CBC Website: In-Depth and One-Sided

Dear HonestReporting Canada subscriber,

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s website provides a wealth of background information on issues of interest to Canadians. For the sake of brevity, these backgrounders compress a great deal of information into concise packages. However they are still obligated, in the CBC’s own words, “to be fair, accurate, thorough, comprehensive and balanced in their presentation of information.”

The CBC’s special IN DEPTH section on the Middle East is a collection of documents dedicated to Israel and the Palestinians. With the look and feel of an educational primer, it contains background materials including descriptions of key issues, biographies of key players, links to archived news stories, and a quiz to “test your knowledge.”

One might expect that in approaching the controversial topic of the Middle East, the CBC would carefully avoid giving even the slightest impression of taking sides. It is all the more surprising, then, to discover that in the very first sentence on its Middle East homepage, the CBC introduces Canadians to a decidedly one-sided version of history:

“Since May of 1948 when the modern state of Israel was proclaimed, the land has had two parallel histories, one for the Jews who control the state and one for the Palestinians whose homeland the nation was built on.”

The CBC thus introduces the topic as a power dynamic, in which Israelis have all the power and Palestinians are a victimized people dispossessed of their land. In this CBC version of events, the Palestinians are the obvious owners of the land on which the Jews run the show.

This is, of course, inconsistent with historical fact. Leaving aside the Jews’ lengthy history in the land and the fact that prior to the 20th century they were alone in referring to Israel/Palestine as their “homeland,” it is worth pointing out that the majority of territory on which the modern state of Israel was declared had in fact been public land administered by the British Mandatory authorities, and an additional 10 percent was owned outright by Jewish individuals or organizations.

CBC continues its introduction by asserting that

“Statehood for Israel left over 700,000 Palestinians as refugees.”

This one-sided formulation ignores the fact that just as Arabs became refugees, an equal number of Jews became refugees from Arab lands. It also ignores Israel’s role in absorbing the dispossessed Middle Eastern Jews, while nearly two dozen Arab states offered no comparable support to their Arab brethren.

CBC’s narrative continues:

“For every day of the fifty years of its existence, Israel has been on war footing, fearing the aggressive hostility of its neighbours and spending staggering amounts of its energy and economy on defense. For every day of the same fifty years the displaced Palestinians and their Arab supporters have worked, often with great violence, to recover land for a Palestinian state.”

Conveniently glossed over in this summary is the fact that Arab efforts “to recover land for a Palestinian state” consisted of attempts to outright destroy the state of Israel.

For example, on the day Israel declared its independence in 1948, as five Arab armies attacked Israel, the Secretary General of the Arab League declared, “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.” Prior to the 1967 Middle East war, President Abdur Rahman Aref of Iraq declared, “The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear -- to wipe Israel off the map.”

Similarly, the PLO charter and the Hamas charter clearly identify the state of Israel as an illegitimate entity that must be eliminated. And throughout multiple wars and decades of Arab terror against Israel, the avowed objective has been the destruction of the Jewish state.


In future media alerts, HonestReporting Canada will present additional analyses of the CBC website's Middle East section. For example, in its “History of the Mideast” backgrounder, the CBC tells Canadians that

“In December of 1987, the Palestinians in Gaza, followed immediately by those in the West Bank, erupted with four decades of anguish and anger. The Intifada, the spontaneous uprising of a people with nothing to lose, had begun… Over the next several years hundreds of Palestinians were killed and thousands more put into detention camps.”

The CBC omits the fact that almost 200 Israelis were killed during this period and more than a thousand were injured. And by leaving out the fact that a third of the Palestinians who died during this period were killed by their fellow Palestinians in what became known as the “intrafada,” the CBC gives its readers the false impression that Israel was solely responsible for all of the Palestinian fatalities.


Send comments to:

· Please do not forward this backgrounder to the media.
· Please be polite, use your own words and request a written reply.
· Please forward a copy of your correspondence to .

We welcome the several hundred new members who joined this month. Please encourage your friends to subscribe to the HonestReporting Canada mailing list and help ensure fair coverage of the Middle East in Canadian media!

Tell A Friend about HonestReporting Canada Support HonestReporting Canada

HonestReporting Canada (HRC) is an independent, grass-roots organization uniting Canadians in support of fairness and accuracy in Canadian media coverage of the Middle East. HRC monitors the media, recognizes excellence and exposes inaccuracy and bias in Canadian reporting on the region. Visit our website at www.honestreporting.ca