their family home.

The TVNZ report interviewed the related Gouda family in Auckland hours before Abdallah Gouda, a doctor, flew out to Turkiye to join a humanitarian aid flotilla leaving for Gaza.


PSNA’s Neil Scott criticises TVNZ coverage of Gaza.   Video: Café Pacific

Criticism of ‘complicity’?
“Jack Tame, you’re a professional,” yelled PSNA secretary Scott through a loud hailer addressing TVNZ. “You know what would be set up, you have to know.

“But you allowed it to happen!”

“I don’t get you Jack, stupid or complicit? Complicit or stupid? One of the two.”

Critics are understood to be filing complaints about the alleged “one-sidedness” of the programme citing many specific criticisms.

“We’re here today because of Jack Tame’s Q&A report for TVNZ,” said Scott.


A Palestine protester calls out TVNZ journalist Jack Tame for alleged bias over Gaza. Video: Café Pacific

With the war having passed 200 days this week with more than 34,000 Palestinians having been killed — mostly children and women — and 392 bodies having been recovered from three separate mass graves discovered at two hospitals after they were destroyed by the Israeli military, some of his complaints were that presenter Tame:

  • Interviewed Ambassador Yaakoby at the Israeli Embassy in Wellington instead of at a TVNZ studio with the New Zealand flag being showed alongside the Israeli flag. “Tying the two countries together – a professional would have had the New Zealand flag removed”;
  • Did not provide context around the October 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel at the start of the interview – “more than 75 years of repression since 750,000 Palestinians were expelled as refugees from their homeland in the 1948 Nakba”;
  • Asking a series of questions that the Israeli ambassador “avoided, changed, or outright lied” in his response;
  • Did not follow up with the questions as needed; and
  • Avoided the questions that “would have placed the issue of the Israeli attack on Gaza” in context.
A protester holds a "Silence is complicity" placard outside TVNZ
A protester holds a “Silence is complicity” placard outside TVNZ in Auckland today. Image: APR

Platform for propaganda
“Essentially, Tame gave Israel a platform for propaganda to excuse the genocide happening in Gaza over the last six months,” said Scott.

Among the contextual questions that Scott claimed Tame should have questioned Ambassador Yaakoby on were the envoy’s unchallenged claim that “1400 people had been butchered” by Hamas fighters.

In fact, the documented figure is 1139 — 695 civilians, including 36 children, and 373 security force members, according to a France 24 report citing official sources.

“The ambassador didn’t mention that more than 350 Israeli soldiers were among those killed — at their military posts,” Scott said.

“Many of the others were aged between 18 and 40 and in the military reserves.”

Also, no mention was made of the controversial Hannibal Directive which reportedly led to the Israeli military killing many of its own countrymen and women captives as the resistance fighters retreated back to Gaza.


The controversial Q&A interview with Israeli Ambassador Ran Yaakoby. Video: TVNZ

Among other responses to TVNZ’s Q&A this week, Palestine solidarity advocate and PSNA chair John Minto declared in an open letter to TVNZ published by The Daily Blog that the programme “breached all the standards of decent journalism. In other words it was offensive, discriminatory, inaccurate and grossly unfair.”

A protester holding up a "Bias" placard outside TVNZ
A protester holding up a “Bias” placard outside TVNZ in Auckland today. Image: APR

‘Unchallenged lies’
“It wasn’t journalism – it was 45-minutes of uninterrupted and unchallenged Israeli lies, misinformation and previously-debunked propaganda. It was outrageous. It was despicable,” Minto wrote.

“The country which for six months has conducted genocide against the Palestinian people of Gaza was given free rein to pour streams of the most vile fabrications and misinformation against Palestinians directly into the homes of New Zealanders. And without a murmur of protest from Jack Tame.

“Even the most egregious lies such as the ‘beheaded babies’ myth were allowed to be broadcast without challenge despite this Israeli propaganda having been discredited months ago.

“The interview showed utter contempt for Palestine and Palestinians as well as New Zealanders who were assailed with this stream of racist deceits and falsehoods with Q&A as the conduit.”

Among a stream of social media comments, one person remarked “On John Tame’s YouTube channel it gained a lot of comments fairly quickly . . .

“These comments were encouraging as at least 95 percent were denouncing the interview . . . with a lot of them debunking the endless stream of blatant lies and atrocity propaganda that poured out of the Israeli ambassador’s mouth.

“Most of the posters were obviously from our country and it was a great example of how Israel’s actions have shattered its reputation with their propaganda fooling hardly anyone anymore.

“It’s a bit like a little child with chocolate all over their face denying they ate the chocolate . . . except in Israel’s case it’s civilian blood all over their face . . .

“Anyway, when I revisited the thread the comments had been purged and deleted.”

On the Q&A YouTube channel, @ZaraLomas commented: “The fact that Q&A are deleting critical comments speaks volumes about their integrity (or lack thereof), and their faith in this shocking piece of ‘journalism’.”

PACC call for ‘truth and accuracy’
In a statement calling for “truth and accuracy in the face of state propaganda”, the Palestinians in Aotearoa Coordinating Committee (PACC) said that Palestinian New Zealanders were in a community that needed “accurate journalism, as we witness the deadliest period of modern history unfold for our people”.

A “hasty two-minute Palestinian response” in a news bulletin to follow the ambassador’s 45-minute interview as arranged by TVNZ was inadequate and rejected.

“Our stake in this is irrefutable. Palestinian perspectives need to be heard on their own terms, not just in brief response to Israeli propaganda,” said the PACC.

The committee called for a comprehensive 45-minute Q&A session with a Palestinian advocate to “ensure a balanced perspective”.

Television New Zealand
Television New Zealand . . . under fire over its coverage of Israel’s war on Gaza. Image: APR
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