McGill Radio Show Condemned for Anti-Israel Report
Program repeats baseless Press TV claims about Israel's responsibility for Abu Ghraib.
"Under the Olive Tree" is a self-described "Canada-wide Palestinian community radio show" located at McGill University in Montreal. This past January, Honest Reporting made public several baseless claims that Israel is responsible for the 2004 abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.
“Under the Olive Tree” lent credibility to these false accusations on their radio show in the same month, wherein the host referred to Israel as an apartheid state eight times, according to Honest Reporting.
These unsubstantiated claims, which graced Montreal radio airwaves thanks to “Under the Olive Tree” on station CKUT 90.3 fm, had been based on a report from Press TV, Iran’s notoriously anti-Semitic state-funded media agency.
The report stated that hundreds of Iraqi suspects were tortured and sexually abused by U.S. soldiers and interrogators, and that Israel was somehow involved in the alleged abuse of prisoners.
The newspaper claimed they had spoken to retired US army colonel Janis Karpinski, who said Israeli agents had been recruited by the U.S. military to perform prisoner interrogations. Press TV stated that Karpinski had at first refused to expand on Israel’s connection with Abu Ghraib, despite admitting earlier to the presence of Israeli interrogators in the US-run compound.
“Under the Olive Tree” has disseminated this information, spawning a libel against Israel.
The CKUT programming committee has formally reprimanded the anti-Israel program in response to a huge slew of complaints issued by listeners and members of Honest Reporting Canada.
In the radio station’s official response filed on March 23, the station stated that it had issued a warning letter to the host of the radio program, as well as forced the program to clarify and retract these baseless statements on-air, in a formal manner.
According to Honest Reporting, the radio station’s programming committee, after meeting four times to discuss the issue, found that the program had not properly cited the source of quotes taken from the Press TV article.
At the end of the show’s program, their retraction was aired, stating: “We did quote Colonel Janis Karpinski, although she did not state explicitly that Israeli involvement in the Abu Ghraib prison is what resulted directly in the increased sexual and physical violence.” This is a hugely important detail to have been omitted from the reports in Press TV.
Honest reporting holds that the program’s apology is faulty as it never actually retracted its original statements alleging Israel’s involvement in the abuse of prisoners. The host of the program essentially transferred the blame to Press TV, rather than holding itself accountable in some way. As well, in the program’s clarification, the host refers to the hosts of feedback received for that particular segment, thanking its listeners, and implying that feedback was entirely positive, which it was not.
CKUT’s efforts in carrying out the investigation into claims disseminated through its airwaves have been greatly appreciated. Honest Reporting Canada provides links on their website to full transcripts of the program’s statements, as well as those of the programming committee.