Shalom Life | January 30, 2015

The Guardian retracts claim that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital

British newspaper says it was wrong to call Tel Aviv the capital of Israel

By: Sammy Hudes

Published: August 8th, 2012 in News » World

The Guardian retracts claim that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital

British newspaper, The Guardian, published a correction on Tuesday in which it retracted its longstanding claim that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel, rather than Jerusalem.

While the British daily still refused to call Jerusalem the country’s capital, the correction stated “we accept that it is wrong to state that Tel Aviv – the country's financial and diplomatic centre – is the capital.”

In May, The Guardian ran a photo of passengers on a Jerusalem train observing a two-minute silence in honour of Holocaust Remembrance Day, known as Yom Hashoah.


A photo published by The Guardian in May. Photo: HonestReporting.com

The caption of the photo originally referred to Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s capital, prompting the following correction:

“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.’”

News monitor HonestReporting filed an official complaint with UK Press Complaints Commission (PCC) on the grounds that The Guardian had breached the PCC’s clause on accuracy.

But the commission ultimately ruled in favour of the newspaper, stating it was entitled to refer to Tel Aviv as the Israeli capital and was not in breach of the PCC’s accuracy clauses.

The Guardian finally retracted its claim after legal pressure from HonestReporting, which threatened judicial review of the PCC’s ruling.

“A correction to a picture caption said we should not have described Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. It went on to relay the advice in our style guide that the capital was Tel Aviv,” the newspaper stated.

“In 1980 the Israeli Knesset enacted a law designating the city of Jerusalem, including East Jerusalem, as the country's capital. In response, the UN security council issued resolution 478, censuring the ‘change in character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem’ and calling on all member states with diplomatic missions in the city to withdraw. The UN has reaffirmed this position on several occasions, and almost every country now has its embassy in Tel Aviv. While it was therefore right to issue a correction to make clear Israel's designation of Jerusalem as its capital is not recognised by the international community, we accept that it is wrong to state that Tel Aviv – the country's financial and diplomatic centre – is the capital.”

The Guardian also amended its style guide, which now refers to Jerusalem as the country’s “seat of government” and Tel Aviv as its “diplomatic and financial centre.”

“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,” said HonestReporting CEO Joe Hyams.

“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.”

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