On January 16, HonestReporting Canada called on CTV to issue an immediate on-air correction to remedy erroneous and unattributed statements made on the previous day’s broadcast by Mideast Bureau Chief Martin Seemungal on CTV National News.
Reporter Martin Seemungal incorrectly and unfairly stated the following:
Seemungal: “Their right of return, one of the most emotionally charged issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict …”
Seemungal: “The Palestinian right of return is a big one, there are 6 million refugees.”
In discussion with CTV Anchor Lisa LaFlamme, the following was misstated:
LaFlamme: “Martin: Explain why that right of return is such a huge bargaining chip, even for those who have no intention of ever coming back here?”
Seemungal: “Well, it’s a key issue, because they need that right of return, they need that hanging over their heads all the time. Their families lost everything, they need that to keep the pressure on Israel, to keep the pressure on the United States, and fact, to keep the pressure on countries like Canada to take them in if that is what they choose, so that is why this issue is not going to go away.”
To watch this report please click here or on the image below:
As this CBC report affirms, “To the Palestinians and other Arabs who lived in the same territory, it is known as the Catastrophe. Many people were expelled or fled as the Israelis repulsed their attackers. Statehood for Israel left more than 700,000 Palestinians as refugees, according to UN estimates from 1950.”
In reality, there were only 700,000 displaced Palestinians following Israel’s war of Independence in 1948, the rest claim to be descendants of refugees. There were never 6 million refugees. This was a serious error.
Reporter Seemungal mislead viewers by repeatedly using the term “right of return” without any due explanation. His report made it appear as if this claim was an accepted fact, but it is simply a claim made by Palestinians without standing in international law. When referring to this claim, CTV journalists have a responsibility to at least state this in attribution.
The so-called “Palestinian right of return” would in essence negate Israel’s ability to be a Jewish state. Palestinians, by virtue of a higher birthrate, would turn Jews into a minority before voting in favour of another Muslim Arab state in place of Israel. Surely Israel, Canada, and the U.S., would not support such a proposition which at its most basic level denies the right of Jews to self-determination in their historical homeland and calls into question the very legitimacy of Israel as a state.
The demands of the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to Israel proper, as opposed to a future Palestinian State numbered at approximately 5 million, would make Israel a Palestinian-Arab majority state or what is termed a one-state solution. While this demand is clearly unacceptable for any sovereign country, it is a non-negotiable demand for the Palestinian leadership. And it explains why Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas refuses to unequivocally recognize a Jewish state.
Seemungal implies and tacitly advocates that Palestinian refugees ought to have the right to move to Israel proper (“they need that right of return.. Their families lost everything, they need that to keep the pressure on Israel”), as opposed to a future state in Gaza or the West Bank, and he does not address the implications of this one-state solution or the loss of the Jewish character Israel.
CTV journalists are tasked to be neutral and objective and to not advocate for one interest over another. Perhaps not intentional, but that is exactly what Mr. Seemungal has done.
We are hopeful that CTV News will promptly address this matter by producing an immediate on-air corrective. A matter we also brought to the attention of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC).