Anti-Israel Media Bias Moving to Canadian Campuses
Shalom Life speaks with Mike Fegelman, Executive Director of HonestReporting Canada.
Canadian campuses are due to host the odious “Israel Apartheid Week” in just a few weeks, but problems aren’t just limited to that event.
Media watchdog HonestReporting Canada (HRC) sees its efforts of creating an effective response mechanism to combat campus media bias against Israel as a natural extension of their ongoing efforts with the mainstream Canadian media.
According to Mike Fegelman, HRC’s Executive Director, “Canadian campuses have been hotbeds of hostile anti-Israel activity for many years and the campus media has been no exception. Israel is often portrayed as an illegitimate and pariah ‘apartheid’ state. We’ve seen everything from op-ed’s justifying terrorism against Jews to articles where reporters conjured allegations claiming that Israeli soldiers summarily executed innocent Palestinians.”
In recent weeks the organization has been on the front lines issuing several media action alerts to its 25,000 members documenting problematic reports emanating from the campus media. On January 21 for example, a CKUT Radio program based out of McGill University in Montreal, lent credence to bizarre claims of Israeli culpability for the notorious 2004 Iraqi prisoner abuse atrocities without supporting evidence. After alerting its members who complained to CKUT’s Programming Committee, the station committed to conducting a formal investigation. Fegelman noted that these claims were derived from Press TV, Iran’s state-funded propaganda tool, a news source which recently spread a blood libel by alleging that there's an Israeli conspiracy to kidnap 25,000 Ukrainian children in order to harvest their organs.
Another McGill media outlet, the McGill Daily, featured an interview on February 8 with Dr. Mads Gilbert about the Gaza health care system who Fegelman described as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. “In reality, Gilbert is a radical anti-Israel activist whom this newspaper presented as a credible medical practitioner, but is in fact a man who is viscerally hostile towards Israel, a supporter of the September 11 terror attacks, and a propagandist who outrageously accused Israel of using Gaza as a ‘test laboratory for new (Israeli) weapons’," Fegelman said. “Giving a platform to this individual without disclosing his limited and biased credentials is especially problematic.”
Asked why Canadian media outlets are biased against Israel, Fegelman stated that there are many impediments to reporting on and in the Middle East. “As news consumers, we’ve been demanding sensational news. When it comes to the Mideast, the old news maxim that ‘if it bleeds it leads’ certainly does ring true… We don’t hear much happy news. We hear stories about violence, suffering, etc. We rarely hear about Israel’s many innovations, aid efforts (especially its most recent efforts in Haiti), and more simply that it’s the only functioning democracy in the Mideast. As news consumers we have a right and the responsibility to ask the media to stop putting a magnifying glass on Israel and to report on the broader Middle East.”
According to Fegelman, we rarely hear stories about the tyranny, gender apartheid, and repression of fundamental human rights that take place in the broader Middle East simply because the media aren’t based there. “Take journalistic freedom of expression for example, it’s almost non-existent. Case in point, Canadian-Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari, a Newsweek reporter who was detained by the Iranian regime for reporting on the crackdown of Iranian dissenters. Go to Gaza, BBC reporter Alan Johnston was kidnapped by Hamas-linked thugs for simply doing his job, and go to Saudi Arabia as a reporter and the secret police will likely follow you, censor you, and perhaps detain you. Contrast this with Israel which boasts a vibrant free press where journalists can report in a safe and unfettered environment. This disparity is often not disclosed by the media, nor understood by the news consumer.”
What You Can Do To Make A Difference
HonestReporting encourages its members to be media literate and to engage in a professional dialogue with reporters, ombudsmen, and news executives. “We seek to sensitize the media to Israel’s concerns in a moderate way, while avoiding being strident and knee-jerk reactionary. We teach our members how to write effective letters to the editor and how identify and combat media bias against Israel.” Fegelman said.