While we were asking the residents of Tel Aviv where they considered Israel’s capital to be, there has been much activity behind the scenes. In a significant achievement for HonestReporting, The Guardian has retracted its claim that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel, writing unequivocally on Wednesday:
we accept that it is wrong to state that Tel Aviv – the country’s financial and diplomatic centre – is the capital.
Back in May, The Guardian posted a photo of passengers on Jerusalem’s light rail observing a minute’s silence for Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. The caption, however, prompted a “correction” from The Guardian, which had originally (and correctly) referred to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:
The caption on a photograph featuring passengers on a tram in Jerusalem observing a two-minute silence for Yom HaShoah, a day of remembrance for the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, wrongly referred to the city as the Israeli capital. The Guardian style guide states: “Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is” (Eyewitness, 20 April, page 24).
Believing The Guardian to be in clear breach of the UK Press Complaints Commission clause on accuracy, HonestReporting submitted an official complaint. To our and every sensible person’s astonishment, the PCC ruled in favor of The Guardian, stating that the newspaper was entitled to refer to Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital and was not in breach of accuracy clauses.
Despite the fact that there is no recourse for appealing a PCC ruling, HonestReporting was not prepared to let this stand. Advised by UK solicitors Asserson Law Offices, for the first time in HonestReporting’s history, we launched legal proceedings against the PCC with the threat of a judicial review of the PCC’s decision.
In response to HonestReporting’s pressure on the PCC, The Guardian backed down from its claim, issuing a correction. It also changed its style guide, which had stated that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel, to reflect the correction.
Although The Guardian has been forced to withdraw its absurd suggestion regarding the status of Tel Aviv, the wording of The Guardian’s correction has not been agreed after the newspaper unilaterally terminated its negotiations with HonestReporting.
HonestReporting still awaits a new ruling from the PCC to replace the faulty decision it issued in May and agreed to reconsider in July.
HonestReporting’s CEO Joe Hyams said in response:
This correction is a significant achievement against a newspaper that has been a major contributor to the broader delegitimization of Israel in the UK and beyond.
It is shocking that it has taken the threat of legal action to reverse a decision that was not based on reality. Nonetheless, it was vital that HonestReporting took on The Guardian and the PCC as a matter of principle, particularly at a time when Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital is increasingly being called into question by the media.
Now that The Guardian has admitted that it was wrong, we call on the PCC to issue a new ruling categorically stating that Tel Aviv is not Israel’s capital so that it is clear to the British media that it will not be allowed to repeat this error.
In April 2011, MediaWeek reported that The Guardian is the fifth most popular newspaper site in the world drawing a daily average of nearly 3 million browsers. In addition, The Guardian’s print edition is widely read by many of the left and liberal elites in Britain, which makes it vital that the newspaper is held to account for its anti-Israel bias.
Image: CC BY-SA HonestReporting.com, flickr/shordzi.