CityNews Winnipeg Produces Sympathetic Coverage Of Dismantled Anti-Israel Occupation At The University Of Winnipeg

July 2, 2024

On June 26, CityNews Winnipeg aired a story by Joanne Roberts entitled: “University of Winnipeg encampment leaves grounds after six weeks,” covering the dismantling of the anti-Israel occupation at the University of Winnipeg. Despite the fact that the encampment is being torn down, the tone of the piece was one highlighting success and victory for the trespassing students, rather than the hypocrisy and delusion it more rightly should have garnered.

The report opened with students chanting “our demand is Palestine, no peace on stolen land.” Presumably they are un-ironic in this, despite the fact that they are standing in Canada, where the majority of the country is located on unceded indigenous territory (land which Canada’s First People never agreed to give up).

These students are perfectly comfortable demanding ‘land back’ when its consequences are a world away (never mind the fact that the ‘Free Palestine’ movement aims to remove Israel’s indigenous Jewish people from their ancestral land with a false claim to ‘return’ it to Arab colonizers), there are real questions of indigenous land rights here at home that they could be tackling, and that they themselves play an active role in perpetuating if only they’d bother to pay attention.

This callous attitude on the part of these anti-Israel demonstrators isn’t surprising given that, according to polls, nearly 70 percent of Manitobans say they share no personal responsibility for righting the wrongs perpetrated against indigenous Canadians, and only 23 percent of Canadians felt that their home was on indigenous land, even if they were generally sympathetic to the land claims of indigenous Canadians more broadly. The ‘Free Palestine’ movement (and these student occupations) are just a hypocritical form of misplaced righteousness allowing people to feel like they’re righting some colonial injustice, while getting to continue to benefit from it in their own personal lives.

The CityNews report went on to interview “Jim” (an alias), who showed the camera letters which were left behind on the barricades surrounding the encampment which state that “the university should not be a colonial institution.” A point apparently lost on “Jim” is the fact that the university itself is an institution founded on traditional Metis territory, and which has existed in various forms for 145 years. In that time, it has never been under the governance of Winnipeg’s first people, and has always been a colonial institution. Indeed, its very existence is predicated on the European model of higher education, a result of the European colonisation of Canada. But apparently that’s not the kind of ‘colonialism’ they’re worried about.

The letter shown to the camera further stated that the university “should not support apartheid and mass murder,” in reference to the university’s investments in agencies or organizations that “support Israel’s military efforts in Gaza.” These accusations are obviously ridiculous, given the fact that Israel is a democratic state, wherein all citizens have the same rights under the law (the definition of apartheid is that they wouldn’t have these rights, based on race or ethnicity). This claim is easy to check — one only needs to look at the laws and institutions of Israel to know that it’s false. Accusations of “mass murder” are even more ridiculous, given that ‘casualties of war time’ are not in any way comparable to the victims of murder. Of course, what was mass murder was the terrorist attack perpetrated on Israeli civilians on October 7 by a jihadist group bent on the genocide of the Jewish people.

Instead of critically analyzing these baseless claims by anti-Israel occupiers at the University of Winnipeg, or at the very least ensuring that opposing voices were heard, the June 26 report for City TV Winnipeg gave a sympathetic platform for radical anti-Israel demonstrators to peddle their falsehoods to viewers without any pushback whatsoever.

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