Journalists Should Question B'nai Brith “Antisemitism Audit”

The B'nai Brith “Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents” has been a media focal point in coverage of antisemitic incidents in Canada. However, several criticisms have been raised regarding the report's methodology, accuracy, and broader implications that should give journalists pause before citing it. It is important to note that the annual audits are not exhaustive. They include only a small sampling of examples, the vast majority of the data is unavailable for verification. The fact that so many of the small sample of examples are highly questionable is concerning.     Continue reading

 

Palestine’s Placename and Historical Existence

Mainstream media outlets in Canada have a history of being reluctant to use the word Palestine. Some never use the word at all, opting instead to only talk about “Palestinians” while excluding their land. While using the phrase “Occupied Palestinian Territories” is increasingly more common, sometimes the media will drop the “occupied” qualifier, which creates its own set of issues. While there is an uptick in outlets plainly referring to “Palestine,” hesitation persists. Continue reading

 

Guidelines for improved coverage on Gaza-Israel war

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) expresses deep concern over the inconsistent media coverage of the Gaza-Israel war since October 7, 2023. CJPME has been closely following the reporting in Canada media over the past week, and is aware of many instances in which news coverage has failed to be consistent in upholding professional journalistic standards.  CJPME provides the following critiques of the media response of the past week, and recommendations for future coverage: Guidelines to journalists 1. Show sensitivity when interviewing Palestinians impacted directly by the conflict.  CJPME has been contacted by many members of the media seeking individuals impacted by  the war. CJPME has worked hard to connect the media with members of the Palestinian community, both in Canada and in Palestine. CJPME understands the urgency and importance of such requests, but suggests greater sensitivity on the part of the media: Continue reading

 

Why Palestinians in Israel are “Palestinian Citizens of Israel”

In their coverage of Palestine–Israel, the media will often use the terminology preferred by Israel, rather than using terminology which is respectful or cognizant of Palestinian perspectives. Nowhere is this more evident than in the way most media have broadly adopted the term “Israeli Arab” – propagated by Israel – to describe “Palestinian citizens of Israel.” As described below, for a number of reasons, international media should cease describing Palestinian citizens of Israel in this way. 1. Across the board, Arab and Middle East journalist associations recommend using “Palestinian citizens of Israel.” When media outlets uncritically repeat Government of Israel nomenclature calling Palestinian citizens of Israel “Israeli Arabs,” they bolster Israeli attempts to downplay their Palestinian identity and indigeneity. This is inappropriate and disrespectful. Across the board, Arab, Middle East, and international journalist associations all recommend “Palestinian citizens of Israel” as the appropriate term to describe Palestinians with Israeli citizenship: Continue reading

 

Israeli Party Policies on the Question of Palestinian Self-Determination

In media reporting on Israel’s current coalition government, journalists will occasionally provide a brief description of certain parties as ‘far-right’ or ‘ultra-nationalist.’ However, media reports rarely go further to include information about their stated goals and ideology, particularly on the issue of Palestinian self-determination. This leads to misunderstandings about the Israeli government’s intentions towards the Palestinians, the status of the peace process, and the very possibility of a two-state solution. Note that media’s failure to examine the core positions of Israel’s governing parties stands in stark contrast to the media’s reductive descriptions of Palestinian liberation movements, as pointed out in CJPME’s other essay, “What Palestinian Groups Really Seek.”[1] CJPME encourages journalists to include greater description, like the context provided below, in their reporting on the Israeli government and its constituent political parties. In addition to specific information about individual parties and their leaders, reporting should note that the coalition itself is explicitly committed to the denial of Palestinian self-determination. Continue reading

 

Why the West Bank is “Occupied” and NOT just “Disputed”

In their coverage of Palestine-Israel, the media will sometimes say that the West Bank is “disputed,” rather than clarifying that the territory is universally recognized as being under belligerent Israeli military occupation.  For example, on July 20, 2023, CityNews broadcasted a radio segment in several Canadian cities stating, “For the first time, Palestinian-Americans can travel in or out of the disputed West Bank and the Gaza Strip via Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport” (italics added). This distinction is not only semantic, but significant in meaning. To make this clear, this essay will first discuss the reasons why the West Bank is so universally understood to be under Israeli military occupation. Following that, we will describe why replacing the word “occupied” with “disputed” in this context unnecessarily obfuscates the realities and misleads Canadian audiences. Continue reading

 

What Palestinian Resistance Groups Really Seek

In their coverage of Palestine-Israel, the media often portray Palestinian resistance groups in a very reductive and/or one-sided way.  Quite often, the media portray such groups as existing for the sole purpose of destroying Israel, or the words used to describe these groups are the words of their adversaries in Israel or their critics in Canada.  Examples of this are rife across Canadian media: “Hamas, the Islamic militant group sworn to Israel’s destruction,…”[i] “Israel imposed the blockade after Hamas, a militant group that seeks Israel’s destruction, seized control of Gaza from the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority in 2007.”[ii] “Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad rejected the idea of peace talks and instead remained sworn to Israel’s destruction.”[iii] “Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade after Hamas, an Islamic militant group that seeks Israel’s destruction, seized control of Gaza in 2007.”[iv] “Hamas is considered a terrorist group by Canada and other Western nations because it is committed to destroying Israel.”[v] Palestinians have suffered dispossession, occupation and apartheid under Israel for decades, so it is not surprising that many Palestinian groups take up arms against Israel.  Nevertheless, their foremost objectives are, unfailingly, Palestinian freedom, liberation and rights.  These objectives are annunciated clearly in such groups’ founding documents, in the statements of their leaders, or in the resolutions passed at their gatherings.  Like all socio-political movements, these groups are dynamic, and their positions may shift over time with the evolving geopolitical environment.    Continue reading

 

Why Gaza is "occupied" under Israeli Effective Control

In their coverage of Gaza, the media are often confused as to the status of Gaza and whether it’s still militarily “occupied” by Israel.  This confusion likely stems from the fact that Israel “disengaged” in 2005, removing its illegal settlements and its soldiers from the territory. This confusion was clear for all to see when, on April 6, 2023, the CBC issued a “correction” stating, “Last night, we made a reference to the Gaza Strip being ‘occupied.’ The territory is not occupied, but rather has its borders controlled by Israel and Egypt.”  This “correction” followed the broadcast on April 5, when the a CBC Radio presenter on the World at Six had accurately described the Gaza Strip as “occupied.”  This “correction” was likely the result of the pulling of strings at the CBC by a pro-Israel media organization.[i]  Failing to properly describe Gaza as “occupied” is misleading, giving the Canadian public the impression that the people in Gaza may have far more agency than they actually do.  It also changes the light by which Israeli actions may be judged, and whether the people of Gaza are a civilian population deserving of the protections of international humanitarian law. Continue reading

 

Why the West Bank is "occupied" and not "captured"

In their coverage of Palestine-Israel, the media often blur the distinction between the terms "occupied" and "captured" and falsely suggest that Israel “captured” the West Bank, East Jerusalem and other territory in the 1967 war.  This usage may mislead the reader into thinking that Israel has a strong claim to, or ownership of, these Palestinian territories. Nevertheless, such usage runs directly counter 1) to how international law views the military seizure of territory, 2) to how the international diplomatic community currently views Israel’s presence in the Palestinian territories, and 3) to how both words are understood in plain English.  To illustrate this issue, it is worth noting the influential role of the Associated Press (AP), an international wire service that supplies content to numerous Canadian media outlets, particularly concerning Israel and Palestine. The following line was frequently used in AP articles in the first half of 2023: “Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967.” Failing to properly describe the current status of these territories under Israeli administration is misleading to the public, and potentially damaging to the eventual resolution of the conflict.  Continue reading