Guardian

Guardian coverage of Carmel forest fire (a comparison)


A H/T for this post goes to Israelinurse

Considering that Israel hosts the highest density of foreign correspondents per capita in the world, which results in a magnified media spotlight upon events which take place throughout the country, not least upon the pages of the Guardian, one may have anticipated somewhat more thorough coverage of the disastrous Carmel fire.

To date, CiF’s Israel page has hosted three articles (two of which were AP dispatches) and one photograph gallery of the event.

Harriet Sherwood ignored the fire altogether (while it was still raging), but still managed to file a report on Israeli racism in Safed (Tsfat) while the blaze was still engulfing Northern Israel, and found the time to write two stories on shark attacks (yes, shark attacks) in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

However, it seems that Sherwood has returned to Israel, filing a report today that ostensibly was about the aftermath of the deadly fire, but, as she seems simply unable to cast Israelis in a sympathetic light, still managed to take two swipes at the Jewish state – both at the expense of the Orthodox community, who the Guardian so loves to vilify.

By way of comparison, during the terrible bushfires in Victoria, Australia in February 2009 in which 173 people died, 414 were injured and 7,562 displaced from their homes, CiF published 27 articles on the subject in the first four days of the event.

Taking into account that Australia’s population is more than three times larger than that of Israel, the 41 dead and 17,000 displaced persons in the Mount Carmel fire make current events in Israel a national disaster on a comparable scale.

Absent from the current CiF coverage of the event is any aspect of the individual stories of those Israelis affected by the fire, in contrast to the kind of articles run during the Australian disaster. Also not covered is any reporting on the damage to the environment and wildlife, again in contrast to the reporting of the similar event in Victoria.

Could it be that the Guardian editors are reluctant to run stories about events which do not fit in with the usual theme of ‘Israelis behaving badly’? (See Akus’s piece, back in early June, on the Guardian’s obsessive coverage of the flotilla incident for another example of this bias)

Here’s the visual of the Guardian’s coverage of the Australian fires, which is followed by a visual their coverage of the Carmel fire.

Now, here’s the Guardian’s coverage of the Carmel fire in Israel.  (Stories regarding the fire are outlined in red)

36 replies »

  1. Talk about obsessive coverage; CiFWatch has nothing else to do.

    The worst that Levick can come up with is:
    “.. still managed to take two swipes at the Jewish state – both at the expense of the Orthodox community, who the Guardian so loves to vilify.”

    What are these swipes:

    1: “Eli Yishai, the interior minister and leader of the Shas party, was in the firing line for failing to secure more public finance for the fire service, accused of concentrating his energies for funds to benefit his ultra-orthodox constituency.”

    What is there to disagree with ? Everyone knows that Yishai’s sole function is to shovel more money to the Orthodox community at the expense of everyone else.

    2: “Others pinned the blame on God. Rabbi Ovadia Yousef, the Shas party’s spiritual leader, read a passage from the Talmud in his sermon that said: “The fire only exists in a place where Shabbat [the Sabbath] is desecrated.” ”

    That’s exactly what he said ! Have you read YNet in the last few days, Levick? Prominent rabbis like Yoel Bin-Nun have written articles condemning Ovadia on the basis of fundamental Halachic principles. Each article has had hundreds of talkbacks condemning this rabbinic nonsense.

    So what’s the problem, Levick ? Are you afraid of divine retribution if you don’t support Ovadia ?

  2. Translated from YNet:

    “Twenty-five years ago, in 1985, when Isreal suffered another terrible tragedy at Habonim, where 22 Petach-Tikva school children lost their lives on their annual school trip [when their bus was hit by a train], we learned that someone knows the reason why. The Interior Minister at that time, Yitzhak Peres of Shas, said that the reason for the disaster was the desecration of the Sabbath in Petach-Tikva.

    In the following years, we learned again and again that Shas knows. For example, MK Shlomo Benizri knows that earthquakes are caused by homosexuals …. ”

    Do you agree with them, Adam ?

  3. Well said MTC.
    Adam, I’m sorry but as much as I am devastated by recent events, this is not something I believe is worth pursuing.

    I say this with sadness but I’m sure other more serious anti Israeli rhetorics will follow in the Guardian that border or even cross into Antisemitism and plain Bias.

    I would not compare the 2 fires, like I would not compare this one with the fires in California.

    I might compare it with Britain’s floodings 2 years ago.

  4. Obviously the loss of human life is the primary factor – but the comparison above is missing the burned land element. In Israel 10,000 acres have been lost – in Australia over one million.
    Yes, the Guardian should have had greater coverage of the Mount Carmel fires (as TV stations did) – but surely a big issue in Australia was the sheer size and scale of the devastation.

  5. MTC,

    re: “Talk about obsessive coverage; CiFWatch has nothing else to do”

    Umm…what we do at CW is monitor and expose anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias at the Guardian…is this unclear? This report is thoroughly consistent with our mission.

    As far as obsessions, I’m not sure who you’re more obsessed about, me or the Orthodox community in Israel – but if its the latter, then you may want to apply for a job at the Guardian. (just a suggestion)

  6. No defense of the Guardian, but isn’t Australia part of the former Empire? Perhaps overall the British might be more interested in fires in Australia as the likelihood of knowing or being related to someone who lives there whose life was effected is greater?

  7. This article would be more effective if you had screenshots of the Guardian’s coverage of the Israeli fire juxtaposed with the screenshots of the Australian fire.

  8. Adam Levick:

    “As far as obsessions, I’m not sure who you’re more obsessed about, me or the Orthodox community in Israel – ”

    As usual you fail to address the points raised here, namely, if the comments in the Guardian regarding the Orthodox are accurate (and similar to what is said in the Israeli press) why do you interpret it as “at the expense of the Orthodox community, who the Guardian so loves to vilify”? You criticize them when they are inaccurate and you criticize them when they are accurate.

  9. Thanks for the suggestion, Matt. The post was just updated to include a visual of the Guardian’s coverage of the Carmel fire.

  10. MTC, CW has often commented on the Guardian’s seeming fetish with the Haredi community in Israel. That is, they gratuitously use pics of Orthodox Jews (even to illustrate stories that don’t pertain to such observant Jews).
    Though this was a relatively small observation – in a post which pertained to the Guardian’s coverage of the Carmel fire in comparison with their coverage of brush fires in Australia – I still find it worth noting in the context of their broader narrative (about the I-P conflict) which often portrays religious Jewish settlers not only in the pejorative, but as the biggest impediment to peace in the region. I find such an argument to be without merit and indicative of a general bias (or bigotry) against religious Jews.

  11. Adam Levick:
    “I still find it worth noting in the context of their broader narrative (about the I-P conflict) which often portrays religious Jewish settlers not only in the pejorative, but as the biggest impediment to peace in the region.”

    But the religious Jewish settlers ARE the biggest impediment to the peace in the region, at least on the Israeli side. In any case, the references here have nothing to do with the peace process. Any cursory examination of the Israeli press in the last few days would show you that this aspect of the story was prominently covered and attracted much comment in the Israeli public. Therefore, the two paragraphs in the Guardian article were not only factually accurate but also covered one of the prominent peripheral aspects of this story. Should the Guardian ignore it just because you and I find it embarrassing that this primitive, rude and self-appointed narrow-minded man has such a position of power ?

  12. @MTC

    “But the religious Jewish settlers ARE the biggest impediment to the peace in the region, at least on the Israeli side.”

    Absolute nonsense. Here’s a trivia question for you what happened in Fall 2005?

  13. Hawkeye:

    Absolute nonsense ? OK – you have convinced me and so you have solved all of the problems of the Middle East. Too bad there are a few other billion people that disagree. Have you heard that Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina have recognised a Palestinian state with the 67 borders ? I’m sure that when 160 countries have made the same decision within the next few years you will still be convincing everyone that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace. But you are correct in one way – it is not really the settlements themselves that are the obstacle but rather the transparent duplicity of this (and other) govts regarding their true policy for the West Bank. The settlement building continues unabated while supposedly negotiating a peace agreement with the Palestinians. What the entire world (except you) sees clearly is that every time an “illegal settlement” is started (i.e. two caravans), the settlers are immediately hooked up to the water and electricity grids, an access road is paved and a platoon of soldiers is sent to guard them, while no money can be found for fire-fighting equipment, air traffic control equipment, etc. So the entire world reaches the obvious conclusion about Israel’s true intentions and acts accordingly (e.g. Brasil, Uruguay and Argentina. Akiva Eldar sums it up very well in his current Ha’aretz article:
    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/europe-doesn-t-delegitimize-israel-only-the-occupation-1.329263
    You can see how that ’embarrassing truth’ has been dealt with by the angry talkbacks posted on the article.

    Of course, this argument is totally pointless because all of Israel’s problems are divine retribution because of Sabbath desecration. And now we know how to deal with THAT embarrassing problem – somehow get the Guardian to stop writing about it.

    Here is a trivia question for you: What exactly is the Likud’s policy regarding the future of the West Bank ?

  14. MTC, first you didn’t answer Hawkeye’s question, which for me is the the Elephant in the room that the hard left never wants to talk about. That is, say Israel withdrawls every last settler out of the W. Bank (and E. Jerusalem). Are you claiming that this will really bring peace? The examples of 2005 in Gaza and 2000 in S. Lebanon contradict such claims. Not to mention the fact that, even if Israel does make peace with Fatah in the W. Bank, that still won’t have solved the problems in Hamas ruled Gaza or Hezbollah dominated Lebanon. Find, we disagree about the role the settlers play in the conflict, but do you disagree with my points regarding withdrawal? Its simply not the panacea its made out to be.

    Second, as far as “a few other billion people that disagree”.

    First of all, that’s not true. In the U.S. for instance (a nation of 300 million), the, mostly Christian, Americans surveyed year after year overwhelmingly support Israel over the Palestinians when asked who they sympathized with more. (typically in 65% to 15% range).

    But, even if that was true, even if most of the world thought we were wrong, that isn’t, in itself proof of anything, anymore than the fact that millions of people around the world hating Jews proves Jewish culpability.

    Many of us have argued that the Guardian simply serves to reinforce peoples’ prejudices about Israel and Jews. Our work here is to hold the Guardian accountable to truth and accuracy regarding Israel, Jews, and the the I-P conflict – so that people can make their own informed decisions and leave their comfortable ideological bubbles.

  15. Not content with repeatedly posting pictures of models in bikini poses, Derek Pasquill now displays the full gamut of his misogyny. What a cretin.

  16. Adam Levick:

    So you are the author and the moderator ? Even CiF doesn’t allow that obvious conflict-of-interest.

    Getting back to the point, you didn’t answer my question (although it was addressed to Hawkeye), which for me is the “elephant in the West Bank”. Please don’t misunderstand me – I am totally aware of your arguments and the validity of their logic. The difference between us is that you are content to win the these irrelevant arguments while I look at the bigger picture. Imagine a web site in Jenin where all of the contributors and comments “prove” (to each other) the justice of the Palestinian cause. Do you care ? Will it make you change your opinion ? The only solution is to quit proving guilt, right and wrong and get on with a compromise that everyone can live with. This is exactly how the peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan were achieved. And that is the true greatness of Nelson Mandela – his success in convincing all parties in SA to forget the past gave his country the opportunity to succeed. Many people have commented that what was lacking in the Oslo process was a similar reconciliation commission.

    The Akiva Eldar article that I provided a link to is a perfect example of what is all too evident on this site: the total inability to differentiate between the friends of Israel who have honest, constructive criticism (which you and I may or may not agree with – and I disagree with a lot) and the true enemies of Israel. This glaring error of judgment is fostered by the current leaders of the country, particularly Bibi and Liberman, with the boycott of J-Street being the classic example. We have clashed on this issue several times, but your approach has been to personally vilify Jeremy B (winning the argument) while I have looked at the attitudes of the next generation of Jewish American leaders (the big picture). Ok, so you prove that J.B is a shmuck – big deal ! Someone more honest will eventually replace him and then you will have no excuse to avoid the real issues.

  17. MTC: Look, we appreciate your contributions to this blog, and though we’re not going to agree, I do want to point out, re:

    “I am totally aware of your arguments and the validity of their logic. The difference between us is that you are content to win the these irrelevant arguments while I look at the bigger picture…”

    I don’t see how my argument about the danger of withdrawal is irrelevant. Its far from mere sophistry to point out that – even in a best case scenario – historical experience has made most Israelis wary of such pullouts absent very strong security guarantees. Further, its not irrelevant to note that nothing negotiated between Israel and Abbas will change the situation in Gaza or Lebanon. Again, I respect your right to disagree, but I don’t see why you won’t acknowledge that these are relevant points to our discussion.

    Finally, regarding my moderation. If you ever see biased moderation, by all means feel free to comment on it. But, banning foul language, is pretty standard.

  18. Adam:

    The only problem with your argument is its logical conclusion: that there is no point negotiating. Fair enough, but then what is the point of the current negotiations, especially when led by leaders who probably share your point-of-view. It’s a classic case of “want-the-cake-and-eat-it-too”, which unfortunately leads to a classic “you can fool all of the people some of the time ..” scenario. So they should be honest and come out and say ‘we’re continuing with settlement building and will not negotiate under any circumstances’. As I said above, even Israel’s friends are becoming painfully aware of the of the increasing gap between Israel says and what Israel does and it is this attacking of the friends of Israel that I object to. The irrelevance that I refer to is the how irrelevant your arguments will be after the UN votes for a Palestinian State in the 67 borders and/or the PA disbands itself, forcing Israel to retake full control of 2 million Palestinians, both scenarios which are very likely in the next year or two.

    Regarding the moderation, I had comments removed from your articles several weeks ago, one of which was restored after I complained, but minus one sentence. The only problem in those comments was that they strongly criticized what you wrote. Like I said above, even CiF avoids that conflict-of-interest.

  19. Hawkeye:
    A wonderful answer ! Do you dispute my statement that Adam deleted comment(s) that I posted only because they were inconvenient to him ? If I am correct, then YOU have a problem, not me.

  20. @MTC

    Yes I do dispute that statement because it is incorrect.

    In any case, as much as I and Adam disagree with your views you are welcome to air them at CW.

  21. Hawkeye:
    Are you saying that one of my comments was not removed and then restored after I posted a complaint, but with one sentence removed ? Have you asked Adam Levick ?

  22. I’m not saying anything of the kind and I’m not going to continue this puerile discussion any longer. As I said, you are welcome to say your piece here.

  23. MTC: “Do you dispute my statement that Adam deleted comment(s) ….”
    HE: “Yes I do dispute that statement ….”
    MTC: “Are you saying that one of my comments was not removed ….”
    HE: “I’m not saying anything of the kind ….”

    Adam Levick: “If you ever see biased moderation, by all means feel free to comment on it.”

  24. Re. what MindTheCrap has said

    A few weeks ago I saw comments of mine deleted on the grounds of ad hominem. Fair enough, I pled guilty – except that the comments I was responding to, i.e. calling me an anti-Semite and/or Nazi sympathizer, were left standing.

    Why?
    And we are supposed to believe that the moderation here is not biased?

  25. Yes, Pretzel, you are supposed to BELIEVE ….
    If they tell you so it must be true.
    Aren’t you convinced ?

  26. Thanks for amending my comment – I believe in calling a spade a spade, or in this case a shovel!

    And pretzelberg, as the majority of your comments are based on fantasy and/or distortion, I am therefore not surprised that you make assertions about me which are simply not true.

  27. Derek Pasquill

    And pretzelberg, as the majority of your comments are based on fantasy and/or distortion …

    You’re talking out of your arse, mate.

  28. ‘Why? And we are supposed to believe that the moderation here is not biased?’

    If CIF is consistently deleting Pretzl in this way, then that strongly suggests it is, since Pretzl consistently expresses opinions moderate and moderately.

  29. ‘Yes, the Guardian should have had greater coverage of the Mount Carmel fires (as TV stations did) – but surely a big issue in Australia was the sheer size and scale of the devastation.’

    With all due respect, Australia is a lot bigger too.