Toronto Star Digital Producer Publishes Two Back-To-Back Articles Filled With Misleading & False Statements About Hamas-Israel Conflict

UPDATE:

After HRC lodged a complaint with the Toronto Star, the newspaper corrected its article which originally falsely said: “In January, the International Court of Justice warned it’s plausible that Israel’s actions in Gaza could amount to genocide” to “In January, the International Court of Justice warned ‘there was a risk of irreparable harm to the Palestinian right to be protected from genocide,’ according to the former president of the court who was part of the ruling.”

The Star also published an editor’s note which stated: This story has been updated to clarify a ruling by the International Court of Justice.

We thank the Toronto Star for its cooperation and for correcting this article.


ORIGINAL ARTICLE:

On May 7, Richie Assaly, a digital producer for the Toronto Star, wrote an article entitled: “Olive trees, hope and the power of music in dark times: How a renowned Palestinian-Canadian pianist rediscovered his creative spark.”

The article described the music of John Kameel Farah in impressive, almost deferential terms. It also explained how he uses his music on behalf of the pro-Palestinian movement

Assaly explained that Farah uses his music against the “unprecedented violence” that is taking place in Gaza.

After dedicating his music to 14-year-old Lubna Alyaan, Assaly wrote that “Alyaan is one of the more than 14,500 children killed in Gaza since October, according to health authorities. An estimated 35,000 total Palestinians have been killed since Oct. 7, following a Hamas attack that killed some 1,200 Israelis and took hundreds of hostages.”

Typical of pro-Palestinian articles, only passing reference is made to the Hamas terrorist atrocities on October 7, when they entered Israel unprovoked and murdered innocent men, women, and children in a bestial attack, which included weaponizing sexual violence and brutalizing murdered bodies.

Assaly also entirely neglected to mention that 132 hostages are currently held by Hamas terrorists, and that the immediate release of all the hostages would undoubtedly result in a ceasefire.

Assaly conveniently ignored the entire context of the conflict, allowing him to present a simplistic, one-sided, pro-Palestinian narrative.

More specifically, the casualty figures Assaly quoted authoritatively have little relationship to reality.

On the date of his article’s publication, the figures reported by the Gaza Health Ministry – a branch of Hamas – were already repudiated as fabrications, including by Abraham Wyner, Professor of Statistics and Data Science at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, who pointed out that the numbers increase with impossible regularity, and by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which shows discrepancies in their data.  This is in addition to their figures combining combatant and civilian deaths.

It appears Assaly was not disturbed by these critiques as he went to press, though he certainly should have been. On May 8th the United Nations shared an infographic where it ‘clarified’ that it could only identify 24,686 deaths of the 34,844 claimed. This halves the number of child casualties (including Hamas fighters under 18). Despite Assaly’s article being updated on May 9th, these changes were not noted.

All innocent deaths are tragic, but misrepresenting the war, and blaming the wrong party, calling it “Israel’s offensive in Gaza” is simply sloppy reporting.

The same day, Assaly published another article entitled: “Macklemore shares viral new single in support of pro-Palestinian protesters,” reporting on anti-Israel campus activists.

In the article, he falsely claimed that “In January, the International Court of Justice warned it’s plausible that Israel’s actions in Gaza could amount to genocide.” That is a blatant misrepresentation of the world court’s statement. As pointed out by Joan Donoghue, the court’s recently-retired president who presided over the interim judgment, clarified in a recent BBC News interview that the ICJ made no such statement.

Assaly, not for the first time, has presented his readers with a distorted view of the Hamas-Israel war and its context that Hamas would be proud of. His sympathies are evident, his bias laid out for all to see.

HonestReporting Canada has filed an official complaint with the Toronto Star calling for corrective action. Stay tuned to this page for future updates.

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