"While the above lines from the readout may amount to implicit or indirect criticism of current actions by the Israeli government, this requires a significant degree of subjective interpretation. Ultimately, nothing in the readout (nor in the quotes from a GAC source) suggests that Joly’s comments were intended to “call out” Israel’s actions, or that she is “pushing” for them to stop. Instead, they appear to be included as an indirect acknowledgement of controversies which she is obliged to reference, the absolute bare minimum that one might expect."
March 20, 2023
Dylan Robertson, Canadian Press
Mari Ito, Managing Editor of Digital Publishing, CBC News
Dear Mr. Robertson and Ms. Ito,
I’m writing to you on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, https://www.cjpme.org) with feedback regarding your Canadian Press article, “Joly calls out Israel's judiciary reform and 'unilateral actions' that undermine peace,” which was published by CBC News on March 17, 2023. I’m writing to request an update and headline change regarding the interpretation of Joly’s meeting.
First, I want to express a note of appreciation for covering Minister Joly’s meeting with Israeli Minister Eli Cohen, and for bringing in the much-needed context of the recent meeting between three Senators and Israeli extremist MK Amir Ohana. This is part of an ongoing pattern of Canadian officials meeting with far-right Israeli politicians, which my organization has been raising concerns about. Eli Cohen himself supports annexing the occupied West Bank, and last year sponsored a bill to ban Israeli institutions from displaying the Palestinian flag. At the time, he said of Palestinian citizens of Israel: “those who view themselves as Palestinian, by the way, will receive all the assistance they need from us to move to Gaza on a one-way ticket.” These extreme positions could have been included in your reporting.
Nonetheless, I take issue with the framing in your article, which claims that Joly is “pushing Israel to drop its planned reform of the country's judiciary,” or that she “calls out” Israeli actions, per the headline used by CBC News. Unfortunately, I do not believe that this interpretation of the meeting readout is justified.
As my organization noted in a press release, the readout between Joly and Cohen takes a warm tone, speaking of an “enduring friendship” and “shared values,” and congratulates Israel on upcoming celebrations. To the extent that issues including judicial reform and settlements are mentioned, this is done in a passive and indirect manner. For example:
- The readout says that “Minister Joly underscored Canada’s support of democracy, the rule of law and the institutions that uphold them.” However, it does not specify that this line is referring to judicial reform, which is not specifically mentioned anywhere in the readout. Instead, it reads as a bland statement of principle, without any clear implication for Israel’s current or planned actions.
- The readout says that “Joly voiced Canada’s deep concerns over the recent escalation of violence in Israel and the West Bank and stressed the need to engage in meaningful actions to restore calm and ease tensions.” It may be presumed that this language hints at Israel’s deadly invasions in the occupied West Bank. At no point, however, does the readout specifically refer to Israeli actions, or Palestinian victims. Instead, the “escalation of violence” is presented as issues of security and a need to “restore calm,” rather than expressing concern over Israel’s human rights record. In contrast, the previous paragraph specifically conveys condolences regarding Israeli victims of violence and affirms the right to Israeli security. Sympathy towards Palestinians may be implied, but it is never explicit.
- The readout says that “Canada has a longstanding policy against unilateral actions that jeopardize efforts for peace, including the expansion and legalization of settlements.” While this is presumably a response to Israel’s recent announcement to advance 15 new illegal settlements and 7,000+ settlement units, it is once again presented as a statement of pre-existing policy, not a direct challenge to Israel’s current and future actions.
While the above lines from the readout may amount to implicit or indirect criticism of current actions by the Israeli government, this requires a significant degree of subjective interpretation. Ultimately, nothing in the readout (nor in the quotes from a GAC source) suggests that Joly’s comments were intended to “call out” Israel’s actions, or that she is “pushing” for them to stop. Instead, they appear to be included as an indirect acknowledgement of controversies which she is obliged to reference, the absolute bare minimum that one might expect.
To conclude, I do not believe that this article’s interpretation of Joly’s meeting is justified. Instead, I maintain that it presents a misleading picture, as though Joly had used the meeting to challenge her Israeli counterpart directly and forcefully on their current actions, whereas the readout is cryptic and indirect.
I request that the article be updated to accurately reflect the readout of Joly’s meeting:
- The headline should be changed to accurately reflect Joly’s approach to the meeting, such as: “Joly hints at Israel's judiciary reform and 'unilateral actions' that undermine peace.”
- The first sentence should be modified to reflect the fact that the readout does not specifically mention Israel’s judicial reforms. For example: “GAC sources say that Minister Joly is pushing Israel to drop its planned reform of the country's judiciary after two months of mass protests, although the issue is not specifically mentioned in a readout of her conversation.”
Thank you in advance for making this 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
 Israel Hayom, “Likud MK seeks to outlaw display of enemy flags at state-funded institutions,” May 29, 2022, https://www.israelhayom.com/2022/05/29/likud-mk-submits-bill-outlawing-display-of-enemy-flags-at-state-funded-institutions/
 Global Affairs Canada, “Minister Joly speaks with Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs,” March 17, 2023, https://www.canada.ca/en/global-affairs/news/2023/03/minister-joly-speaks-with-israels-minister-of-foreign-affairs.html