The gruesome routine is familiar. Israelis are hunted down by Arab terrorists, and we are condemned for defending our lives. In the media, headlines focus as least as much on the murderers as on their victims, and when a knife-wielding Palestinian teenager is shot during his rampage, it’s referred to as a “summary execution.” A recent New York Times headline read “Stabbings, and deadly responses, add to Israel’s security challenge” – describing the responses, and not the attacks, as “deadly.”
In many cases, the Canadian media is no exception to this pattern. In listening to CBC Radio news programs, we hear the same distortions, biases, and clichés found elsewhere.
For example, on Oct. 9, Margaret Evans reported from Jerusalem on CBC Radio’s flagship World at Six news program, presenting the emotionally laden version of Palestinian victimization that she has used for many years. On a day when two Israeli men were viciously stabbed to death in Jerusalem’s Old City in front of their families during the holiday of Sukkot, she instead chose to report from Ramallah, focusing on Palestinians “frustrations” and the funeral of a 19-year-old who, she said was “shot dead by Israeli security forces,” only adding as an afterthought that he was the murderer who stabbed Aharon Banita and Nehemia Lavi. CBC listeners heard her emotion-laden voice, describing the anger “starting to burn bright again” among youth who confront armed Israeli soldiers at “checkpoints.”
The assessment of the professional qualifications and actions of CBC reporters, and actions to be taken in response, are issues for Canadians to consider. But the lives of Israelis are deeply affected by these distorted and harmful portrayals in the international media.