"This framing presents Israel as a beleaguered country which has faced waves of violence, but fails to capture the extent to which Israel has been the aggressor power in the region. In particular, it does not mention that for the last 56-years Israel has been a belligerent occupying power over the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 (the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza), as well as the occupied Syrian Golan Heights."
Paul Berton, Editor-In-Chief, Hamilton Spectator
Josef Federman, News Director, Jerusalem, Associated Press
Ohad Zwigenberg, Journalist, Associated Press
Laurie Kellman, Journalist Associated Press
Dear Mr. Berton, Mr. Federman, Mr. Zigenberg, and Ms. Kellman,
I’m writing to you on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, https://www.cjpme.org) to request an update to the article, “Israel marks Memorial Day plagued by divisions, violence,” which was published by the Hamilton Spectator on April 25, 2023.
Unfortunately, the brief summary of Israel’s military history which is included in this article as context does not give readers an accurate picture. The article reads:
Israel has fought half a dozen wars with neighboring Arab countries, battled two Palestinian uprisings and endured scores of deadly militant attacks since its establishment in 1948.
This framing presents Israel as a beleaguered country which has faced waves of violence, but fails to capture the extent to which Israel has been the aggressor power in the region. In particular, it does not mention that for the last 56-years Israel has been a belligerent occupying power over the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 (the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza), as well as the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. It also fails to describe Israel’s systemic use of disproportionate violence against civilians, whether in its lethal response to Palestinian demonstrators, its repeated invasions of Lebanon, or its bombing campaigns against civilian infrastructure in Gaza.
I request that the article is updated to note, at a minimum, that since 1967 Israel has been a belligerent occupying power over the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the Syrian Golan Heights.
The article also opines that: “This year, as Israel turns 75 years old, it has much to celebrate.” While this is left unexplained, the inclusion of this sentence unjustly presents Israeli history in a positive light, depicting its 75th anniversary as an accomplishment. At the same time, two necessary contextual matters have been omitted:
- This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe), when Zionist forces forcibly expelled at least 700,000 Palestinians from their homes during the creation of Israel (1947-49). Refugees’ land and property were expropriated, more than 500 villages were destroyed, and millions of refugees continue to be banned from ever returning to their homes. The Nakba is an essential pillar of the story of Israel’s creation and must be included in all reporting on Israeli “Independence Day.”
- There is a growing consensus within the human rights sector that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians constitutes apartheid, which is a crime against humanity under international law. This is a view held by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, UN experts, and Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups like B’Tselem. These findings from the human rights sector are essential for making sense of the character and qualities of the Israeli state today, particularly in terms of Israel’s claims to be a democracy. These findings of apartheid must be included in any evaluation or discussion of Israel’s accomplishments over the past 75 years.
Thank you for updating your reporting to include these important perspectives. 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
 Amnesty International, “Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel system of domination and crime against humanity,” February 1, 2022, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde15/5141/2022/en/; Human Rights Watch, “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and persecution,” April 27, 2021, https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/04/27/threshold-crossed/israeli-authorities-and-crimes-apartheid- and-persecution; B’Tselem, “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid,” January 12, 2021, https://www.btselem.org/publications/fulltext/202101_this_is_apartheid; United Nations Human Rights Office, “Israel’s 55-year occupation of Palestinian Territory is apartheid – UN human rights expert,” March 25, 2022, https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/03/israels-55-year-occupation-palestinian-territory-apartheid-un-human-rights