Leaked WhatsApp messages show that there was a coordinated campaign to sack Australian-Lebanese journalist Antoinette Lattouf from the ABC after she reshared a social media post protesting the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinian civilians.
Dozens of leaked messages seen by the Sydney Morning Herald show that a group called Lawyers for Israel wrote to people at the ABC including chair Ita Buttrose and managing director David Anderson, demanding that Lattouf be sacked.
Last week it was revealed that Lattouf had sent her submission to the Fair Work Commission industrial tribunal after being sacked by the ABC in December.
She was terminated three days into a short-term position filling in as a host on ABC Radio Sydney.
It was later made public that she was sacked for her social media posts which included a reshare of a post from Human Rights Watch that said that the Israeli government was using starvation as a tool against people in Palestine (post below). They threatened legal action if she was not fired.
Lattouf was fired in the early afternoon of December 20. Hours earlier the people in the WhatsApp group shared a letter from Buttrose in which she said “I have forwarded your email on to Chris Oliver-Taylor, the ABC’s chief content officer, who is dealing with this matter.”
View this post on Instagram
The group also called Lattouf’s lawyer, Josh Bornstein, who is Jewish, a “traitor”. Deputy president of the executive council of Australian Jewry, Robert Goot, was actively involved in the WhatsApp discussion about having Lattouf dismissed.
The Sydney Morning Herald also alleges that the group has been involved in a campaign against the Sydney Theatre Company after some of its actors made pro-Palestine posts.
Before taking on the short contract at the ABC, Lattouf had made a series of social media posts that accused Israeli soldiers of rape and also questioned whether protestors in Sydney had chanted “gas the jews” after the October 7 Hamas attack.
According to Lattouf’s unlawful termination claim, she was told that her morning program had gone well. She was fired on the third day of the job, however, with her boss telling her the order had come from “above”. The stated reason was that she had reposted a Human Rights Watch report saying Israel was using starvation as a weapon of war.
This follows news that Nour Haydar, a political reporter at the ABC, resigned over concerns about the broadcaster’s coverage of the war between Israel and Hamas.
Our concerns continue to mount for the growing list of exceptional journalists of colour departing the ABC with the latest being @NourHaydar
We’ve had similar sentiments expressed to us by many journalists over the course of the past few months. https://t.co/DeCI81dPph
— Mariam Veiszadeh (@MariamVeiszadeh) January 12, 2024
Commenting on Haydar’s resignation, Mariam Veiszadeh, CEO at the Media Diversity Council Australia Tweeted: “Our concerns continue to mount for the growing list of exceptional journalists of colour departing the ABC with the latest being @NourHaydar”
“We’ve had similar sentiments expressed to us by many journalists over the course of the past few months”.