The CBC has overturned a policy forbidding journalists who signed an anti-Israel letter from being able to cover issues relating to the Middle East and the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. 

According to Honest Reporting Canada (HRC), one of the signatories of the May 14 letter, Sara Jabakhanji, entitled: “An open letter to Canadian newsrooms on covering Israel-Palestine,” wrote an article concerning the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The May 14 letter proposed that Canadian newsrooms abandon a neutral view when covering the Middle East affairs, insisting newsrooms adopt a pro-Palestine, anti-Israel position instead.

The letter claims that the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) escalated violence against Palestinians and indiscriminately bombed the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip, despite the IDF only targetting terrorists and terrorist equipment. 

In a June 1, 2021 statement, the Head of Public Affairs at CBC Chuck Thompson made clear that journalists who have taken a public stance in favour of the Palestinian cause will not be able to cover Middle Eastern affairs – as their bias compromises the integrity of the story. 

“By adding their names, the CBC journalists who signed the open letter have taken a public stand on this story. That has created the perception of a conflict of interest among some members of our audience,” the CBC statement read.

“We will provide oversight and ensure editorial distance between those who signed the letter and our daily coverage for the near future. This is standard.” 

In total, 33 CBC employees signed the letter, four choosing to remain anonymous. 

Despite these employees being barred from writing stories concerning Middle Eastern affairs, Sara Jabakhanji, a signatory of the letter,  published an article on Apr 22 alleging the LCBO committed ‘an act of erasure’ by covering the word ‘Palestine’ on a wine bottle.

HRC flagged another violation on May 20, when the CBC published a podcast about an Israeli court decision hosted by Tamara Khandacker, who signed the anti-Israel letter while working at the Globe and Mail. The podcast’s producer Adrien Cheung also signed the letter.

Thus far, these two CBC publications did not cite any pro-Israel sources, instead opting to exclusively cite pro-Palestinian sources alleging Israel to be an “apartheid state.”

In response to an HRC request for comment, the CBC announced that they have backed down from sanctioning anti-Israel journalists from covering Middle Eastern issues, saying that nobody was banned “eternally.”

“…CBC News ensured, for a certain time, editorial distance between reporters who had signed the letter and coverage related to the specific stance taken in that letter. This doesn’t mean that we banned anyone from covering the Middle East eternally,” the CBC said.

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