The CJFE problem.

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression are a confused lot, but before I go into the latest tizzy, this is the original statement that brought this latest mess to light: CJFE is gravely concerned by the extrajudicial killings of demonstrators which occurred on March 30, 2018 in Gaza. It has been reported that the Israel Defence Force (IDF) used sniper fire, tank rounds and “less lethal” munitions like tear gas during a civil order event on the militarized border between Israel and Gaza. The United Nations reported that 15 Gazans were killed and more than 1000 were wounded. The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms has stated that among those wounded in the massacre are many journalists.

We acknowledge the fact, as Israeli authorities have stated, that border demonstrations at the “March of Return” in commemoration of Palestinian “Land Day” were disorderly and boisterous in nature. We also recognize that the use of lethal force to respond to boisterous demonstration or civil disorder is an anathema to the principles of democracy, freedom and justice. Similar incidents have occurred in Tunisia, Syria and Ukraine. If similar incidents transpired in 2018, in any other country, the condemnation from the international community would be swift and clear.

Canada is recognized internationally as a close ally of the Israeli state. It is incongruous to profess support for democracy, human rights or press freedom while ignoring the deleterious effect that this repression by an allied state has on these values. Failure to condemn the IDF's brutality will undermine Canada's moral authority when condemning similar acts by any other nation-state. Targeted attacks against demonstrators and journalists must be condemned wherever they occur. Canada must speak out to defend universal principles of human rights, democracy and press freedom.

The Government of Canada must condemn the one-sided use of military force against civilian demonstrators and media in Gaza, must immediately call for a cessation of these brutal practices, and must use all available diplomatic, political and economic channels to pressure Israel to initiate a fulsome and transparent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the massacre, which left 15 dead, and more than 1000 wounded.

In the archived link I provided, the author of this statement stood by it, and is upset by this controversy, taking umbrage that it was considered "stupid".

It was not a smart statement to make, at any rate, but I will get to that later.

Reaction from the press went by the usual partisan lines. The Left condemned the censorship of the statement without questioning its inherent ignorance, such as the Huffington Post.

The National Post frowned on the statement.

The Toronto Star has covered it here and here.

The CBC's Neil Macdonald missed the point here.

The statement should not have been issued that way. It is the same problem they faced when they issued a previous decree to the government on what it should and shouldn't do.

This isn't about censorship, as the Huffington Post erroneously framed it, and it is not about pledging support for fellow journalists as Macdonald mused.

The underlying arrogance that an organization can dictate orders to their government is the problem.

Journalists are used to telling people what to do to the point that do not see that their job is to inform. You use facts. You can condemn an attack on journalists. You can work to create systems to protect them. You cannot play make pretend and behave as if the government is your underling.

The CJFE has no clear understanding of what it can do -- issuing that statement is a big nothing. It is passive and arrogant slacktivism that assumes throwing a fit has meaning.

They have managed to alienate their core and fray at the seams. They have discredited themselves unnecessarily, but most of all, they learned nothing from a previous temper tantrum, and the replay of it proves the CJFE has no clue what it is doing or why.

If you wonder why journalism collapsed, this episode demonstrates it perfectly...