Toronto Star Article Gives Extensive Coverage To Anti-Israel Protest & No Mention of Pro-Israel Vigil

Toronto is the fourth-largest city in North America, having surpassed Chicago’s population in 2013, and in a city of three million, and a metropolitan area many times larger, protests, rallies and demonstrations for a variety of causes are an everyday occurrence.

One of those protests took place on October 28, when a group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered in downtown Toronto, which the Toronto Star gave extensive coverage to the following day.

The article, “Anger over the Israel-Hamas conflict spilled onto the streets of downtown Toronto for the third straight day,” written by Staff Reporters Mahdis Habibinia and Ben Cohen on October 29 and updated the next day, quoted demonstrators at the rally, one of whom outlandishly and falsely claimed that Israel is “trying to slaughter” Palestinians.

The article also cited Jewish participants at the demonstration, including a member of one organization, Independent Jewish Voices Canada.

Independent Jewish Voices Canada is a fanatically anti-Israel organization which supports the BDS (boycott divestment sanctions) movement against Israel, and has scandalously described the country as an apartheid state.

The Jewish protester, Gur Tsabar, was quoted as saying that “So many of us are descendants of the Holocaust…we need to look deep inside, because this is a genocide being done in our names.”

While the Toronto Star’s writers are not responsible for the unfounded claims of genocide made by Tsabar, or the morally repugnant tacit comparison of Israel’s counter-terrorism operations in Gaza to the Nazi Holocaust, where six million European Jews were systematically murdered, the newspaper’s platforming of a fringe organization which stands well outside the Jewish community represents a significant mischaracterization of the group, and of the Jewish community as a whole.

The very same day that the pro-Palestinian rally was held in downtown Toronto, another pro-Israel vigil with an estimated one thousand attendees took place in North York, at Earl Bales Park. Speakers included relatives of hostages who were kidnapped by Hamas during their terrorist attack on October 14, which claimed the lives of 1,400 innocent Israelis.

While Habibinia and Cohen’s article provided significant coverage to the downtown rally, not a word was said about the large pro-Israel gathering, which was covered in other news media outlets in Toronto.

Habibinia and Cohen’s article was just one of multiple, covering other pro-Palestinian rallies in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). While it is certainly the prerogative of a newspaper’s editors to determine that a rally is newsworthy and deserving of coverage, this article provided the public with a misleading picture of current events.

This article gave readers a false impression that the pro-Palestinian cause is far more widespread than it is, both by platforming and quoting a small fringe anti-Israel Jewish group, and by failing to cover a simultaneous pro-Israel rally which took place the very same day as the pro-Palestinian gathering, which was covered extensively.

Canadians are far more supportive of Israel than the extensive coverage of anti-Israel protesters would suggest. In a recent poll commissioned by Mainstreet Research, 62 percent of Canadians agreed with the statement “Do you approve or disapprove of the Canadian Government’s support for Israel and its right to defend itself?” Only 18 per cent said they disagreed with the statement.

The Star can and must do better in properly portraying the pro and anti-Israel protests taking place in Toronto and Canada-wide.

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