By Hanna Kawas
This week marks the two-year anniversary of the Great Return March in Gaza. Two years since the people of Gaza came out in protest to highlight their right of return and right to live in dignity; thousands paid with their lives or limbs for this protest, be they journalists, medics or children.
Coverage of the demonstrations in Canada, and in other Western countries, was skewed and predictably pro-Israel.
CBC, Canada’s “national” broadcaster, was one of the more egregious examples of this bias, and a campaign was launched to try and hold them to account.
However, their reporting on the Great Return March and other incidents since then, most notably the smears against protesters at York University in Ontario, begs the question of how much the Israeli military censor impacts mainstream news coverage in Canada.
Here is a just-released open letter that demonstrates how CBC’s coverage, and their justification of such biased reporting, is both “unacceptable and disingenuous”.
Open Letter to CBC and its Ombudsman:
Two years ago, we made a complaint to CBC and a follow-up to the Ombudsman Office regarding your biased coverage of the Great Return March in Gaza and down-playing of the Israeli military’s murder and maiming of Palestinians during those protests. We also exposed how even the wording and terminology in your reporting was being dictated by Zionist lobby groups.
Since that original complaint and your belated response to it on Sep. 17, 2018, new facts have come to light that support our contention that “CBC is unabashedly supporting Israeli ethnic cleansing, war crimes and Apartheid.”
- On March 6, 2020, a report by Israeli reporter Hilo Glazer in the Israeli paper Haaretz showed the true face of Israeli intentions, under the title ’42 Knees in One Day’: Israeli Snipers Open Up About Shooting Gaza Protesters. It clearly demonstrated that Israeli snipers were shooting Palestinian demonstrators to teach them a lesson, making an example of them to stop people from continuing with their protests. “This isn’t a war, it’s a Friday afternoon D.O. [disruption of order]. The goal is not to take down as many as possible, but to make this thing stop as quickly as possible.” “We’re not even winning on points. After some time there, in a debriefing, I said: ‘Let me just once take down a kid of 16, even 14, but not with a bullet in the leg – let me blow his head open in front of his whole family and his whole village. Let him spurt blood. And then maybe for a month, I won’t have to take off another 20 knees’.”
- An opinion piece by Gideon Levy was carried a day later in Haaretz, entitled The Israeli Army Doesn’t Have Snipers on the Gaza Border. It Has Hunters. He stated: “None was court-martialed. Correction: One got seven days in military jail for shooting a sheep. Soldiers in the world’s most moral army don’t shoot sheep. With 200 dead and 8,000 wounded, they think ‘the restraints on us are shameful.’ That is their shame. They are our shame. They, and their commanders. They and the army that orders them to shoot at protesters as if they were ‘ducks who chose to cross the line.’”
- On Feb 28, 2019, the Israeli paper Haaretz reported under the title UN Council: Israel Intentionally Shot Children and Journalists in Gaza about the finding of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 Gaza protests. “The commission found that 35 children had been killed, some from direct weapons fire. The commission also noted one case involving a disabled person in a wheelchair and direct fire at journalists who claimed that they were clearly identified as press … the commission also recommended that materials it collected be transferred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague and that UN members ‘consider imposing individual sanctions, such as a travel ban or an assets freeze, on those identified as responsible by the commission’.”
- On March 15, 2019, the Israeli 972 Magazine reported on the Israeli censorship in 2018 (the year the March of Return started):
“Israel’s military censor prohibited the publication of 363 news articles in 2018, more than six a week, while partially or fully redacting a total of 2,712 news items submitted to it for prior review. According to the data, provided in response to a freedom of information request filed by +972 Magazine, Local Call, and the Movement for Freedom of Information, the censor barred more news stories from publication in 2018 than in almost any other year this decade.”
Considering all the facts above, we would like to ask you again; was your reporting on the March of Return in Gaza on March 30, 2018, true to your stated values of “Accuracy, Fairness, Balance, Impartiality and Integrity”?
Two years ago, we asked you to look at the Israeli human right organization B’tselem reports “who not only warned in advance that the Israeli military were about to conduct a massacre, but have launched a new public campaign calling on Israeli soldiers to refuse such orders to shoot at unarmed protestors.” Clearly, these reports did not have an impact on your coverage nor your eventual ruling!
Your ruling emphasized the language angle of our complaint, ignoring our concerns about the inaccuracies and bias in your stories, as well as the CBC attempt to minimize Israeli war crimes by highlighting the official Israeli military version of this new alleged “security threat”. Your statement that “The stories reported the facts appropriately as events unfolded…The stories did not violate CBC policy” was and is misleading, unacceptable and disingenuous.
— @palestinechron (@PalestineChron) April 1, 2020
Finally, we would like you to address several issues:
- Considering the facts that are mentioned above, do you trust Israeli military statements? And will you continue to report them without verification?
- Can you tell us and the Canadian public (who has a right to know), if CBC stories are subjected to Israeli censorship? Are you under the same rules the Israeli press is subjected to? And if the Israeli military censor does demand changes to one of your stories, are you forbidden from telling your Canadian public that your story was censored?
- The (not so honest) “Honest Reporting” is an Israeli lobby group who are effectively playing the role of the Israeli censor in Canada; its objective is to implement the Israeli Hasbara 3 D’s. Distract from the truth, Distort the message and Defame the messenger. Will you again jump to immediately “implement” their “suggestions” to your stories?
And please don’t tell us CBC is not influenced nor “beholden“ to the Israeli lobby, we regret to tell you that much of the Canadian political establishment allows themselves to be bullied by their intimidations and blackmail. The recent false allegations against pro-Palestinian students at York university and the defamation of Dimitri Lascaris by major Canadian political figures, including the Prime Minister, are just two small examples.
We would all do well to take a lesson in morality, humanity and objectivity regarding the Palestinian genocide, from archbishop Desmond Tutu, the renowned fighter against South African apartheid and racism, who said:
“Those who turn a blind eye to injustice actually perpetuate injustice. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
– Hanna Kawas is Chairperson of the Canada Palestine Association and co-host of Voice of Palestine. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle. Visit: http://www.cpavancouver.org.