A Canadian Jewish advocacy group singled out in a popular podcast as secretly “buying off the media” is defending itself and other community groups against the anti-Semitic trope, which was made during a discussion this week of coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“This is why Jewish Canadian organizations like @CIJAinfo and @bnaibrithcanada exist. If we don’t advocate for ourselves, no one will,” said Adir Krafman, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) Associate Director, Communications and Analytics.
A guest co-host on popular Canadian podcast Canadaland made the claim that Canadian Jewish advocacy groups unduly influence the country’s coverage of Israel by making behind the scenes “financial donations” to the media.
This week's episode of the well known podcast hosted by Jesse Brown featured guest host Dalya Masri, a Palestinian writer and researcher. It was titled “The Truth About Media Coverage Of Israel” and summarized as “reporting on the occupation of Palestine is ‘all stick, no carrot.'”
The interview was described by Brown as a “substantive, good-faith conversation about media coverage of Israel/Palestine.”
At one point during their discussion, Masri spoke about a “status quo and a fear that is attached to reporting on Palestine” in the Canadian media.
She went on to say, “It also extends because of, you know, often times we don’t know who is donating to these media corporations.”
Brown interrupted to ask Masri for examples of groups making financial donations to “mainstream Canadian media that you feel might be slanting coverage.” He said he had not heard of this happening.
Masri responded, “So there’s an organization called CIJA (the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs) and I think another organization called B’nai Brith. Both of them are labelled as Israeli lobby or Israeli advocacy organizations. I believe a lot of their work which is supposed to be advocating for Jewish identity especially goes really into advocacy for anti-Palestinian bias in the media.”
Masri went on to say, “I’ve seen one specific instance where CIJA and lets say other organizations have lobbied toward outlets like the Toronto Star, and some of the journalists at the Toronto Star who also have their own interests have essentially allowed people such as the Israeli ambassador to write an opinion piece.”
Masri further reiterated her claim about Jewish groups giving “donations” to media corporations to influence coverage.
“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.”
When Brown asked Masri for actual examples to back up her claims, she was not able to provide any evidence.
“I don’t have specific instances, like names,” she said, instead referring to Reuters American coverage of the conflict which she said was biased in favour of Israel.
After that, Masri doubled down on her allegations. “This is what I see in the way the language is used and the way certain journalists of certain media organizations cover these instances in Canada. (It) is because of the fear and potentially we don’t even know this maybe but because of some kind of behind the scenes donations.”
After listening to the interview, Krafman responded on Twitter.
“You often ask me about the connection between discourse around Israel and anti-Semitism in Canada. Here’s a perfect example,” tweeted Krafman, who posted a link to a clip of the interview featuring the allegations.
“Yesterday, @CANADALAND’s @JesseBrown hosted @dalya_mastri to talk about #cndmeida coverage of Israel-Palestine. It took only *three minutes* for the first age-old anti-Semitic conspiracy theory to come up when Dalya accused Jewish Canadian organizations of buying off the media,” Krafman said. “Jesse interrupts and asks her for evidence a few times. She has none, but continues to repeat the smear again and again, talking about ‘some kind of behind-the-scenes donations.’”
Krafman continued, “At this point, @JesseBrown – who is Jewish and knows better – could have ended the interview or at least used it as an opportunity to educate @Dalya_masri and his listeners. But as with most progressive spaces, when it comes to anti-Semitism, there’s only silence.”
Brown replied to Krafman’s comments stating, “This thread from CIJA's Adir Krafman is a very good example of how CIJA's advocacy can be counter-productive.”
“Dalya presented many facts & substantiated points. But one thing she said sounded wrong & I challenged her on it. What I did *not* do was accuse her of anti-Semitism or suggest she is an anti-Semite. That would be the end of our conversation and the beginning of our fight,” Brown tweeted.
He added, “I have no time or space on my show for *actual* racists. But reflexive condemnation of Israel's critics as anti-Semites is one reason why this discourse can be so toxic that it is often impossible to have. I do not apologize for doing better than that this week.”