Humber College Student Newspaper Gives Uncritical Coverage To Fringe Anti-Israel Rally

In the six months since Hamas’ unprovoked October 7 genocidal massacres in Israel of 1,200 innocent men, women and children, anti-Israel rallies have taken place around the world, attracting widespread media attention.

A March 21 article in Humber News, a student newspaper at Toronto’s Humber College entitled: “Palestinian supporters rally at Bay and Front,” by Anusha Siddiqui, provided more coverage of one such small protest held on March 16, which attracted only 200 people according to the article.

In the article, Siddiqui interviewed the media spokesperson for the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM), Mohammed William, who said Canada since October, 2023, had sent over $28.5 million “in arms to Israel,” a clearly false statement, given that a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada said, however, the equipment that Canada sent to Israel was “non-lethal.”

As to the organization that William is its spokesman, the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM), it’s an organization with a documented history of spreading anti-Israel hate speech and of glorifying Hamas terrorism.

William, in the interview, said that part of the purpose of the protest was to “demand a ceasefire.” Humber News’ writer didn’t ask whether he meant only Israel, or if it included Hamas as well.

After all, Hamas continues to fire at Israel (and Gazan civilians)  – even while aid trucks come in. Close to 15 thousand rockets have reportedly been fired into Israeli civilian areas in the months since October 7. Hamas still holds more than a hundred Israeli hostages, many of them who are likely being repeatedly sexually assaulted.

William said that he had family in Judea & Samaria (called the “West Bank” by news media outlets) that faced “colonial violence, settler terrorism, dispossession, home demolitions, checkpoints and so forth.”

How many family members does he have, that all of these things happen to occur to them? The writer should have challenged him, but didn’t. Why did he mention “checkpoints” – when virtually every West Bank Palestinian, not just his family, has to pass through, as would any country’s border patrol? What, precisely, is “settler terrorism”? It appears as though these are a jumble of accusations – perhaps true, or perhaps not –  that are simply allowed to be tossed, like mud, without follow-up or context from the author.

William said that state leaders like Justin Trudeau, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Joe Biden “have the power to make this go away overnight” by “lifting the siege, allowing aid and imposing an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.”

According to the article, demonstrators chanted slogans such as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” but the writer failed to mention that this was a call to wipe Israel off the map. It’s important for journalists to clarify coded language for the reader, especially in the name of balance, accuracy and fairness.

The report also said that one Sarah Ovens, a Jewish woman, attended the protest.

Paraphrased by the writer, Ovens understood that “certain Jewish communities emphasized the connection between Judaism and Israel, but she was now unlearning it.” It’s not “certain communities” – it’s normative, mainstream Judaism that consists of the vast overwhelming majority of Jews. It was imperative for the writer to add this important context, rather than allowing singular fringe voices to define the Jewish community.

Ovens told the writer that she’s learning about “what’s happening now with the occupation.” There was no elaboration on what that quote meant, what precisely she’s learned, where she’s learned it, or any example provided. These would have been important to ask. In actuality, Gaza has been unoccupied since 2005, when every Jew in the area was evacuated, and Hamas was left to its own devices to rule as they wished. Presuming, of course, she was referring to Gaza – but that’s left unclear.

Anusha Siddiqui’s article in Humber News covering a small anti-Israel rally misses critical opportunities to engage with the deeper, more nuanced layers of a complex geopolitical issue. By failing to challenge assertions, explore the broader implications of statements made by participants, and contextualize slogans and sentiments expressed during the rally, the piece inadvertently contributes to a one-dimensional anti-Israel narrative.

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