Montreal Campus Radio Reprimands Anti-Israel Program (March 26, 2010)

March 26, 2010


Montreal Campus Radio Reprimands Anti-Israel Program
March 26, 2010
Dear HonestReporting Canada Subscriber,


On January 26, we alerted you to a CKUT Radio program which lent credence to baseless claimsof Israeli culpability in the notorious 2004 Iraqi prisoner abuse atrocities at Abu Ghraib.

Under the Olive Tree,” a self-described “Canada-wide Palestinian community radio show” located at McGill University in Montreal, based these outrageous and unsubstantiated claims on a reportfrom Press TV, Iran’s state funded anti-Semitic propaganda tool. Yet at no time did this program give any attribution to this especially troubling source of information.

In insinuating that Israel was responsible for the physical torture and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, this program spewed a vicious libel against Israel and deserved to be strongly condemned.

Thanks to the tremendous response of HonestReporting Canada members who complained en masse to CKUT, the station’s programming committee formally reprimanded the anti-Israel program. In its official response which was sent to complainants on March 23, CKUT acknowledged that it had issued a warning letter to the program’s host and forced the show to issue an on-air clarification to formally retract these baseless claims.

Here’s a short excerpt gleaned from the five page review written by CKUT’s programming committee:


CKUT’s Programming Committee carefully considered the complaint and investigated the issue before making our final decision, as per CKUT’s Complaint Policy. The Committee met four times to discuss the matter, listened to the report, did considerable research, requested information from the hosts of the program, and met with the producers of “Under the Olive Tree”.

The Programming Committee found that the programmer did not properly cite the source of the article that was read on air. The Programming Committee addressed ambiguity around the following statement, which was not included in the original PressTV news service report:

“…the US Colonel Janis Karpinski, the former American military Chief of the Prison, actually are coming out now and saying the Israeli involvement in Abu Ghraib was one of the reasons why the torture and sexual abuse by US soldiers and interrogators has run as rampant as it has and has been such a problem as it was.

The programmer explained it was a statement made by Col. Karpinski, but was unable to provide the source of the quotation.

As a result, the programming committee decided to issue a warning letter which was sent to the host of “Under the Olive Tree”. In addition, the programmer is required to make an on air clarification. The clarification will explain to CKUT listeners that PressTV was the source of the article read on January 21st and will retract statements made regarding Colonel Janis Karpinski and Israeli involvement leading to increased sexual and physical violence in Abu Ghraib.”

Click here to view CKUT’s full response. Yet despite CKUT’s findings and directives that “Under the Olive Tree” properly set the record straight, instead, the program issued what could have been one of the most disingenuous and obfuscating “clarifications” that we’ve ever heard.

In the conclusion of the show’s broadcast yesterday the host stated the following:

“I just want to briefly respond to the overwhelming amount of interest and communications that we had for an article that we presented on the program on the 21 of January concerning the Abu Ghraib Iraqi prison atrocities. We thank everybody for their interest in this article and we thank everybody for the hundreds, literally hundreds of e-mails that were sent in regarding the subject. We would like to clarify that the source of the article that was read on-air was Press TV and you can access all of their information, the article about Abu Ghraib as well as other articles about the situation in Palestine and the Middle-East at And the other clarification that we would like to make is that we did quote Colonel Janis Karpinski although she did not state explicitly that Israeli involvement in the Abu Ghraib prison is what resulted directly in the increased sexual and physical violence. If you would like to find out for yourself, please check out the Press TV website and we thank everybody who sent in e-mails about the subject.

To listen to this on-air “clarification” (which conveniently and suspiciously isn’t available on the program’s online archives or podcast) please click here or on the image below. We anticipated that this might happen, which is why we recorded the live stream of the broadcast just in case.

This so-called “clarification” is problematic in so many ways. To list just a few:

  • At no time does this “clarification” ever actually retract the original baseless claims alleging an Israeli involvement in the Iraqi prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib.
  • The host passed the buck to Press TV and used the “clarification” as an advertising opportunity for Iran’s state funded, Holocaust denying propaganda tool. Listeners were encouraged to check out Press TV’s website twice.
  • It disingenuously implied that the feedback they had received had been positive, whereas we know that hundreds of complaints were sent by HRC members strongly condemning this anti-Israel report.

For an example of how this program should have issued this retraction, please click here or on the image to the right to view this 2004 CBC National on-air clarification which in no uncertain terms stated unequivocally that: “there is no evidence that Israel was involved in what happened in the Iraqi prison.”

We expected this kind of a result from a radio program which willfully spreads lies, hate, and propaganda against Israel. What’s important to take into consideration is that this show now has a documented anti-Israel track record with its host station.

Furthermore, “Under the Olive Tree” should now be more careful knowing that listeners are vigilantly monitoring what they’re saying and are prepared to take action. Whether they like it or not, “Under the Olive Tree” staff now understand that they will be held to account for their journalistic transgressions and will no longer be able to operate with impunity.

With that said, we appreciate the efforts of CKUT’s programming committee for responsibly carrying out this investigation at our member’s behest and for formally reprimanding this vile anti-Israel program.

How You Can Make A Difference:

If you would like to thank CKUT’s programming committee for their efforts in trying to address your concerns, please send your comments to or call 514.448.4041 x2593.

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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