Canadian Media Bias Rears Its Ugly Head

Thursday, November 4, 2004

  • Elmasry


Written by Kyle Lambert

Last week, Canadian Islamic Congress president and University of Waterloo professor Mohammad Elmasry came under fire from groups and media sources across Canada for controversial comments he made on a television program. As most now know, Dr. Elmasry said that all Israeli citizens over the age of 18 are seen as legitimate targets by terrorists because they must serve in the Israeli army.

Dr. Elmasry was criticized heavily for doing everything from supporting terror-using groups like Hamas to advocating the murder of all Israelis. Some of the criticism was legitimate since his choice of words was certainly poor. However, most critics of Dr. Elmasry must certainly have studied in the use of hyperbole. Jewish and Muslim groups in Canada seemed to agree that Dr. Elmasry was out of line and most were united in rejecting his rebuttal that he was imply explaining the position of many Palestinians, not his own.

One thought came to mind as I read a number of editorials criticizing Dr. Elmasry and calling him an advocate of terror – What would these same media types be saying if a pro-Israeli source made similar comments? The answer came faster than I expected.

This week, the B’Nai Brith, a Jewish human rights organization, accepted the resignation of one of its spokesmen after he told a television audience that it was acceptable for Israel to use terror against Palestinian civilians. Adam Aptowitzer, who appeared on the Michael Coren Show with Dr. Elmasry, was one of the first people to denounce Elmasry’s comments, stating: “This Elmasry guy considers any Jew to be a valid target. I was appalled.” Two weeks later, Mr. Aptowitzer resigned after comments he made on the same television show.

“When Israel uses terror to go, and, I say, uses terror to destroy a home and convince people to be terrified of what the possible consequences are, I’d say that’s acceptable use to terrify someone,” he said. He later added: “Acts that take place in Gaza and West Bank, you might want to classify them as terrorists sponsored by the state. But when that is being done to prevent deaths, are we going to say that that is wrong?”

Aptowitzer did not merely explain the Israel military’s position with his comments, he flat out advocated the destruction of Palestinian homes and murder of innocent civilians. His justification is simple: It’s okay to kill Palestinians, so long as their deaths prevent attacks against Israelis. As far as I’m concerned, Mr. Aptowitzer’s remarks were far worse than those of Mohammed Elmasry. However, thanks to the “unbiased” Canadian media, Dr. Elmasry was condemned while Mr. Aptowitzer has received barely a mention.

While editorials continue to run about the Elmasry comments, Aptowitzer’s remarks (made on the same freaking show!) have gone untouched. A number of newspapers have reported his resignation, but I have yet to read a single editorial or large-scale scathing article about the advocacy of terror against Palestinians. One National Post author reported the resignation in the first two paragraphs, and then went on to comment on the Elmasry situation for the majority of his article.

Meanwhile, Arab groups in Canada continue to be given a negative image by our media, while the comments of the B’Nai Brith spokesman are left alone. While the Canadian Arab Federation has sought dialogue with the B’Nai Brith, they’ve so far been rejected. “As much as we value genuine dialogue, discussions on the terms that they demand would appear to be a non-starter,” the organization responded.

What is most infuriating in this whole situation is that Canadians continue to be painted an unfair picture of one of the most heated conflicts in the world. While there many sides to every story, they cannot be accurately understood if the whole story itself is not presented. I don’t know whether or not Adam Aptowitzer’s remarks were misunderstood as Mohammed Elmasry claims his comments were. What I do know is that the media doesn’t care. By not inadequately reporting both sides of a debate spurred-on by a single television program, the Canadian media continues to misrepresent one side of the conflict and persuade the public to view it in only one light.

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