As the Russia-Ukrainian war rages on, efforts to boycott Russia and those affiliated with Vladmir Putin’s regime, is gaining steam in a number of Western countries, including Canada.
For example, 20-year-old Russian pianist Alexander Malofeev was scheduled to perform with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in mid-March, until his performance was cancelled as a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Importantly, it’s noteworthy that Malofeev condemned the Russian invasion on social media, but despite this, the young Russian’s piano performance was cancelled, which prompted outcry that he was being discriminated against by way of national origin.
While media coverage of this controversy is certainly newsworthy, when Selena Ross, Digital Reporter from CTV News Montreal, reported on the story on March 10, the article managed to shoehorn in an entirely different subject, referring to activists “who have studied and organized major sanction campaigns, such as those against Israel and South Africa.”
People had a lot of thoughts on the Montreal symphony cancelling on a Russian pianist who’s vocally pro-Ukraine.
There’s a lot to this debate. Organized sanctions like Israel BDS would never boycott in this case, for example. But Ukrainians say it’s just about sensitivity. https://t.co/g5fbI1Jwid
— Selena Ross (@seleross) March 11, 2022
Ross interviewed Corey Balsam, national coordinator of Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) Canada, an organization which supports the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement against Israel, and quotes him by saying “If we’re looking to the example of the Palestinian BDS movement, they’re very clear that individuals are not targeted.”
Despite Balsam’s whitewashing, in reality, the BDS movement has actively and aggressively attempted to boycott anyone or anything, even remotely connected with Israel.
In 2015, a Spanish music festival un-invited reggae singer Matisyahu unless he publicly announced his opposition to Israel. In 2017, a social work student at Ryerson University in Toronto was denied a placement at a local Jewish Community Centre (JCC) by her placement coordinator due to baseless claims of the Centre allegedly having values “in opposition” to the School of Social Work. And just this past December, the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus Student Union (SCSU) attempted to require that Kosher food being delivered to campus were from caterers who “did not normalize Israeli apartheid.”
For the BDS movement, singling out Israel, Israelis, Jews and even Jewish organizations seems to be very much a feature, not a bug, of their cause. Therefore, any advocate or promoter of BDS has no authority or moral high ground, nor should they be given a platform to spew misinformation by a national news outlet.
Further into the news report, Ross (pictured right) quoted Michael Bueckert, described as a sociologist at Carleton University in Ottawa, and referred to him as someone who “has studied past sanctions and is also an advocate of the Israel BDS campaign.”
An average reader of the CTV report would conclude that Bueckert is merely an academic who happens to support the BDS cause, but in fact, he is the Vice President of Canadians for Justice & Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), an anti-Israel organization which has endorsed the one-state solution, which is the de facto elimination of Israel as a state. CTV failed to disclose his association with this anti-Israel organization.
As with CTV reporter Ross’ coverage of Corey Balsam, Bueckert’s quotes are also little more than a whitewashing of the BDS movement.
“The BDS movement has spent years developing criteria for how to wage a responsible and effective cultural boycott, and have made a real effort to draw these distinctions between Israel’s regime and Israeli citizens,” Bueckert is quoted in the article.
This is demonstrably false. While the BDS movement has a right to spew falsehoods against Israel, the reason it has been identified as discriminatory by the Parliament of Canada and by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is precisely because it is discriminatory.
Furthermore, giving a platform to BDS activists alongside mention of the boycott against Apartheid-era South Africa continues to give the false allusion that there is any comparison to be made between the two circumstances.
Tensions are extremely high with war in Ukraine, and CTV News very much has a right to cover the controversy surrounding the cancelled performance of Alexander Malofeev. However, providing a soapbox to the anti-Israel cause, and specifically to guests who parroted misinformation about the nature of the BDS movement, not only obfuscates the issues being reported, but it also gives an undeserved and unwarranted moral win to a discriminatory cause.
The BDS movement, contra to their defenders, is little more than a thinly-veiled attack on Israel, Israelis and indeed any Jews or Jewish organizations who don’t fall into line. And advocates for this hateful cause deserve no legitimacy or platform.
Please send a complaint to directly to CTV News reporter Selena Ross and to CTV at: firstname.lastname@example.org and to email@example.com. Please refer to CTV’s March 10 article entitled: “It’s absurd’: Debate over cancelled performance by Russian piano prodigy in Montreal”. Please Tweet reporter Selena Ross @Seleross and to @CTVNews.