Montreal Gazette Whitewashes Anti-Israel Protester’s Extremist Views

May 17, 2024

The May 11 edition of The Montreal Gazette featured an article which provided uncritical coverage of a small anti-Israel rally, and gave no context whatsoever on the claims made by radical activists.

The article entitled: “Pro-Palestinian supporters protest in front of Israeli consulate in Montreal,” by author Erik Leijon, reported on a recent protest in downtown Montreal which attracted a couple hundred or so attendees.

While some news outlets may decide such coverage is warranted, Leijon’s article read less as a news report, and more as a press release from anti-Israel activists.

The article began with Leijon writing that “Protesters waved signs and Palestinian flags in front of the Israeli consulate in Westmount Square on Saturday afternoon to mark 76 years of Nakba.”

The term Nakba, or Arabic for catastrophe, refers to the rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948, and carries the indisputable connotation of seeing the re-establishment of the world’s only Jewish nation-state as a catastrophe worth mourning, yet Leijon referred to the expression matter-of-factly, as if it were an unobjectionable term.

Leijon wrote that the march “was organized by multiple groups, including the Palestinian Youth Movement, Palestine Quebec, Lawyers for Palestine, the Montreal Student Movement in Montreal and more.”

While readers may assume that those groups are simply grassroots activism groups, the reality is far darker.

The Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) is an extremist and pro-terrorist organization that has publicly and unapologetically praised Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians.

In the immediate aftermath of Hamas’ October 7 genocidal massacres in southern Israel, the group invited supporters to an event, “All Out for Palestine,” which promised to be a celebration of “our steps closer to liberation,” and to “uplight and honour our resistance and our martyrs.”

Yara Shoufani, a key leader of PYM, has taken to social media to openly defend Hamas terrorism,  the group specifically denies Israel’s right to exist at all, and a representative of the group told a Montreal rally in 2023 that “we must fight Zionism here,” referring to Zionism, the Jewish People’s movement of self-determination in their historic homeland.

Indefensibly, at no time in the article did Leijon say anything about PYM’s history of support for terrorism.

Instead, Leijon quoted members of the group as if they were legitimate and mainstream commentators, and wrote that “during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, more than 750,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homes.”

Once again, Leijon opted to provide readers with the anti-Israel narrative, but not with any context.

In 1948, hours after declaring its independence, Israel was invaded by neighbouring Arab armies, who sought to destroy the country and annihilate its population.

While the Arabs who left Israel did so for a variety of reasons, evidence suggests that most of them did so at the behest of Arab leaders, as pointed out by the U.S. Consul General in Haifa, Israel, in 1948, who wrote that “Arab leaders” had been threatening “all Arabs to leave the city, and large numbers did so.”

However, in failing to provide any of this needed context, Leijon’s article tacitly implied that it was Israel, and not Arab leaders, who bears the responsibility for those Arabs who left Israel, a point pushed by anti-Israel detractors.

Erik Leijon’s May 11 article in The Montreal Gazette extensively quoted and paraphrased anti-Israel protesters, giving readers no background on their radical and extremist views, and provided only one perspective, ignoring all context to the contrary.

Take action now and make your voice heard by sending a letter to the editor to the Montreal Gazette. Send letters to: letters@montrealgazette.com.

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