**CALL TO ACTION**
Write to Global TV and demand an apology to the Palestinian community for airing an interview with an Israeli West End restaurant owner falsely accusing pro-Palestinian protesters of making threats against her. Samidoun endorses this call to action: read the original at this Google doc!
Demand a retraction and an apology for the uncritical airing of baseless accusations by Ofra Sixto, the owner of Ofra’s kitchen on Denman, against Palestinian demonstrators and the Palestinian community, in a news segment on Friday, May 28.
Refer to the back story below and our eight points on the next page about Global’s violation of journalistic standards and ethics in this coverage to draft your letter. Feel free to copy and paste any parts of this document in your email!
For better effect, you can cc the following politicians on your email. You can look up the contact info for your own MLA and MP and send your email to them as well.rachna.singh.MLA@leg.bc.ca, firstname.lastname@example.org, Sonia.Furstenau.MLA@leg.bc.ca, email@example.com, Adam.Olsen.MLA@leg.bc.ca, Jenny.Kwan.C1A@parl.gc.ca, firstname.lastname@example.org, Jagmeet.Singh@parl.gc.ca, email@example.com, PAUL.MANLY@PARL.GC.CA, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Share this page with your network and ask them to do the same!
This call to action is endorsed by:
- Samidoun – Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
- Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM)
- Canada Palestine Association (CPA)
- BDS Vancouver – Coast Salish Territories
- Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) – Vancouver
- Youth For Palestine – Vancouver
- Queers Against Israeli Apartheid Vancouver
- Just Peace Advocates/Mouvement Pour Une Paix Juste
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The Back story (also explained in this IG video — please share!)
On Friday night, May 28, Global TV aired an absolutely uncritical interview with Ofra’s Kitchen restaurant owner, Ofra Sixto, where she was given a platform to freely make abhorrent, baseless, and hateful accusations against Palestinians and Palestine supporters with no fact-checking, no evidence and no questions asked. The interview consisted of Sixto telling a one-sided and false version of events, playing on the sympathies of viewers and victimizing herself. The interview lacked journalistic integrity and ethics.
Ofra Sixto wrote a post on her business’s Facebook page earlier this week alleging that she was targeted outside of her shop by antisemitic hate from pro-Palestine demonstrators on Denman Street on Monday, May 24.
It turned out later that the only incident occurring outside her shop was one of Sixto being racist and Islamophobic and subsequently being rebuked by bystanders.
When her post went viral, eyewitnesses refuted her allegations, sharing video evidence of the rally on social media depicting exactly what had transpired outside her restaurant that day. It was not what she claims it to be (see the videos here).
One female eyewitness in the video notes that she heard Sixto comment to a passerby, referring to the protesters across the street, “Why are they so angry? This is how they behave in their own countries.” The eyewitness rebuked Sixto at the time for her comments and posted about the incident on Instagram. However, in consideration of Sixto’s anonymity at the time the eyewitness did not record her face or show the front of her business. However, the location of the video is identifiable as the front of Sixto’s restaurant.
Another male passerby also pushed back against Sixto’s remarks, calling her out for her overt racism. A white man who was not attending the rally, stood outside Sixto’s restaurant following the remarks as the car rally peacefully continued. He then told two women entering the restaurant that the owner was racist, saying they may want to consider their choice. He later wrote a review on a community page on Facebook regarding her racist behavior, and other passers-by also noted the event in Facebook reviews left only minutes after the original incident. These reviews contained no hatred, threats or vile language, but only called out Sixto’s racist remarks and behaviour.
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Please use any of the following points to write your own letter of complaint to Global TV against their biased and terrible reporting on this issue
- Zero fact-checking of the claims and no questions asked of the interviewee: No objectivity in reporting on Sixto’s claims. No questions asked or evidence requested from Sixto regarding her claims nor any provided to the viewers, making the segment come across as paid advertisement rather than journalism. The Global report makes claims of online hate and in person threats made against the business owner but provides no screenshots, which should be easy to locate and provide, nor any footage or photos of protestors outside her door. Even though Sixto mentions that out of fear for her life she has installed security cameras outside her restaurant, no footage is shown to corroborate her story. Even a police officer who was interviewed in the story did not confirm anything about incidents related to the Monday rally. While the reporter claims Sixto is “apolitical”, a visit to her FB page shows vocal support for Israel (see this, this, and this). We question whether Global TV did their due diligence.
- One-sided story with no attempt to represent the other side: Story not counterbalanced by any facts, expert opinions or voices of the other side. If Global TV had contacted the rally organizers they would have been made aware of evidence to the contrary of Sixto’s claims and been able to report on their side of the story. It’s peculiar that the “both sides to the conflict” argument only exists when Palestinians are being mass murdered with Israeli weapons provided by the US and Canada. But an Israeli business owner can make sweeping baseless accusations against Palestinians and there’ll be only one side that’s given a platform and voice, hers.
- Lack of journalistic ethics and promoting hate against a vulnerable group: Utilizing emotionally charged language with no grounding in facts, feel good footage inside her store and a sweeping narrative with racist and orientalist tropes, the report: plays on the sympathies of the viewers, erases and dehumanizes the Palestinian side of the story and encourages hate and violence against this community and their supporters. Sixto claims in the interview that she received a “threatening phone call, ”saying that the caller will “grind her, r*pe her and kill her.” No further information is given about these claims and the viewer is left to conjure up the worst possible scenarios in their minds.
- Implicit generalizations, dog whistle narrative, and the story not adding up: There are several gaps and inconsistencies in the story that Global TV does not bother to clarify. The story in Ofra’s facebook starts from the Monday rally where she was allegedly called “a racist and murderer” by protesters outside her store, followed by online hate and threatening phone calls. In the Global report however, the story starts with a threatening phone call, its connection to the Palestine rally unexplained but assumed, after which “the hate continued online” and only then “the protesters come to her door.” In the interview a police officer says that they have received three phone calls this year from this business regarding incidents. But Palestine demonstrations have only been held the last two weeks. What were those other incidents and what legitimizes this shameless, unethical linking of all of this with Palestine? No further explanation given by Global.
- Egregious double standards on Palestine: Ignoring and erasing the large peaceful demonstrations by people in Vancouver in the past weeks in support of Palestine but giving exclusive airtime to an Israel supporter to make false claims against the demonstrators. Would a Palestinian business owner receiving similar targeted harassment and hate from Zionists also receive such sympathetic coverage from Global TV? Or, would they be ruthlessly fact-checked, counter-balanced by “expert” opinions and both-sided into oblivion?
- Systemic racism and anti-Palestinian bias in the media: This further erasure and dehumanization in reporting the news is consistent with how Canadian media often portrays Palestinians and Palestinian solidarity activists, shifting between ignoring them and characterizing them as terrorists and perpetrators of violence. It exposes the systemic racism and Islamophobia of Global TV and Canadian media institutions and their disgusting bias in support of the state of Israel and its crimes against humanity. CBC in fact (as the Intercept reports) orders reporters not to even use the word Palestine. Many reporters who have complained against biased coverage on the matter and the exclusion of Palestinian voices have been taken off coverage of Israel and Palestine altogether. Global TV is also complicit in this systemic bias and must be held to account.
- Global TV and Ofra’s Kitchen’s promoting hate against Palestine: The Facebook post of Ofra’s Kitchen is laced with anti-Palestinian, Islamophobic and rightwing extremist hate and racism. Ofra Sixto has deleted the comments from eyewitnesses (including this, and this) and anyone pushing back against her sweeping generalization of pro-Palestine protesters as antisemitic and violent. However, she has allowed the hateful and racist comments to remain on her post (See some of the comments here). Despite claiming to be apolitical in her interview with Global TV, Sixto allows her restaurant’s followers on Facebook to use her post as a breeding ground for alt-right, white supremacist , anti-Palestinian and Islamopohobic hate without condemning it once. We demand Global TV apologize for implicitly promoting such hateful narratives against Palestine and Palestine supporters. For examples of how these false narratives promote backlash and violence against the Palestinian community and Palestine supporters see this report.
- A disservice to the fight against antisemitism: Antisemitism is a real and serious danger. The Palestinian community and their allies have always strongly condemed it. However, intentional conflation of Palestinian solidarity and criticism of Israel with hatred for Jews is very damaging to the fight against it. Jews and non-Jews alike should be very concerned about such false claims being made and uncritically disseminated. This is a deliberate and ongoing tactic by Zionists to derail support for Palestine and unfortunately it helps give cover to white supremacists and actual antisemitic violence while utilizing racist and orientalist tropes to encourage violence against Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims. Media is often complicit in this dangerous conflation and must be held accountable. For reference to other similar false claims of antisemitism, see these articles about the Toronto rally false antisemitic incident, the Times Square false antisemitic incident, and a closer look at the Anti-Defamation League’s commentary on the rise in antisemitic hate, corresponding to the wave of support for Palestine across the world, and on why criticizing Israel is not antisemitic, all written by Jewish allies of Palestine.