On November 8, we condemned Radio-Canada host Simon Durivage for delegitimizing Israel by drawing an obscene equivalence between Israel, Iran and Sudan on the political talk show “Le match des élus“.
We pointed out that it was abhorrent for our public broadcaster to present democratic Israel as a “rogue state” by comparing it with the Iranian terror state and the genocidal regime of Sudan. Israel, as we all know, is a democratic state with peaceful aspirations which respects human rights and the rule of law and is the unfortunate victim ofterrorism, genocidal wars and relentless incitement to violenceagainst its civilian population. Iran and Sudan, on the other hand, are rogue states and serial human rights abusers that perpetuate the very murderous terrorismand incitement to violence which Israel and the world are forced to combat.
Thanks to the hundreds of complaints sent by HonestReporting Canada members from across the world, Radio-Canada has acknowledged in writing that Mr. Durivage drew an “inappropriate comparison” noting that “Iran and Sudan were in no way suitable examples” to compare with Israel and that Mr. Durivage personally “has expressed his regret for any offence he may have caused.“
Many of our members who complained to Radio-Canada received the following reply from the Director of Complaints Handling and Corporate Affairs:
We received your comments about the statements made by Simon Durivage during the program Le match des élus on October 15, 2010.
The discussion focused on the reasons underlying Canada’s failure to obtain a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Mr. Durivage highlighted, among other things, the significant role played by Arab countries in rejecting Canada, given Canada’s very strong support of Israel. As an example, he cited Canada’s recent decision to represent Israel in Venezuela, a country that has severed diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.
Mr. Durivage’s question was intended not to blame Israel but to determine whether it was prudent for Canada to present itself as Israel’s unconditional ally. There is no doubt that some of Israel’s policies regarding the Palestinian issue are controversial, and that the United Nations has passed many resolutions condemning them. By remaining such a staunch ally of Israel’s, does Canada not run the risk of becoming a target for Israel’s enemies? Those were the considerations underlying Mr. Durivage’s question.
Mr. Durivage’s comment to the effect that Israel was a controversial country was a reference to Israel’s controversial policies. He did not at any point mean to imply that the UN questioned Israel’s legitimacy, nor did he intend to raise any doubts about Israel’s democratic credentials.
By choosing to illustrate his question with a number of other examples, Mr. Durivage sought to highlight the repercussions that close ties with a country applying such controversial policies could have on Canada. You are, however, quite right in pointing out that Iran and Sudan were in no way suitable examples. Mr. Durivage has expressed his regret for any offence he may have caused with that inappropriate comparison.
Martine Lanctôt Director, Complaints Handling and Corporate Affairs Radio-Canada News and Current Affairs
While we appreciate that Radio-Canada promptly undertook this review and that Mr. Durivage has privately apologized, if Radio-Canada is genuinely interested in remedying this situation and maintaining its credibility, our public broadcaster should publicly apologize for this serious journalistic transgression on the same program where Mr. Durivage’s original inappropriate comparison was aired on.
According to Radio-Canada’s journalistic standards and practices: “The CBC/Radio-Canada will not hesitate to admit and correct a material error when it is established that one has been made. To do otherwise or to defend a program exhibiting poor taste or unacceptable ethics or containing errors would lead inevitably to loss of credibility by the CBC/Radio-Canada.”
HonestReporting Canada has communicated our concerns with Radio-Canada’s Ombudsman, Ms. Julie Miville-Dechêne, and we currently await her review on the matter. We will keep you updated with ongoing developments. _______________________________________________________________________