With his latest revision dated June 5, 2012, the current ombudsman of Radio-Canada found that no fewer than 11 reports on Israel had violated the journalistic standards of accuracy and balance of the public broadcaster since he took office last November.
At the request of Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (the Centre), the ombudsman of Radio-Canada has revised the introduction to a report by Ginette Lamarche on the commemorations of the Nakba (Palestinian exodus) in the West Bank released on May 15 2012.
In the introduction of her report the narrator stated:
« A large rally was held in Ramallah to mark the Day of Nakba, which means catastrophe in Arabic, and which coincides with the birthday of the State of Israel May 15, 1948. The Nakba commemorates the exile of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians as a result of the creation of the Jewish state. »
In correspondence with the Ombudsman, the Centre had argued that « by choosing to assert a cause and effect relationship between the Palestinian exodus and the creation of Israel, Radio-Canada conceals the trigger of the Nakba, namely the Civil War from November 1947 to mid-May 1948 and the War of Independence which began on May 15 1948, after the declaration of independence of Israel, while the armies of four Arab countries invaded the nascent country « .
In addition, the Centre had argued that « by establishing a relationship of direct cause and effect between the creation of Israel and the Palestinian exodus, Radio-Canada contravenes its rules of accuracy and balance by appropriating the Palestinian narrative of the Nakba, which criminalizes the act of the establishment of Israel by associating it to the Palestinian exodus, rather than to the wars waged against it to prevent its the birth. »
In his review, the Ombudsman judged that stating that the exile of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians (was) caused by the creation of the Jewish state « , as does the introductory text refered to in the complaint of Mr. [David] Ouellette [Centre], seems, at best, as a shortcut without nuance and detail, and at worst, as an endorsement of a particular perspective on the Palestinian exile. »
In addition, the Ombudsman recalled that he often invited journalists from Radio-Canada to « pay particular attention to the choice of words » when addressing the Arab-Israeli conflict and stressed the importance of « access to reference tools available to them” before publishing their text or their story. »
In conclusion, the Ombudsman considers that the definition of the Nakba « did not respect the value of accuracy of the Journalistic Standards and Practices of Radio-Canada. » However, despite acknowledging that this error could « constitute in and of itself a lack of impartiality as it results in the presentation of a particular viewpoint, ie that exile was ‘provoked’ by the creation Israel « , he believes that » the mistake was made in good faith, without any intent of bias. »
The Centre welcomes this review, but regrets that the Ombudsman did not accept the allegation of partiality. In this case, the bias is not the intent of a given reporter, but the biased nature of the information conveyed by a story. Intentionally or not, Radio-Canada did indeed appropriate the narrative of the Nakba.