Read recent correspondence re Our Montreal, December 4th, 2022
To: CBC News Manager, Ombudsman and CEO
Dear CBC Ombudsman,
It is really time that you invested in educating your journalists and editors on the truth about Israel and the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs who would destroy her, eradicate the country, kill Jews for the mistaken belief that the country must be in Arab hands and that it has a “Palestinian” history. It has no such history. The land of Israel has NEVER been a Palestinian or Arab country. It is historically only been ever a Jewish state and for over 2500 years Jews yearned to return to their homeland, but most importantly there were still Jews there through the ages. Arabs were invaders. Jews are indigenous and come from Judea!! Arabs come from Arabia.
Secondly, you must take full responsibility for allowing such gross lies and distortions to be aired that you fuel Jew hatred. We know that throughout time that has not ended well, but in violent attacks against individual Jews and the Jewish people as a collective. If reporting lies and myths about Israel isn’t seen by you to be dangerous, unprofessional and disreputable, then just what journalistic standard does the CBC stand by?
That Eyal Weizman onDecember 4th, 2021 on CBC Montreal can be quoted or heard to say that Israel tests weapons on Arabs is not a joke but a malfeance ie intentional conduct that is wrongful, (though in his case not illegal.) How dare you allow such horrible lies and anti-Jewish tropes on our Canadian publically funded broadcaster? Hitler accused the Jews of undermining the “pure” German state; the early Christian church spread lies and tropes about Jews killing Christian children and now CBC spreads equally evil lies about the Jewish state!
The Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation calls on you to retract the lies, apologize to the Jewish community across Canada, cease to interview anti-Israel propagandists, and train your professional staff to do some homework, get facts and ignore those whose sole aim is to demonize Israel.
Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation
From: Director Journalism, CBC
Dear Andria Spindel:
I am writing in reply to your email of December 21 addressed to CBC Ombudsman, Jack Nagler, drawing our attention to what you take to be “gross lies and distortions that fuel Jew hatred” in a story broadcast on the December 4 edition of Our Montreal, a weekly arts and culture program seen in Quebec.
Specifically, you wrote that in the story Eyal Weisman said that “Israel tests weapons on Arabs,” something you described as a “malfeasance,” an “evil lie about the Jewish state.”
Since CBC News in Quebec is my responsibility, CBC News Editor in Chief Brodie Fenlon, asked me to reply.
While I certainly share your abhorrence of antisemitism in any of its forms, I do not share your view of the Our Montreal story or of Mr. Weisman’s words. However, I do agree that in some respects our treatment of the story fell short of what it should have been. Let me explain why I say that.
I don’t know from your email if you saw the broadcast, so just to be clear, that weekend the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) was opening a new installation by award-winning Forensic Architecture, whose multi-disciplinary research projects have been displayed in galleries around the world. The group based at Goldsmiths, University of London, has used architects, lawyers, accountants, journalists, and other specialists to conduct over 70 investigations using audio visual analysis and documentation often used as evidence in courts to counter official narratives of contentious incidents in countries around the world, many involving human rights.
The thought-provoking exhibit focused on spyware known as Pegasus developed by NSO Group, a controversial Israeli company, and how government hackers used it to target activists and journalists. It included a documentary by multiple award-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras who won an Oscar for “Citizenfour,” her documentary on Edward Snowden, an intelligence contractor who leaked information from the U.S. National Security Agency. Edward Snowden narrates her film on how government hackers target activists and journalists.
The group’s leader, Eyal Weizman, is a British Israeli architect, university professor,Fellow of The British Academy, who last year was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire(MBE) for his services to architecture.
Our Montrealthought Quebec viewers might be interested in the unusual exhibit and the perspective and insight offered by the two people behind it, as well as the assessment of John Zeppetelli, MAC’s Chief Curator. Program host Catherine Verdon-Diamond spoke with all three.
It is CBC practice to identify those interviewees and others who appear in our programs with sufficient information that viewers have the context and knowledge to be able to judge the relevance and credibility of their comments.
In this instance, while we did use a graphic to describe Forensic Architecture and a super with his name, we should have included more information about Mr. Weizman to enable viewers to better evaluate his remarks.
Again, to be clear, what Mr. Weisman said, in part, is this:
“The NSO Group is one of an ecosystem of Israeli cyber-surveillance and cyber-security companies that have developed in the shadow of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The domination of Palestinians, in Israel and the occupied territories, is some kind of lab in which new technologies and new weapons are being designed and exported worldwide….”
Those are Mr. Weisman’s words, of course, and he is in the best position to explain or defend them. However, it is a fact that Israel is among the top ten exporters of arms in the world. Since arms buyers understandably want to know that what they buy will work, arms manufacturers value field testing, being able to tell prospective buyers how well their products work in real conflict. It shouldn’t be a surprise that that’s also true of Israeli arms manufacturers that have been able to take advantage of what one described as a “very high average operational tempo.”
I think you will find the idea that Israel tests surveillance techniques, crowd control devices and weapons in the West Bank and Gaza has been widely reported. Take Israel’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) as an example. They are used in 50 countries and account for more than 60% of the international UAV exports. In May’s Gaza conflict, the Israeli Defense Forces say UAVs played an important surveillance role totalling over 6,000 flight hours in 11 days.
In a specific example, the IDF’s Experimental Ghost Unit which it says is “tasked with trying out and creating new tactics and fighting styles for the military” worked with the manufacturer to develop quadra-drone swarms or “flocks” to direct air strikes in Gaza. (You can read more about these developing tactics in this recent Times of Israel story, “In apparent world first IDF deployed drone swarms in Gaza fighting,”
https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-apparent-world-first-idf-deployed-drone-swarms-in-gaza-fighting/, or more generally in this Haaretz piece, “For Israeli arms makers, Gaza war is a cash cow, ”https://www.haaretz.com/gaza-war-is-arms-industry-cash-cow-1.5258893)
That said, while the idea of testing weapons and surveillance devices in the region is scarcely new, I agree with you that Mr. Weizman’s expression could be seen as provocative, even contentious, and as such the interview would have benefitted had we asked him to expand on his views and offer some context and background information in explanation.
I realize that you do not agree with Mr. Weizman’s views and those expressed in the Forensic Architecture exhibit, and of course that is your right. But I hope you understand that reporting on how Pegasus malware developed by an Israeli company is used to target journalists and human rights workers is not in any reasonable understanding of the word antisemitic. CBC has an obligation to carry a range of views on the controversial issues of the day, including this one.
Although, as I said, I understand how the story would have benefited from additional background and context. Thank you for drawing that to our attention.
To: Director Journalism, CBC
Dear Ms Evans,
Thanks for responding to our concerns but your response is insufficient and unsatisfactory. CBC has made it a habit to misrepresent Israel and its legal rights, and used, “endorsed” or “allowed to be used” pejorative, defamatory and illegal words to describe Israel, thus playing into the hands of antisemites.
For example: “…cyber-security companies that have developed in the shadow of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”
So, where is this country called Palestine, that has never existed? How can the owners of a land be called “occupiers?” You are not providing context nor truth and allowing for the spread of falsehoods and the mis-characterization of the rights of Israel. This is a regular problem on CBC so let me enlighten you by urging that you watch this video.
This is not opinion or narrative but international law.
Without context, this sentence in your response says a lot:“In May’s Gaza conflict, the Israeli Defense Forces say UAVs played an important surveillance role totaling over 6,000 flight hours in 11 days.”
The fact that Hamas in Gaza, which has its sole goal to destroy Israel, initiated the attacks in May, would suggest that it is a damn good thing Israel has surveillance equipment to stop an invasion and the genocide proposed by Hamas in Gaza. Would you prefer that Israel not have modern defense technology instead of having it damned for doing what a government is expected to do ie protect its citizens?? Remember 20% of Israelis are Arabs and Hamas doesn’t care which it kills-Jews or Arabs though it rather prefers to kill Jews.
..”I agree with you that Mr. Weizman’s expression could be seen as provocative, even contentious, and as such the interview would have benefitted had we asked him to expand on his views and offer some context and background information in explanation.”
Since you agree with me, is it not CBC’s responsibility to provide context and background and otherwise how might CBC consider its journalism of any serious quality?
..”Pegasus malware developed by an Israeli company is used to target journalists and human rights workers is not in any reasonable understanding of the word antisemitic.” (bolded by me)
This statement is not just incendiary, inflammatory, false and antisemitic, it truly betrays your own prejudice and is disgusting. This statement warrants an investigation as to your role in communicating the CBC policies and the bias that you have against Israel which has NEVER tested any defensive or other warfare technology on humans by targeting them. This is quite a vile statement and I challenge you to prove it.
The fact that Israel has innovative defense technology is because it is in a state of conflict necessitating defense almost daily. That is the context. When the Arabs put down their guns, there will be peace; if Israel puts down their guns, there will be genocide because that is the stated goal of both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
Check these easily accessible references: the Hamas Charter http://www.mideastweb.org/hamas.htm
The Palestinian Authority backed UNRWA march of return with child soldiers, organized to “liberate Israel” ie destroy it, January 1, 2022.
Ms Evans, I do hope that you, the Ombudsman and the CEO give much more careful consideration to the concerns I am expressing as the Jewish community really feels the bias of CBC is unacceptable and fuels antisemitism, and this program is just one instance of it.
Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation