On April 25, 2023, many Canadian media outlets published a story by the Associated Press on Israel’s Memorial and Independence Days, which was originally titled “Israel marks Memorial Day plagued by divisions, violence.” It claimed that “This year, as Israel turns 75 years old, it has much to celebrate.”
While depicting Israeli history in a positive light, the article failed to mention the Nakba, Israel’s role as an occupying power, or the fact that human rights groups consider Israel to be an apartheid state. As CJPME wrote in a letter to AP: “The Nakba is an essential pillar of the story of Israel’s creation and must be included in all reporting on Israeli “Independence Day.”
Later in the day, there were major updates to the story to include more information about Israel’s “Independence Day,” and the revised article also included a mention of the Nakba:
Palestinians generally commemorate what they call the “nakba,” or the “catastrophe,” of 1948 — in which hundreds of thousands of them fled or were forced from their homes during the war surrounding Israel’s creation — on May 15.
On April 21, 2023, a CP24 segment on Ramadan celebrations at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City falsely claimed that the event took place in “Israel,” rather than occupied East Jerusalem, stating that “In Israel, thousands of Palestinians gathered in the Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem’s Old City for Eid al-Fitr prayers.” CJPME wrote a letter to CP24 requesting an on-air correction.
That evening, CP24 broadcasted an on-air correction stating:
A clarification now to an earlier story in which we said the [Al-Aqsa] mosque is in Israel. In fact, the mosque is in East Jerusalem, and the Canadian government does not recognize Israel’s unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem.
CJPME is pleased that CP24 acted promptly to rectify its false claim. However, CJPME notes that the statement did not specifically describe East Jerusalem’s status as occupied Palestinian territory, and urges CP24 to include this aspect in future reporting.
2023-04-18 - CityNews makes on-air correction for false claim that Jerusalem’s Old City is in “Israel”
On April 15, 2023, a CityNews segment on the Holy Fire ceremony in Jerusalem’s Old City (“Christians in Israel celebrate ‘holy fire’”) falsely claimed that the event took place in “Israel,” rather than occupied East Jerusalem, and erased the Palestinian identity of the Christian worshippers. CJPME wrote a letter to CityNews requesting an on-air correction.
On April 18, 2023, CityNews broadcasted an on-air correction stating:
Correction now to a story we ran on Saturday night. In reporting on the Holy Fire ceremony in Jerusalem's Old City, we referred to the event as taking place in Israel. Although Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its capital city, the United Nations considers East Jerusalem, where the ceremony takes place, to be occupied Palestinian territory. The Canadian government also says it does not recognize Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem. Events in the old Christian Quarter attract worshippers from around the world, including Palestinian Christians.
CJPME is pleased that CityNews acted promptly to rectify this false claim and add necessary additional context on the Palestinian identity of the local Christian community. We expect that CityNews will continue to correctly refer to East Jerusalem as occupied Palestinian territory in future reporting.
On April 5, 2023, a CBC Radio segment properly referred to Gaza as “occupied.” However, after pressure from the pro-Israel lobby group Honest Reporting Canada, the next day CBC issued an on-air ‘correction’ erroneously 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.” A similar text was also posted online, claiming that “Gaza is not occupied.”
CJPME responded to this false ‘correction’ by sending a letter to CBC arguing that they presented a statement of opinion as a statement of fact; Gaza is in fact considered “occupied territory” by the UN, human rights groups and the humanitarian sector, including Human Rights Watch and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Additionally, Michael Lynk, former UN Special Rapporteur, also sent a letter to CBC writing that, “Under international law, this degree of control exercised by Israel since 2005 is sufficient to conclude that Israel remains the occupying power over Gaza.”
As a result of CJPME’s complaint, on April 14, 2023, CBC walked back its on-air ‘correction’ by updating the text on its website to:
On April 5, 2023, CBC Radio referred to the Gaza Strip being occupied. While Israel continues to control most of the flow of people and goods into and out of the Gaza strip, which to some analysts constitutes a continued occupation, it ended its permanent military presence there in 2005. An on-air clarification was broadcast April 6, and this clarification note was published to specify that Israel doesn't consider Gaza to be occupied. This clarification note has since been updated to describe Gaza's status more precisely.
While this update includes a far more accurate description of Gaza’s legal status, several issues remain. CJPME sent a follow-up letter to CBC highlighting that the phrasing of “some analysts” significantly downplays the fact that this position is held by the international community. While this correction is an improvement to the original one, it still fails to correctly label Gaza as an occupied territory and Israel as an occupying power. CJPME is requesting that CBC update its language on Gaza to properly reflect international consensus and to align with CBC’s reporting on the status of the occupied West Bank.
On April 5, 2023, CBC published an article titled “Trudeau calls for peace following Israeli raid of mosque,” which mentioned Israel’s attacks on the Al-Aqsa Mosque but omitted the context that the incident took place in occupied East Jerusalem, describing it only as “Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque” (click here for original version).
After a complaint from CJPME, CBC updated their article on April 13, 2023, to state:
The mosque, in occupied East Jerusalem, is one of Islam’s holiest sites.
CBC also added a note to the end of the article, under “Clarifications,” stating:
This story has been updated to provide more context to the location of the Al-Aqsa mosque, which is located in East Jerusalem, an area occupied by Israel since 1967.
CJPME is pleased that CBC acted promptly to update the article and provide the necessary context of Israeli occupation for Canadian audiences. We expect that CBC will continue to correctly refer to events taking place in Jerusalem’s Old City as occupied East Jerusalem.
2023-04-06 - Saltwire corrects misleading headline for letter on anti-apartheid bus ads, following a CJPME complaint to the National NewsMedia Council
On March 8, 2023, Saltwire published a letter to the editor by Frank Holden in support of bus advertisements in St. John’s which pointed to human rights reports on Israeli apartheid. The letter discussed the Palestinian indigenous connection to the land and the dispossession Palestinians have experienced through settler colonialism. However, the letter was published with the false and misleading headline, "Anti-semitic advertisements back on Metrobus," which reflected the exact opposite of the points made in the letter.
CJPME wrote to Saltwire to request a headline change, and after receiving no response, submitted a complaint to the National NewsMedia Council. On April 6, 2023, CJPME was informed that the NCC had discussed the matter with Saltwire, which had made an editorial decision to change the title to "LETTER: Bus adverts a reminder to be concerned for safety and equality of all," which better reflects the contents of the letter.
2023-04-05 - Hill Times publishes CJPME letter about Minister Joly’s meeting with far-right Israeli government
On April 5, 2023, the Hill Times published a letter from CJPME about a recent meeting between Minister Joly and her counterpart in Israel’s far-right government. The letter reads:
People around the world are openly questioning Israel’s commitment to democracy. Right-wing Israeli ministers make blatantly racist remarks about Palestinians. Human rights organizations have published detailed analyses of Israel’s apartheid policies against Palestinians.
Yet the Global Affairs readout on the March 16 meeting between Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and her Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen made it sound like a meeting of friends in prosperous times, cooing about “shared values.”
In fact, Joly should have refused this meeting, as Cohen is little different from his right-wing cabinet colleagues. Last year, for example, he suggested that Palestinian citizens of Israel who disagree with Israeli laws could “move to Gaza on a one-way ticket.” Hopefully, Joly doesn’t take the same attitude toward people who disagree with her government.
It’s time for Canada to question Israel’s democratic character. It’s time to forcefully condemn Israel’s illegal settlements in Palestinian territory. It’s time to denounce Israel’s apartheid policies. It’s time to withhold trade benefits and arms from Israel until it respects international legal norms.
It is time for Canada to stop providing cover for Israel and its dubious rights record and right-wing ideologies. Events of recent weeks make clear that Canada can no longer pretend that Israel is a liberal western democracy. “Business as usual” with the current Israeli government is no longer an option.
2023-04-04 - The Guardian (Charlottetown) and Saltwire publish CJPME letter rebutting defense of Israeli minister’s genocidal remarks
On April 4, 2023, The Guardian (Charlottetown) and Saltwire published and widely syndicated a letter to the editor from CJPME, rebutting a letter which had attempted to defend Israel’s far-right Finance Minister, Betzalel Smotrich, after his inflammatory comments about ‘erasing’ the Palestinian town of Huwara. The letter reads:
A recent letter by Robert Walker criticizes another writer for misrepresenting the context around Israeli Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich’s comments calling for a town in the occupied West Bank to be “wiped out.”
Walker's letter repeats the error he complains about, that of “missing some information.” Only in this case, most of the information is missing.
In acting as Smotrich’s apologist after his genocidal remarks, Walker accepts Smotrich’s pathetic excuse that it was somehow an emotional “slip of the tongue.”
When Smotrich made this comment, he was responding to a question about why he had liked a tweet from an Israeli deputy mayor calling for Huwara to be “erased.” As such, this was his second public engagement with the idea, making it hard to believe that this was part of an emotional flare-up.
Furthermore, Smotrich even complained that the media was trying to create a “distorted interpretation” of his words rather than owning up to them.
To underscore the superficial core of his apology, just weeks later Smotrich would take the stage in Paris and say, “There is no such thing as the Palestinian people.” The destruction of a Palestinian village was scarcely extreme for Smotrich. He would prefer to erase the idea that Palestinians exist at all. I'm not sure why Robert Walker feels compelled to defend the indefensible.
2023-04-05 - Winnipeg Free Press corrects headline to identify speaker as Israeli official, not “activist”
On March 27, 2023, the Winnipeg Free Press published an article about Israel’s Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism and Delegitimization, Noa Tishby about an upcoming speaking event. However, the headline incorrectly identified Tishby as an “activist,” reading “Distressing rise of hate on agenda for activist’s lecture,” even though the event description highlights her role as an Israeli Official. Moreover, the piece failed to identify Tishby as an Israeli Official until the 12th paragraph.
CJPME wrote to the WPF to notify them about this error, arguing that the failure to identify Tishby as an Israeli Official would fundamentally alter a reader's understanding of the event. The letter also noted that the article had omitted reference to some of her controversial statements (more here). While the WFP claimed that Tishby would be attending the event as a “private citizen,” the event description itself did not make this claim.
On April 3, the Winnipeg Free Press corrected this error by changing the headline to read “Distressing rise of hate on agenda for Israeli official’s lecture.” Unrelatedly, that same day, Tishby was fired from her role as Israel’s Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism and Delegitimization by Benjamin Netanyahu, presumably for her relatively mild criticisms of Israel’s judicial reforms.
2023-03-30 - Hamilton Spectator publishes letter from CJPME rebutting anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian bigotry
On March 23, 2023, the Hamilton Spectator published a letter which made false charges against Ontario MPP Sarah Jama and Palestine solidarity activists, and reproduced anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian bigotry. CJPME contacted the newspaper requesting that they retract the letter and remove an offensive quote from the subheading of the page. While the Hamilton Spectator declined to remove the letter, on March 30 they published an edited version of CJPME’s response, which reads:
Regarding ‘Jama and Stiles must go’ (March 23): The letter makes a false assertion that student groups in support of Palestine, as well as the Palestinian-led movement to boycott Israel (BDS), are seeking “the extermination of the state of Israel” and to “annihilate Jews living there.” To conflate a movement for Palestinian rights with violence against Jewish people is not only false and ignorant, it is cruel and defamatory.
The letter makes a false charge that Palestinian activists and slogans, including the BDS movement, are “Islamist.” However, most Palestinian movements (including BDS) are secular and encompass both Muslim and Christian Palestinians. The author is using the term “Islamist” solely to try to paint Jama and the Palestinian solidarity movement in a negative light, perpetuating anti-Islam and anti-Palestinian sentiment.
Further, describing Jama as “Islamist” to paint her in a negative light, whether because of her Muslim faith or because of her support for Palestinians, is straightforward anti-Muslim bigotry.
2023-03-24 - Associated Press updates article to mention Palestine protestors during Netanyahu’s London visit
On March 24, 2023, the Associated Press published an article on CTV News about the protests against Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu during his visit to London, UK. However, although the story mentioned pro-Israel demonstrations expressing concern over Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul, it omitted any mention of the significant anti-occupation, anti-apartheid, or pro-Palestinian demonstrations at the same time.
Following a complaint from CJPME, the AP updated its syndicated story hours later to include these important details, adding a new paragraph which reads:
"In London, Netanyahu also was met by a pro-Palestinian demonstration. His government has been criticized for its hard-line policy toward Palestinians, including recent comments by a government minister who denied the existence of the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination."
2023-03-23 - Associated Press updates article to note that Israeli settlements are illegal and an obstacle to peace
On March 22, 2023, the Associated Press published an article in the Toronto Star on Israel’s repeal of the “Disengagement Law,” which allows settlers to return to four colonial outposts in the northern West Bank. However, the article failed to acknowledge that Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) are illegal under international law. Further, it did not mention the recent context in which Israel reneged on a promise to pause the approval of settlements. Click here for an archive of the original article.
After a complaint from CJPME, the article was promptly updated the following day to include this context. The AP added the line, “Most of the international community considers Israel’s West Bank settlements illegal and an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.” Further, a hyperlink was added to direct readers to an AP article about Israel’s recent promotion of over 7,000 illegal settlement units. While this is not the language that CJPME prefers, as it suggests that the illegality of settlements is a matter of opinion, rather than an international legal consensus, it is nonetheless an important improvement over the original.
2023-03-20 - Hill Times publishes letter from CJPME on politicians meeting with far-right Israeli extremists
On March 20, 2023, the Hill Times published a letter to the editor by CJPME’s Jason Toney about the need for Canadian politicians to stop meeting with far-right Israeli figures, and for this issue to be included in broader coverage of far-right extremism.
Here is an excerpt of the edited letter:
Who politicians meet with matters. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that far-right politics are gaining a foothold in Canada. While this article mentions a recent meeting between Conservative MPs and far-right Israeli real estate developer Chaim Silverstein, this only scratches the surface of connections between Canadian officials and Israeli extremists.
In February, Trade Minister Mary Ng met with Ofir Akunis, a minister in the most far-right government in Israel’s history, and an anti-Palestinian extremist who advocates for annexing the occupied West Bank.
More recently, Senate Speaker George Furey and Senators Don Plett and Patti Laboucane-Benson met with members of Israel’s far-right government on a trip to Israel. Of particular concern was Furey’s meeting with Knesset Speaker MK Amir Ohana (Likud), who is on record as saying that Muslims have a “murderous culture” and that Palestinians are merely “guests” in their country.
Let’s face it: politicians need to be more discerning about with whom they rub shoulders. Far-right Israeli extremism is dangerous as it has a real-world impact on the lives and safety of Palestinians under Israel’s regime of oppression, which human rights groups describe as apartheid. Canadian officials must stop giving them a pass.
2023-03-17 - CBC News corrects headline to accurately describe Israeli law to strip Palestinians of citizenship
On February 15, 2023, CBC News published an article by the Associated Press with the problematic headline, “Israeli parliament approves law that could strip some Arab attackers of citizenship.” (Click here to see the archived version with the original headline).
CJPME wrote to the CBC taking issue with three problems in the headline: First, the headline incorrectly used the term “Arab,” even though it refers specifically to Palestinians. CJPME noted that “Israel’s preferred use of the politicized terms ‘Arab-Israeli’ or simply ‘Arab’ is intended to downplay or erase the ‘Palestinian’ identity of the vast majority of the members of this group.” Second, the headline used the term “attackers,” even though the law applies to a range of offences which is much broader than violence, including various actions which allegedly constitute “a breach of trust to the State of Israel.” Third, the headline did not specify that the law was racist, even though it is only directed at Palestinian citizens of Israel and not Jewish Israelis.
CJPME is pleased that CBC News agreed to act on the first two out of the three issues, and on March 17 changed the headline to: “New Israel law allows stripping residency of Palestinians convicted of 'breach of trust.'” For the third point, CBC declined to take our suggestion, pointing out that the perspective that the law is racist is included prominently in the subheading and text of the article.
2023-03-17 - CJPME successfully challenges one-sided coverage of Hamilton Centre campaign, which ignored Palestinians
In the first two weeks of March 2023, there was a series of articles in media outlets reporting on unfair accusations against Sarah Jama, the Ontario NDP candidate in the Hamilton Centre byelection, related to her advocacy for Palestinian human rights. Jama is a well-respected disability rights activist with a long history of speaking out for Palestinians.
In total, CJPME responded to 7 such articles and news broadcasts, including in the Toronto Sun, Toronto Star, and National Post. CJPME took issue with how they had helped to fuel the smear campaign against Jama by relying on highly contestable claims made by the pro-Israel group B’nai Brith Canada, thereby presenting activists in a one-sided and negative light. None of them provided a perspective from the Palestine solidarity movement itself nor mentioned the many civil society groups who support Jama’s activism.
As a result of our persistent advocacy, CJPME’s perspective on Jama’s Palestine activism and the smear campaign against her was incorporated into media coverage on the subject, including articles in the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star, and syndicated elsewhere. The Toronto Star's coverage was also updated to include a Palestinian perspective on the meaning of a popular chant. CJPME also had a statement featured on multiple CP24 news broadcasts aired on March 16 and 17. This helped restore some balance to the otherwise skewed reporting. Jama was elected MPP on March 16. Click here to read all of our letters on this subject.