Canadian Newspapers Bring Moral Clarity in its Coverage of the Israel-Hamas Prisoner Swap

October 18, 2011

Amid reports of celebrations welcoming hundreds of former Palestinian prisoners to Gaza and the West Bank, the Toronto Star and Winnipeg Free Press today commendably gave some necessary perspective to these repugnant festivities.

In a front-page story on October 18 (see below) entitled “Palestinian Killer’s Freedom Reopens Wounds in Canada”, the Toronto Star described the pain of Canadian familes who lost their loved ones in a "terror" attack and not a "militant" attack as we are so often used to seeing in our media. On July 6, 1989, the terrorist Abdel Hadi Ghanem commandeered a Jerusalem-bound bus and drove it off a cliff near Neve Ilan on the road from Tel Aviv. He survived and was sentenced to 16 life terms, one for each of his victims on the Egged line’s Bus 405. Shelley Wolochow, a 33-year-old Vancouver dentist, and Fern Shawna Rykiss, a 17-year-old Winnipeg student, both died in the crash. The Star also commented in an editorial on October 19 that "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deserves credit for ransoming Shalit, a national icon, in line with Israel’s tradition of moving heaven and earth to redeem captives."

Also on October 18, the Winnipeg Free Press related the anguish of the Rykiss family in Winnipeg who were angered that the Palestinian "terrorist" responsible for killing their daughter was freed. The Free Press had also opined in an editorial on October 13 calling the prisoner trade "a good deal" noting that: "In saving Sgt. Schalit, it has not only confirmed that no Israeli will be left behind, but signalled that it is willing, even under the most difficult circumstances, to attempt to negotiate with those who seek to destroy it. That may not look like much on the face of it, but it has the makings of a good deal in that it shows Israel, at least, acts in good faith."

In drawing attention to these Canadian victims of the Palestinian terrorist Ghanem, who is now a free man, the Toronto Star and Winnipeg Free Press reminded its readers that the prisoner exchange involved the release of hundreds of ruthless terrorists, not innocent hostages. Kudos to the these papers for their moral clarity and for calling terror by its rightful name.

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To commend the Winnipeg Free Press, please send letters to:


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