Open letter to Mr. Derek Stoffel, CBC Correspondent in Jerusalem, about his coverage of the Palestinian protests in Gaza
by Peter Larson, Ph.D. - Canada Talks Israel/Palestine Committee
May 27, 2018
Dear Mr. Stoffel, I have just returned from a week in Gaza, where I observed first hand the Palestinian “Great March of Return”. While there, I attended the protests in two different locations on two separate days. I talked to medical staff, protesters, onlookers and even several of the organizers. I also talked to many who were not at the protests, including students, university professors and taxi drivers.
Based on what I saw and heard, I am concerned about the quality and balance of your reporting on this important event. In your report on the “World at Six” on May 23rd , for example, you referred to the massacre on May 14th, saying, “Sixty-two Palestinians (were) killed while demonstrating, most shot by Israeli soldiers (emphasis mine)”.
Most were shot by Israeli soldiers, Mr. Stoffel? That seems to imply that others were shooting too. Mr. Stoffel, are you aware of ANYBODY else (other than Israeli soldiers) doing any shooting?
Reporting like this makes me concerned that you might be relying excessively on information and perspective provided to you by Israeli sources, perhaps even Israeli military sources back in Jerusalem. That leads me to ask you several pertinent questions:
Since the Great March of Return began on March 30th, how many of the protests have you actually been to (i.e. inside the Gaza Strip, not “on the Israeli side looking in”)?
Have you interviewed any of the men, women or children at the protests to find out why they are there? If so, did you sense that they were being forced to go, or were they going because they are sick and tired of poor living conditions, having 4 hours of electricity a day, lack of employment and generally frustrated by the punitive Israeli blockade?
Have you interviewed Palestinian medical staff in Gaza? Medics told me that Israel is sometimes using expanding bullets which tear huge holes in the body and rip off limbs. They also reported that Israel is trying a new kind of tear gas that apparently attacks the nervous system and causes convulsions? Do you have any information on this?
Did you interview any of the organizers of the March? Did you talk to, for example, Mr. Isam Hammad, Vice-Chair of the International Committee of the Great Return March? Or young Mr. Ahmed Rtema, the 33 year old whose December Facebook post is credited with having set the March in motion? Or Mosheer Amer, GRM spokesperson for foreign audiences?
Did you interview any officials from Hamas, who Israel claims has “orchestrated” the march. Hamas has said that the demonstrations are to be non-violent, and in fact despite over one hundred deaths and thousands of seriously wounded Palestinians, Hamas has not sent any rockets in to Israel and no Israelis have been reported hurt by gunfire. What does Hamas say about their role in the events? (You don’t have to believe them, but wouldn’t it make sense to try to interview them?).
As Chair of a small Canadian NGO called “Canada Talks Israel Palestine” (CTIP), I think it is critically important for Canadians to have accurate and balanced information based on first hand interviews and investigation by reliable and competent journalists. We look to CBC to be such a source of information.
Mr. Stoffel, I look forward to your answers, which I will be happy to share with those who have been copied on this email.
Thank you for your attention.
Cc. Jennifer McGuire email@example.com,
General Manager and Editor in Chief of CBC News
Jack Nagler firstname.lastname@example.org,
Director of Journalistic Public Accountability and Engagement.
Bcc. CTIP membership and friends
Peter Larson, Ph.D.,
Canada Talks Israel/Palestine Committee