« A Guide to the Perplexed: Ploughshares and the Iran Deal Echo Chamber | Main | Media Misses Abbas' 'Humanitarian' Call to Destroy Israel »

May 26, 2016

Toronto Star Gives "Latitude" to Error

Toronto Star Columnist Tony Burman

Canadian journalist Tony Burman, former head of Al Jazeera English, is a frequent contributor to the Toronto Star. With columns that often include scathing commentary about Israel and its supporters, his anti-Israel bias is hardly a secret.

(See, for example, "Should U.S. diplomats meet with Hamas leaders when conducting 'shuttle diplomacy' in the Middle East?"; "What has prompted Canada’s move against Iran?"; "Time for Canada, Israel to stop living in fantasy world"; "Israel’s Netanyahu drops his mask and reveals ugliness"; Netanyahu, his pants on fire, brings torch to Washington")

So it was no surprise that his recent column about the centennial of the Sykes-Picot agreement included an anti-Israel slur. Burman, however, went further than just opinion, including an obvious error when he referred to "Israel's continuing brutal occupation of Palestinian lands."

It is neither factual nor historical to refer to "Palestinian lands" because their status is disputed. While the Palestinians seek to establish an independent state on these territories, the lands never belonged to the Palestinians -- either before or after the Sykes-Picot agreement. As to the future disposition of the territories, it is to be determined in final negotiations between the two sides.

By labeling the territories "Palestinian" as if this were a straightforward fact rather than the columnist's own partisan opinion of what he would like to see happen, Burman is guilty of misleading readers with dishonest journalism masquerading as history.

CAMERA contacted the Toronto Star about the error, noting that the Washington Post had earlier corrected a similar error referring to "Israel's continuing occupation of Palestinian land." But the Toronto Star, was having none of it. Editors attested to Burman's "considerable experience in matters pertaining to the Middle East" and insisted that as a columnist, he has "wide latitude to express his own views and perspective on controversial matters."

Perhaps so, but such latitude cannot extend to misleading readers with false information. As the late politician Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously put it, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts."

Posted by RH at May 26, 2016 02:02 PM


i guess the star never got the memo: "you are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts." - daniel patrick moynihan.

Posted by: shloime at May 28, 2016 12:46 AM

Guidelines for posting

This is a moderated blog. We will not post comments that include racism, bigotry, threats, or factually inaccurate material.

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)