Richard Behar from Forbes released a scathing report on media bias during Operation Protective Edge. I have forwarded that report to the CBC and lodged another complaint. Here it is. Feel free to send emails to the people whose addresses are at the top.
To: ombudsman@cbc.ca; don.plett@sen.parl.gc.ca
CC: jack.nagler@cbc.ca; nanao.kachi@crtc.gc.ca; caroline.cloutier@crtc.gc.ca; mary-louise.hayward@crtc.gc.ca
Subject: Request for review of reporting in Israel
Date: Tue, 17 Mar 2015 08:38:44 -0400

 

Madam Ombudsman,

A scathing report regarding the lack of journalistic ethics by AP reporting during the summer of 2014 Operation Protective Edge has been released. I am lodging an official complaint against the CBC for biased reporting during Operation Protective Edge based on the latest reports of media bias regarding Israel.

The CBC relied on AP during the summer of 2014. Although CBC reported the numbers with the statement “as provided by the Palestinian Authority or Hamas,” it is safe to say that the vast majority of Canadians have no idea that the numbers from Hamas and the PA are not verified or verifiable which left far too many Canadians with a poor opinion of Israel and an increase in anti-semitism in the country.

I am enclosing a link to the “ Observer” article by esteemed investigative journalist Richard Behar.

“It’s about how the Associated Press botched up its “painstaking…Exclusive” on Gazan civilian casualties during last summer’s Israel-Hamas war, in almost every conceivable way. It is a case study in how journalism should not be done.”

“Posed photographs. Intentional miscategorizations. Buried corrections. One-sided sourcing. Cherry-picked quotes. And a just-plain-wrong conclusion about “most” Gaza casualties being civilians.”

Here are previous articles reporting on below ethical standards in reporting on Israel/Gaza in the summer of 2014.

“On August 11th, the normally Israel-averse Foreign Press Association in Israel conceded what those closely following the war coverage already knew: That Hamas has been intimidating foreign reporters. In a harsh statement, it condemned the terrorist group for ‘the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month.'”

From Richard Behar.
Here is a report on the ethical actions of the Israeli military during Operation Protective Edge

Madame Ombudsman, you are now in a position where you must acknowledge the errors in the CBC reporting. You relied heavily on AP during the summer. I know I am not the only person to have contacted you suggesting strongly that the numbers were wrong. Now, too AP is acknowledging the photos were posed. Once caught in a lie this serious, all information must be questioned.

Mr. Nagler he wrote

“The Ombudsman has, if you’re not aware, already examined one complaint about the way we have characterized the numbers of civilian casualties in Gaza. The Ombudsman criticized us for not doing enough to attribute sources for casualty figures and make it clear that figures were disputed. I accept that conclusion in the case she examined. Your point, if I understand it, is that even with attribution we should ignore any casualty figures provided by the Palestinians. My point is that in situations where verification is impossible — as it was during the fighting this summer — we should not ignore the human dimension altogether; we should report what both sides are saying. This is what we do in every conflict we cover all over the world. “

I have high-lighted the last sentence.

Israel did not suffer serious damage to buildings because Israel spent billions on protecting the country from rockets-rockets that the CBC did not explain, nor did the CBC spend much time explaining why Israel did not suffer major damage to their infrastructure. Ten thousand rockets had been lobbed at Israel over a decade targeting civilians. I don’t recall that being reported either-or at least not as often as the unverifiable numbers of Palestinian civilian deaths that you knew when reporting were not true. You knew that in Toronto at the editor’s desk-whose job is to ensure fair reporting. And Madame Ombudsman if your editors did not know that then that speaks to a more serious problem. The CBC did not point out that Israel built bomb shelters to protect her citizens while Hamas took money donated for re-building Gaza to build bomb shelters for their bombs.

Neither did the CBC spend much time in Southern Israel speaking to the citizens who have been traumatized by rockets, over and over and over again.

Derek Stoffel,as far as I am aware did not interview residents in southern Israel, particularly Sderot. I f he did, it may have been once. Yet the damage done to these families is devastating. He did not speak to the children, ask them about playgrounds underground rather than outside. He did not speak to the psychological damage. He was too busy photographing the destruction of buildings in Gaza that were hiding bombs and rockets.

So where was that fair, human dimension on Israel? That equal time spent on hearing and seeing both sides? You seem to ignore that human dimension in Israel. You were too busy empathizing with the aggressors- the war mongers-Hamas. The terrorists- whom because of bias – you do not call terrorists despite the fact that the Canada does as does most of the world. Calling Hamas terrorists gives Canadians a better picture of the events in the Middle East. They would then know the aggressor from the victim. Perhaps they would not have internalized hate for Israel-which is what happened-if you had used correct labels. That is built-in bias. Jews the world over are under attack-and that behooves our national broadcaster to be extra careful when reporting. Jew hatred travels fast.

I looked up the balanced reporting of the CBC regarding Rwanda and Syria. I didn’t find the human dimension of the Hutus and Assad in your reporting. Perhaps I missed those reports. I don’t recall the CBC seeking out Hutus for their views on the genocide. Nor do I recall too many interviews with the Alawites in Syria-their human dimension seems not to be of interest.

On the Sudan the CBC wrote:

“The report called on the UN to intervene in Darfur to stop Arab janjaweed militiamen from committing atrocities that many say are condoned âs if not outright sponsored by the Sudanese government.”
Did you share with us the human dimension of the Arab janjaweed militiamen?

Rarely in a war are two sides equal. One side tends to be the aggressor. And in the war on Israel, Hamas/Gaza is the aggressor, yet the CBC seems not to want to point that out, clearly, unequivocally. Instead you seem to justify the attacks made on Israel, especially her civilians. I don’t recall seeing or hearing reporting like that on any other hot spot in the world. Are you showing the human dimension of both sides in the Ukraine? The Russian aggressor and the Ukrainian victims? If so, I must have missed it. And what about the Buddhists and their actions against the Muslims in Burma-have we been exposed to what both sides are saying? And what of Balochistan? Or the Christians in Pakistan who are being murdered? Are you looking at both sides, listening to their stories and reporting them-giving us the human dimension?

In truth-the CBC does not give both sides of a story and they certainly don’t give both sides equal weight. For reasons known only by you Madame Ombudsman, when it comes to problems in the Middle East that include Israel, the aggressor is treated with more compassion and empathy than the victim. Only when Israel is involved does the CBC try to justify the actions of the aggressor and blame the victim. And the proof Madama Ombudsman is the increase kin anti-Semitism in this country. After all the CBC claims to speak to all Canadians. They heard you.

I also find Mr. Nagler’s responses to my concerns about CBC making a moral equivalency between Israel and Gaza without merit. If your reporters had as much access to Gaza as they had in Israel they would have seen the 5 star hotels on the beaches. Well perhaps the CBC reporters didn’t have access. Others did.  It seems the hotels were rather empty during the war, except for journalists staying there. And then these hotels and hot spots . I didn’t hear any reporting on the damage to any of these buildings. Why? Is it possible that Hamas did not hide rockets there? We don’t know. CBC didn’t tell us.

In previous emails Mr Nagler wrote:

“In any conflict all sides want to control information. That is a given. Hamas does it, so does Israel. For obvious reasons they both want to control the release of any military information that might be of use to the enemy. Hamas has no formal system of censorship, but as you likely know, all foreign reporters working in Israel must agree to work under rules set out by the Israeli Military Censor. Stories on a list of topics – chiefly military issues and nuclear weapons, but also potentially oil and water supplies, among others – must be submitted for censorship prior to publication.

“It’s more than just military information, of course. Both sides want to shape their image, limit information that reflects badly on them while at the same time promoting stories that make the other side look bad.”

I suggested that this is a moral equivalency.

He replied:

“Saying that Israel has a formal system is a fact. It’s not a judgment. I never suggest Israel is wrong to do so. Saying that Hamas does not have a formal system is also a fact, and not a judgment. I never suggest that Hamas is right to do so. There is no “moral equivalence” stated or implied. And I make perfectly clear that both sides try to control information, as is the case in any conflict anywhere in the world.”

I suggest that anyone saying there is a comparison at all between freedom of information, freedom of travel in Israel is in any way like Gaza is exhibiting willful blindness or innate bias. Israel’s formal system is far more transparent and open than Hamas’s informal closed and menacing system. That’s a fact-not a judgement.

It is time for you to revisit your reporting based on this “new” information. It may be new to you but not to those of us who cover the Middle East, read stories directly from Arab countries. Read the reports by other journalists-from India, Russia, Finland, Spain and add them to the already established harassment and physical threats committed by Hamas on journalists in 2008 and 2011.

Your organization broke journalistic ethical standards, universal as well as your own. Time to apologize. Time to offer a retraction.

I look forward to your review of my complaint against CBC media bias in the Middle East the summer of 2014 based on the latest reports regarding media bias.