"Why does this matter? Because pro-Israel lobby groups have been promoting this narrative to discredit and smear pro-Palestine protests and associate them with unfair accusations of antisemitism. By using this language, CBC is not only misrepresenting reality, it is taking a side."
Nancy Waugh, CBC
David Common, CBC
Dear Nancy Waugh and David Common,
I’m writing to express concern about a segment during the January 16 broadcast of CBC’s Metro Morning. The segment focused on the controversy surrounding the Avenue Road bridge protests in Toronto from a pro-Israel perspective.
First, there is an issue with the accuracy of the segment. The host of the program states that the area is a “predominantly Jewish neighborhood,” suggesting that a majority of the population is Jewish. According to the 2016 census, only about 5% of York Centre is Jewish, which is to the north of the Avenue Road bridge protest. Notably, the Avenue Road Bridge protest is in Eglinton—Lawrence, which is very diverse. Again, only about 5% of this district is Jewish, according to the 2016 census. The census data is based on ethnic origin. However, if you look at Elections Canada’s estimates of Jewish population, it is 16.0% for Eglinton-Lawrence and 14% for York Centre, still a distinct minority.
Please make an on-air correction to make clear that, according to census data and Elections Canada, neither of the districts near Avenue Road bridge can be objectively described as “predominantly Jewish,” and this is instead a description used by some advocacy groups.
The organizers of the protest, many of whom are Jewish themselves, released a statement making clear that the location was not selected because of the nearby Jewish population. The location of the protest is noticeable to motorists, convenient to get to, and was one of numerous locations of sidewalk protests across Toronto and Ontario. This was made clear by organizers and widely reported in Canadian media. There is no reason why CBC should have missed this. A complaint from my organization on a similar issue with a CBC News article prompted changes like those I am requesting. The headline, for example, was changed from “Pro-Palestinian march in Jewish neighbourhood sparks criticism from Windsor Jewish Federation” to “Pro-Palestinian march in neighbourhood groups says is historically Jewish sparks criticism.”
Why does this matter? Because pro-Israel lobby groups have been promoting this narrative to discredit and smear pro-Palestine protests and associate them with unfair accusations of antisemitism. By using this language, CBC is not only misrepresenting reality, it is taking a side.
These issues are worsened by the total exclusion of interviews or statements by organizers or pro-Palestine protesters. Only a tiny sample of Jewish residents of the area are interviewed. Some of them misrepresent the protests in essential ways. One repeatedly complains about a poster of Hitler in such a way that it sounds as if the poster glorifies Hitler, when in fact, it was an anti-Nazi sign. Indeed, many would have compelling arguments for why such a sign is in poor taste, but it was an unfair description of it regardless. Another interviewee said he was “unsettled” by the sight of Palestinian flags. This is again another alarming example of just how biased the interviewees are to be bothered by a Palestinian flag.
Please let me know how you plan to resolve these issues and prevent these types of misrepresentations from being repeated.
Director of Media Advocacy, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East