National Post gives stupidity a bad name

After a case of clear-cut misconduct has been discovered, the perpetrator will react in one of five ways: honestly (apologize and take his medicine); invisibly (keep his head down and hope the problem blows over); dishonestly (point the finger at someone else); cowardly (run away); or stupidly (justify it, thereby compounding his disgrace).

For some reason, Kelly McParland chose stupidity. Before we get to him and who he is, here’s the misconduct in question.

On Sept. 17, CBC reported that CanWest newspapers were inserting “terrorist” into Reuters wire stories from the Middle East. David Schlesinger, the global managing editor for Reuters, said CanWest crossed a line from editing for style, to editing the substance and slant of the news: “If they want to put their own judgment into it, they’re free to do that, but then they shouldn’t say that it’s by a Reuters reporter.”*

For example: Reuters, Sept. 13: “…the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which has been involved in a four-year-old revolt against Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank.”

National Post, Sept. 14: “…the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a terrorist group that has been involved in a four-year-old campaign of violence against Israel.”

Note also how the accurate, neutral “revolt against Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank,” becomes contorted into “campaign of violence against Israel,” which not only misrepresents the original story, but is inaccurate.

It’s not enough that the yellowest of CanWest’s Zionist rags torques the news to serve Israel, but it must make the wire services do so, too. In the face of this journalistic fraud, the Post has no defence. The person or persons responsible should be fired.

A week after CBC broke the story, McParland, foreign editor of the Post, wrote a column in which he not only admitted to being the one who doctored the Reuters copy, but defended his action.–  He said he did so because he wanted to convey to readers the real nature of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade:

“[It] is dedicated to destroying Israel, and aims to achieve that goal through a campaign of violence. Though it originally targeted members of the Israeli military, two years ago it began killing civilians as well.”

McParland gives the impression that his definition of “terrorism” is based on reasonable empirical criteria–”a group’s intention to destroy a country and deliberate targeting of civilians. In fact, it’s based on propaganda and ignorance.

Israel has no compunction about torturing, humiliating or assassinating Palestinian civilians; bulldozing their homes; destroying their shops and orchards; firing missiles and rockets into their homes; shooting their children; or denying pregnant women the right to pass through harassment checkpoints. In fact, Israel seeks nothing less than the economic, political and demographic destruction of Palestine, yet somehow it is not called terrorist.

In 1981, Israel’s Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan distilled Israel’s criminality to its grisly essence: “The only good Arab is a dead Arab… When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.”

Is this not terrorism according to your definition, Mr. McParland?

In 1943, Yitzhak Shamir said: “Neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat.” Is Israel, therefore, not built on terrorism and the perversion of Jewish ethics and tradition?

To discuss Israel’s use of terrorism “as a means of combat” would require several columns, but we need look no further back at Ariel “the Butcher” Sharon, who was responsible for the massacre of Lebanese civilians at Sabra and Shatila (Sept. 16, 1982). Does he not qualify as a terrorist? How about Menachem Begin? He led the massacre of more than 100 men, women, and children at Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948, and said afterwards: “As in Deir Yassin, so everywhere, we will attack and smite the enemy. God, God, Thou hast chosen us for conquest.”

Am I to understand from this that Palestinian civilians are the enemy of Israel and therefore deserve to die?

In the grand scheme of things, the bombings of Al-Aqsa, Hamas and other groups are insignificant and haphazard compared to the daily systematic terror the Zionist Occupation Force imposes in the Occupied Territories. From the beginning of the Second Intifada on Sept. 30, 2000, until Sept. 19, 2004, 925 Israelis have died compared to 3,266 Palestinians.

Given the systematic cruelty of Israel, and the impotence of the international community to do anything about it, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Hamas are not so much terrorist organizations as they are resistance groups fighting a legitimate war of liberation by the only means left to them. I think Shamir would agree with me, since he said terrorism was the only route for a national group under military occupation to achieve political goals. This description fits the Palestinians perfectly.

At any rate, readers should be free to make up their own minds about the violence in the Middle East, which is why Reuters, the good news organization it is, uses neutral vocabulary. On the other hand, a propagandist organ like the Post is deathly afraid of balanced reporting, and must resort to bias and buzzwords like “terrorist” to force an audience to see the Middle East through a distorted Israeli prism.

In the end, McParland not only shot off his mouth, but shot the entire CanWest propaganda empire in the foot. If he had kept quiet, this tempest might have blown over after Schlesinger brought his complaint to CanWest management and an agreement was reached. Instead, McParland chose to confirm the Post‘s odious reputation; expose himself as a hypocrite and propagandist; engender sympathy for the Palestinians; and enhance the reputation of the CBC.

I think I speak for all self-respecting Canadians when I say, “Thanks.”


* “Reuters upset by CanWest’s misuse of ‘terrorist,'” CBC News, Sept. 17, 2004.

–  Kelly McParland, “Call them the terrorists they are,” National Post, Sept. 25, A. 11