During Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Raids In Jenin, CBC News Whitewashed Palestinian Terrorism

In early July, Israel launched a major counter-terrorism operation in the Jenin refugee camp, attempting to root out weapons depots and other terrorist infrastructure inside the Palestinian Authority (PA) administered area in Judea & Samaria (often called the “West Bank” by the news media).

Israel’s efforts came 21 years after it conducted large-scale counter-terrorism efforts in Jenin, which was then and is now, a hotbed where multiple deadly terrorist activities against Israel have originated.

Although Israel withdrew only two days after the incursion, the raids elicited widespread media coverage across the Middle East and around the world, including in Canada.

CBC News covered Israel’s recent operations in Jenin extensively, with multiple news articles, broadcast reports and interviews. However, much of the coverage failed in its duty to accurately report the reality on the ground, and instead selectively omitted key information, provided unvarnished anti-Israel disinformation, and failed to provide relevant context for readers and listeners.

In one radio program on July 4, CBC Radio As It Happens host Nil Köksal interviewed Mustafa Sheta, a Palestinian man in Jenin, and director of a local theatre in the city.

During the interview, which lasted about seven minutes, Sheta not only shared anti-Israel propaganda, but actively condoned Palestinian terrorism against Israel.

Sheta referred to Palestinian terrorists in Jenin as being part of the “resistance and revolution”. He referred to Israel’s counter-terrorism actions as an “invasion,” and when asked by Köksal if there were “militants” in the town, as Israel maintained, he launched into a full-scale defence of terrorism, saying “They are freedom fighters…those fighters, they fight for our dignity.”

Even when Köksal mentioned a Palestinian terrorist attack in Tel Aviv on July 4 carried out by Hamas, which injured at least nine people (and saw a pregnant mother lose her unborn child) in a combined stabbing and car ramming attack, Sheta was obstinate, saying “We are not attack(ing) them,” instead blaming Israel for Hamas’ decision to attack innocent Israelis, and that “This process of liberation…it will continue.”

Sheta’s defence, and then overt promotion of Palestinian terrorism is abhorrent by itself, and there is no justification for why he was allowed by Köksal to continue to spread such incitement to violence.

Sheta’s glorification of violence also appeared in La Presse, a French-language news outlet in Montreal. In a July 4 article covering the Jenin raids, Sheta was quoted by author Janie Gosselin, where he said that “we respect all kinds of resistance.” In the report, Gosselin pointed out that a co-founder of Sheta’s theatre has been accused by Israel of terrorism. He also justified violence against Israelis as a natural consequence, saying that “when you have no more hope…you go a little crazy.”

One day prior, CBC News broadcast a news report by Chris Brown, a foreign correspondent for CBC based in London, covering the latest from Jenin, but instead offered a heavy dose of anti-Israel editorializing.

In his radio report, Brown said that “Jenin has long been a symbol of Palestinian resistance and a stronghold for a new generation of militants fed up with the Israeli occupation…”

While it is accurate that many Palestinians refer to Palestinian terrorism as little more than “resistance,” it is wildly inappropriate for a journalist to appropriate this term. Referring to Palestinian terrorist groups as “resistance” offers a tacit – at the very least, perhaps even explicit –  acknowledgement of their legitimacy and validity.

In truth, the “resistance” groups Brown refers to, such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), are organizations who intentionally target Israeli civilians for murder, and have done so for decades. Both groups are appropriately labeled as terrorist organizations in Canada and by many other countries.

Brown’s statement that “a new generation of militants (are) fed up with the Israeli occupation” is also highly misleading. Both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, groups highly active in Jenin, are not merely opposed to Israel’s presence in Judea & Samaria, or eastern Jerusalem, lands which Israel gained during its defensive war in 1967, but to all of Israel. These extremist Islamist groups see Israel as a foreign cancer, and view it as a holy duty to destroy Israel for the sake of Islam.

The failures of CBC News to accurately cover the conflict in Jenin was not limited to radio, either.

A July 4 news report posted to CBC News.ca, which mentioned both Israel’s counter-terrorism operations and Hamas’ attack in Tel Aviv, also whitewashed Palestinian terrorism.

The article’s sub-heading referred to the Hamas terrorist who rammed pedestrians in Tel Aviv as a “Palestinian driver,” and in the body of the article, as a “motorist.” In fact, nowhere in the entire article did the terms terrorist or terrorism appear even once.

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Meanwhile, a CBC News television report by Paul Hunter that was broadcast on July 5, said that for Palestinians, Jenin “has long symbolized resistance to the occupation,” using a favourite Palestinian euphemism for terrorism. Furthermore, while Hunter did acknowledge that Israel discovered a cache of weaponry, he did not share Israeli claims that all of the Palestinian fatalities were combatants, which likely led viewers to conclude that Israel killed scores of civilians.

Also on July 5, CBC News’ radio program Up To Speed with Faith Fundal, saw the CBC’s anchor interview an organizer of a pro-Palestinian rally in Winnipeg, who made no recognition of Israel’s legitimate concerns about Palestinian terrorism, and instead baselessly stated that Israel’s actions are “targeting civilians” and “innocent families.” He said that Israel “wants to annex the Palestinian people,” in Jenin, despite the fact that the Israeli military left after just two days in the operation. Anchor Fundal failed to challenge his guest on any of his statements and abdicated his responsibilities to ask tough, probing questions, on controversial issues.

On the same program, Fundal also interviewed Tami Jacoby, a professor in political studies at the University of Manitoba. In her remarks, Jacoby referred to a “cycle of violence” between Israelis and Palestinians, an oft-repeated (for example, see coverage also by CBC The National) but ultimately misleading statement, which suggests that counter-terrorism efforts somehow breeds terrorism, as opposed to counter-terrorism existing to thwart terror, and being a legitimate and necessary step in self-defence. She also said that Israel’s government prioritizes growth of Israeli settlements and that Palestinian terror groups (which she called militants) “are entirely against,” failing to detail that these groups are not merely opposed to Israeli settlements, but Israel’s very existence.

While there are often complexities in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, there is no doubt that Palestinians who carry out murderous attacks on Israeli civilians are not “freedom fighters” who are part of a “resistance,” and those who attempt to run over Israelis are not merely a “motorist” or a “driver,” but bona fide Palestinian terrorists. The inability to honestly and accurately report on this simple fact is a stain on CBC News’ reputation, and represents a significant failure of journalistic ethics.

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