Senior officials at Australia’s national broadcaster angrily contested the allegations and denied that they had ever dismissed journalist Antoinette Lattouf, providing evidence that pro-Israel campaigners were using two WhatsApp groups to exert pressure on ABC management to terminate her. After just three days on a short-term contract to work on a lifestyle radio program over the Christmas season, Lattouf, an Australian-Lebanese woman, said that she had been fired.
The pro-Israel lobby, which seeks to maintain US financial and military backing for the Jewish state, is a powerful factor in US foreign policy. The Trump administration’s decision to relocate the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv, the country’s officially acknowledged capital, to Jerusalem, a move long supported by those in the pro-Israel lobby, represents the lobby’s most recent legislative win.
Lattouf claimed she was informed she was doing a “great” job at an all-staff meeting, but it was less than an hour later when three supervisors dragged her into a room and told her she was out of a job and needed to leave the premises right away.It discovered through a series of WhatsApp communications that a group named Lawyers for Israel had advocated for Lattouf’s dismissal.
The journalist was fired shortly after releasing a Human Rights Watch report on social media that claimed Israel was waging war in Gaza by starving its citizens to death. Lattouf argued that her termination was illegal, claiming that it was due to “political opinion or a reason that included political opinion.” Josh Bornstein, one of her attorneys, asserted that the dismissal was “based on both political opinion and race.”
Media Independence and Accountability
As a result of their opinions on the Israel-Palestine conflict, a number of journalists have been suspended or fired worldwide since October 7, when Hamas and Israel started to escalate their hostilities. Without offering a remark, Lattouf reposted the tweet and informed the management that ABC had indeed covered the issue.
The broadcaster first claimed that she had been let go for going against the company’s social media rules. Messages from a Lawyers for Israel WhatsApp group, however, were compromised and exposed. According to reports, the pro-Israel attorneys plotted a plan in the messages to bombard ABC with complaints over Maattouf. While acknowledging that there were no valid reasons to fire the journalist, one attorney threatened to file a lawsuit if the journalist was not fired. Attack advertisements and primary opposition support are being aired by the pro-Israel lobby in the US in an effort to confront members of Congress who do not support or vote in favor of Israel’s war on Gaza.
Navigating Controversial Topics
“The ABC assigned Antoinette Lattouff (sic) an advocacy ‘journalist’ (with an active anti-Israel social media presence despite ABC policies to the contrary) to host the ABC morning show in Sydney,” says one of the comments, which comes from someone going by the name “MG.” “To put it briefly, we pay the bills and the ABC does as it pleases!” “Something needs to be done,” MG said in a different message.
A WhatsApp message from someone going under the name of Esther says, “I just got an email from Ita Buttrose in response to my letter.” The report continues, stating that Lattouf “no longer works at the ABC,” as Buttrose informed Estther. More than a hundred members of the ABC union chastised David Anderson, the organization’s managing director, while global affairs editor John Lyons expressed his embarrassment at his job, accusing it of being pro-Israel and neglecting to defend its employees against grievances.
The ABC issued a guideline prohibiting the use of the phrase “genocide” to characterize Israel’s assault in Gaza, even when referencing someone. The ABC frequently receives and addresses complaints from people or organizations, so it is simply incorrect to assume that the managing director, in capacity as editor-in-chief, or it would be swayed by lobbying pressure of any kind.
Controversy surrounds WhatsApp’s ties to Israel and Jan Koum’s philanthropy. Questions about the platform’s impartiality and ethical stance arise from its alignment with pro-Israel entities, evident through donations and the promotion of biased content. Christians United for Israel, boasting over seven million members, stands as the largest pro-Israel lobbying group. Meanwhile, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), representing a coalition of pro-Israel American Jewish organizations, holds significant influence in the lobbying sphere.