Dear HonestReporting Canada Subscriber, Gilad Shalit is finally home. After five years in captivity, Shalit was reunited with his family yesterday in his hometown of Mitzpe Hila in northern Israel. This followed a prisoner exchange that saw hundreds of Palestinian prisoners released, including 477 terrorists responsible for some of the deadliest terror attacks in Israel’s history.
Shalit’s release was greatly anticipated and was the focus of intense media attention. Indeed, Israel’s major television networks signed an agreement to regulate ethical coverage of Shalit’s release, including keeping appropriate distance from the Shalit family home and other agreements to protect his privacy.
This kind of ethical journalism, however, was not observed by Egypt’s media yesterday. Senior Israeli officials have described an interview aired on Egyptian state television, Gilad Shalit’s first since his release from Hamas captivity, as “exploitative,” “torture,” and “abusive,” while others have called it “amateurish, propagandistic and cruel.”
The interview conducted by Egyptian journalist Shahira Amit, was described as ranging the gamut from
fatuous to sadistic for her “presenting (Shalit) with questions, many of them absurd and ridiculous,” peppered with “pro-Egyptian and pro-Palestinian propaganda” and leading questions to prompt Shalit into praising the Egyptian government. All while his Hamas minders were armed and according to Haaretz: “in the area during the interview. One of them stood behind Shalit’s chair, wearing a black face mask and a green headband of the Qassam brigades, Hamas’ military wing, with a video camera in his hand.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, the interview breached journalistic ethics as Shalit had not seen “medical staff, much less an Israeli representative or his family.”
In one instance, Egyptian journalist Amit posed questions to Shalit (who was exhausted and fearful for his life given that he was flanked by armed Hamas gunmen, see picture at right) that were mistranslated by the BBC’s own real-time interpreter and the Egyptian interpreter at the scene of the interview. According to the Jerusalem Post:
“Amin proceeds to ask Schalit what “lessons” he learned in captivity. After asking for the question to be repeated, he says he believes a deal could have been reached sooner. Here the Hamas minder renders his response as praise for reaching a deal “in such short time” – a mistranslation repeated by the BBC’s own real-time interpreter.
“Gilad, you know what it’s like to be in captivity,” Amin continues as the painful charade drags on. “There are more than 4,000 Palestinians still languishing in Israeli jails. Will you help campaign for their release?”
Schalit’s answer, after a few seconds'[ stunned silence, is superior: “I’d be very happy if they were released,” he says, then adds the caveat, “provided they don’t return to fighting Israel.”
Again, the Egyptian interpreter fails to translate the sentence’s second clause, and again the omission is repeated by the BBC’s interpreter, though he too was apparently translating from Hebrew in real-time.
“I will be very happy for the prisoners to go free, so that they can be able to go back to their families, loved ones and territory. It will give me great happiness if this happens,” the BBC’s interpreter relays.”
Reporting this matter to Canadians, our public broadcaster, the CBC, featured news coverage yesterday which failed to acknowledge that Shalit’s interview on Egyptian television was conducted under duress and that his comments were coerced by his Hamas handlers.
“Shalit said in an interview that he was “very excited to taste freedom” and had missed his family and friends. He said he had feared he would remain in captivity “many more years” and worried since being told of the deal last week that last-minute hitches might cause it to collapse.
His face pale, Shalit said he was happy and healthy, and thanked the people involved in arranging his release.
The interviewer asked Shalit if he would help campaign for the release of more than 4,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails. Speaking through a translator on CNN, he said he would be happy for the prisoners to be released so they can go back to their families and their land.”
CBC.ca shockingly failed to inform its readers that:
Shalit’s answers were elicited under psychological pressure exerted by armed Hamas operatives nearby
The interview itself was nothing more than pro-Palestinian propaganda due to Amit’s leading anti-Israel questions
Shalit hadn’t seen his family, doctors, or Israeli government officials prior to the interview
CBC.ca also featured an egregiously false translation of Shalit’s comments. In reality, Shalit said he would be happy for Palestinian prisoners to go free to be with their families and “territory,” so long as “they don’t return to fighting Israel.” At no time did Shalit describe areas of the Palestinian territories as “their land” as the CBC has contended.Furthermore, Shalit had conditioned his comments regarding the release of the Palestinian prisoners currently in Israeli jails “provided they don’t return to fighting Israel.” These were incredibly brave statements to make considering that his armed captors were nearby. And yet, as the CBC cut Shalit’s quote in half, stripping his statement of its desired intent and context, our public broadcaster falsely portrayed Shalit as being a wholesale advocate for the release of all 4,000 Palestinian prisoners, without any stipulations, whereas in reality he made no such remarks.
It doesn’t end there. Also yesterday, the CBC News Network program “Connect” saw anchor Mark Kelley interview Egyptian journalist Amit on the topic of the controversial interview she had conducted with Gilad Shalit. Kelley did describe Shalit as looking “shell-shocked” and Amit’s interview as being described by others as “torture” and “unethical,” but yet again, this CBC program just like with CBC.ca, had failed to acknowledge that Shalit was coerced by Hamas men who were onsite at the interview location, was deprived of appropriate access to family, doctors, and various officials, and was given leading questions to serve anti-Israel propaganda purposes.
Interestingly, Amit had in previous hours acknowledged that Shalit was “accompanied by Hamas gunmen when he arrived for the interview,” but this matter, was altogether ignored by this CBC television program and by the CBC’s online news article.
As a result of the CBC’s errors and omissions, Canadians were fundamentally mislead about Gilad Shalit, his comments, and the nature of this despicable interview carried on Egyptian television.
How You Can Make A Difference
CBC’s failure to properly check the translation prior to repeating Shalit’s mistranslated words along with its fundamental failure to inform Canadians that his interview was done under duress, saw our public broadcaster fundamentally breach its own Journalistic Standards and Practices.
Call on the CBC to redress its failure to acknowledge that Shalit’s interview on Egyptian television was done under duress. Please refer to the aforementioned CBC.ca news article “Gilad Shalit home after prisoner swap (Oct. 18)” along with yesterday’s broadcast of CBC “Connect” which saw anchor Mark Kelley interview Egyptian journalist Shahira Amit.