Dr. Kattenburg’s one man battle with the CBC over its reporting on the Israel/Palestine issue should go public

Dr. David Kattenburg (r) has been waging a protracted battle with CBC for over a year over its poor reporting on the Israel/Palestine issue. His most recent issue has been over the fact that CBC has accepted an argument put forward by Mike Fegelman (l), Executive Director of Honest Reporting Canada (HRC) that Israel has NO RESPONSIBILITY for providing Covid 19 vaccination to the Palestinians which it holds under military occupation. Kattenburg has repeatedly presented CBC with official legal arguments to the contrary, which CBC has stubbornly ignored. CTIP interviewed Dr. Kattenburg about his determined struggle. Listen and read more….

David Kattenburg is a regular listener of Canada’s national public broadcaster, the CBC. He likes its coverage of domestic news, literature, science and medecine. But he is deeply disenchanted by an apparent pro-Israel bias in its international news reporting.

According to Kattenburg, CBC misses the mark that an objective news media should aim for in at least 3 ways:

  1. It rarely reports on the Middle East even when important events occur, and virtually never on the lives of Palestinians
  2. When it does so, it tends to favour Israeli voices on any given issue
  3. It appears to be extremely sensitive to criticisms from pro-Israel groups in Canada, and even willing to ignore or overlook established facts that are awkward for the pro-Israel lobby.

The vaccination of Palestinians – is Israel responsible?

The most recent example, according to Kattenburg, is CBC’s reporting on the anti-COVID vaccinations currently being carried out in Israel. CBC has accurately reported that Israel has had astounding success in vaccinating its population.

At the same time, CBC also reported as had many other media around the world, that so far almost NONE of the 5 million Palestinians who live under complete Israeli control in the West Bank and Gaza have received vaccinations. (Latest figures report that Israel has shared 5000 doses, a drop in the bucket to the West Bank and NONE for Gaza.)

But when Israel started to notice it was being criticized internationally for what was increasingly being termed “vaccination apartheid”, the Israel lobby in Canada began claiming that Israel had no obligation to provide the vaccines to Palestinians. Michael Fegelman, Executive Director of Honest Reporting Canada, a pro-Israel lobby group, immediately brought pressure on CBC, arguing that Israel has no responsibility because “under the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority is responsible for health issues.” HRC crowed about how succesful it had been in getting the CBC to print a correction.

Kattenburg disagreed strongly. He knew that under the 4th Geneva Convention, (and Canada’s own Geneva Convention Act) the occupying power (i.e. Israel) remains responsible for the health and welfare of those under its occupation. This international obligation “trumps” any deal between the occupying authority and bodies it has established under it. This was corroborated by ISRAELI doctors and lawyers in a recent webinar organized by the New Israel Fund.

Kattenburg entered into a long, polite but determined email exchange with various CBC brass trying to get them to stop reflecting the Honest Reporting Canada version as if it were CBC’s own assessment.

Here is an extract of an email Kattenburg sent to Paul Hambleton (CBC Director of Journalistic Standards), and Brodie Fenlon CBC Editor in Chief.

This evening, February 1, once again, the CBC has misinformed its listeners, ignoring the facts that have been presented to you — including by one of the international community’s most informed experts on legal matters.

In a companion segment to Iris Makler’s dispatch about Covid and Israel’s orthodox Jewish community, host Susan Bonner stated:

“The Palestinian Authority is responsible for health care of the more than two and a half (million) Palestinians who live in the West Bank.”

In fact — as you have been repeatedly told and surely know, because it is a categorical fact — under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel is ultimately responsible for ensuring health care for Palestinians living under occupation, including vaccination, in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority.

Mr. Hambleton’s answer was surprising, claiming that CBC needs to “offer the audience an understanding of that other point of view.”

Offering two points of view is consistent with CBC’s mandate. And had CBC said something like “Israel claims that responsibility lies with the Palestinian Authority”, that would have been consistent with presenting “the other point of view”. But that was not how CBC presented the issue to its audience. On air, it presented an apology and “correction”, clearly adopting the position of Israel and Honest Reporting Canada.

CTIP interviewed Dr. Kattenburg about his ongoing fight with CBC to improve the fairness and objectivity of its Middle East reporting.

It is isn’t clear why CBC has taken this tack. Is it afraid of the Israel lobby? Is it concerned that the lobby might bring pressure on the Government of Canada, which of course holds CBC’s purse strings? Or is it really just lack of resources at CBC to thoroughly check out a story?

Kattenburg’s ongoing struggle with the CBC has so far been carried on in private email exchanges. However, more Canadians are becoming become seized of CBC’s apparent lack of depth and balance in reporting on the Israel/Palestine file. A petition has been launched by a group called “The Action Network” calling on Canadians to write directly to CBC demanding it have the courage to openly identify Israel’s discriminatory approach to the distribution of vital vaccines “medical apartheid”. Where private complaints have failed, perhaps public pressure may have an effect.


Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.

Want to learn more about us? Go to http://www.ottawaforumip.org.


    1. Hey Elaine,
      thanks. So has CNN. Even the new US sec. of state has now commented on it. It would appear that the CBC is (at least on this issue) more right wing than the Biden administration.

  1. Well someone else was thinking what I was but has been acting on it. I also am a CBC follower (about 70 years) and receive emails from Fiends of Canadian Broadcasting, There are a few people like Neil McDonald who don’t tow the self censorship line due to the government’s rented out foreign policy but most, with the possible exception of Evan Dyer, mind their ps and qs. He seems to be posted on COVID or something else now as he doesn’t come up on international matters. I was thinking about asking Dyer why I hear nothing about the Liberals 2 faced policy on human rights. I intend to send this URL off to F of CBC, telling them I am having second thoughts about CBC.

    The problem comes down to money. My vote means nothing to our political thugs who slurp at the trough of deep pocketed Canadian Zionist outfits. That is why I support Democracy Watch.

    If someone starts a movement against two faced people, count me in.

  2. CBC should know better than to argue with David Kattenburg! Good for him for persevering. Marianna

  3. The only mention on the CBC of this issue that I have encountered was on the “Power Panel” (CBC-TV news). It was raised by an invited panelist from Quebec and there was no further discussion.

  4. It seems to me that the problem with CBC is broader than this issue. My observation has been that when the three national political parties disagree on some issue; all sides are covered by the CBC. When those three parties share a view, that is the only view that is fairly treated. Palestine is one issue where all 3 parties seem to agree that Canada should support Israel. There have been several other global affairs issues where CBC coverage disturbed me because only one side is reported. Currently, I see biased coverage on “The Two Michaels”, and Navalny, I have e-mails from CBC producers saying that they would like to present the other views but cannot find anyone who will express them. I find that claim ludicrous.

  5. CBC has become an intransient server of political repression that has resulted in me being de-posted any time I respond to any number of issues pertaining to Israel on the CBC forums.

    There is now at least one fulltime censor who trolls the CBC forum posts who sends litterally every post I write into a “approval waiting” limbo where it remains until the post becomes irrelevent to any discussion.

    Despite being a life-long CBC reader, listener and supporter (I’m in my 70s), I’m now at a point of contemplating joining the “defund the CBC” crowd.
    I went so far as to contact the CBC ombudsman only to quickly realize CBC ombudsmen are just another layer of buraucracy meant to avoid or delay having comments that run counter to it’s grasp on fair comment removed.

    Personally, I blame this on the mess created at CBC during the Harper era, yet the unfairness continues and is even worse under the Liberal regime.

    CBC now accepts racist and hateful commentary on China, North Korea, most of the mideast among other “unpopular” nations like Venezuela, Iran or even Cuba, but smacks down immediately anything not seen as supportive of Israel within seconds of hitting the “Post” button.

  6. CBC and other media in Canada seem sufficiently afraid of the Israel lobby, including their cmmson anti semitism slur, so as not to give balanced coverage on Israel Palestine, despite bad journalism and nonsupport Cdn public policy interests

  7. We are 46+ year CBC listeners (ever since coming to Canada). We have noticed that the most biased reporting appears to come from the Aussie freelance journalist Irris Makler. A simple google search shows she actually also does a lot of reporting on Palestine for CBC online. But that’s not what we hear on live radio. Clearly there is bias in what the CBC brass choose to broadcast. On the other hand we always hear good reporting from Margaret Evans – but she is too rarely heard.

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