Neil Macdonald Exploits CBC News Platforms to Attack Israel

June 21, 2013

It takes a pretty fertile imagination to correlate a story about alleged political bias at the IRS and sexual abuse in the U.S. military to the Middle East conflict. Leave it to CBC reporter Neil Macdonald, a self-appointed pontificator perched from Washington, to twist unrelated world affairs stories into criticisms of Israel.

In an analysis piece published on the CBC’s website on June 6, Macdonald included the following irrelevant smear against Israel and Canadian support for the Jewish state (emphasis added): “In Canada, do Stephen Harper and his most partisan supporters actually think, down deep, that Israel may actually bear some of the blame for its troubles with the Palestinians?” 

Apart from being gratuitous, this question disguised personal opinion as news by phrasing declarative statements into questions. 

There is no evidence to substantiate claims that Canada’s Prime Minister and his “most partisan supporters” deep down assign blame to Israel for the impasses and quarrels with the Palestinians, but MacDonald has no problem raising this question that serves to malign Israel, Canadian support for the Jewish state, and which exonerates Palestinian transgressions and elevates the Palestinian cause.

But wait, aren’t CBC journalists tasked to be politically neutral and to embargo their personal views in their professional work? Macdonald’s apparent preoccupation with Israel seems to be the exception to the rule allowing him to use CBC resources to attack Israel, time and again.

This past January, Macdonald wrote an analysis piece published on the CBC’s website where he claimed that Israel’s “hardline” government “… has shown little interest in negotiating a two-state solution with the Palestinians.” Despite Israel’s consistent calls for negotiations without preconditions to solve the Israeli-Palestinian impasse, and its regular overtures and concessions to obstructionist “hardline” Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Macdonald was of the opinion that Israel doesn’t want peace.

One recalls how Macdonald used his CBC Twitter account in January 2012 to scandalously insinuate that Israel has an issue with controlling guns aimed at non-Israelis. After criticism ensued, Macdonald “voluntarily closed” his Twitter account.

In an April 11, 2011 report about “The Battle for Libya,” Macdonald superfluously introduced Israel into a CBC National story it had nothing to do with. Macdonald exposed viewers to the malicious implication made by a Libyan civilian that like Gaddafi, “Israel kills whomever it likes” in other words, like Gaddafi, Israel commits war crimes by targeting innocent civilians at will. Two months earlier on The National in a story about the use of emergency laws and the movements which were trying to dislodge repressive Arab regimes from power, Macdonald found it important to mention that “The trouble is that most Arabs know that Israel has an emergency law too which it uses for such things as detention without trial, and confiscation, or demolition of Palestinian property.”

This past November, Macdonald claimed in a CBC TV report that “Israel… is energetically eating up the land that would form the Palestinian state…” Macdonald’s statement echoed his referral in 2000 to “the ferocious appetite of Jewish settlers for Arab land.”

In 2005, Macdonald did a feature one-on-one TV interview with former CIA Chief Michael Sheuer who claimed that American support for Israel was costing American lives abroad in the Middle East and endangering the safety of U.S. citizens domestically.

In May of 2004, Macdonald filed a report about the abuse of Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison facility. The report featured a quote by pro-Palestinian propagandist Eugene Bird who falsely suggested that Israeli agents might have played a role in the torture scandal. This incident elicited a remarkable two on-air clarifications from the CBC, and its ombudsman acknowledged that this report exposed CBC to “the appearance of bias.” The CBC’s editor-in-chief at the time promised that the situation would never be repeated again.

But just seven months later, in a December 2004 report on a deadly al-Qaeda terror attack on the American consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Macdonald aired a source who blamed the U.S. relationship with Israel for the attack. The only person interviewed in Macdonald’s report was Alan Keiswetter of the Saudi-financed Middle East Institute, who stated that America was “in the pockets of (former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon.”

Also in December of 2004 – in the midst of a Palestinian terror war that saw Israeli families blown up in buses and restaurants – Macdonald wrote an analysis on CBC’s website stating that “if Palestinians have committed terror, the Israelis have certainly committed war crimes.” Macdonald then raised the question of whether Jewish settlers, “thousands of whom are well armed and overtly bellicose, constitute civilians or combatants.” Macdonald appeared to have been suggesting that the murder of Israeli settlers may not in fact be “terrorism.” The sentence was later amended online after complaints to the CBC. Finally, in 2002, Macdonald asked rhetorically whether the terror group Hezbollah is “a national liberation movement or, as Israel and its supporters maintain, a murderous global menace?”

Unlike political commentators and pundits who are paid for their professional opinions, CBC reporters must refrain from exploiting our public broadcaster’s news platforms to expound on personal prejudices. Objective journalists should report on the news rather than shape it.

An important line must be drawn when a CBC reporter is given free rein to vent his personal opinions and apparent disdain for the State of Israel. When that journalist, whose salary is paid for by your tax dollars, uses official CBC resources, also paid for by you and me, to advance a personal political perspective, something must be done to stop this journalistic misconduct.

To file a complaint with CBC Editor-in-Chief Jennifer McGuire, please send emails to: Jennifer.McGuire@CBC.CA. Please cite Neil Macdonald’s gratuitous smear against Israel and Canadian support for the Jewish state that was published to the CBC’s website on June 6.


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