HR Comment: Righting a Capital Offense

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This opinion piece by Simon Plosker, HonestReporting’s Managing Editor, was originally published in the Jerusalem Post.

When HonestReporting filed a complaint with the UK’s Press Complaints Commission in response to The Guardian’s labeling of Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital, we did so expecting accuracy and common sense to prevail.

Outrageously, the PCC not only ruled in favor of The Guardian but actually went as far as to unilaterally declare that Tel Aviv was Israel’s legitimate capital, based mainly on the fact that many foreign embassies are located there.

Institutions not located in Tel Aviv include the Knesset, the Supreme Court, Bank of Israel and most government ministries.

The ruling even ignored Israel’s own declaration of Jerusalem as its eternal capital.

While the Guardian’s original “capital offense” could be viewed as yet another example of the newspaper’s animosity towards Israel, the PCC ruling demonstrated just how far beyond rational discourse any discussion on Israel appears to have gone in the UK.

The PCC offered no recourse for appeal.

On principle, however, we couldn’t let the PCC’s bizarre ruling stand. Risking potentially high legal costs but motivated by our desire to see truth prevail, HonestReporting initiated legal proceedings using some of the best legal professionals with the aim of taking the PCC all the way to a judicial review.

The Guardian has become the world’s third most read newspaper website, with 30.4 million readers in June 2012, according to industry analyst ComScore. The newspaper’s print edition may not be particularly large by UK media standards, but its readers are typically influential liberal and left-leaning elites in politics, academia and other media such as the BBC.

Put simply, the Guardian’s anti-Israel bias has a hugely significant reach and influence that cannot be ignored.

Israel has too often been the victim of “lawfare,” whereby the legal system is employed to delegitimize Israel, abusing concepts of international and humanitarian law.

But lawfare can work both ways.

With a watertight case at our disposal, we worked closely with Trevor Asserson, a distinguished lawyer previously responsible for a number of critical studies of the BBC’s Israel coverage, and his legal team.

And we won.

This article is continued on Page 2

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