Special Report: Globe and Mail Bias Against Israel Continues Unabated

January 21, 2016

What our media report today, often times becomes foreign policy tomorrow. In Canada, the Globe and Mail, our country’s “paper of record” prides itself as being a broadsheet of influence whose reporting and commentary platforms are observed by our nation’s thought leaders and policy makers.

Though duty bound at being impartial, fair, accurate and balanced, in the past couple months, the Globe has produced problematic content with an overt anti-Israel slant and has failed to remedy its journalist shortcomings.

Here are just five recent examples of Globe and Mail media bias against Israel:

1) Globe gives platform to incendiary Michael Bell commentary

Writing in the Globe and Mail on December 14, Michael Bell, former Canadian ambassador to Israel and co-director of the Jerusalem Old City Initiative, excused Palestinian terrorism while baselessly charging that a “Judaization” of Jerusalem exists. In truth, Bell’s op-ed was just another example of Palestinian incitement.

Without substantiation, Bell claimed Israeli “zealots” are attempting to change the Temple Mount’s status quo while seeking the destruction of the Al Aqsa Mosque, efforts which Bell claimed are prompting Palestinians to commit terrorism.

Bell claimed: “The spate of frequent and growing knife attacks has been provoked by the perhaps unsurprising misperception that Mr. Netanyahu plans to change the “status quo” step by step, given the pressures he is subject to.” As commentator Richard Levy observed: “Mr. Bell is determined to put a halo around the violent and often murderous knifings by those whose passions are inflamed by such incendiary charges. He says that “frequent knifings by Palestinians” are “in reaction to these perceived encroachments”. Note the passive voice which makes the sequence of events look like a physical phenomenon. Perception of an undesired outcome inexorably leads to knifings. In the same way that a very strong wind leads to branches breaking. Bell outdoes himself in making it clear that persons stabbing other persons on the street with intent to maim and kill merit a free pass, when he sums up his whitewashing analysis by writing: “The spate of frequent and growing knife attacks has been provoked by the perhaps unsurprising misperception that Mr. Netanyahu plans to change the “status quo” step by step, given the pressures he is subject to.” The misperception (of change to the status quo) is “unsurprising” in Mr. Bell’s words (even though Mr. Netanyahu strongly denied it). So naturally ” knife attacks” were provoked. It is as if, in Bell’s mind, the knives took action on their own without human control instead of being wielded by persons who stab randomly choosing pedestrians to death because of a misperception.”

In truth, as Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, recently put it: “Israel stringently maintains the status quo on the Temple Mount. Last year, some 3.5 million Muslims visited the Temple Mount alongside some 200,000 Christians and 12,000 Jews. Only Muslims are allowed to pray on the Mount, and non-Muslims may visit only at specified times, which have not changed. Though the Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest site—where Solomon built his Temple some 3,000 years ago—Israel will not allow a change in the status quo. The ones trying to change the status quo are Palestinians, who are violently trying to prevent Jews and Christians from even visiting a site holy to all three faiths.”

Since Jerusalem’s reunification in 1967, Dermer observed, “Israel has vigorously protected the holy sites of all faiths, including al-Aqsa. In the Middle East, where militant Islamists desecrate and destroy churches, synagogues, world heritage sites, as well as each other’s mosques, Israel is the only guarantor of Jerusalem’s holy places. Palestinians have been propagating the “al-Aqsa is in danger” myth since at least 1929, when the Palestinian icon, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini, used it to inspire the massacre of Jews in Hebron and elsewhere. Nearly a century later, the mosque remains unharmed, but the lie persists.”

Those who protest the “Judaization” of Jerusalem are themselves guilty of trying to deny and destroy Jewish history in Jerusalem. Rather than “Judaization,” the facts point to a systematic de-Judaizing of Jerusalem by the Palestinian leadership evident in illegal Arab building in Jerusalem and the wanton destruction of ancient Jewish artifacts by the Waqf. Furthermore, Interior Ministry statistics show Jerusalem’s Arab population has increased faster than the Jewish population, from 27% to 37.3% of total Jerusalemites, with a projected Arab majority by 2040. This speaks arguably to an “Arabization” of Jerusalem.

2) Globe whitewashes Palestinian terror

On December 15, HRC called on the Globe and Mail to amend a headline to the following article it published the day prior on its website which whitewashed Palestinian terror and which was recirculated via the Globe’s Twitter account: 

As a result of this misleading headline, readers may have wrongly concluded that this was a simple traffic accident, whereas Israeli police claimed that the Palestinian man intentionally rammed his car into a bus stop and wounded 14 Israelis in what they referred to as a terror attack. One baby in fact, had to undergo extensive surgery to save his foot. Importantly, the Hamas terror group claimed that the Jerusalem car-rammer was a member of theirs and within this terrorist’s car, was an axe that the Israelis believe shows he was prepared to inflict further carnage post attack.

In the interests of fairness, accuracy and best informing Globe and Mail readers, we submitted to the Globe that this headline should be amended to reference Israeli claims that an attack took place, or that the Palestinian was an “assailant”. Or, instead of placing emphasis on the death of this Palestinian, perhaps an appropriate headline would state “Fourteen Israelis wounded in Palestinian car ramming attack in Jerusalem: police”. This was no simple traffic accident and the Globe should be familiar with how readers are more inclined to read a headline exclusively and not the article itself. Accuracy, fairness, and balance is of paramount concern in headlines, and it’s compounded by the fact that these headlines become the message of Twitter blasts.

Though the Globe circulated our complaint to their editors, to our dismay, the Globe did not feel a correction was needed.

3) Mark Mackinnon’s Report About Palestinian Refugees was Misleading and Inaccurate

Also on December 15, HRC called on the Globe to publish a correction and to take remedial action in regards to a misleading and inaccurate front page report by Mark Mackinnon entitled “Impoverished war-weary Palestinians remain the forgotten refugees”.

Mackinnon wrote the following: “Like millions of Palestinians scattered around the Middle East, the 46-year-old Mr. al-Laham was born a refugee. He grew up in the Yarmouk camp, on the edge of Damascus, where his parents lived after fleeing their home in Jaffa during the 1948 war that created the state of Israel.

The concept that a war – rather than the United Nations vote to partition Palestine – created the State of Israel,  is not just an error, but is tantamount to historical revisionism. In reality, the Partition Plan set out to create two states (a Jewish and an Arab state) and while the Jews accepted partition, the Arabs rejected it and combined Arab armies launched a war to wipe the Jewish presence from the region. This error was deserving of a corrective notice.

Mr. Mackinnon also stated: “He was a toddler when his family moved from Yarmouk to Lebanon’s Shatila refugee camp to escape a Syrian crackdown on Palestinian groups, and just 13 when they fled back to Yarmouk after Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which included a bloody massacre of Palestinians living in Shatila that was carried out by Israel’s Lebanese Christian allies.”

In this sentence, readers likely concluded that Mr. Mackinnon was implying that Israel backed and perhaps even ordered the Christian Phalangist’s massacring of these Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila. This is misleading. In fact, as Jewish Virtual Library notes:

“The Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia was responsible for the massacres that occurred at the two Beirut-area refugee camps on September 16-17, 1982. Israeli troops allowed the Phalangists to enter Sabra and Shatila to root out terrorist cells believed located there. It had been estimated that there may have been up to 200 armed men in the camps working out of the countless bunkers built by the PLO over the years, and stocked with generous reserves of ammunition.

When Israeli soldiers ordered the Phalangists out, they found hundreds dead (estimates range from 460 according to the Lebanese police, to 700-800 calculated by Israeli intelligence). The dead, according to the Lebanese account, included 35 women and children. The rest were men: Palestinians, Lebanese, Pakistanis, Iranians, Syrians and Algerians. The killings came on top of an estimated 95,000 deaths that had occurred during the civil war in Lebanon from 1975-1982.

Israel had allowed the Phalange to enter the camps as part of a plan to transfer authority to the Lebanese, and accepted responsibility for that decision. The Kahan Commission of Inquiry, formed by the Israeli government in response to public outrage and grief, found that Israel was indirectly responsible for not anticipating the possibility of Phalangist violence. Israel instituted the panel’s recommendations, including the dismissal of Gen. Raful Eitan, the Army Chief of Staff. Defense Minister Ariel Sharon resigned.”

Finally, we took issue with Mr. Mackinnon’s rose-tinted glasses of UNWRA and his subjectively claiming that “War-weary Palestinians remain the Middle East’s forgotten refugees”. In fact, Palestinians are among the top recipients of foreign aid and humanitarian assistance according to Global Humanitarian Assistance.org which states:

“In 2012, the West Bank and Gaza Strip received US$654 million in international humanitarian assistance, making it the third largest recipient. Initial estimates for 2013 total US$381 million.

The West Bank and Gaza Strip has been in the top 10 recipients of humanitarian assistance in all of the last 10 years. Humanitarian assistance peaked at US$1.2 billion in 2009, when it was the second largest recipient.”

On what grounds can it be said that they have been forgotten when the international community is giving them billions of dollars? Perhaps ignored by the Arab world would be correct. In sharp contrast, what restitution have over 850,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands ever received? These Jews had all their possessions, assets and valuables taken from them and they were subjected to persecution and ethnic cleansing. These individuals are the ones who are truly forgotten, but they are no longer refugees as they have resettled in Israel and all over the world following the War of Independence in 1948, whereas Palestinian Arabs have remained stateless for a myriad of reasons: Palestinian leaders perpetuate and incentivize a refugee state and the broader Arab world doesn’t accept Palestinian refugees and does not allow them to work, vote, and are forced to live in squalor. Another reason that there are more Palestinian refugees today is because UNRWA has its own definition of “refugee” in contrast to the UNHCR, which includes not just refugees themselves, but their descendants in perpetuity. The Palestinian Arabs who fled in the course of the 1948 war, plus all their descendants, are considered as refugees in perpetuity or until a just and durable solution can be found, whichever comes first.

As Elliot Abrams at the Council on Foreign Relations has observed:

“… instead of coming under the protection of UNHCR, they had a special agency of their own, UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency. In the decades of its existence, it has not solved or even diminished the Palestinian refugee problem; instead it has presided over a massive increase in its size, for all the descendants of Palestinian refugees are considered to be refugees as well. Once there were 750,000; now there are five million people considered by UNRWA to be “Palestinian refugees.” And UNRWA is now the largest UN agency, with a staff of 30,000. UNHCR cares for the rest of the world with about 7,500 personnel.”

“The political background to this story is simple: only in the case of Israel was there a determined refusal to accept what had happened during and after World War II, with the establishment of the Jewish state and the increase in its population by the acceptance of refugee Jews. Of all the world’s refugees, whom UNHCR tries normally to resettle, only the Palestinians are an exception. UNRWA presides over generation after generation of additional refugees, and Arab states and leaders make believe that some day they can turn back the clock and send them–and their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren–to Israel.

To say this is not necessarily to criticize the day-to-day activities of UNRWA, for it was handed a mission by the UN. There are and have always been many UNRWA officials who are reliable international civil servants. And no doubt, any change in UNRWA’s role should come slowly and carefully so as not to harm innocent people caught up in international political struggles. But UNRWA should cease to exist, and Palestinian refugees should be handled by UNHCR with the intention of resettling them. That process should begin with a redefinition of who is a refugee entitled to benefits, so that benefits are based on need rather than on status. Moreover, Palestinians who have citizenship in other countries should not be considered refugees at all–the standard practice for every other group of refugees in the world. Why, for example, should the nearly two million Palestinians in Jordan, over 90 percent of whom have Jordanian citizenship, today be considered refugees by UNRWA at all?”

In light of this information and to remedy errors and shortcomings within this Mark Mackinnon article, we requested that corrective action be undertaken by the Globe and Mail. Though our concerns were forwarded to the Globe’s foreign editors, the Globe regretfully did not feel that any corrective action was warranted. At least UNWRA approved of the Globe’s reporting:

4) Reporter Patrick Martin Draws a Disgraceful Moral Equivalence

The Globe’s anti-Israel trend continued on December 29 with a misleading one-sided front page report by global affairs journalist and former Mideast bureau chief Patrick Martin (pictured right).

In coverage about several “international stories that moved” Globe and Mail journalists “and changed us,” Martin provided a first-person account about the abhorrent arson attack in Duma carried out by Israeli extremists, which saw the murder of an Arab family, the Dawabshes, and an 18-month-old.

Of particular concern, Martin’s report ignored how in Israel, on the rare occasions when extremists intentionally targeted and used violence against innocents, both Jew and Arab alike, to achieve political purposes, these acts of terror are forcefully repudiated by the government and society at large, while the perpetrators are brought to justice and languish in Israeli jails.

As CAMERA’s Ricki Hollander observed: “While Martin passingly refers to ‘terror and vengeance…employed by both sides in the long-running conflict,’ he avoids any discussion of the myriads of terror attacks perpetrated by Palestinians against Israelis. By contrast, he takes the diametrically opposite approach regarding attacks by Jews, providing a litany of anything and everything he can possibly pin on Jewish perpetrators, from the pre-state Mandate era on, under the heading ‘Roots of the Conflict.’ Since there are so few examples of Israeli terrorists or Jewish-perpetrated attacks, Martin is reduced to conflating non-fatal property attacks with those that resulted in death, and nationalistically-motivated actions directed against British and Arab in Mandate Palestine and during the 1948 war with religiously-motivated actions directed at the property of fellow Jews. Included in his list, for example, are an obscure and short-lived group of religious zealots in the 1950’s whose attacks were directed at Jewish storefronts selling non-kosher meat. How exactly this contributed to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is never explained.”

On a daily basis, Palestinian terrorists intentionally fire deadly rockets at Israeli kindergartens, run over innocent teenagers with their cars, and stab elderly civilians. These terrorists who were incited to violence (a fact altogether ignored by Martin), are lauded as “martyrs” and their families receive financial gain from the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas terror group as a reward for their continued efforts.

Contrary to Martin’s claims, there’s no “cycle” of violence, revenge or vengeance, nor is there any moral equivalence between Israeli efforts to prevent terror and Palestinian efforts to commit terror. There’s a marked difference between an arsonist and a firefighter. There is no equal guilt between both and to imply that there is, fundamentally is a moral wrong, it obscures the reality of the situation and it impedes the chances for Mideast peace.

5) Globe ignores gruesome terror attack against Israeli mother

While the Toronto Star gave prominent coverage to the recent brutal murder of Israeli mother Daphna Meir (pictured at right), stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in front of her children in her home, the Globe and Mail altogether ignored this story.

Though the Globe covered the rare instances of odious crimes carried out by Jewish extremists on Palestinians, as seen in Patrick Martin’s reporting as noted above, no such media attention was paid by the Globe about a clear instance of Palestinian terror committed against an Israeli innocent. The Globe completely ignored this story.

Dafna Meir was just 38 years young. She was a mother, a wife, and a nurse. She was murdered by a 16-year-old Palestinian terrorist in cold blood.

Bias by omission is perhaps the most egregious violation of journalistic standards, for which, the Globe is guilty.

HonestReporting Canada will continue to vigilantly monitor the Globe and Mail’s coverage of Israel and will assiduously work to hold their journalists to account and to expose biased coverage to the Canadian public.


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