Despite acknowledging that “overall there was a negative view” of Jewish people in the SBS series The Promise, SBS managing director Michael Ebeid has stood by his decision to screen the British production.
Under questioning from Liberal senators, Mr Ebeid said he had personally approved the screening of The Promise earlier this year.
“Anything that concerns Israel and Palestine creates a lot of controversy, as this did,” Mr Ebeid said during Additional Estimates in the Senate Environment and Communications Committee.
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business and Fair Competition Senator Scott Ryan rejected Mr Ebeid’s claim that because The Promise was fiction, it was subject to different considerations.
“Some of the biggest slanders in history have been works of fiction,” Senator Ryan said. “Depictions in the series include Jewish children stoning Arab children, blood-thirsty soldiers, conniving double-agents and members of an extremely wealthy, cosmopolitan family. Like it or not, these three depictions are anti-Semitic stereotypes that are at the same time old, but also reappearing today.”
Mr Ebeid responded that he was not suggesting The Promise “tried to be balanced”, but he said it did not engage in stereotyping.
“I am concerned by Mr Ebeid’s responses,” Senator Ryan said. “He must surely be aware that this series adds to the delegitimisation of the State of Israel and the serial revision of modern Israeli history.”