OFIP Chair Peter Larson (left) and OFIP Advisory Council member (and former senior CBC correspondent) David Halton, have written an open letter to CBC Chair Michael Goldbloom and CBC President Catherine Tait, questioning CBC’s reluctance to report on credible investigations critical of Israel. They argue that the national public broadcaster is not fulfilling its mandate to “inform” Canadians. Read more…
Canadians look to the CBC for information and analysis of events in Canada and abroad, and have a great deal of confidence in its objective analysis.
However, many Canadians have become increasingly uneasy with the CBC’s avoidance of honest and balanced reporting on the difficult and complex Israel/Palestine issue. We do not know whether this is due to direct political pressure, the preferences of its management, or the fear of being unfairly branded as “anti-Semitic” by certain lobby groups.
The net result, however, is clear. CBC reports very little on the Israel/Palestine issue, tends to avoid reporting on criticism of Israeli policies or actions, and privileges the Israeli point of view.
In response to this situation, OFIP Chair Peter Larson and OFIP Advisory Council member David Halton have written an open letter to CBC Chair Michael Goldbloom and CBC President Catherine Tait.
The text of the letter follows:
Ottawa, May 10, 2021
Mr. Michael Goldbloom,
Chair, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Ms. Catherine Tait,
President, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Dear Mr. Goldbloom and Ms. Tait,
We are writing to express our disappointment and frustration over what appears to be a systematic failure of CBC to report on credible public criticisms of the State of Israel, no matter how well founded. We do not think this approach, whether as a matter of policy or of individual choice, brings credit to our national public broadcaster.
In the last six months, credible reports have appeared which have been highly critical of Israeli actions. Among others these include:
- a determination from the International Criminal Court that there is a legitimate case for investigating alleged war crimes by Israel.
- a report entitled “This is apartheid” from Bt’selem, a very credible Israeli human rights organization, arguing that Israel exercises “Jewish Supremacy” over all the territory it controls “from the river to the sea”.
- a report from Human Rights Watch, an international human rights organization with impeccable credentials which also claims that Israel is in fact applying an “apartheid-type” regime not only in the West Bank but inside Israel as well.
All of these developments have been well covered by respected international news media including the New York Times, CNN, Associated Press and Le Monde, not to mention Haaretz and Aljazeera. In Canada, CTV and the Globe and Mail have been more informative on this issue has the CBC.
CBC has downplayed all of these reports, when it hasn’t completely ignored them (as in the case of the Human Rights Watch report).
Most recently, CBC has given minimal coverage to racist attacks on Arabs by right wing Jews shouting “death to Arabs” in Jerusalem, or to the evictions of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem. The coverage it has given, including on May 9th, tended to focus on the violence, which is deplorable, while avoiding reference to the fundamental issues including the ongoing evictions of Palestinians.
Of course, we do not expect our national broadcaster to take up the cause of the Palestinians, but we do not believe CBC should insulate Canadians from knowing about legitimate criticisms of Israel.
Mr. Bloomberg and Ms. Tait, as you know the mandate of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is “to inform, enlighten and entertain”. In many respects, the CBC carries out this mandate admirably.
We know that the completion of this mandate can require courage and integrity. CBC has an obligation to inform Canadians in an evenhanded way, even if some constituencies would prefer otherwise.
I would be pleased to discuss this issue with either of you at your convenience. Please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you in advance.
Peter Larson, Ph.D. Chair, Ottawa Forum on Israel Palestine (OFIP)
David Halton, retired senior correspondent CBC, and member OFIP Council of Advisors
- Members, Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine
If you agree with the contents of this letter, please feel free to forward a copy to your Member of Parliament, Minister, priest, rabbi, imam, your friends or any influential person.
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.