According to a review published on July 26 by CBC Ombudsman Esther Enkin, CBC News has acknowledged that it deleted mentioning in a headline of a March 8 article that a Palestinian terrorist killed by Israeli forces in an arrest raid shootout was a “gunman”.
CBC admits that its editors removed the word “gunman” from their headline after receiving a complaint on the basis that the terrorist’s family had cast doubt that he was an attacker and that the claim was not in attribution.
Importantly, Israel contends that a Palestinian terrorist named Basil al-A’araj, pictured right, was part of a terrorist cell planning to carry out attacks on Israeli targets and had opened fire on Israeli soldiers during an arrest raid, after which, IDF forces killed him in an exchange of gunfire at an apartment in the west bank city of Ramallah. Israeli forces say al-Araj was hiding in a small hallway storage space above a doorway and opened fire on arresting forces.
Here’s a comparison of the CBC’s original and revised headlines:
Original: “Palestinian gunman killed in shootout in West Bank”
Revised: “Palestinian killed in West Bank shootout, Israeli police say”
HonestReporting Canada Executive Director Mike Fegelman notes that: “It’s very alarming that CBC caved to pressure and purged this reference which stripped their headline of important context and ultimately misled readers and cast doubt that the terrorist was a “gunman” who attacked arresting Israeli soldiers. As a result of our public broadcaster’s actions, the CBC has now falsely attributed claims to the Israeli forces, as Israel contends that al-Araj was a gunman who shot at arresting forces and not just a Palestinian. CBC’s actions are also contradictory, as the CBC reports in its photos caption that “Police said he was killed after he fired upon police” and in the body of its article that “Police said in a statement that Israeli forces entered the Ramallah area in the West Bank to arrest al-Araj, and he opened fire, leading to a shootout that killed him. The police published photos of two firearms it said were found on the scene.”
In her review, CBC Ombudsman Esther Enkin writes the following (emphasis added):
“The Executive Producer of digital news, Lianne Elliott, replied to your concerns. She mentioned that she had corresponded with you on March 8, the day the story was posted. You had raised similar concerns through the website contact. She reviewed the story at that time and explained that an earlier version of the story did not include comment or perspective of the family members of the man who was killed. A more complete article, including their version of events, was published as an update. She acknowledged your input in improving the story.
She told you that the headline was also changed. The first iteration was “Palestinian gunman killed in West Bank shootout.” It was changed to the current version – “Palestinian killed in West Bank shootout” – because the first one “lacked attribution and described Basil al-Araj as a gunman when his family is casting doubt that he acted as an attacker.”
In sharp contrast, Reuters wire service produced coverage with a headline that identifies al-Araj as a “gunman”:
Meanwhile, Haartez, an Israeli news source known for its criticisms of Israel, featured the following headline identifying al-Araj as a “gunman”:
Canadians should be very alarmed to hear that the CBC, our public broadcaster, caved to pressure and removed the word “gunman” from their headline, in news coverage about the killing of a Palestinian terrorist who opened fire on Israeli forces during an arrest raid, after receiving a complaint which argued that the terrorist’s family had cast doubt that he was an attacker and that the claim was not in attribution.
CBC has set a dangerous precedent through their appeasement and capitulation. Solely on the basis of a family member’s claim, not verifiable facts, CBC purged mention that a terrorist was a “gunman” and therefore sanitized history and Palestinian terrorism.
HonestReporting Canada encourages its subscribers to express its serious concerns to CBC Editor-in-Chief Jennifer McGuire: Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org. Please refer to the CBC’s March 8 article that removed a reference in their headline that a Palestinian terrorist killed by Israeli forces in an arrest raid shootout was a “gunman”.