On the evening of June 3, 2023, CP24 news broadcast a brief update on the ongoing protests in Israel against the Israeli government’s judicial overhaul plans.
But in its coverage of the protests, the host told viewers that “thousands protested on the streets of Israel’s capital for the twenty-second straight weekend over planned judicial overhauls.” At the same time, a marquee at the bottom of the screen read: “Tel Aviv, Israel,” clearly identifying Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem, as the capital city of Israel.
Following the broadcast, HonestReporting Canada protested the error on Twitter, writing the next day:
Contrary to @CP24‘s reporting on June 3, #Israel‘s capital is located in #Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, the protests over proposed judicial reform took place in #TelAviv, which is merely a highly populated Israeli city.
A correction is warranted. pic.twitter.com/gR1boCs9gU
— HonestReporting Canada (@HonestRepCanada) June 4, 2023
HonestReporting Canada also filed a complaint directly with CP24. When no correction was forthcoming, a complaint was then sent to The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC).
Following that filing, on July 26, CP24 issued an on-air clarification to its earlier broadcast, saying that:
“Right now, we would like to make a clarification to a story we aired on June 3rd of this year. During a story on protests in Israel over planned judicial overhauls, we referred to Israel’s capital as Tel Aviv in the on-screen graphic. The Canadian government’s position is that, while Israel designates Jerusalem as its capital, Canada believes that the final status of the city needs to be negotiated between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Canada maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv. CP24 regrets any confusion caused.”
Watch the on-air clarification immediately below:
Almost a month later, in a letter from Sylvie Courtemanche, the CBSC’s Chair, the council responded to HonestReporting Canada’s complaint, and fully validated the concerns raised.
Courtemanche stated that HonestReporting Canada’s complaint was examined in light of Clause 5 (News) of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics, as well as under Article 1.0 of the Radio Television Digital News Association of Canada’s (RTDNA) Code of Journalistic Ethics. Both areas deal with the requirement for broadcasters to share news accurately.
Courtemanche rejected CP24’s explanation in identifying Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital when saying that the Canadian government maintains an embassy in Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem, since 1953. But as the CBSC correctly pointed out, simply because Canada’s embassy to Israel is located in Tel Aviv, does not mean Ottawa has recognized the city as Israel’s capital. In fact, as the CBSC’s Chair wrote: “There does not appear to be, however, any suggestion that Tel Aviv is being proposed as the alternative capital city. Tel Aviv is, as you point out, ‘merely a highly populated Israeli city’. Canada opened an embassy in Tel Aviv in 1953 and it has remained there ever since.1 The presence of an international embassy in a city does not, in and of itself, make that city a capital. In light of this, the CBSC Secretariat agrees that it was incorrect for CP24 to label Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital.”
Full CBSC letter below:
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As the CBSC acknowledged in its letter, when it comes to the Middle East, there can be a wide divergence of opinions and viewpoints. But not all opinions are equally valid; nor are they equally bolstered by historical facts.
In this case, although it is true that Canada’s embassy is currently located in Tel Aviv – a large, cosmopolitan city in Israel and the country’s economic hub – the Canadian government has not proclaimed that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital, but has stated that Israel’s capital will be determined following a final status peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Moreover, Canada’s embassy in Tel Aviv could very well move. Until recently, the United States embassy to Israel was located in Tel Aviv, and Canadian politicians have also proposed that, upon being elected, they would do likewise.
In its letter, the CBSC stated that when a broadcaster is found to have breached a code, they are required to broadcast a correction on-air. However, it pointed out that CP24’s correction on July 26 sufficed.
While CP24’s false identification of Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital may seem minor at first glance, it’s not. Not only is accuracy always critical, but misidentifying Tel Aviv as Israel’s proclaimed capital severs the connection between the modern State of Israel and Jerusalem, the ancient city home to thousands of years of Jewish history. In a very real sense, Jerusalem is Israel’s link to its history and that of the Jewish people. It should come as little surprise that among anti-Israel detractors, denying Israel’s connections to Jerusalem plays such a central role in their campaign of delegitimization against the Jewish State.
Regardless of the presence of such an agenda or not, the correct identification of Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, is enormously germane to historical accuracy, particularly in light of such a campaign of disinformation being waged on the subject.
CP24’s on-air clarification, along with the CBSC’s precedent-setting decision, represent a major victory, not just for HonestReporting Canada’s campaign for ensuring accurate news about Israel, but also serves as an effective deterrent against those who seek to delegitimize Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal and undivided capital.