A CBC article reporting on Palestine supporters having their livelihoods threatened was found to have misled their audience with faulty data selection and interpretation, misrepresenting the issue at hand.

A report from the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation written by Annette Poizner found that the CBC had pushed a false narrative that supporters of the Palestinian cause were meted out discipline disproportionately harsh relative to supporters of Israel. 

This past December, the CBC had published an article by senior writer Brishti Basu titled “’Chilling effect’: People expressing pro-Palestinian views censured, suspended from work and school.” 

The article alleges that employees and students have faced firings and suspensions for their pro-Palestine stance in the Israel-Hamas conflict, pointing to several incidents where Canadians were handed down punishments for expressing their views.

However, Poizner’s report challenges the CBC’s narrative and attempts to debunk many of the claims made in the article. 

As an example of supporters of the Palestinian cause facing undue punishment, Basu cited an incident in which a doctor at the Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital was suspended for expressing pro-Palestinian views and was later reinstated once the hospital felt it was safe for him to return to work. 

However, the CAEF report points out that the doctor was suspended for his own safety after receiving death threats, and was allowed to return to work once the threat dissipated. 

“This incident is misrepresented by the journalist. The pro-Palestinian advocate was not suspended because of political views,” writes Poizner. 

Poizner’s report also highlights several examples Basu had used in which employees were suspended or fired for violating their employer’s company policies, and thus, were let go for clearly discernible and legitimate reasons. 

One such incident includes employees for the restaurant Moxie’s being fired after cheering on a pro-Palestine protest while in company uniform and on shift, violating company policies against attending demonstrations in uniform.

In other incidents, employees were suspended for expressing views antisemitic views or reciting violent rhetoric like the “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” slogan.

Poizner’s report concludes that Basu’s article is misleading and “vilifies” Jews at a time of increased antisemitism.

“On the basis of this documentation, it is suggested that the CBC’s published article vilifies Jews, misrepresents the negative consequences meted out to pro-Palestinian supporters, under-reports the antisemitism facing Jews who support Israel and fails to represent data fully and to accurately capture and represent the phenomenon discussed,” says Poizner.

In an email responding the the CAEF report, the CBC’s managing editor of digital publishing Irene Thomaidis defended Basu’s reporting, contending that the state broadcaster has been fair in their overall reporting over the Israel-Hamas conflict and that the article meets the CBC’s journalistic standards and practices.

“While CBC’s JSP expects our coverage to include different points of view on controversial matters, it also acknowledges that the test of that impartiality is not that all those views are included in one story, which is an impractical expectation,” said Thomaidis.

“Instead, it means that readers or viewers should be exposed at some point to a range of perspectives and given the information they need to evaluate those views, test them against the facts and reach their own conclusions.”

True North also reached out to Basu for comment, asking her to respond to the allegations set forth in the CAEF report. She stated that the report’s allegations are baseless, and that she is merely reporting on workplace repercussions for taking a particular political stance.

“This article was edited by multiple senior editors/producers/managers and vetted by a lawyer for two weeks before it was published, and reveals examples of people facing workplace repercussions for taking a political stance — not for expressing racism or antisemitism,” says Basu. 

“This was a news article that revealed previously unreported information about people being silenced for their political stance.”