"I insist that you update your article to include a Palestinian perspective regarding the meaning of this legitimate chant, instead of relying on interpretations sourced entirely by perspectives which are hostile to Palestinian narratives and activism."
March 8, 2023
Antonella Artuso, Toronto Sun
Dear Ms. Artuso,
I’m writing to you on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, https://www.cjpme.org) to request prompt corrections to your article, “NDP leader backs Hamilton byelection candidate in anti-Semitism row,” which was published on March 7, 2023.
Much of your article is premised on claims about Ontario NDP candidate Sarah Jama sourced from B’nai Brith Canada, which appear to be unfounded. You quote B’nai Brith claiming that “The candidate has called for the creation of a Palestinian state from the ‘river to the sea,’ obliterating Israel from the map.” I would like to raise three major issues with this coverage which require correction:
First of all, I have not been able to find any evidence for B’nai Brith’s claim. What I have found online from pro-Israel websites is the claim that Jama had attended events by the student group SPHR Mac which on a separate occasion had organized demonstrations in which people chanted: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” It is inappropriate and a massive stretch to try to pin a chant from an unrelated event on Jama.
Unless you are able to verify that she has said what B’nai Brith has attributed to her, this claim should be promptly removed, and a correction issued.
Second of all, Jama’s critics are wildly misrepresenting the meaning of the Palestinian chant, “From the river to the sea…”, which is a simple and legitimate call for freedom for all Palestinians under Israeli rule. Yousef Munayyer writes in Jewish Currents that the chant refers to “a state in which Palestinians can live in their homeland as free and equal citizens, neither dominated by others nor dominating them,” and that “the claim that [it] carries a genocidal intent relies not on the historical record, but rather on racism and Islamophobia.”
I insist that you update your article to include a Palestinian perspective regarding the meaning of this legitimate chant, instead of relying on interpretations sourced entirely by perspectives which are hostile to Palestinian narratives and activism.
Finally, I want to underscore the point that none of the public claims against Sarah Jama, including in the three Toronto Sun articles on the topic, have been able to identify a single thing which can be reasonably determined as antisemitic. The only actual claims against Jama are that she supports activism and organizations in support of Palestinian human rights. This assumption that those who support Palestinian activism are inherently antisemitic amounts to anti-Palestinian racism, according to a definition developed by the Arab Canadian Lawyers Association (ACLA).
I strongly object to the assumption in your article, and in other Toronto Sun coverage, that Palestinian activism is inherently antisemitic. I insist that:
- The term “anti-Semitism” row in the headline is replaced with “pro-Palestinian,” or at a minimum, “anti-Israel.”
- The article should be amended to include perspectives from Palestinians and their allies, who have been completely ignored. These voices must be included in all coverage about Israel and Palestine going forward.
Thank you in advance for promptly making these change. Should you wish, you can contact me at 438-380-5410 for more information.
Michael Bueckert, PhD
Vice President, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
Adrienne Batra, Editor-In-Chief, Toronto Sun
Kevin Hann, Deputy Editor, Toronto Sun
 Yousef Munayyer, “What Does “From the River to the Sea” Really Mean?” June 11, 2021, Jewish Currents, https://jewishcurrents.org/what-does-from-the-river-to-the-sea-really-mean