"While Ms. Bovy’s column raises some genuine concerns regarding Israeli society’s current “theocratic” leanings and what that means for women, she would do well to remember that not a single government in the country’s 75-year history has been anything other than belligerent when it comes to the violation of Palestinian human rights."
August 21, 2023
Natasha Hassan, Opinion Editor, The Globe and Mail
Sylvia Stead, Public Editor, The Globe and Mail
Phoebe Maltz Bovy, Columnist, The Globe and Mail
Dear Natasha Hassan, Sylvia Stead and Phoebe Maltz Bovy,
I am writing to you on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, https://www.cjpme.org) to express my concern with the column written by Ms. Bovy entitled “An emboldened religious right brings the antifeminist backlash to Israel,” which appeared on The Globe and Mail website on August 18.
Specifically, I take issue with the following paragraph:
Anti-Zionists use the term "pinkwashing" in reference to what they view as Zionist propaganda, wherein the fact that Israel has Pride parades and gay rights and whatnot (unlike other countries in the region) gets used to somehow mask the state's oppression of Arabs. It's a convoluted argument, but one that would in any event not much matter in an Israel of the future, where LGBTQ people are no longer protected, and where same-sex spaces will be the result of religious-based sex segregation and not the desire of, say, gay men to gather in a Tel Aviv nightclub.
While Ms. Bovy’s column raises some genuine concerns regarding Israeli society’s current “theocratic” leanings and what that means for women, she would do well to remember that not a single government in the country’s 75-year history has been anything other than belligerent when it comes to the violation of Palestinian human rights.
Israel’s status as a “liberal democracy” has long been undermined by this. The forced exclusion of hundreds of thousands of indigenous Palestinians, the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967, and what Amnesty International has joined in calling an apartheid system all came before this latest rightward slide.
I am not insisting that this context or these specific facts should all have been included in the column, as this was not its focus. However, in a media landscape that consistently portrays Palestinian concerns in the most reductive way possible when it does not dismiss them outright, the above excerpt is egregious.
There was no need for Ms. Bovy to undermine Palestinians’ legitimate grievances—namely their desire for freedom and self-determination—while putting forth a criticism of Israeli society’s misogynistic shift. It is a basic matter of professional accuracy that Israel’s “oppression of Arabs,” as this article describes it—as though the very word “Palestinian” were anathema—be credibly covered as the context for the additional human rights violations on which the current Government of Israel seems to be embarking.
One of the reasons that the Israel–Palestine conflict is so poorly understood by the public is precisely because of dismissive and careless journalism that lowers rational Palestinian complaints to the status of “convoluted” trifles. Your readers deserve a full and accurate picture of this situation, and it is your professional responsibility to provide it.
I urge you to consider the impact of your editorial decisions in this light when mentioning Palestinians in your future publishing. Should you wish, you can feel free to contact me at 438-380-5410 to discuss this further.
Media Analyst, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East