"I urge you to redact your previous statement about “terrorist” attacks and refrain from using the word “terrorist” in future broadcasts unless it refers to specific instances that meet the widely accepted definition, as described by the IPI."
August 16, 2023
Linda Oland, Director of News & Information Programming, CP24
Kathleen Peroff, News Writer, CP24
Dear Ms. Oland, Ms. Peroff
I’m writing on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, https://www.cjpme.org) to express serious concern regarding a CP24 segment which aired on Tuesday, August 15, 2023. The segment makes some misleading claims which need to be addressed.
The segment claims that Israeli military attacks on Palestinians have been “in response to a spate of Palestinian terrorist attacks.”
This is largely unfounded and misleading. Israel has been regularly carrying out raids on Palestinian towns, villages, cities and farms regardless of whether or not any Palestinian attacks have taken place. Israel itself does not even describe their raids in the manner that CP24 claims.
In a March 2023 press release, the IDF claimed that “Operation Break the Wave” was conceived as a “counterterrorism operation conducted to thwart future attacks and apprehend those involved in terrorist activities against Israeli civilians.” Break the Wave is part of an offensive military strategy, not reactive, as it attempts to “thwart future attacks.” Your news segment yesterday gives the impression that the IDF’s actions are solely defensive, when, in fact, the IDF itself does not even describe its own actions in that way.
As such, I insist that an on-air correction is made in order to rectify this mistake in your report.
The charge of “terrorism” is an extremely serious one and is often employed by Israel to justify violence against Palestinians.
Journalists cannot rely on Israel’s own claims about terrorism, as Israel does not make a distinction between legitimate armed resistance to occupation and acts of violence against civilians. A quick look at Israel’s own breakdown of alleged “terrorist” incidents from 2015-2023 shows that a huge proportion of the “terror attacks” it documents are in fact attacks on Israeli soldiers and security forces while they are on duty. Israel, in other words, does not make any distinction between attacks on soldiers in battle and attacks on civilians, making their claims and statistics about “terrorism” virtually meaningless.[i]
Israeli government leaders also routinely stretch the meaning of the term “terrorism” into absurd territory, using it to describe activities such as boycotts, UN votes, and the work of human rights NGOs.
Given how inflammatory, serious, and politically fraught the charge of terrorism can be, the International Press Institute (IPI)’s guidelines on “loaded language in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” recommend that the term should be used very sparingly and precisely:
“Journalists should describe incidents specifically, using phrases such as suicide bombing, firing rockets at civilians, or air strikes that killed civilians and specify what actions were committed by a specific person or group. Terrorism and terrorist should be used only in instances that meet the widely accepted definition of acts of violence against civilians carried out in order to advance political goals.”[ii]
I urge you to redact your previous statement about “terrorist” attacks and refrain from using the word “terrorist” in future broadcasts unless it refers to specific instances that meet the widely accepted definition, as described by the IPI.
Should you wish, you can contact me at 438-380-5410 for more information.
Director of Strategic Operations,
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
[ii] International Press Institute, “Use with Care: Glossary of Loaded Language in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” October 23, 2013, https://ipi.media/use-with-care-reporters-glossary-of-loaded-language-in-the-israeli-palestinian-conflict/.