"We insist that Palestinian public opinion about their oppressors – notwithstanding Israeli vetoes on PA elections – be covered in your work. Palestinian support for resistance in these circumstances is a fact that responsible journalism must cover."
Isabel Debre, Reporter, Associated Press
Josef Federman, News Director, Associated Press
Donovan Vincent, Public Editor, Toronto Star
Dear Isabel Debre, Josef Federman, and Donovan Vincent,
I am writing on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, cjpme.org) to express concern about your August 21 article, “Suspected Palestinian Gunman Kills an Israeli, Wounds Another in Latest Attack in Occupied West Bank,” published in the Toronto Star on August 21.
Your article is terribly misleading for the average reader. It refers to “near nightly – and often deadly – raids by the Israeli army.” It refers to settler violence, noting that yesterday, “Israeli settlers threw stones and firebombs at a Palestinian home.” And it implicitly refers to the fact of illegal Israeli military occupation with the phrase, “occupied West Bank” (emphasis added).
Yet this factual picture – of an illegal military occupation marked by “near-nightly” raids from the occupying military and intensifying settler violence – is blurred by a tone and descriptive details that normalize the actions of the perpetrators while blaming the victims.
For example, about events near Hawara, you write that one attack “killed an Israeli father and son who were washing their car.” Providing human interest details for the deaths of members of a more powerful group while omitting human details about the suffering of members of the relatively weaker group has an effect. This selective emphasis of personal texture continues with your repetition of settler-council publicity about the Israeli settler fatality (“a mother of three and a kindergarten teacher,” etc.).
Since the imbalanced valuing of human lives is determined (and hopefully corrected) by emphasis over time, we hope that your consistent reporting on this issue will take all relevant life into account. The Arab Canadian Lawyers Association Report on Anti-Palestinian Racism offers some valuable guidance.
We insist that similar attention be accorded to the humanity of the Palestinians killed and, when not killed or wounded, still illegally occupied by Israeli brute force.
Your article’s bias towards those aligned with Israel and the West cuts through Palestinian politics, too. A phrase like this one – “Palestinians say the raids undermine their security forces” – silences the Palestinian majority even as your article normalizes Israeli military attacks on them. Earlier this year, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) affirmed the extraordinary unpopularity of PA forces, with a clear majority (63 per cent) of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza supporting an end to PA security cooperation with Israel. Where are these voices in your article, amid the settler firebombs?
We insist that Palestinian public opinion about their oppressors – notwithstanding Israeli vetoes on PA elections – be covered in your work. Palestinian support for resistance in these circumstances is a fact that responsible journalism must cover.
Feel free to reach me at 438-380-5410 should you wish to follow up with me.