CBC’s ‘As It Happens’ Features Discussion On Israel’s Rafah Operation, Giving Listeners No Context About Hamas’ Presence There

A May 7 episode of CBC’s As It Happens entitled: “Al Jazeera reporter describes horrific living conditions after fleeing Rafah,” presented listeners with a disturbingly biased and incomplete story that shamelessly made no attempt at even a basic level of fairness, context, background information, or accuracy.

The seven-minute segment featured host Nil Köksal speaking to Al Jazeera reporter Hani Mahmoud about his personal experiences in the Gaza Strip amidst the Israeli operation in the southern city of Rafah.

While it’s completely legitimate and important to allow those affected by war to share their experiences, and for everyone to try and learn about its impact on everyday people, someone’s personal pain and hardship is no excuse for a journalist thousands of kilometers away to exploit their story to peddle an unjustified and inappropriate political narrative.

Right from the outside, red flags are raised as the episode description baselessly accuses Israel of “forcing Palestinians to flee en masse.” Similar emotionally-charged imagery is invoked again when Mahmoud accused Israel of “herd[ing]” Palestinians from place to place. While one can greatly sympathize with how unpleasant the experience must be of having to repeatedly flee various danger zones, these descriptions create a false impression of what exactly is going on.

Preferring apparently to spark an emotional reaction in audiences rather than actually inform them about the situation, Köksal neglected to explain the background or facts of any of the events being discussed — which, in this particular instance, resulted in a blatant inversion of reality. Israel is not “forcing” anyone to do anything, nor are they the party responsible for the ongoing violence — which is the result of a genocidal terrorist group having used the area as a base of operations from which to attack and murder innocent Israelis.

On the contrary, the reason that Mahmoud and his family were in Rafah to begin with, and the reason he has now fled to central Gaza, is because Israel’s military voluntarily chooses to warn Palestinian civilians ahead of counterterrorism operations and provide them with opportunities to flee to safer locations — a courtesy that the vast majority of armies throughout world history would never have dreamed of offering an enemy population during a time of war. Under these unfortunate circumstances (which Israel did not cause), those who care about Palestinians should be grateful to Israel for these actions.

But Köksal’s failure to provide basic background information or context goes deeper. She never at any point in the discussion of a military operation in Rafah explained why it is happening — as if Israel is just bombing places for no reason at all.

Rafah is the city where several Hamas terrorist battalions remain in power, where terrorists have repeatedly shot rockets at Israelis as recently as early May, killing four, where Israeli hostages are thought to be held, and where an international border with Egypt has been used for smuggling illicit weapons.

By all normal accounts, this makes Rafah as legitimate a military target as there can possibly be — and Israel is going above and beyond the requirements of international law in its thus far successful effort to minimize civilian casualties. Köksal also did not explain that, so far, the military operation in Rafah has been a limited and targeted incursion not directly impacting areas where the majority of residents and refugees are.

While ignoring these objective facts, Köksal still found time to platform debunked misinformation when she failed to fact-check Mahmoud’s allusion to a recent story that falsely and baselessly blamed Israel for mass graves near a Gaza hospital despite publicly verifiable evidence that it was Palestinians who dug the graves and buried the bodies in question. Köksal also let it slide unaddressed when Mahmoud invoked his own personal political opinion that Israel should withdraw all troops from the entirety of the Gaza Strip in order to restore safety to the people, despite the fact that it’s Hamas who for the past 18 years has forced the Palestinian population to live under tyrannical totalitarian control.

There are many important ways in which first hand stories should help inform our political opinions — but these do not include cynically misusing them to obscure the actual facts. Shamefully, CBC’s As It Happens has once again continued its habit of showcasing anti-Israel speakers who peddle carefully curated anti-Israel talking points.

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