CTV’s Firing Palestinian journalist Yara Jamal

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2024-03-15-Yara JamalOn October 2023, Yara Jamal, a Palestinian-Canadian journalist working for CTV News, was fired for statements she made while expressing her public support for Palestine. Jamal, a cofounder of @freepalestinehalifax, an Instagram account dedicated to Palestinian human rights, had recently organized a rally in opposition to Israel’s bombing of Gaza. During the protest she was interviewed and asked whether Jewish people “could exist in a free Palestine.” Jamal answered: “Yes, Jews can exist, the Zionist ideology cannot.”[1] [2] In a video released after her firing, Jamal clarified her intent saying, “Logically, a free Palestine cannot exist with an occupation or with a state that was labelled an apartheid state by human rights organizations.”  Her statement was not based in animus against Jews, nor was she calling for any form of mass violence against Israelis[3].


Following the interview's online circulation, a thread on X (formerly known as Twitter) accused Jamal of antisemitism. This thread is now inaccessible, as the account owner has restricted its visibility. The day after this thread appeared, Jamal was informed by her manager that she was being placed on a four-week paid leave while under investigation, only to be terminated three hours later[4]. She was told the dismissal was due to a violation of the collective agreement, though specifics were not provided. Jamal noted she was fired despite being the only Palestinian in the media within Atlantic Canada, and the only Middle Eastern woman in the local CTV newsroom.

According to Jamal, neither her manager nor the Bell Media representative present at the dismissal meeting clarified the specific policies she was alleged to have violated. While Jamal attributes her firing to her pro-Palestine advocacy and denies accusations of antisemitism[5], Bell Media and CTV have declined to discuss the matter, stating they do not comment on individual staffing issues.


Why is this incident considered Anti-Palestinian Racism (APR)?

Jamal’s dismissal is a form of anti-Palestinian racism (APR), characterized by the smearing and misrepresentation of any critique of Israel. This includes being smeared as an antisemite for criticizing Israel for its founding Zionist underpinnings, for describing it as a belligerent occupying power, or for describing it as an apartheid regime. The ACLA's foundational report on APR outlines how support for Palestine or criticism of Israel and Zionism is often wrongfully equated with antisemitism[6]. This conflation increasingly stems from a push by pro-Israel groups for the adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism[7]. The examples associated with the IHRA definition clearly suggest that criticizing Zionism would be considered antisemitism. For this reason, the definition is highly criticized and controversial, even within the Jewish community[8]. Critics of the IHRA definition point out that it has been repeatedly leveraged in attempts to smear and silence a wide array of individuals and groups, including journalists, academics, activists, civil and human rights organizations, and politicians who critique Israeli policies or advocate for Palestinian rights[9].

Zionism, for its part, is a movement that emerged in Europe in the late 19th century calling for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.[10] It is predicated on the religious belief that Jewish people are God’s chosen ones, that Palestine is a land without a people, and that Jewish people have the exclusive right to immigrate from Europe and be sovereign in Palestine. Zionism is grounded in the notion of Jewish racial uniqueness and that Jews constitute a race, leading to racial self-segregation, racial-exclusiveness, and racial supremacy[11].

In line with its founding principles, the Zionist movement led to the establishment of Israel in 1948, marked by the expulsion and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Israel's ongoing policies, aimed at maintaining Jewish dominance[12], have culminated in the 2018 Jewish Nation-State Law, which institutionalizes Jewish supremacy and solidifies Israel's identity as exclusively the nation-state of the Jewish people[13]. These actions constitute systematic discrimination and inequality against Palestinians, underscoring how critiques of Zionism and Israeli practices – like those of Jamal – are legitimate in debates over human rights and racial justice.

Additional Background to the Incident

Reflecting on her experience, Jamal stated, "Freedom of speech does not exist for people like me, or for people of color. Palestinians continue to be silenced, and I refuse to accept this any longer. CTV has not only failed me as a Palestinian employee but also continues to fail the Palestinian community at large."[14] She highlighted the ambiguity surrounding the concept of freedom of speech, noting how it can be manipulated to suppress certain groups or individuals, labeling politically sensitive speech as an ethics violation, as seen in her case. In Canada, she observed, allegations of antisemitism are often used to undermine freedom of speech, especially when it comes to expressing solidarity with Palestine.

Jamal joined CTV Atlantic in September 2022 and reported experiencing racism from October of that year until around July. Before her eventual dismissal, she faced harassment at CTV, with colleagues dismissing Palestine's existence and her heritage[15]. Despite reporting these issues, her complaints were ignored, and no action was taken, highlighting her feelings of marginalization and being silenced at work.

In response to Jamal's termination from CTV, the Atlantic Canada Palestinian Association organized a demonstration outside the CTV Atlantic headquarters in Halifax on October 28, 2023 [16]. The demonstrators voiced their frustration over the perceived double standards in Canadian media coverage, highlighting the lack of accurate reporting on the situation in Gaza, the suppression of pro-Palestine narratives, and Canada's financial support to Israel through weapon sales. This protest underscored concerns that the Canadian government's actions might favor the interests of a foreign nation over the rights and opinions of its citizens.

Additionally, the non-profit Justice for All Canada initiated an online movement advocating for freedom of expression and denouncing the unjust dismissal of Jamal [17]. The campaign emphasized that while efforts to combat antisemitism are crucial, they should not facilitate or justify policies that infringe upon human rights—a stance that Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have supported well before October 2023[18]. This initiative calls attention to the necessity of balancing the fight against antisemitism with the protection of human rights and free speech.


The CTV website currently states that Jamal is no longer employed with the company.

Last Updated


[1] Beswick, A., “Old world chants and fading hopes for peace as march takes to Halifax streets,” Oct. 22, 2023, SaltWire, accessed Mar 1, 2024, at https://www.saltwire.com/atlantic-canada/news/old-world-chants-and-fading-hopes-for-peace-as-march-takes-to-halifax-streets-100904061/

[2] The Dalhousie Gazette summarized Jamal’s exchange with Saltwire as follows: “According to Saltwire, in response to a question asking if Jews can exist peacefully in Palestine, Jamal said, ‘Jews can continue to exist, the Zionist ideology cannot.’  Saltwire wrote, ‘When pressed if the ‘Zionist ideology’ referred to the State of Israel, she [Jamal] responded, ‘The state, no, cannot exist.’’”  https://dalgazette.com/news/pro-palestine-demonstrators-protest-the-departure-of-journalist-over-anti-israel-remarks/

[3] MEMO, “Palestinian-Canadian journalist fired by major Canadian network for pro-Palestine stance,” Nov. 29, 2023, accessed Mar 12, 2024 at https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20231129-palestinian-canadian-journalist-fired-by-major-canadian-network-for-pro-palestine-stance/

[4] Docto, I., “Palestinian journalist says CTV News fired her after "speaking up for Palestine." Dec.1, 2023, DHCanada, accessed Mar. 12, 2024, at https://dailyhive.com/canada/ctv-news-fires-palestinian-journalist

[5] Docto, I., “Palestinian journalist says CTV News fired her after "speaking up for Palestine." Dec.1, 2023, DHCanada, accessed Mar. 12, 2024, at https://dailyhive.com/canada/ctv-news-fires-palestinian-journalist

[6] “Anti-Palestinian Racism: Naming, Framing and Manifestations,” Apr. 25, 2022, Arab Canadian Lawyers Association, accessed Mar. 4, 2024 at https://static1.squarespace.com/static/61db30d12e169a5c45950345/t/627dcf83fa17ad41ff217964/1652412292220/Anti-Palestinian+Racism-+Naming%2C+Framing+and+Manifestations.pdf

[7] “Working definition of antisemitism,” International holocaust Remembrance Alliance, accessed Mar. 12, 2024 at https://holocaustremembrance.com/resources/working-definition-antisemitism 

[8] “128 scholars ask UN not to adopt IHRA definition of anti-Semitism,” Aljazeera, Nov. 3, 2022, accessed Mar. 12, 2024 at https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/11/3/128-scholars-ask-un-not-to-adopt-ihra-definition-of-anti-semitism 

[9] McGreal, C., “UN urged to reject antisemitism definition over ‘misuse’ to shield Israel.” Apr. 24, 2023, The Guardian, accessed Mar. 13, 2024, at https://www.theguardian.com/news/2023/apr/24/un-ihra-antisemitism-definition-israel-criticism

[10] “Zionism,” Encyclopedia Britannica, last updated Feb. 25, 2024, accessed Mar. 13, 2024, at https://www.britannica.com/topic/Zionism

[11] Sayegh, F. (1965). Zionist Colonialism in Palestine. Beirut: Research Centre of the PLO, accessed at https://www.freedomarchives.org/Documents/Finder/DOC12_scans/12.zionist.colonialism.palestine.1965.pdf

[12] B’TSELEM, “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid,” Jan. 21, 2021, accessed Mar. 13, 2024 at https://www.btselem.org/publications/fulltext/202101_this_is_apartheid

[13] Adalah, “Israel's Jewish Nation-State Law,” Dec, 20, 2020, accessed Mar. 13, 2024, at https://www.adalah.org/en/content/view/9569

[14] Roya News, “Palestinian journalist fired from Canadian channel for supporting Gaza,” Dec. 12, 2023, accessed Mar. 12, 2024 at https://en.royanews.tv/news/47237/2023-12-06

[15] Seebruch, N., “Palestinian journalist fired from CTV for pro-Palestine activism,” De. 8, 2023, Rabble.ca, accessed Mar. 12, 2024, at https://rabble.ca/politics/canadian-politics/palestinian-journalist-fired-from-ctv-for-pro-palestine-activism/

[16] Cininni, G., “Pro-Palestine demonstrators protest the departure of journalist over anti-Israel remarks,” Nov. 7, 2023, the Dalhoues Gazette, accessed Mar. 12, 2024, at https://dalgazette.com/news/pro-palestine-demonstrators-protest-the-departure-of-journalist-over-anti-israel-remarks/

[17] Justice for All Canada, “ Oppose Unjust Firing of CTV Journalist Yara Jamal,” accessed Mar. 12, 2024 at https://www.justiceforallcanada.org/yara-jamal-ctv-firing.html

[18] Amnesty International, “Global: UN must respect human rights while combatting antisemitism,” Apr. 20, 2023, accessed Mar. 12, 2024, at https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2023/04/global-un-must-respect-human-rights-while-combatting-antisemitism/