Activist Claims ‘Behind the Scenes’ Donations From Canadian Jewish Groups to Newspapers Distort Israel Coverage
A Palestinian writer claimed without evidence that private donations to Canadian news organizations from the country’s leading Jewish groups are distorting coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in an interview Thursday.
Palestinian writer and researcher Dalya Masri told Jesse Brown — publisher and editor-in-chief of the Canadaland news site — that there was a “fear that is attached to reporting on Palestine,” driven by lobbying against journalists and private donations made to media outlets.
“In the media landscape at least there’s some kind of a status quo, and a fear that is attached to reporting on Palestine. And this fear extends from a lot of lobbying against journalists and against media corporations. It also extends because of, you know — oftentimes we don’t know who’s donating to these media corporations,” she said in the Thursday interview.
Asked by Brown for specific examples of such donations to mainstream media organizations, Masri mentioned the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), a leading Jewish advocacy organization in Canada, and the Jewish service organization B’nai B’rith.
“Both of them are labeled as Israeli lobby or Israeli advocacy organizations, I believe, and a lot of their work — which is supposed to be advocating for Jewish identity — essentially goes really into advocating for anti-Palestinian bias in the media,” Masri said.
“I’ve seen one specific instance where CIJA, and let’s say other organizations have lobbied towards outlets like the Toronto Star. And some of the journalists at the Toronto Star, who also have their own interests, have essentially only allowed people such as the Israeli ambassador to Canada to write an opinion piece. And so, at least for me, in my opinion and this analysis, I do think that private donations do change the way that the landscape is being presented,” she continued.
Pressed again by Brown for details on any such private donations, Masri declined to provide specifics, mentioning instead the headline of a recent Reuters article about an Israeli driver whose car crashed after being stoned by Palestinian protesters, as an example of allegedly biased coverage.
“This is just kind of what I see in the way that the language is being used, and the way that certain journalists or certain media organizations cover these instances in Canada is because of the fear — and potentially, we don’t even know this maybe, but because of some kind of behind the scenes donations,” she said.
Brown answered, “Respectfully, if there was direct financial contributions to Canadian news organizations to influence this bias, we would be very interested to know about it. I’m not aware of any, anything like that at the Toronto Star, or elsewhere, and that would be, you know wildly outside of what’s considered proper journalistic practice.”
“I think that it’s absolutely true that the B’nai B’rith and CIJA and Honest Reporting — there are organized lobby groups which scour Canadian media for evidence of anti-Israel bias and they put a lot of pressure on newsrooms; I’ve seen that firsthand. That’s not the same thing as buying off a newspaper,” he continued.
The exchange was publicized by Adir Krafman, who works in communications and analytics at CIJA.
“It took only *three minutes* for the first age-old antisemitic conspiracy theory to come up when Dalya accused Jewish Canadian organizations of buying off the media,” Krafman tweeted Friday, calling the comments a “perfect example” of the connection between the Israel discourse in Canada and antisemitism.
“This is why Jewish Canadian organizations like @CIJAinfo and @bnaibrithcanada exist,” Krafman wrote. “If we don’t advocate for ourselves, no one will.”