Biggest Train Wreck Over Principle: The Guardian, and UK Press Complaints Commission
It all started off with a touching EPA photo of Israelis observing a nation-wide minute of silence on Yom HaShoah.
That Jim Hollander’s image just happened to be in Jerusalem was irrelevant. The moment he captured was about the emotion of Israelis remembering the six million Jews who perished in the the Holocaust.
The Guardian published Hollander’s photo, noting in the caption that the scene took place in Jerusalem, “the Israeli capital.” The extra info wasn’t relevant to the image, but nonetheless accurate. But then The Guardian did something strange.
It issued a correction, insisting that the paper’s style guide considers Tel Aviv to be Israel’s capital. A look at The Guardian’s style guide found this:
Had The Guardian referred to Jerusalem as the “disputed” capital, that would’ve been one thing. But Tel Aviv is not Israel’s capital any more than Manchester is Britain’s capital.
An HonestReporting complaint to the Press Complaints Commission was inexplicably turned down, so HonestReporting and the law offices of Trevor Asserson threatened legal action against the PCC. The matter even prompted Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai to take the unusual step of declaring on video the self-evident fact that Tel Aviv is not Israel’s capital.
When the PCC notified HR it was reconsidering its ruling, The Guardian brass realized it couldn’t prove that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital; it unilaterally issued another correction and amended its style guide.
[W]e accept that it is wrong to state that Tel Aviv – the country’s financial and diplomatic centre – is the capital.
Comparing Israel to Nazi Germany is sick enough, but using Pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous statement is even more warped. Is it any wonder that the Australian Jewish community is fed up with this Michael Leunig cartoon published in The Age of Melbourne?
But the cartoon also took a swipe at the Australian Jewish community as well, making it impossible for activists to protest without the perception of “bitterness and spiteful condemnations” Leunig described.
Activists rightly spoke up, and Leunig simply dug in his heels.