Anti-Israel Flotilla Activist Gets Failing Grade in History and Current Affairs

After anti-Israel flotilla activist David Heap made several false statements in an interview on Radio-Canada, such as the claim that Israel’s blockade is “illegal” and that the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 was an “illegal occupation”, our French-language public broadcaster confirmed that it will challenge Heap and erroneous statements like these in the future.


Anti-Israel flotilla Activist Gets Failing Grade in History and Current Affairs

By: Michelle Whiteman, Quebec Regional Director

Dear HonestReporting Canada Subscribers,

On May 22, Radio-Canada’s Telejournal news program featured an interview with David Heap, a Canadian anti-Israel flotilla activist who was arrested on the high seas last summer for attempting to break Israel’s legal blockade of Gaza. During the course of the interview with host Marie-Christine Gagnon, Heap, a linguistics professor at the University of Western Ontario, made several false statements such as the claim that Israel’s blockade is “illegal” and that the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 was an “illegal occupation”.

To watch this brief segment please click here or see immediately below. To watch the full interview online please click here.

We communicated our concerns about this interview to Radio-Canada (RC), specifically that RC’s host did not remind viewers that Heap’s claims are contradicted by facts. We noted that the assertion that the creation of the State of Israel was an “illegal occupation” was tantamount to stating that Israel has no right to exist. These are the same controversial statements that landed the NDP’s Libby Davies and Helen Thomas, formerly of Hearst News Service, in hot water. Last year, we critiqued CBC The Current’s host Anna Maria Tremonti for allowing disgraced former Palestinian representative to Canada, Linda Sobeh Ali, to claim that an Israeli “occupation” began in 1948.

We also noted that our public broadcaster bears responsibility for providing viewers with accurate information, particularly on sensitive topics such as Israel and the Middle East. We relayed that the UN report on the flotilla incident in 2010, dubbed The Palmer Report, concluded that:

  • Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is legal and Israel has the right to enforce the blockade, including in international waters.
  • The decision to break the naval blockade was a dangerous and reckless act which involves a risk of unnecessary potential for escalation.
  • The conduct and the true objectives of the organizers of the fleet, especially the IHH, included plans to violently resist any attempt to board. The report also determined that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Radio-Canada has responded to our complaint in a timely and thorough manner, acknowledging that Heap’s statements should have been countered by the facts for the benefit of Radio-Canada’s viewing audience. SRC indicated to us that extenuating circumstances regrettably prevented a more complete interview, however, they endeavour to return to this issue in a more complete manner in the future by featuring other perspectives on the topic. Radio-Canada also assured us that statements such as Heap’s would be challenged in the future by its hosts.

We thank Radio-Canada for its laudable handling of our complaint and are confident that this was indeed an oversight that would not be repeated in the future.




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