CBC Radio Segment About Palestinian Deaths & Arrests In West Bank Fails To Indicate How Many Were Terrorists & Combatants

Since Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack in southern Israel, violence has grown not just there, and within the Gaza Strip, but in Judea & Samaria (often called the “West Bank” by news media outlets) as well.

Reporting on the spike in violence in Judea & Samaria, a worthwhile journalistic endeavour, but if done sloppily, any reporting can instead serve only to mislead the public.

In this category falls the November 18 broadcast of Day 6, a CBC Radio program hosted by Brent Bambury. In one segment of the show titled: “Tension in the West Bank threaten to spiral out of control,” Bambury interviewed Jessica Montell, Executive Director of HaMoked, an Israeli human rights organization.

Listen to the segment below

In his introduction to the topic, Bambury told listeners about Israeli communities in Judea & Samaria (“West Bank”) and said “they’re considered illegal under international law.”

While it has almost become a mantra to describe these communities as illegal under international law in much of the news media, in reality, it is significantly different.

Prior to the Six Day War in 1967, when Israel captured these territories in a defensive war waged by neighbouring Arab countries, there was no Palestinian state that could lay claim to the lands. The only country which was in possession of Judea & Samaria (“West Bank”) was Jordan, but it only possessed it from 1949 to 1947, and never claimed it as its own. In any case, when Jordan and Israel signed a peace agreement in 1994, that effectively ended any theoretical Jordanian claims.

Bambury continued his introduction by saying that “according to the United Nations, nearly 200 Palestinians… have been killed in the West Bank since October 7, the vast majority by Israeli forces.”

However, Bambury did not tell listeners how many of these deceased were armed combatants / terrorists, and what was the context surrounding their deaths.

For example, by October 22, about 90 Palestinians had died in Judea & Samaria (“West Bank”), but according to the Associated Press, they had died “mainly in clashes with Israeli troops.” Without this critical context, listeners would be given the false impression that they were largely innocent Palestinian civilians killed in wanton acts of violence by Israel, and not that they were engaged in violent clashes with Israeli troops.

In recent weeks, both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) have acknowledged their fighters were among the dead in clashes with Israeli soldiers.

While this omission by Bambury may be seen incidental to the story, it is absolutely central. Failing to report the context by which Palestinians have died over the last six weeks can lead listeners to erroneously concluding that Israel is simply committing acts of violence for no reason whatsoever, when this is patently false. It bears saying that any act of violence by Israelis against innocent Palestinians is deserving of condemnation.

Bambury’s interviewee, Montell, did no better. Montell, who made reference to “Jewish supremacist ideology” in conversation, made reference to “mass arrests of Palestinians in the West Bank” and “a lot of violence in the course of arrests,” without addressing whom was being arrested, and for what reasons.

Had Montell offered any relevant context to listeners, she could have added that many of the Palestinians arrested have been associated with Hamas, and during these arrests, Israeli soldiers have confiscated weapons belonging to members of the terrorist groups. 

For his part, Bambury never added any important details or context to Montell’s comments.

But once again, in the absence of these critical details, listeners could reasonably conclude that Israel is arresting Palestinians with no basis at all.

With the war between Hamas and Israel continuing in the Middle East, and antisemitic attacks spiking in the West, news media outlets have a duty and responsibility to report accurately and specifically on this topic. In this segment, Bambury regrettably failed to do so.

Send your considered comments to CBC Day 6 at this link or by sending emails to host Brent Bambury here: brent.bambury@cbc.ca.

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