CBC News Conducts Sympathetic Interview With Radical Anti-Israel Chair Of PridePEI

July 11, 2024

Claims that Israel is committing genocide or engaging in a campaign of extermination against civilians in Gaza, are as widespread as they are unmoored to reality.

On CBC News, however, such claims are parroted without any challenge, and allowed to pass without any critical examination. On July 6, CBC News aired a segment with PridePEI chair Aaron Sardinha entitled: “’Solidarity is not transactional’: The politics and activism of P.E.I.’s Pride Festival.” In the segment, CBC News’ Kerry Campbell engaged pleasantly with Sardinha as Sardinha took Israel to task over their response to the war initiated by Hamas on October 7, while defending PridePEI’s own activism.

Sardinha also serves as the executive director of BIPOC USHR, which says it provides “support and advocacy to Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour” in Prince Edward Island.

Campbell began the segment by introducing Sardinha and explaining that PridePEI had recently announced that they would not be accepting sponsorship funds this year for Pride Festival from large corporate banks. Eschewing these corporate sponsorships is, apparently, “a measure to promote solidarity with the people in Palestine in light of the ongoing war there,” as Campbell paraphrased PridePEI.

Campbell went on to ask Sardinha why PridePEI is weighing in on these issues where their mandate has traditionally slanted towards issues of gay rights, gender equality, and other issues one might expect from a Pride activism group. Sardinha jumped in to “clarify” that what is going on in Gaza “is not a conflict, not a war, it is an ongoing genocide.”

Campbell, to his credit, clarified that the current conflict was initiated by Hamas on October 7, but after that he referred to the conflict “in Palestine,” and read from a CBC News report paraphrasing the fanatically anti-Israel activist Navi Pillay, who claimed that “both Hamas militants and Israel have committed war crimes, but Israel alone is responsible for the most serious of those, for the crimes against humanity,” and Campbell added that “the head of the UN Commission of Inquiry said that the scale of the human losses amounts to an extermination.”

Each and every day, Israel delivers hundreds of trucks filled with humanitarian aid to Gaza through various crossings. Israel is engaging in a war with Hamas, the terrorist organization controlling Gaza, in order to eradicate the existential threat it poses to Israel and its citizens. Israel also has an obligation to secure the release of 120 hostages being held by Hamas under horrible conditions of torture and deprivation.

Returning to the purported topic of this segment, Sardinha then started explaining why banks, in particular, have been singled out by PridePEI for exclusion from their festival. He began, however, by placing this in the context of pinkwashing. Sardinha explained pinkwashing as “the instrumentalization of queer rights,” and proceeded to explain that pinkwashing causes people to associate “Palestine” as a place where “queerness and freedom is not accepted,” but that it is accepted in Israel.

The reason why people would have this idea is because it reflects reality. A piece in Queer Majority, a vocal pro-LGBTQ+ publication, tries to understand the puzzling pro-Palestinian movement among LGBTQ+ advocates, explaining that this “juxtaposition … has precipitated a whirlpool of ridicule and criticism due to the fact that LGBT rights scarcely exist within the Muslim world, and the Palestinian territories are no exception.”

Sardinha said that declining sponsorships from banks is part of the larger Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) movement that tries to put economic pressure on Israel by cutting off support for those corporations that do business with, and invest in the Jewish state. He said that no price would be too high to ensure that PridePEI’s sponsorships come from organizations and corporations who share their values.

One might wonder, at this point, who are those sponsors whom PrIdePEI deems ideologically pure enough to sponsor their festival. The PridePEI Meta (Facebook) page prompts more questions than it answers. Among the sponsors for this year’s festival are the Government of Canada, which invest hundreds of millions in Israel each year, and a local Mitsubishi dealership, a curious choice, since Mitsubishi has several dealerships in Israel and a Hebrew version of their website to support Israeli consumers.

Sardinha insisted that “solidarity is not transactional.” That depends, it seems, on who is transacting, and what is at stake.

CBC News had an opportunity to really try to dig into these issues, to challenge the incongruence of PridePEI’s position, or at least to respond that the issues are not as simple and one-sided as Sardinha represented.

Campbell did none of this, and in his complicity, this CBC News segment is just another example of poor journalistic standards, and anti-Israel bias. Not once did Campbell ask how the strident position of PridePEI towards Israel might alienate Jewish participants in Pride. He did not ask why the two flags PridePEI portrays on their website and promotional materials are the Pride rainbow flag, and the red, green, black, and white flag of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

PridePEI is an organization that engages in political activism, as many Pride organizations do. Their singular focus on Israel, however, and the manner in which they’ve singled out the conflict between Israel and Hamas as the only world conflict worthy of their attention, displays their bias. CBC News has a responsibility to present a more balanced understanding of this, starting with an interviewer who researches the topic, and engages meaningfully with his guest to find the answers Canadians deserve.

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