Countering Canadian Campus Media Bias Against Israel (February 12, 2010)

By Mike Fegelman

February 12, 2010


Countering Canadian Campus Media Bias Against Israel
February 12, 2010
Dear HonestReporting Canada Subscriber,


On March 1, Canadian university and college campuses will host the anti-Israel week odiously known as Israel Apartheid Week (IAW).

IAW leave Jews and pro-Israel supporters on campus feeling isolated and intimidated, all while demonizing Israel and fuelling anti-Semitic animus. As a possible precursor to these festivities, it’s already been reported that two Jewish students at Toronto’s York University were allegedly assaulted on February 1 during a pro-Israel activity. A matter which is now being investigated by the school’s administration. In the U.S., eleven people were arrested at the University of California, Irvine on February 8, as Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, was repeatedly interrupted during his address to the school.

HonestReporting Canada will be keeping a close eye on Canadian campus media to ensure that Israel is fairly and accurately represented before and after IAW.

In our most recent communique, we alerted you to a CKUT radio program called “Under the Olive Tree,” a self-described “Canada-wide Palestinian community radio show” based in Montreal at McGill University, which lent credence to bizarre claims of Israeli culpability for the notorious 2004 Iraqi prisoner abuse atrocities at Abu Ghraib.

Thanks to the tremendous response from HRC’s members who complained to the CKUT Programming Committee, the station will be reviewing the show’s broadcast judging “on the validity of the complaint(s) and whether any follow-up measures will be taken.” We will continue to keep you updated on this matter.

This was not an isolated incident of campus media bias against Israel.

McGill Daily Gives Platform to Radical Doctor

The February 8 edition of the McGill Daily featured an interview with staff writer Humera Jabir and Dr. Mads Gilbert about the so-called “politics of health in the Occupied Territories.”

Mr. Gilbert is often portrayed as the epitome of courage under fire, but in reality, this “doctor” is more of a self-described partisan political activist than a medical practitioner. Instead of appropriately framing this interview for its readers by properly acknowledging Gilbert’s limited credentials and troubling background, the McGill Daily instead treated him as an innocent, objective, and credible medical professional.

“Mad” Mads is in reality a radical anti-Israel political activist and member of the Norwegian Maoist ‘Red’ party. Gilbert is viscerally hostile towards Israel. He’s an extremist Marxist propagandist who outrageously accused Israel of using Gaza as a “test laboratory for new (Israeli) weapons.” He even went as far to compare Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, which although not stated in this interview, was an effort to thwart the thousands of deadly rockets fired at Israel for the past eight years, to the 1982 massacre in the Palestinian refugee camps that was committed by Christian Phalangists.

Gilbert’s partisan political agenda and hatred for the U.S. and Israel is best understood though his own statements where he supported the September 11 terror attacks. Shortly after 9/11, Gilbert was interviewed by the Norwegian daily newspaper Dagbladet where he stated the following: “The attack on New York was not surprising, after the policy that has led the West in recent decades. I am upset over the terrorist attack, but am equally upset over the suffering which the United States has created. It is in this context that the 5000 dead people must be seen. If the U.S. government has a legitimate right to bomb and kill civilians in Iraq, then there is also a moral right to attack the United States with the weapons they had to create. Dead civilians are the same whether they are Americans, Palestinians or Iraqis.”

Gilbert was then asked by the Dagbladet reporter if he had supported the 9/11 terror attacks and he replied: “Terror is a bad weapon, but the answer is yes, within the context I have mentioned.”

Considering Gilbert’s dubious background, propaganda efforts, and nefarious pronouncements, had this information been disclosed to McGill Daily readers they would have been able to form a proper judgment about him.

Appropriate journalistic skepticism must be brought to bear on controversial subjects. The background of Mads Gilbert should have been adequately presented to McGill Daily readers. In this case, insufficient information was shared leaving readers unable to judge the bona fides of Mr. Gilbert.

In response to this misleading interview, HRC letter writer Vicky Tobianah asked for the “full monty on Mads Gilbert” in a letter to the editor that was published in the McGill Daily’s online version. See Vicky’s letter online by clicking here or otherwise see it immediately below.

Varsity Corrects Grossly Inflated Casualty Statistics

University of Toronto’s student newspaper, the Varsity, featured an op-ed on February 8 by Alex Ross and Semra Eylul Sevi entitled “Are all disasters created equal?” which erroneously made the following statement:

“Last year, UTSU’s Board of Directors decided that they would use money raised from UTSU-sponsored events in support of Palestine to send to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency schools in Gaza, after the Israel Defense Force launched a series of air strikes on the Gaza Strip, killing over 14,000 Palestinian civilians and injuring over 400,000 more.

Contrary to this report, not even Amnesty International, the UN, or even B’tselem claim that there were such high Palestinian civilian casualty counts after Operation Cast Lead. This report overstated the death toll by approximately 12,700 people along with overstating the total civilian injury total by approximately 396,000 people. Commentary piece or not, this report must maintain a semblance of factual accuracy and as Varsity editors failed to fact check this information, readers were seriously mislead.

To recall, after the conclusion of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, all figures of civilian casualties either came from Palestinian sources (e.g., the Hamas-run Ministry of Health), or from NGO and UNWRA sources which emphasized a high civilian catastrophe. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights had claimed that 1,180 casualties were civilians. Other counts differed greatly: B’tselem claimed that their study had revealed that 1387 were dead, of which 773 were civilians. The Israeli army issued its own count: 1166 fatalities, 709 combatants, 295 civilian and 248 police.

While there isn’t a clear statistical consensus about the casualty figures, this report had misstated the amount of total casualties by close to 13,000 along with misstating the amount of injuries by a shocking 396,000!

After bringing our concerns to the Varsity’s attention, the following correction was issued immediately and the report was amended online:

HRC Letter Writer Adds to McGill Tribune Marketplace of Ideas

In a January 26 letter to the editor entitled “Gaza Remembrance Week” published in the McGill Tribune campus newspaper, McGill student Jamal Daoud falsely painted Israel’s 2008/2009 defensive military operation in Gaza as a “brutal military campaign against the Gaza Strip and its 1.5 million people.” HonestReporting Canada letter writer Vicky Tobianah responded to Mr. Daoud in a counter letter published on February 2, reminding him to “Remember (the) Nuances” that lead to Operation Cast Lead.

How You Can Make A Difference:

For more information on what you can do as “Israel Apartheid Week” rears its ugly head, please see Canadian Jewish News columnist Gil Troy’s latest report published yesterday entitled “Are we ready for anti-Israel week?”

To report any Canadian campus media bias against Israel please contact HonestReporting at:

Toronto Office: P.O. Box 6, Station Q Toronto, Ontario M4T 2L7
Montreal Office: P.O. Box 42508, Succursale Snowdon Montreal, Quebec H3W 3H7
Office: (416) 915-9157 E-mail: Web:


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