Toronto Star’s self-censorship on Israel

Daily papers in cities with a large Jewish population (Toronto, Montreal and Winnipeg) hesitate to go near the third rail of verboten topics, Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Even the Star with its long social justice history and Atkinson principles is very wary of having the local Zionist thought police descend on it. This reticence of course pales next to the vibrant Israeli daily Haaretz which regularly flagellates the buffoon Prime Minister Netanyahu and his pathetic cabinet. What a treat to read this paper and how sad to see serious journalism stifled at home.

Periodically however there are small breakthroughs as Israel descends lower on its path to pariahdom over its apartheid-like policies in Israel/Palestine. Such was the case of a story on Toronto’s Ben Dunkelman who was responsible for allowing Palestinians to remain in Nazareth as Israel went on its merry way to depopulate 750,000 Palestinians in 1947 and 48.


One of the letter sprinted in this incomplete portrait was mine which read:

Mitch Potter’s story (Star, Dec.19) of Ben Dunkelman and the saving of Nazareth was substantially true but the author seemingly tiptoes around the back story. It is true that Dunkelman did defy his commanding officer Moshe Karmi in his refusal to depopulate Nazareth. What is left out of the story is that Carmi immediately consulted the Defence Minister and Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. The wily Israeli leader  knew that kicking Palestinians out of  the hometown of Jesus was bad optics. It would not go down well internationally. “Here the world is watching.”

Apparently everywhere else, ethnic cleansing was acceptable.

Ted Schmidt,Toronto

Notice the editorialists clipped out the very cynical response of Ben-Gurion:”Here the world is watching.” The Prime Minister knew there would be an uproar over kicking out the many indigenous Palestinian Christians  from Jesus’ hometown.

To be fair the Star did allow some online letters to be published as well as United Church minister Karen Rodman.

Re: The man who saved Nazareth, Dec. 19
The man who saved Nazareth, Dec. 19
I appreciate the Star including the article about Ben Dunkelman. It is timely during this advent season to remember why Palestinians remain in Nazareth (and Lod and Ramle), even as we remember the 750,000 Palestinians who were driven from their homes and made refugees in 1948, and the more than 250,000 displaced in the same manner in 1967. A story that has parallels to the sacred Christmas story, indeed.
The article would have been complete if it had mentioned that now, almost 70 years later, there are more than 3.7 million Palestinians in refugee camps in Palestine, Syria (who many are again being displaced in the current war), Jordan and Lebanon, and many other exiles living worldwide.
In 1948, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 194, which provided for right to return or compensation. Still the Palestinians wait for what is guaranteed by international law under the Geneva Conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Rev. Karen Rodman, Toronto



The Star and Mitch Potter should be congratulated for publishing this. You show courage rarely seen in Western media.The “truth” is insufficient, “the whole truth and nothing but the truth” are mandatory to understand the truth. A good journalist must adhere to this truism, and you have done so, bravo.For decades, Israeli propaganda has hidden the truth from the eyes of the world. Only recently did stories like this emerge
.Haganah, Irgun and the Stern Gang are almost forgotten, if they were ever well-known in the West. I encourage you to probe and publish further as more people in your readership are interested in learning the truth.

Albert Haddad, Concord

Mitch Potter correctly sheds some light, although indirectly, on how Zionist militias, through acts of terror, forced Palestinians from their land in 1947 and 1948. Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has written extensively on how the Palestinian population was either expelled or else fled under the threat of violence being perpetrated by the militias.

The Star should be encouraged to publish more pieces to dispel the Israel narrative.

Ken Green, Cooper Landing, Alaska

This story romanticizes a war crime. To establish Israel, the likes of Dunkelman participated in the ethnic cleansing of up to 800,000 indigenous Palestinians from Palestine. This included my mother’s family, which hails from Nazareth. The British considered foreign fighters like Dunkelman terrorists. today they are called settlers.

Samer Abdelnour, co-founder, Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

While the action of an individual like Ben Dunkelman is to be applauded, the fact remains that over 700,000 Palestinians were made refugees and over 400 Palestinian villages were destroyed in the war that created Israel and its aftermath.

A climate of fear among Palestinians preceded this disaster created by the murder of over 100 Palestinian civilians at Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948.

The villagers had signed a non-aggression agreement but were attacked by Irgun and Stern Gang irregulars.
The subsequent war produced an Israel in control of about 78 per cent of Palestine. The Middle East is still reeling from the consequences of this conflict.

Ted Turner, Toronto

The inclusion of these letters is a sign of hope that the end game in Israel is gaining momentum.

But wait there’s more!

The brilliant researcher Dan Freeman-Maloy attempted to engage the Star over its sanitized picture of Dunkelman
Freeman-Maloy dares to go where the Star and Mitch Potter refuse to venture—the well documented ethnic cleansing of Palestine.


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