A Long December
CBC. Globe and Mail. Toronto Star. Community radio. These are just a few of the places we found unfair and inaccurate information about Israel and the Middle East in December.
January 17, 2005
It started predictably enough: CBC’s Neil Macdonald presented a pundit who explained that al Qaeda’s attack on a US embassy in Saudi Arabia was really all about Israel:
“I think the principal reason is our policies on the Arab-Israeli issues. This is extremely important. We’re now regarded as being very much in the pockets of Sharon.”
Military Attacks vs. Terrorism
A December 15 opinion piece in the Globe and Mail contained a subtle inversion that portrayed Palestinian terror against Israelis as military action, while calling Israeli military operations terrorism. Entitled “Palestinian radicals are in retreat,” the op-ed was authored by Palestinian Authority Minister of Labour Ghassan Khatib (right). Referring blandly to Palestinian terror as “military attacks by Palestinians against Israelis,” Khatib explained that the real problem is with Israel, which “persists with its campaign of terrorizing civilians and arresting and assassinating activists.”
Misreading Canada and the UN
On December 18 the Toronto Star published an article by Lynda Hurst entitled “Behind Canada’s Mideast Shift,” which contained this seemingly benign statement:
“Many in Ottawa continue to favour the status quo, saying that no matter how distasteful the rhetoric, the General Assembly is the only place Palestinians feel they get a fair hearing, if only a symbolic one. Everyone knows that the binding votes occur at the Security Council, which has passed 70 in Israel’s favour.”
But according to the Geneva-based non governmental organization UN Watch, the claim of 70 pro-Israel Security Council resolutions is false. The UN Association of the UK recently issued a report which concluded that General Assembly and Security Council resolutions are “often unbalanced in terms of the length of criticism and condemnation of Israeli actions,” and that the United Nations as a whole is “palpably more critical of Israeli policies and practices than it is of either Palestinian actions or the wider Arab world.” Even the Netherlands ambassador to the UN declared, “We all agree it is ridiculous that we have 19 to 20 [anti-Israel] resolutions every year, it is a ritual and we should get rid of that.”
Why did these facts not make it into Hurst’s report? Perhaps because she repeatedly used information from unnamed “foreign policy critics,” “long-time consultants” and “officials” who were willing to criticize Canada’s more even-handed approach at the UN but were too shy to be identified by name in her article.
No Wonder It’s Called “Alternative” Media
A radio station hosted by McGill University, CKUT Radio calls itself a “non-profit campus community radio station that provides alternative music, news and spoken word programming to the city of Montreal and surrounding areas.” In true “alternative” style, CKUT carries programming like Stefan Christoff’s December 18 interview with an “independent Palestinian journalist” about “the Canadian government’s relationship to the internationally condemned Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza strip.” The interview, as it turns out, was an 18-minute-long, rambling laundry list of grievances against Israel. Who is the Stefan Christoff? A member of the International Solidarity Movement, an Arab-orchestrated group that recruits foreign students to interfere with Israeli military operations, while supporting Palestinians’ right to “armed struggle” against Israel.
And finally, only 73 days after Mohamed Elmasry first declared that all Israeli men and women over age 18 “should be considered legitimate targets,” on December 31 the Canadian Press wire service ended Elmasry’s pariah status by becoming the first major Canadian news outlet to quote him in an article. Because the Canadian Press is a wire service, the article was subsequently carried by numerous Canadian media. Elmasry was quoted on disaster relief for Asia, not the Arab-Israeli conflict. But considering that it took the president of the Canadian Islamic Congress less than 2 months to go from disgraced terror apologist to credible media source, we predict it is only a matter of time before news organizations accept him as a spokesman on a wider array of topics.