Australian Journalist Fired After Israel Lobby Push

Antoinette Lattouf was fired after sharing a Human Rights Watch Instagram post accusing the Israeli government of “using starvation of civilians as a weapon of war in Gaza.”

ABC office in Southbank, Melbourne, January 2024. (Shkuru Afshar, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

Leaked text messages obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday show that the government-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation fired radio host Antoinette Lattouf last month following a pressure campaign by pro-Israel lobbyists.

Lattouf, a Lebanese-Australian journalist who was working in a short-term contract position for an ABC morning radio program, was terminated shortly after she shared a Dec. 18, 2023, Human Rights Watch Instagram post accusing the Israeli government of “using starvation of civilians as a weapon of war in Gaza” — an accusation that ABC covered at the time.

The Herald reported Tuesday that “dozens of leaked messages from a WhatsApp group called Lawyers for Israel show how members of the group repeatedly wrote to the ABC demanding Lattouf be sacked, and threatened legal action if she was not.” One Lawyers for Israel member called Lattouf’s lawyer, who is Jewish, a traitor.

The letter-writing campaign reached ABC chair Ita Buttrose, who responded to one message saying that she had “forwarded your email on to Chris Oliver-Taylor, the ABC’s chief content officer, who is dealing with this matter.”

Lattouf has filed a wrongful termination claim against ABC over her firing, alleging that she was unlawfully ousted because of a “political opinion or a reason that included political opinion.” 

Lattouf’s complaint says she was fired for “breaching the ABC’s social media policy.” ABC said in response that it had “received some complaints” about Lattouf “in relation to her perceived stance on the Gaza conflict” and advised her to avoid posting to social media anything that could be deemed “controversial.”

According to the Herald, the lobbying campaign against Lattouf “became intense in the week starting December 18,” the day she shared the Human Rights Watch post.

“A stream of letters were sent on her second day, and on the third day — the day she was sacked — one of the group’s administrators, Sydney conveyancing lawyer Nicky Stein, sent a message at 6:54 am entitled ‘Action of the day: call to action,'” the Herald reported. “This post urged group members to target Communications Minister Michelle Rowland and copy in the ABC ombudsman, the board, and [managing director David] Anderson, adding: ‘It is important ABC hears not just from individuals in the community but specifically lawyers so they feel there is an actual legal threat.'”

Elaine Pearson, director of the Asia division at Human Rights Watch, called Lattouf’s ouster “disturbing” and said that “journalists should be encouraged to amplify human rights reporting, not penalized for doing so.”

“This could have a chilling effect on the ability of Australian journalists to share human rights content from reputable organizations which is deeply troubling,” Pearson added.

“ABC should clarify the circumstances when staff are or are not permitted to repost the work of HRW, the policies that underpin those determinations, and whether staff have faced dismissal or other disciplinary action for sharing Human Rights Watch’s work.”

Following the Herald‘s reporting, ABC journalists in Sydney threatened to walk off the job over Lattouf’s firing, which came amid broader concerns over the censorship of journalists critical of Israel’s assault on Gaza.

“On Tuesday afternoon, about 80 staff members demanded a meeting with Anderson, who is currently on leave,” The Guardian reported.

Cassie Derrick, media director of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance — the Australian trade union that represents ABC employees — told The Guardian that “working journalists are the ones who are holding the line on public interest journalism, and telling the stories we need to hear without fear or favor.”

“And at the ABC, the management is letting these journalists and the public down,” Derrick added. “Management needs to work with the staff to ensure that the trust in the ABC can be maintained.”

Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from  Common Dreams.

Views expressed in this article and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

13 comments for “Australian Journalist Fired After Israel Lobby Push

  1. Rabbitnexus
    January 17, 2024 at 23:13

    I feel only shame and loathing for my country anymore. Australia doesn’t deserve to call itself a free nation, let alone moral.

  2. Will Durant
    January 17, 2024 at 17:49

    Zionists win again! Australia appears to be almost wholly subservient to its new masters. What a sad, pathetic place for a once proud country. When the blind are lead by the blind, both fall into the ditch. I had a very high opinion of Australia at one time, before its leaders decided to shine the boots of the U.S. hegemon. Should have left The Commonwealth long ago and shown some backbone and doughty independence. As an American, I would advise Australians to keep your distance from my country’s reckless and disastrous foreign policy. You will be dragged into a quagmire that will make you less safe and prosperous in the long run. I don’t trust or respect my government because it has betrayed what I once believed were American principles of justice and fair dealing. Why should you?

  3. Rex Williams
    January 17, 2024 at 16:37


    “…still has large audiences” for one reason only. The other sources of “news” are even more biased in their reporting than the ABC, if that seems possible.

    Gone are the Sophie McNeil and Mark Willacy days when the ABC had a serious level of truthfulness in its coverage of news without the pro-Israel bias.

    How the letter writers to the ABC cannot be seen was non-Australians, I’ll never know. They have infiltrated all avenues of business and media in this now very feeble country.

    Let’s not even mention politics with the Albanese / Marles / Wong decision makers for US wars as we pursue our new US vassal state role .
    We are certainly not the country we used to be .

  4. Billy Field
    January 17, 2024 at 16:15

    And the creeps (read traitors) going to the private run “pig show” Davos are worried about regaining “trust”? Disgusting weakness Ita et al..they all know this is very, very wrong & have the blood of tens of thousands of innocents, including thousands of little children, on their hands ….well hooray,.for what? A lousy meal ticket? Well, BRAVO three cheers for them all and the evil lawyers too ..sack all them I say! ..anything for a buck eeh?..Regaining trust?, ..seems impossible now so its censorship, zapping internet links, criminalising truth/debate …Who said “All dictatorships begin by criminalising speech”? __Robyn says “I have not watched/read/listened to the ABC for many years simply because I found their bias disgusting. There are so many sites where one can find reputable journalists and analysts, I’m bewildered that the ABC still has large audiences.” Too right Robyn!

  5. Steve
    January 17, 2024 at 11:11

    The zionist jewish lobbies have taken control of the MSM in the USA and UK as well as infiltrated the governments. It looks like Australia has gone the same way with control of the MSM and probably the government. The five eyes all appear controlled by the zionists.

  6. Dave Grounds
    January 17, 2024 at 03:47

    The ABC has been attacked for being biased in its reporting for many years now – mainly by the conservative government, the Murdoch press and the IPA but also, at times, by the Labor government. The politicians don’t like being held to account, the Murdoch press doesn’t like the competition and the IPA is against it on idealogical grounds. This despite the fact that it has been demonstrated many times that the presentation of a totally unbiased news is impossible. Nevertheless, as a result of these relentless attacks (and the constant threat of budget cuts and the larding of upper management with political nominees) the ABC introduced the policy that an employee’s freedom to write what he or she liked on their own social media and in their own time was to be curtailed – presumably to stop the sort of vicious attacks described in the article. It’s a pity that management don’t just respond to such attacks by saying ‘Hey, they weren’t writing on behalf of the ABC – don’t blame us.’ Just another example of how the extreme right wing moan about loss of freedom of speech unless it’s speech they don’t like!

  7. Andrew Nichols
    January 17, 2024 at 02:09

    It’s a pity Mick Hall didnt get the same collegial support for the pursuit of truth at Radio New Zealand

  8. Eric Arthur Blair
    January 17, 2024 at 01:30

    Speaking truth is an act of treason in an empire of lies.

    Freedom of speech in the “liberal” West? What a joke.
    If ABC chairweasel Ita Buttrose had a spine, she would dare the Zionist lawyers to sue and be damned. The was NO case against Lattouf, no basis for her dismissal, she was expressing a provable truth.

    One thing’s for sure: Ita’s butt does not smell like a rose.

  9. Graeme
    January 16, 2024 at 19:03

    For nonAustralian readers, the following may clarify who/what the ABC is.

    “The Australian Government funds the ABC as part of the Budget each year. This funding covers their normal operations and transmission costs as well as capital works and special projects. The Australian Government does not direct the ABC on programming matters.”

    and this explanation is also helpful:
    “It is principally funded by direct grants from the Australian Government and is administered by a government-appointed board. The ABC is a publicly-owned body that is politically independent and fully accountable, with its charter enshrined in legislation, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983.”

    Public confidence in the ABC has, traditionally been quite strong.
    The following is from an ABC document from 2017, and is accurate within tolerable margins:
    “More than 80% of Australians trust the ABC, compared to average trust of 57% for commercial media. the ABC cost 19.2 cents per person per day (2017 value).”

    A couple of things, aside from the Lattouf debacle, have undermined public trust in the ABC:
    – government funding cutbacks;
    – attempts at party partisan interference;
    – the policy of allowing each side of a debate equal time can be daft; e.g. climate deniers (once) received the same amount of time as climate scientists.

    Perhaps, the one issue that got under my skin regarding the ABC was their endorsement of the ‘rape allegations’ against Julian Assange. No attempts made to query the veracity of the accusations, just mindless repetition of the libel.
    And never an apology for their participation in the denegration of Julian.

    • Curmudgeon
      January 17, 2024 at 12:23

      The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is little different in its Charter than the ABC. The problem is, who appoints the Board members? All of the noise about “no political interference” is complete and total bullshit as the government appoints the Board, which chooses the upper management. Until the mid 1980s, the CBC was a reliable news organization. Since that time successive governments, both Conservative and Liberal, have dismantled its credibility and turned it into a laughing stock for news and programming in general.

      • Graeme
        January 17, 2024 at 18:23

        Who appoints the board, so correct.
        Usually the governing party of the day.
        And of course, the governing party of the day also determines the annual budget.
        There have been calls in Australia for the ABC to receive a guaranteed percentage of the annual budget – but nothing more was heard of that.

        As disgruntled as what we may be with our respective public broadcasters there one opinion poll result (cited above) that warrants some consideration: the “average trust of 57% for commercial media” is a clear indication of how abysmal profit-making news media is.

  10. firstpersoninfinite
    January 16, 2024 at 18:44

    If only the higher-ups had cared about their employees at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, they would have treated the Lawyers for Israel like the bullies they are. They would have leaked all the names of those lawyers to the press and said they planned to stand by their employees when threats are made against them. Disturbing also that a government-funded entity would not consider the people paying their salaries and watching their shows, but instead were determined to please a rogue state committing genocide. Wait – this was Australia, right? Never mind. Strange that the eyes of the Five Eyes are always closed upon themselves. But their ears remain mysteriously open to suggestions from their masters.

  11. Robyn
    January 16, 2024 at 18:42

    I have not watched/read/listened to the ABC for many years simply because I found their bias disgusting. There are so many sites where one can find reputable journalists and analysts, I’m bewildered that the ABC still has large audiences.

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