How big does Palestine rally need to be for honest reporting? 

On Saturday over 50,000 marched in Montréal against Justin Trudeau’s role in enabling Israel’s genocidal siege and slaughter in Gaza. I say this confidently having walked from one end of the march to the other and watched overhead drone footage. This was the largest antiwar/international solidarity mobilization in Montréal since the 2003 protests against the invasion of Iraq.

The largest Palestine solidarity demonstration in Canadian history concluded in front of CBC’s office to highlight pro-Israel media bias. Proving the point, Global News reported that “hundreds gathered”.

While Global’s Farah Nasser described how “hundreds gathered in Montreal” the images on the screen showed at least ten thousand rallying. The jarring juxtaposition between lived reality and the “journalism” that is supposed to report the truth puts into context why some protestors put fake blood on the building’s glass doors and wrote “call it genocide” and “justice for journalists in Gaza” on the ground in front of the CBC.

At the end of the march, I was asked to speak outside the CBC/Radio-Canada offices as part of protesting Canadian media coverage of the 10,000 Palestinians killed in recent weeks.

Below is a portion of my prepared remarks:

“The Canadian media is enabling Israel’s genocidal siege and violence in Gaza. CTV and Global both recently fired Palestinian/Arab reporters for opposing the genocide on their social media.

“The media humanizes Israelis and dehumanize Palestinians. For instance, a young Vancouverite who travelled 10,000 kilometers from their home to join the Israeli military is lauded and mourned, but any Palestinian killed fighting Israel isn’t even considered.

“On multiple occasions Canadian outlets have directly manufactured consent for Israel’s war crimes. As an example, yesterday the National Post and other Postmedia outlets published “How Hamas uses hospitals as shields during war against Israel”.

“The media have been promoting the narrative that Israel has a right to defend itself. But Israel is the occupying power that has been oppressing Palestinians for more than 75 years and it always kills many times more Palestinians during every flare up in violence.

“Two weeks ago a leftist journalist began a list of prominent commentators supporting Israel’s genocidal violence. A few days ago he began asking them how many more thousands of Palestinian children would have to be killed before they supported a ceasefire. They mostly refused to respond.

“Media bias against Palestinians is not new and there are innumerable examples to point to. CBC English has mandated its reporters not to use the word “Palestine”. In 2019 they even forced a radio host to apologize for using the word Palestine when interviewing an author who published a graphic novel titled Palestine!

“When I published Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid in 2010 a Montreal Gazette reporter told me he enjoyed the book and would’ve sought to review it if the title hadn’t included the word apartheid. When a (single) daily paper reviewed my book it prompted a counter review. In the lead-up to the London launch, University of Western Ontario professor David Heap submitted a positive review to his local paper. But two weeks later, the London Free Press published Honest Reporting Canada (HRC) head Mike Fegelman’s response claiming it was “professionally unethical for Heap to not disclose his highly partisan stance on the Mideast file” when reviewing Canada and Israel.

Of course, the HRC did not disclose it is a well-resourced ‘flack’ organization that criticizes media for not towing their pro-genocide and apartheid line. They write replies, submit complaints and instigate email campaigns to media outlets when they publish something deemed objectionable.

But the HRC does nothing more than reinforce the dominant media’s broader structural bias towards power. On Palestine they largely echo the position of the Israel lobby, Canadian government and US empire.

Still, it was shocking to witness the media crassly downplay such a large demonstration. As thousands chanted in front of CBC “every time the media lies another family in Gaza dies”.

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