As reported by the Toronto Star (see here and here), the Globe and Mail, Canadian Jewish News (see here, here, and here) and the Canadian Press, following the uproar that ensued after Canadians Journalists for Freedom of Expression (CJFE) issued an alert on April 2 accusing Israel of committing “massacres” of protesters and media in recent riots/protests along the Gaza border, the organization convened an emergency board meeting, deleted the offending statement from its website, acknowledged that its “alert’ was “overreaching” and that it “went beyond the organization’s mandate” (which is now being reviewed) and amended its communication policies.
Several well-known writers and reporters condemned CJFE for breaching journalistic standards of neutrality by openly advocating a position on the Middle East conflict. Notably, the Globe and Mail’s Doug Saunders, CBC’s Robyn Urback, Jonathan Kay (former Walrus Magazine editor and former National Post Comment Pages Editor), PostMedia’s Sue-Anne Levy, The Rebel’s Ezra Levant, Global News’ David Akin and Ken Whyte, (former editor of Maclean’s magazine and the National Post.)
On April 5, HonestReporting Canada condemned CJFE for its issuance of this alert which accused Israel of committing “massacres” in Gaza of civilians and journalists during the mass protests/riots along the Gaza border. CJFE claimed that the Israel Defense Forces carried out “extrajudicial killings,” “repression,” and that the IDF engaged in “brutality” and committed “targeted attacks” against purportedly innocent demonstrators and journalists.
Subsequent to the uproar, several CJFE staff and committee members resigned. Now Magazine publisher Alice Klein resigned as CJFE president. Several members of the organizing committee for CJFE’s annual gala (a high-profile industry event) also stepped down, including CBC As It Happens Anchor Carol Off, who was the committee chair. Duncan Pike, Executive Director of the CJFE, resigned from the organization, and Kevin Metcalf, the CJFE’s promotions and communications co-ordinator, said he expects to be fired shortly and accused the organization of censorship, as reported by Canadian Jewish News reporter Ron Csillag.
In an April 12 statement, Philip Tunley, the organization’s President, commented on CJFE’s stance on the events that took place on the Gaza-Israel border and still condemned Israel (and only Israel, yet again!):
… The board condemns, in the strongest terms, any attacks on journalists or peaceful groups expressing their rights to free expression. We condemn the Israeli Defense Force (IDF)’s use of deadly force on journalists and protesters.”
The CJFE also reiterated its call for Israel to launch a “a full, transparent, independent investigation” into the violence.
What does the future hold for CJFE? Who knows! Either way, should the organization continue to breach neutrality and unfairly attack Israel, HonestReporting Canada will be watching and ready to take action.