HRC Prompts Toronto Star To Issue Important Correction & Clarification Notices

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, former United States ambassador to the United Nations once famously observed that: “You are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”

This certainly holds true for newspaper columnists and letters to the editor published in newspaper broadsheets.

Importantly, on March 27 and 31 respectively, HonestReporting Canada (HRC) filed two complaints with the Toronto Star alerting senior editors to false information that was published online and in the print edition of the publication.

A March 31 column by Thomas Walkom entitled: “On Israel, Justin Trudeau has found himself,” saw the Star’s columnist erroneously state the following: “another tribunal, the International Court of Justice, called on Israel to end the war in Gaza.

Contrary to Mr. Walkom’s column, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague absolutely did no such thing. In its latest judgement, the world body did not even demand that Israel stop its counter-terrorism operations in the Gaza region of Rafah. In fact, it required Israel to take steps to minimize civilian casualties, steps which Israel – contrary to Hamas disinformation widely repeated in news media outlets – already does.

Related to Rafah only, the court only forbade Israeli actions under some circumstances, a point which Canada’s Ambassador to the UN, Bob Rae, acknowledged recently in an interview on CBC The Current.

Accordingly, we were of the view that a correction was warranted by the Star and we are pleased to report that the Star upheld our concerns and published the following correction on June 1.

Secondly, a March 27 letter to the editor by Brampton resident Maud Arkaah-Boafo was published in the Star which erroneously stated the following:

“Children are the most marginalized in these conflicts. Since the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, over 14,500 children have been killed in Gaza. Additionally, 17,000 Palestinian children are believed to have been orphaned since the war began.”

According, there were two errors in this letter:

1) The war itself has led to 17,000 children being separated OR orphaned, not that Israeli attacks have caused there to be 17,000 orphans in Gaza. An orphan means a child whose parents were killed. For its part, UNICEF said these children were either orphaned OR separated from their parents. In other words, they are not all orphans as described in this letter.

2) Perhaps unknown to Maud Arkaah-Boafo, but The United Nations recently significantly adjusted Palestinian casualty figures for the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip, halving the number of women and children previously reported killed.

As reported by the National Post and others: “While more than 9,500 women and 14,500 children were reported among the fatalities by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on May 6, two days later that number was revised significantly downward. Today, under 5,000 women and 8,000 children are now officially listed by the UN as casualties.”

The Post noted that: “Such recent developments have cast serious doubts on earlier Hamas claims that 70 per cent of Palestinian casualties in the Israel-Hamas War were either women or children. According to the Times of Israel, the latest revision would bring the ratio of combatants to civilians killed in the conflict to nearly 1:1.”

Accordingly, this letter erroneously claimed that an additional 6,500 Palestinian children have been killed, a number which cannot be substantiated as the UN only claims that 8,000 have been killed.

As a result, we called for corrective action to be undertaken and are pleased to report that the Star published the following clarification notice also on June 1.

HonestReporting Canada thanks the Toronto Star for its cooperation and for promptly taking corrective action.

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