"The most egregious assertion by Mr. Lipshitz during the broadcast was, “The Palestinian Authority promotes a program called Pay to Slay.” This is absolutely false. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has no program called “Pay to Slay,” and this is a misleading and slanderous assertion by Lipshitz. The PA does have a welfare program for Palestinian prisoners and their families which is often referred to in English as the “Martyr’s Fund.” This program is viewed as “vital welfare that compensate[s] for an unfair military-run justice system, provide[s] income for families who have lost their primary breadwinners and enable[s] released prisoners to reintegrate into society.”"
January 26, 2023
Matt Galloway, Host, CBC’s The Current
Zeelaf Majeed, Managing Editor, CBC’s The Current
Dear Mr. Galloway, Mr. Majeed,
I’m writing to you on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, https://www.cjpme.org) regarding your program entitled, “Protests in Israel over proposed judicial reform,” which was the third segment of your program on January 19. Overall, I was glad to see The Current include a variety of voices on this segment, including a Palestinian perspective which is rarely included in coverage of Israeli politics. However, Mr. Galloway gave a “free ride” to Israeli embassy representative Eli Lipshitz, failing to challenge Lipshitz on a number of occasions for false, misleading and racist comments.
The most egregious assertion by Mr. Lipshitz during the broadcast was, “The Palestinian Authority promotes a program called Pay to Slay.” This is absolutely false. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has no program called “Pay to Slay,” and this is a misleading and slanderous assertion by Lipshitz. The PA does have a welfare program for Palestinian prisoners and their families which is often referred to in English as the “Martyr’s Fund.” This program is viewed as “vital welfare that compensate[s] for an unfair military-run justice system, provide[s] income for families who have lost their primary breadwinners and enable[s] released prisoners to reintegrate into society.”[i] The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace insists that the framing of this program as ‘pay for slay,’ as Lipshitz does, “obscures the realities of the occupation for Palestinians.”[ii] Going further, Shibley Telhami of the Center for Middle East Policy writes that the framing of ‘pay for slay’ (and the suggestion that the PA pays Palestinians in order to kill Israelis) is “bigoted and distorted.”[iii]
I must insist that you add an editor’s note to the Webpage of the broadcast stating, “During his interview with The Current, Israeli embassy spokesperson Eli Lipshitz used an inaccurate and slanderous label to describe a Palestinian Authority program to help the families of Palestinians in Israeli jails. The Palestinian Authority has no program called ‘Pay to Slay’ as falsely suggested by Lipshitz.”
Mr. Lipshitz also engages in shameless anti-Palestinian racism in reference to this program when he suggests that “[Palestinian] are offered compensation or offered incentives to be able to go and do that. When is the Palestinian Authority going to stop doing that? That’s why we see this heightened violence.” Basically, Lipshitz is suggesting that Palestinians commit acts of violence, risking death, because the PA might pay their families money. He also suggests that this program alone is responsible for a rise in violence, which has disproportionately affected Palestinians: essentially blaming the victims while rejecting any Israeli responsibility for its own aggressive actions. This is false, racist and hateful against Palestinians.
You may not be aware, but the Arab Canadian Lawyers Association (ACLA) published a formal definition[iv] of anti-Palestinian racism last year. The definition describes anti-Palestinian racism as “a form of anti-Arab racism that silences, excludes, erases, stereotypes, defames or dehumanizes Palestinians or their narratives.” There is no question that Lipshitz’s assertion that Palestinians purposely endanger themselves for money is clearly an attempt to dehumanize Palestinians.
The ACLA’s definition also points out that anti-Palestinian racism manifests itself in suggestions that Palestinians are “inherently antisemitic, a terrorist threat/sympathizer or opposed to democratic values.” Again, Lipshitz’s hate-filled statements strongly suggested that all Palestinians are either terrorists themselves, or terrorist sympathizers.
Personally, I consider much of what Lipshitz’s to be hateful and unacceptable. Were such slander directed at any other group, I don’t believe this segment of the The Current would have been aired with the guest’s comments unqualified. As such, I don’t think Lipshitz’s unqualified comments should continue to be available on The Current’s Website.
If The Current chooses not to remove the offending statements from Lipshitz, I ask The Current to append a sentence to the previous editor’s note stating, “Lipshitz also made assertions about Palestinians which would be considered clear manifestations of anti-Palestinian racism, a form of hate speech. The Current condemns all forms of hate speech, including hate speech directed against Palestinians.”
I look forward to your prompt action in response to my letter. I have high regard for The Current, and would not expect The Current to provide a platform for false and hateful commentary.
Thomas Woodley, MPA
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
[i] Rasgon, Adam Najib, Mohammed, “Israel Cracks Down on Banks Over Payments to Palestinian Inmates,” New York Times, May 9, 2020 accessed Jan. 25, 2023 at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/09/world/middleeast/israel-palestinian-inmates-banks.html
[ii] “Palestinian Prisoner Payments,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, accessed Jan. 25, 2023 at https://carnegieendowment.org/specialprojects/breakingtheisraelpalestinestatusquo/payments
[iii] Shibley Telhami, “Why the discourse about Palestinian payments to prisoners’ families is distorted and misleading,” Brookings Institute, December 7, 2020, accessed Jan. 26 at https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2020/12/07/why-the-discourse-about-palestinian-payments-to-prisoners-families-is-distorted-and-misleading/
[iv] “Anti-Palestinian Racism: Naming, Framing and Manifestations,” Arab Canadian Lawyers Association, May, 2022, accessed Jan. 25, 2023 at https://static1.squarespace.com/static/61db30d12e169a5c45950345/t/627dcf83fa17ad41ff217964/1652412292220/Anti-Palestinian+Racism-+Naming%2C+Framing+and+Manifestations.pdf