"You reduce Palestinians to a number. Just giving the number of Gazans killed does not begin to give the reader a picture of how “Israel’s actions” have turned Gaza into a living hell."
January 3, 2024
Joseph Tunney, Reporter, CBC Ottawa.
Brodie Fenlon, News Editor-in-Chief, CBC News.
Dear Mr Tunney and Mr Fenlon.
I am writing on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME.org), Saskatoon Chapter about “More noise fines for pro-Palestinian demonstrators” posted on CBC News Ottawa, January 3, 2024.
Your report appropriately includes representative voices both from the city and from the protesters. It also indicates dialogue was taking place between the two, helping to put the demonstrations in a more positive light. I was pleased to see you gave a voice to Sarah Abdul-Karim, pointing out her organization and others have regularly drawn “huge crowds”, and that you gave MPP Joel Harden and Councillor Troster the last words.
While you do not clearly give the reason this particular protest took place, you refer to "a similar march against Israel’s actions in the latest war with Hamas and presence in the Palestinian territories”
“Presence in the Palestinian territories” is easily the most euphemistic expression I have seen used for a 56 year-old brutal military occupation and the illegal (under international law and stated as such on the government of Canada website) Israeli colonial settlements in the West Bank, some of whose inhabitants are ethnically cleansing the rural areas under cover of the assault on Gaza. I trust in future reports you will not try to obfuscate the truth.
Ms Abdul-Karim laments: “the focus is all on the tickets” when it should be on “people suffering and dying back home”. Your report bears this out:
You reduce Palestinians to a number. Just giving the number of Gazans killed does not begin to give the reader a picture of how “Israel’s actions” have turned Gaza into a living hell.
Seventy percent of the 22,000 dead and 53,000 wounded are women and children. The few hospitals that can still function are overwhelmed and can only provide minimal care. No pain relief: amputations are done on the floor without anaesthetic. MSF refers to “extreme suffering” of children, with even 5 year-olds saying they don’t want to live. Most of the population is now displaced, thanks to unending orders to evacuate yet again to so-called safe zones which are then bombed. It’s cold and wet. At least 60% of homes are destroyed, buildings and tents where people are sheltering keep being targeted. Distribution of aid is hindered by constant bombing and shelling. More than half (1.3M) of the population is starving. Not merely hungry. Lack of drinking water, sanitation and medical care are killing Gazans not killed by the airstrikes.
Leading human rights organizations describe the situation as genocide. Israeli officials openly advocate for the “thinning” (by killing) of the population and for the expulsion of Palestinians out of Gaza. More than half (1.3M)of the population is actually starving and Israel is violating international law by denying adequate humanitarian access. (UNSC resolution 2417.)
Gaza’s journalists are risking their lives by documenting the carnage and destruction. They show the hellish scenes from hospitals where bodies pile up and staff is unable to relieve the suffering of the injured. They show the streets with their overflowing sewers, rubble and decomposing body parts; the graveyards with newly-buried bodies bulldozed. More than 100 journalists have been targeted and killed.
All this is easily verifiable and you fail in your journalistic responsibilities by not providing at least some of these facts.
Instead, you write about tickets.
Collective action, such as the street protests, created enough pressure for Canada to finally oppose the U.S. and call for a ceasefire. Readers (and journalists) need to understand why people are protesting. By failing to give contextual information, you mislead readers into only viewing the demonstrations as disruptions for which participants are fined.
Ms Abdul-Karim identified our “government’s inaction” as another issue. Again, you did not provide any background for the reader. While Canada finally called for a ceasefire, it has not enforced an embargo on arms trade with Israel, as it did during the first Intifada, and continues to vote against Palestinian rights at the UN General Assembly. Canadian- made weapons or their components are potentially killing Palestinians.
It is Canada’s obligation under international law to prevent genocide. With the situation in Gaza only getting worse, it is essential to describe it accurately, so readers understand that these protest actions are needed more than ever.