On January 15, 2024, CJPME was informed that a major correction, in the form of a letter to the editor, was published by the newspaper Powell River Peak. The article in question, “Councillors support ceasefire,” was published online and in print. It contained a glaring false claim by the mayor of Powell River, Ron Woznow. Powell River Peak paraphrased the mayor, stating “Hamas, the Palestinian government, received $6 billion from Syria and other Arab countries to launch an attack on Israel, which led to many deaths.” This is a disproven conspiracy spread largely by right-wing factions in the US.
In response to this false claim, CJPME sent a letter of complaint making clear the mayor’s claim was false. You can read that here.
Powell River Peak’s editor removed the statement from the online article and accepted a CJPME letter to the editor to correct the record in print. CJPME’s Fatima Haidar’s letter reads:
Mayor Ron Woznow claims that Hamas, the Palestinian government, received $6 billion from Syria and other Arab countries to launch an attack on Israel. This is a lie. With a simple search, one can find that this claim misinterprets another story: the August prisoner swap deal between Iran and the United States. The agreement brokered $6 billion of Iranian assets unfrozen in exchange for the release of five American prisoners. The original claim came from Republicans, who believed the $6 billion was the US taxpayers’ money. It is not. It is Iranian funds and not a single penny of the $6 billion has yet been spent. Woznow cannot make such a claim without providing any evidence, especially as an elected official. The media also has a moral duty to make sure that it publishes accurate information and not lies. Such a bold statement only furthers the ongoing misinformation and disinformation about the October 7 events. One expects more than elected officials and media participating in information warfare.
While CJPME appreciates Powell River Peak’s effort to correct the record, a clear editor’s note should also have been added to the online edition to make the deletion of the mayor’s comments clearer. CJPME is dedicated to holding the media to account during the ongoing avalanche of misinformation related to the 2023 Gaza-Israel Conflict.