A Textbook Case of CBC Bias Against Israel (January 13, 2012)

January 13, 2012

A Textbook Case of CBC Bias Against Israel

By: Mike Fegelman, Executive Director January 13, 2012

Dear HonestReporting Canada Subscribers,


For a long time, Israel’s supporters have been trying to draw media attention to the massive problem of incitement in Palestinian school books. HonestReporting Canada has long called on Canadian media outlets to produce reporting on this endemic problem. As noted in our recent op-ed published in the National Post:

“While Israel’s leadership has prepared its people for peace, the Palestinians have been hearing a very different message from their leaders. Instead of advocating conciliation, Palestinian leaders from Arafat to Abbas have instead promoted a culture of daily incitement against Israel. From naming public squares and children’s summer camps after terrorists, to putting currently imprisoned Israeli and Palestinian Arabs convicted of terror crimes on the Palestinian Authority payroll, to denying the existence of Israel and the Holocaust in Palestinian school textbooks, the Palestinian Authority incites its youth to glorify terrorists and teaches a distorted historical narrative of the region which is antithetical to peace. The PA’s denial of Israel’s religious and historical connection to the land of Israel, whether through lobbying for Rachel’s Tomb to be declared a mosque or by proclaiming of one of Judaism’s holiest sites, the Western Wall, to be a revered Islamic site defiled by Jews, educates Palestinian children in intolerance and misinformation.”

We were initially relieved to see CBC Radio’s Dispatches program pick up on this issue on its January 12 broadcast. Problem is, CBC preferred to ignore the rampant incitement until the Palestinians complained that Israel was censoring them. To listen to this report please click here or on the CBC Radio Dispatches image to the right.

Reporter Derek Stoffel investigated Israeli censorship of Palestinian texts in eastern Jerusalem schools funded by Israel. According to the program’s teasers:

  • “Israel rewrites the history books. No Arafat. No Intifada. Palestinians say, no more.”
  • “In Gaza, Palestinians have no problem keeping past heroes alive. Not so for their brethren in East Jerusalem, where Israel is in control and is trying to re-write Palestinian text books.”
  • “They say the winner writes the history books. Israel is trying to write it in East Jerusalem, and the Palestinians don’t like it. Some of their key actors and events have disappeared from school texts, triggering a backlash among parents and students alike.”

Notwithstanding, it was a legitimate story for the CBC to cover, as have other media outlets including the LA Times and the Jerusalem Post. To his credit, Stoffel (pictured right) raised two key points:

  1. Palestinian texts are inciting kids and that to avoid conflict and violence, Israel edits these books
  2. Israel funds these schools, so it should have some say in what’s taught

Trouble is, Stoffel’s seven plus minute feature report only obliquely raises this important context. Instead, the report features quotes from several Arab youths and residents of east Jerusalem who deride Israel’s efforts with some calling it “an oppressive measure by an occupation.” The Israeli perspective and rationale for these measures was marginalized. While Stoffel interviewed Stephan Miller, an advisor of the Mayor of Jerusalem’s office, his less than 30-second comment, could not counter-weigh the over six minutes allotted for Arab residents to express their grievances with these Israeli actions.

Indeed, CBC could have touched on the issue of incitement in the PA’s education system, which actually produces the offending books, instead of going after Israel for trying to deal with it in Jerusalem. Palestinian Media Watch has been leading the way in crying foul over the PA’s schoolbooks for years.

CBC will inevitably argue that this report provided the Israeli perspective, but this point of view was only brought on with a false sense of balance. As with the totality of the CBC’s coverage of Israel, where criticism of Israeli policies prompts extensive news coverage, but where Palestinian actions antithetical to peacemaking are altogether ignored or given short shrift. This CBC report serves as a textbook case of our public broadcaster’s bias against Israel.

How You Can Make A Difference:

Send your considered comments to CBC Dispatches by filling out their online feedback form. Please refer to Derek Stoffel’s January 12 report entitled “Whose history is it”

Office: P.O. Box 6, Station Q Toronto, Ontario M4T 2L7
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