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.
Thank you for addressing this embarrassing under functioning of our national broadcaster. Other national programs like The Current are also deficient while topics of Holocaust related subjects are often aired. Margaret Navarro
Sent from my iPad
It may be time to rethink our public broadcasting model. There are other possibilities.
More than 50 years ago I was working in a European country with public TV system that I would call “Proportional Broadcasting”. There was a basic organization that maintained the physical facilities and a supporting staff that provided basic services and news. However, most of the available time was controlled by a set of “clubs” that residents could join for a relatively small fee. Broadcasting time (weighted to distinguish between prime time and other times) was given to each club in proportion to the number of members. The standard example was a club for fans of English Mystery Shows. They could choose what would air in their share of the airtime. I believe that all clubs with more than a certain threshold of members would get some air but small clubs would either get very little time or more time at odd hours. In such a system, CTIP and like minded groups could have programs discussing issues like this or present films like “The Present”.
Thank you, Peter and David, for this letter. I will copy and send it to my MP (Liberal C. McKenna) for )what that is worth. I supplement any news I get about Israel/Palestine with various other sources and compare what gets covered(or not) and how. While CBC radio (Margaret Evans) has covered the Palestinian (as well as the Israeli) perspective, I have noticed that what’s repeated on CBC (The National) is primarily the Israeli perspective.
Reblogged this on QCpal.
Well put! I listen/watch CBC news a lot and detect only brief mention of the current riots in East Jerusalem.
Thanks for this Peter and David. Sadly I no longer depend on CBC for fair and adequate coverage of the Israeli/Palestinian issue but generally go to The Guardian and/or Aljazeera .
I plan to forward your letter to my MP.
Great letter. Thank you. I have volunteered with CBC Friends on a campaign to secure enough funding for the CBC. It is disappointing that they are not doing their work to inform Canadians when it comes to Israeli violations of basic Palestinian human rights. I have sent a copy of the letter to my MP.
Why the only one sided reporting. CBC always take Israeli point view. Whey Noting about the ethnic glancing of sheikJarah of the Palestine people from there homes in Jerusalem.
We are pay taxes to support CBC. What happens to Journalism. It’s disappointing that CBC doing such bad work.
Thank you Peter and David. You have articulated very well what we have been feeling for months about the lack of coverage from the CBC. It is embarrassing for us as Canadians to hear such biased reporting – that is when Palestine is not being ignored altogether. The recent events – the HRW report and the Sheikh Jarrah clearances – had no coverage until the Israeli invasion of Al Aqsa last weekend. Then that was primarily presented as Palestinian revolt. We are also increasingly disgusted with the pro-Israeli stance of freelance reporter Irris Makler. She should not be permitted to continue as the voice of the CBC on Palestine/Israel issues.
Some good news! CBC Radio is now (19:10) airing an interview on what is happening in Al Quds. It was short but good. Perhaps your letter had an effect.
I think both CBC and the government were getting some pressure. Good.
Thank you Peter and Favid for this
Thanks Peter – well said. It is quite scandalous that CBC is avoiding the reporting we expect from a national broadcaster. Poliical interference from a pro-Israeli government???
Alex Alex Campbell Lay Chaplain Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, for all the people you can, as long as you ever can.
Hey Alex, I doubt that there is direct political interference, though that is possible.
I think its more likely a combination of the biases of management (don’t forget there is a CBC board that is appointed by the politicians, and the board oversees the hiring of senior staff, etc.) and the fact that CBC was getting a LOT of pushback frm the lobby whenever they wre critical of Israel. So they tended to avoid the issue.
However, the mood has definitely changed. CBC is a LOT more balanced today than it was two weeks ago.
I agree to the extent that the issue seems to be getting more balanced coverage. What has not changed is that CBC does not connect the dots to the governments foreign actions which betray its policy as a pack lies. While I support fully the rights of Palestinians, I have a selfish interest in being able to trust governance in Canada at every level. Would anyone reading this post buy a used car from any member of the two top levels? In my understanding, CBC journalists should be free to hold the government to account as well as report failings or complaints thereof with the CBC. That would be the essence of “freedom of information”, to some, a “free for all”.
| agree to the extent that the issue seems to be getting
more balanced coverage. What has not changed is that
CBC does not connect the dots to the government’s
foreign actions which betray its policy as a pack lies.
While | support fully the rights of Palestinians, | have a
selfish interest in being able to trust governance in
Canada at every level. Would anyone reading this post
buy a used car from any member of the two top levels?
In my understanding, CBC journalists should be free to
hold the government to account as well as report
failings or complaints thereof with the CBC. That would
be the essence of “freedom of information”, to some, a
“free for all”.
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