Significantly, anchor Kris Reyes incorrectly stated that the Israeli raid took place "outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque." The incident occurred inside the mosque. This is a significant error because it affects viewers' understanding of a fundamental aspect of the event. Some of the global outrage is specifically due to the fact that Israeli forces entered the mosque, not just the Al-Aqsa compound.
April 5, 2023
Dear Kris Reyes, Mr. Nguyen, and Irris Makler,
I’m writing on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, https://www.cjpme.org) to express concern about today’s coverage of the attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque on CBC Morning Live. I have serious concerns about the CBC’s presentation of the events, as well as the limited perspective offered by the interviewee.
Part 1: CBC’s Presentation of Events
Significantly, anchor Kris Reyes incorrectly stated that the Israeli raid took place "outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque." The incident occurred inside the mosque.
This is a significant error because it affects viewers' understanding of a fundamental aspect of the event. Some of the global outrage is specifically due to the fact that Israeli forces entered the mosque, not just the Al-Aqsa compound. I believe that subsequent coverage correctly identified the location of the violence, but I insist that CBC be more careful with these details in the future.
In addition, Reyes referred to Palestinians as "protesters" instead of “worshippers,” which is more appropriate in this case. Hundreds of Palestinians, including women, children, and the elderly, were present in the mosque to practice Itakif, a common Ramadan tradition in which worshippers stay inside mosques overnight to reflect and pray.
It is also unacceptable that CBC chose to air only Israeli police footage, which had been distributed for public relations purposes, and did not include widely circulated footage of Israeli police brutally beating Palestinians inside the mosque. Omitting this footage means that the CBC effectively omitted the central element of the story. It was this footage that led to such widespread international condemnation.
This problem also occurred the previous evening during the short segment on CBC’s The National and appears to be a systemic issue. I insist that the CBC must stop using only Israeli police footage in its coverage of events such as this, as it often obscures the asymmetrical nature of the violence taking place. It is not appropriate for coverage of an attack on worshippers in a mosque to show footage from the perspective of the attackers and omit the perspective of the victims. Subsequent coverage should make an effort to use more Palestinian sources to restore balance and correct the damage that has been done.
Part 2: Interview with Irris Makler
Irris Makler's morning interview presented a very limited explanation of the events that took place at Al-Aqsa Mosque. This is the second time in a short period of time that I am complaining about her limited and inadequate perspective which omitted key aspects as reported by Palestinians.
Instead of beginning with a discussion of the brutal Israeli police beating of worshipers at Al-Aqsa Mosque — the core of the story — Makler chose to begin her interview by talking about the "ripple effects" of the incident, highlighting violence against Israeli military posts and Hamas rocket fire. This is a shameful way to begin a discussion of a tragic event that has drawn international condemnation, even from Israel's close allies such as Canada.
Next, Makler claimed that the period beginning with Ramadan up until now has been “relatively peaceful.” Since Ramadan began 2 weeks ago, at least 6 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis. Last weekend, a Palestinian Bedouin medical student was shot dead by Israeli police outside of the Al-Aqsa gates, which sparked widespread protests among citizens of Israel. Again, describing this as “peaceful” obscures the violence's asymmetrical nature.
Next, Makler's explanation of why this violence has happened focuses on the fact that Passover and Ramadan overlap. Her comments overlook the reasons given by virtually every other mainstream media outlet in Canada, which is that Muslim worshippers were attempting to pray at night at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a practice that Israel is trying to prevent. It's odd to leave that out and just inadequately claim:
“I think it is why the police were raiding because it is traditional for Jews to visit Jerusalem. It's a religious obligation to visit Jerusalem during Passover. It makes Palestinians nervous when it occurs at the same time, when it's during Ramadan."
Perhaps Irris Makler isn't committing any breaches of journalistic ethics, but her reporting is giving your viewers a narrow understanding of events caused by her choice of what to mention, not by time constraints.
I hope that this feedback will be incorporated into reporting so that these errors will not be repeated. Thank you in advance for your consideration. If you would like to discuss this matter further, please contact me at 438-380-5410.
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
Director of Media Advocacy