By Esther Enkin for the CBC
The complainant Silvana Goldemberg thought a strong statement from a filmmaker about one of the messages of his documentary needed to be balanced with an opposing view. He referred to Israel as an apartheid state. Balance is achieved over time and the interview was not about Israel. In this case there was no need for immediate counter views.
You were concerned that the director of an “anti-Israel” film entitled Valentino’s Ghost was allowed to present his views without any countering position. Gloria Macarenko, who was hosting “On the Coast”, interviewed Michael Singh about the film, which was being presented at a Vancouver film festival. You objected to the fact that he was able to give his personal opinion, and no one was interviewed to refute his views. You thought that at the least, the host should have made some attempt to provide balance to his views:
She didn’t say anything when Mr. Singh lied openly saying Israel is an apartheid country. And this is not someone’s opinion, this is an Anti-Semitic LIE. 1,700,000 Arabs live in Israel and they have more rights and freedom than in any Muslim country. Most of them are professionals, businessmen, 17 Arabs are member of Israeli Parliament. As Jews can not even live in Gaza (for the first time in more than 3,000 years). Who is apartheid? Please, stop giving open mic to haters and liars.
You said it was unacceptable that CBC journalists “continue, time after time, with this unbalanced approach to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, manipulating public opinion with our taxpayers’ money.” You cited another example from another programme, but it is not the subject of this review.
Lorna Haeber, The Senior Director of Programming in British Columbia responded to your concerns. She explained that Mr. Singh was interviewed because his documentary was being shown at a local film festival. She said the documentary explored “how the U.S. foreign policy has shaped and influenced Hollywood’s and the news media’s views on Arabs and Muslims.” She said that it was not necessary to have someone on at the same time to counter Mr. Singh’s views, because balance is achieved over time, by the presentation of divergent views. She also explained that local shows rarely present material on Middle East politics, and that she was confident that coverage over time was not anti-Israel. She pointed to some other interviews done with members of the Vancouver Jewish community on a range of topics as examples of divergent views:
Twice since December 2015 (Dec 17 and May 16), our morning show the Early Edition has interviewed Rabbi Dan Moscovitz about his congregation’s plan to sponsor Syrian refugee families. As well, Rabbi David Mivasair was a recent guest on the Early Edition (Feb 3, 2016). He was part of a panel discussing the policy differences between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination in the U.S. The spirited debate touched on a number of issues including, briefly, foreign policy. We also have broadcast some lighter fare related to the annual Chutzpah Festival.