"It is not enough to bury at the end of your article a reminder that “Ben-Gvir hung a portrait in his living room of a Jewish man who fatally shot 29 Palestinians in the West Bank in 1994.” The order, emphasis, and human texture of your material needs to reflect the facts."
August 25, 2023
Dan Taylor, Managing Editor, CTV News
Isabel Debre, Reporter, Associated Press
Dear Dan Taylor and Isabel Debre,
I am writing on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, cjpme.org) to express concern about your August 25 article, “Far-Right Israeli Security Minister Lashes Out at Supermodel Bella Hadid Over Her Criticism of Him.”
I take this occasion to implore you to approach this crisis more seriously.
Not until the twelfth paragraph of this article do you tell readers that “Ben-Gvir has been convicted in the past of inciting racism and of supporting a terrorist organization.” By this point, you have constructed a story of Palestinian provocations – “deadly Palestinian attacks,” “Palestinian gunmen opened fire”; “killing an Israeli woman,” “killed an Israeli father and son” – that seems almost to frame Ben-Gvir’s language on “the right to life.”
For Ben-Gvir, Palestinian life is not “life”: that much is well established. But CTV and AP should not join in giving more weight to Israeli than to Palestinian life.
Earlier this week, you recorded that six times more Palestinians than Israelis are being killed. “Nearly 180 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank since the start of this year,” you recorded on Monday. “Some 30 people have been killed by Palestinian attacks against Israelis during that time.” And yet you emphasize Israeli over Palestinian human interest details in this story. This is inaccurate and unprofessional.
Ben-Gvir, you write, is “known as an admirer of rabbi Meir Kahane.” It is professionally imperative that you give readers the information needed to understand this fact.
For Kahanists, the killing of Palestinians on a large scale is an object of policy and a cause for celebration. In Kahane’s words: “I remember Sabra and Shatila, it was a great, great day.” The details are hard to face. So it was when the Times of Israel informed its readers that “in 2015 Ben Gvir attended the so-called ‘hate wedding,’ where dancing participants stabbed a picture of Ali Dawabshe, a Palestinian toddler who had been killed in a settler firebombing attack.” Yet professional attention to the documented details can help.
As documented fact, Ben-Gvir’s wing of this Israeli government oscillates between a policy of dominance and of attempted elimination. They consider it axiomatic that “the non-Jew who wishes to live in the Land of Israel must accept upon himself the obligations of misim and shibud (tribute and servitude).”[i] From there, the details get ever harder to face. For resisting servitude, proposed Kahane, “the Arabs who call themselves ‘Palestinians’ may have a very special status” as a people rightly targeted for “total extermination.”[ii]
It is not enough to bury at the end of your article a reminder that “Ben-Gvir hung a portrait in his living room of a Jewish man who fatally shot 29 Palestinians in the West Bank in 1994.” The order, emphasis, and human texture of your material needs to reflect the facts.
You should yourself be aware of the background. A former rabbi of Toronto’s most prestigious synagogue, Holy Blossom, likened the racism of the early Kahanists to that of the Ku Klux Klan. Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath – then president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations – noted to the New York Times (1969/05/18) that the Kahanists “are no less offensive and, in essence, no different from whites wearing robes and hoods, led by self-styled ministers of the gospel.” Developments in the OPT now seem to confirm this.
Similarly, recall how Batya Ungar-Sargon, the opinion editor of the Jewish daily Forward, responded when Ben-Gvir first entered government: “Netanyahu Just Invited Israel’s Equivalent of the KKK to Join the Government,” her headline read. A situation in which this political tradition is shaping Israeli policy is a crisis that must be covered as such.
I hope you will take this occasion to adjust your coverage to the reality of this crisis.
When six times more Palestinians than Israelis are killed, and you accord greater attention to the latter than to the former, you are letting your readers down.
Feel free to reach me at 438-380-5410 should you wish to discuss this matter further.
[i] Meir Kahane, “The Special Halachic Status of the ‘Palestinians,’” in Meir Kahane, Beyond Words: Selected Writings of Meir Kahane, 1960–1990, Vol. 7 (Jerusalem: Institute for Publication of the Writings of Rabbi Meir Kahane, 2010), 299.
[ii] Kahane, “Special Halachic Status of the ‘Palestinians,’” 300.