By Esther Enkin for the CBC
The complainant, John Gilmore, thought that a news story about violence in the West Bank was biased because it did not present the Palestinian perspective. He cited the absence of the word “occupied” to describe the territories as one example, and felt the story did not make clear that under Canadian and international law the occupation is illegal. In this brief news story, there was some background, sufficient for one story in ongoing coverage.
You wrote because you thought there was “a glaring anti-Palestinian bias” in a story published on CBCNews.ca. The article originated from Associated Press and was entitled “5 Palestinians killed while trying to attack Israelis, Israel officials say.” You thought that because the word “occupied” does not appear in the story, it left the impression that “Israeli military and settlers have a right to be in the West Bank, and enforce checkpoints.” You pointed out that the “Jewish only settlements are illegal under international law,” as is the Israeli occupation of the territory. You added:
The occupation is the only reason for the attacks you are reporting. No occupation, no attacks. But the way AP has framed the story (and you have allowed it to run), the attacks appear to be random and inexplicable acts of violence.
You also objected to the phrase “Israeli rule” because it does not adequately reflect the illegal occupation. You said that “‘occupied territories’ is the widely recognized language” and is the official term of the Canadian government and the United Nations.
You added that there was not enough background to provide a context for the report, and what was there was “too little, too late.”
Context is everything in covering Israel-Palestine, and the CBC’s coverage is consistently poor and spotty. By opting to publish this AP story in isolation, while ignoring other news which help explain and contextualize the anger and despair of the Palestinians, the CBC is both abdicating its responsibility to its readers and prejudicing public opinion against the Palestinians and in favour of the Israelis.
Lianne Elliott, an executive producer with CBCNews.ca, replied to your concerns. She told you that she did not agree with your assessment of the AP news story. She agreed that the word occupied was not used, but she did not think this implied bias. She told you that the article still provided enough context for a reader to have the relevant background needed. She noted that “while the top six paragraphs of the 12-paragraph story detail the news of the day, the bottom six paragraphs give background about why the violence is happening.” She also noted that each side’s position was summarized within those six paragraphs.