Earlier this year, during and after the 11-day armed conflict between Israel and Hamas terrorists, Canadian media coverage of the violence was replete with bias by omission, reports that were devoid of context and contained factual errors.
While the majority of adults are capable of forming their own opinions – even when they recognize myopic news coverage – the same may not necessarily be said about children.
The three-minute long video, called “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict explained,” may have been well intentioned, but it was marred for being riddled with half-truths and misleading factoids.
To watch the video in full, please click here and immediately below:
The video, which has registered close to 10,000 views as of this writing, starts off by saying: “For the past 70+ years, Israelis and Palestinians have been fighting over one thing, land.” While the land dispute is certainly a component of the conflict, at its core, this conflict is more existential than it is territorial.
The video went on to feature a caption which said the following: “Both Israelis and Palestinians claim this land as theirs – for religious and historical reasons,” suggesting that the claim to the land is religious in nature. And while the Jewish people have enormous religious connection to the land, Israel’s claims have never been religious in nature. Rather, Israel’s right to the land is based on its legal, moral and historical claims.
After asking why Israel and the Palestinians can’t share the land (implying perhaps that CBC has a preference for the one-state solution which negates the Jewish state’s existence), next, the video refers to the Zionist movement in the late 1800s, saying that Zionism began to “create their own state in what we now know as Israel.” But introducing Zionism without any long-term historical context, especially immediately after rhetorically asking why the two sides haven’t been able to share the land, gives the impression that the Zionist movement was the genesis of Jewish history in the land. Perhaps an adult would recognize this problematic omission, but most children likely would not. Children certainly were not told of the Jewish people’s 3,000 years of history in the land of Israel and how Zionism sought to reconstitute the nation state of the Jewish people in their ancestral homeland.
Next, the video says that the region was controlled by the Ottoman Empire at the time, and “the majority of people who lived there…were called Palestinians.” This is extremely misleading. Prior to Israel’s independence in 1948, Jews and Arabs alike were identified as Palestinians, and it was only in the 1960s with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) that the term Palestinian became exclusively connected to Arabs.
And while it’s technically true that the majority of inhabitants in mandate-era Palestine were Arabs, giving such information without context – such as that as many as half or more had arrived in the preceding five years – wrongly suggests the early Zionists were interlopers invading ancient Arab land.
The video continues by saying that after World War One, the British Empire “supported Jewish efforts to settle there, upsetting Palestinians who already lived there.” This neglects to mention that the British Empire also sought to assist in the creation of Arab self-government, and during World War Two, severely restricted Jewish immigration to the area.
Next, the video introduces the United Nations Partition Plan (ignoring of course, the San Remo Conference and the Balfour Declaration), but says “the two sides couldn’t agree.” This is extraordinarily misleading. The Jewish delegates to the United Nations accepted the partition plan, although it meant the majority of their historical home would be given to an Arab state. And despite being given the majority of the land, the Arab delegation to the United Nations rejected the plan anyway.
The video says “Palestinians didn’t want to give up the territory they lived in,” but in reality, the Arab delegation refused to accept any land being recognized as Jewish – even though there were many areas where the Jews already represented the majority of the population.
The video continues by saying that “In 1948, Israel declared independence from Britain, sparking several wars.” But “sparking” is extraordinarily misleading. Israel declaring its independence, inline with international law, in its own ancestral land, and did not start any war. It was the Arab states refusal to accept a Jewish State in their midst and their subsequent invasion of Israel that “sparked” the conflict, not Israel’s rebirth in 1948.
Immediately afterwards, the video shows that in 1967, “Israel captured more territory,” again utterly failing to explain that in the 1967 Six Day War, Israel gained territory through a defensive war where it was attacked by its Arab neighbours. Such details are not just significant; they are absolutely critical. CBC is wrongly teaching children that Israel was expansionist land grabbers.
The video continues by saying that today, there are Palestinians in “dozens of refugee camps in neighbouring countries,” which is technically true, but by omitting the critical fact that at least as many Jewish refugees were homeless at the same time, about 850,000, after being expelled from Arab lands, and were soon settled by Israel. This fact shows that any blame regarding today’s descendants of the 1948 Palestinian-Arab refugees falls not on Israel, but on the Palestinian leadership and Arab states who have failed to resettle and afford rights to Palestinian-Arabs living in refugee camps scattered throughout the Middle East.
In the final minute of the video, viewers are told that the Gaza Strip is blockaded, though no mention is made that the blockade exists as the Hamas terror group runs Gaza and the Egyptian-Israeli blockade is meant to prevent weapons smuggling and to thwart terror attacks.
The video then pivots to refer to the “Israeli occupied territories, West Bank and East Jerusalem,” which totally ignores how Israel disputes political characterizations that it’s an “occupier” citing Jewish claims to Judea and Samaria, and how Israel annexed eastern Jerusalem, considering all of the holy city as its eternal capital.
The video continues by saying “Palestinians want to have their own state, allowing refugees to move home,” neglecting to mention that the millions of Palestinians claiming refugee status today are not, in fact refugees, but are rather the descendants of refugees more than 70 years later. Only in the case of the Palestinians is one considered to be a refugee even if they have never stepped foot in the land they claim as theirs. Today’s Jews who descend from Arab lands do not have that privilege. CBC Kids News fails to consider how the Palestinian “right of return” is a demographic ticking bomb that would render the Jewish state no longer Jewish, making it just another Arab-majority state in the Middle East.
One of the concluding slides says: “Both sides have used violence to protect themselves and fight for what they believe is rightfully theirs.” In one fell swoop, CBC drew an abhorrent moral equivalency between Israel’s army taking efforts to defend its populace from terror attacks and warfare, and Palestinian terrorists who have murdered and maimed Israeli civilians. CBC’s portrayal of the Palestinian’s use of violence implies that it was legitimate self defense, ignoring how terrorists used suicide bombs, launched rockets, carried out shooting and stabbing sprees, etc.
The issue of the Israel-Palestinian conflict is not the simplest topic to cover, and children should certainly be able to learn about it. But if CBC Kids News wants to tackle such a weighty topic, then selectively omitting information, and spreading misleading anti-Israel information misinformation is certainly not the way to educate anyone, particularly young impressionable children.
As this May 21 video is error-plagued, terribly misleading and unfair, call on CBC Editor-in-Chief Brodie Fenlon to remove this video from the CBC Kids News website and its Youtube channel. Send emails to: Brodie.Fenlon@cbc.ca.