Success! HRC Prompts CBC To Take Corrective Action After Reporter Gave Sympathetic Coverage To Tiny Anti-Israel Boycott Petition & Failed To Quote Opponents Of Such Efforts

June 26, 2024

In the latest breathless news coverage of fringe anti-Israel activists, a recent CBC News article reported on a motley crew in Sudbury, Ontario.

In the June 25 article entitled: “Pro-Palestinian group in Sudbury calls for Canada to prohibit sale of nickel to Israel,” reporter Aya Dufour documented the efforts of a local group of anti-Israel campaigners calling on the federal government to ban nickel sales to Israel due to the use of the raw material in the manufacture of weapons.

As spelled out in a recent column published on the website for the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada by David Starbuck, a spokesperson for the newly-founded organizing group, No Nickel for Genocide, Starbuck accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza, a preposterous and ludicrous accusation that is not only utterly unfounded, but which reflects supreme ignorance on the part of those making such claims.

CBC journalist Dufour reported that roughly 350 people across Canada – out of 41 million people total of our nation’s population – have signed a petition to that effect, and at one point, strangely referred to Israel as “the Israeli state,” a curious turn of phrase that is often used by fanatical anti-Israel extremists.

The article also quoted Muhannad Ayyash, a professor of sociology at Mount Royal University in Calgary, who is quoted as saying that “Canada has shown that it is not serious about stopping arms sales to Israel,” despite the Trudeau government doing exactly that – refusing to approve new sales to Israel.

The real problem with Dufour’s article is not necessarily about quoting Ayyash, although he has shown his utter lack of credibility and extreme anti-Israel bias (see here, here, here, here, here, here and here), including when he whitewashed Hamas terrorism against Israeli civilians as just an “expression of desperation,” but moreover with ignoring any and all criticism of the campaign to demonize Israel and its self-defence against an Islamic terrorist organization.

If CBC News decided that, even if the marginal voices behind the petition merited a news article, at the very least, given the gravity of the claims (namely, genocide), that a voice opposed to the effort should be quoted.

In sharp contrast, The Sudbury Star, for example, which also reported on the petition, also quoted a representative from CIJA, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, who castigated efforts to isolate Israel and pointed out that BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaigns “do nothing to promote peace.”

The ongoing efforts in many corners of the Canadian news media to amplify the voices of tiny anti-Israel activists has been most notable in the news coverage of anti-Israel campus occupations, where groups of a few dozen individuals – many of whom are not students – have attracted endless articles and broadcasts, far disproportionate to their voice in society, but a peaceful march of 50,000 supporters of Israel merits barely a peep.

In contrast to the multiple articles on this anti-Israel petition, when Independent Member of Parliament Kevin Vuong tabled a petition in Parliament in early June, which was signed by more than 12,000 Canadians, calling on the federal government to recognize the anti-Israel chant of “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” as a violent call for the destruction of Israel, it received almost no coverage in the Canadian news media, CBC included, other than in the National Post.

If CBC News believes that a small group of individuals making ludicrous anti-Israel allegations merits news coverage, then at the very least they owe it to readers to include voices from those opposed to such campaigns, but they failed to do that. As a result, HRC filed a formal complaint with the CBC and we are pleased to note that Canada’s public broadcaster upheld our concerns and amended its article and published a clarification notice.

The newly-amended article now cites the opposition of CIJA to this boycott effort, the article now states: “As for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, which represents Jewish Federations across Canada, it has previously stated that attempts to isolate Israel diplomatically or economically are counterproductive, and “often serve as thinly veiled attacks on Israel’s legitimacy.”

As well, the following clarification notice was issued:

Clarifications: This story was updated to include a comment from the Centre for Israel  and Jewish Affairs. Jun 25, 2024 5:23 PM ET

Lastly, CBC deleted the clearly pejorative reference of “the Israeli state” from this report and changed it to say Israel instead.

We thank the CBC for its cooperation and for taking swift corrective action.

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