"To treat Palestinians as a monolith who all “falsely blame Israel” is to defame all Palestinians as somehow engaged in the collective act of lying. Such slanderous sweeping generalizations have no place in fair and balanced media coverage."
August 28, 2023
Jim Butler, Editor, Whitehorse Daily Star
Dear Mr. Butler,
I'm writing on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, https://www.cjpme.org) to express serious concern about the Whitehorse Daily Star headline “Palestinians falsely blame Israel” used for the letter to the editor by Robert Walker. The August 25 headline appeared both online and in print.
- The headline “Palestinians falsely blame Israel” is troubling for three reasons.The headline is unfortunately an example of anti-Palestinian racism. According to the Arab Canadian Lawyer’s Association, anti-Palestinian racism can be defined as follows:
“Anti-Palestinian racism is a form of anti-Arab racism that silences, excludes, erases, stereotypes, defames or dehumanizes Palestinians or their narratives. Anti-Palestinian racism takes various forms including: denying the Nakba and justifying violence against Palestinians; failing to acknowledge Palestinians as an Indigenous people with a collective identity, belonging and rights in relation to occupied and historic Palestine; erasing the human rights and equal dignity and worth of Palestinians; excluding or pressuring others to exclude Palestinian perspectives, Palestinians and their allies; defaming Palestinians and their allies with slander such as being inherently antisemitic, a terrorist threat/sympathizer or opposed to democratic values.”
To treat Palestinians as a monolith who all “falsely blame Israel” is to defame all Palestinians as somehow engaged in the collective act of lying. Such slanderous sweeping generalizations have no place in fair and balanced media coverage. Editors have a wide latitude in choosing headlines, so this ought to be corrected. I will say more in point 3, but Mr. Walker does not even make the same claim of the headline in his piece.
- The headline and the article both don’t make clear what “Palestinians” are ‘falsely blaming’ Israel for. It hardly makes sense. It only furthers the notion that this is a derogatory headline meant to portray Palestinians as liars about anything and everything.
- The article is responding to Mohamed Khalaf, a Palestinian-Canadian individual. Mr. Khalaf does not speak for all Palestinians. The headline is likely a reference to the final sentence, “But evidently the Palestinian leadership - and its advocates in the West -prefer to falsely blame Israel rather than creating a better life for Palestinians.” Mr. Walker is being rather specific about the people he believes “falsely” blame Israel. He is not saying all Palestinians, but rather “Palestinian leadership and its advocates.” To be sure, Palestinian leadership in the form of the Palestinian Authority is highly unpopular in Palestine and amongst Palestinians abroad. In a 2022 survey, 59% of Palestinians viewed the Palestinian Authority as a “burden on the Palestinian people.” The headline should be much more specific if it wants to align with the content of the article itself, as it misrepresents Mr. Walker’s point.
I insist that the headline be changed online and that a clarification be made in print.
To resolve the issue, you might simply change the headline to “Re: “Israel can’t be considered a democracy.”
I very much understand that anti-Palestinian racism is an issue that is new to many Canadians. Such errors ought to be forgiven if corrective action is taken. We hope that Whitehorse Daily Star will do the right thing.
I want to also note that I am leaving aside the irony of Mr. Walker accusing Mohamed Khalaf of “playing fast and loose with the truth” in the middle of an article full of misrepresentations and falsehoods. While I may not agree with Mr. Walker, I do understand that opinion writers abide by a different set of standards; however, the headline ought to be treated as distinct.
Please feel free to contact me at 438-380-5410 for more information or additional comment.
Director of Media Advocacy, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
 Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, “Public Opinion Poll No (86), December 7-10, 2022, https://www.pcpsr.org/en/node/924#:~:text=In%20its%20assessment%20of%20the,viewed%20it%20as%20an%20asset.