Toronto Star updates article to include Palestinian meaning of unjustly maligned chant


On March 12, the Toronto Star published an article by journalist Rob Ferguson about Ontario NDP candidate Sarah Jama, which had falsely conflated Jama’s support for Palestinian human rights with antisemitism. Unfortunately, the article had uncritically repeated a smear campaign by pro-Israel advocacy group B’nai Brith. In part, the article claimed that Jama had previously been affiliated with a group which “has called for a Palestinian state ‘from the (Jordan) river to the sea’ — often interpreted as erasing the state of Israel.” Based on this one-sided interpretation, it was assumed therefore that the chant was antisemitic.

In describing a common Palestinian chant, the Star, therefore, had provided only a hostile interpretation which painted it in a negative light, without asking Palestinians themselves what it meant. CJPME promptly wrote to the Star about this gross misinterpretation, which we noted is a simple and legitimate call for freedom for all Palestinians under Israeli rule. CJPME insisted that the Star update its article to “include a Palestinian perspective regarding the meaning of this legitimate chant, instead of relying on interpretations sourced entirely by perspectives which are hostile to Palestinian narratives and activism.”

Late on March 13, the article was updated to describe the chant more accurately as “a contested refrain interpreted by some as a rallying cry for Palestinian freedom, but by others as a call to erase the state of Israel.” An Editor’s Note was appended to the bottom of the article to read: “This story has been updated to provide more context regarding the phrase ‘from the (Jordan) river to the sea.’” However, the article did not incorporate additional Palestinian perspectives or change the misleading headline, as had been requested.