CBC REVIVES DISTORTED CHECKPOINT NARRATIVE
February 20, 2007
Dear HonestReporting Canada subscriber:
One month ago, on January 18, HonestReporting Canada criticized an erroneous, one-sided report by CBC correspondent Peter Armstrong. Reporting on an announcement that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would hold a three-way summit with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Armstrong focused exclusively on criticism of Israel and entirely ignored Palestinian violence.
The Pattern Continues
One month later, on February 19, CBC’s Margaret Evans joined her colleague Peter Armstrong in providing Canadian viewers with a one-sided view of the conflict. On the very first episode of the new CBC Newsworld program “CBC News Around The World,” Evans distorted a report on the three-way summit into a profile of Palestinian suffering at Israel’s Hawara security checkpoint near Nablus. Watch the video below.
Evans spent the first third of her report gratuitously showing the hardships that Palestinians experience at the Hawara checkpoint. But in so doing, she chose not to inform viewers that the checkpoint was created to prevent Palestinian terror bombings against Israelis. Just ten days ago, on February 10, Israeli border guards at this very checkpoint found two 1.5-kilogram explosive devices in the belongings of a 16-year-old Palestinian. The boy reportedly belonged to the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement. (Read about it here.)
Evans declined to mention that the Hawara checkpoint is a valuable counter-terrorism resource: last month security forces caught a Palestinian attempting to cross the checkpoint with a grenade, two Molotov cocktails and a knife. Since 2007 began, security forces in the Nablus area near the checkpoint discovered seven explosive devices and three explosive belts typical of suicide bombings.
Like her colleague Peter Armstrong, Evans compounded her one-sided reporting by failing to mention continued Israeli suffering at the hands of Palestinians. Palestinian terror cells continue firing Kassam rockets at southern Israel (see here, here and here). Palestinians continue suicide bombings against Israel; yesterday Israeli authorities thwarted a major attack, but other times the bombers succeed. Palestinian preachers continue to promote violence (watch video). And Palestinian media continue to glorify “martyrdom” against Israel (watch video). But none of this managed to make its way into Evans’ report.
Trying to Understand Reporters’ Perspectives
We prefer not to question reporters’ motives. But after a long run of unprofessional CBC reports from the region, we can’t help wondering why a veteran CBC reporter would distort a report about a political summit into a report about Palestinians at a checkpoint near Nablus.
Perhaps this footage will provide some insight. At a special televised forum of CBC Foreign Correspondents on June 1, 2006, an audience member asked if the situation in Israel was comparable to the situation that existed in Apartheid South Africa during the 1980s.
“I think there are elements that could be comparable… The Palestinian people in their day-to-day lives face tremendous challenges just in getting to school, to their jobs, to work. I was in Nablus not long ago and I was doing a story on how people are coping given the blockade because of the election of the Hamas government in the territories and people were in Nablus selling their jewelry… But the thing that everybody said to me… it wasn’t about the hardship they were facing financially, it was all about, you know, my son lives 20 minutes away, and it takes me sometimes 8 hours to get there, because I have to wait in a checkpoint. And so I think when you’re looking at issues of human dignity there, I think that there are certainly some comparisons that can be made [to Apartheid South Africa].”
Evidently the time Evans spent in Nablus had a profound effect on her. But have she and her fellow CBC correspondents visited Sderot, Eilat, Ashkelon, or any other Israeli venue where Palestinian ordnance has recently detonated? If so, why have they not explored Israelis’ human dignity and difficulty getting to school while bombs and rockets are exploding?
Troubling Questions Continue
One month ago, we asked: Is the national broadcaster’s news coverage contributing to Canadians’ understanding of the Middle East, or is CBC News promoting a skewed vision of the region? Today that question seems even more relevant.