What the Guardian won’t report and the influence on perceptions of Israel.

Foreign correspondents are in the position of being able to influence on a daily basis how others perceive the country in which they work. Not only do they shape that country’s image in the eyes of general foreign audiences, but their reporting also affects the attitudes and decisions of policy makers.  As political and governmental decisions are often – and perhaps increasingly – influenced by the amount of media attention a certain subject gets, a foreign correspondent’s decision to report or not to report a particular news story has more gravity than just the telling of the story itself. 

Taking the month now ending as a random example, analysis of the Guardian’s coverage of Israel on its dedicated page in the World News section shows that out of 60 items published between April 1st and 29th, seven dealt with the subject of Habima’s appearance at the Globe Theatre.

A further 11 items were published on the subject of Gunter Grass and his controversial poem. Nine items touched on the subject of Iran’s nuclear project, three were related to  Raed Salah’s immigration tribunal in the UK, five concerned the Danish ISM activist hit by an Israeli officer and a further five touched on aspects of what the Guardian Style Guide terms as settlements and settlers; Jews living over the ‘green line’. 

Other subjects tackled include the Israeli version of ‘Big Brother’, Saturday bus services, the gas pipeline from Egypt to Israel (2 articles), the ‘flytilla’ (2 articles), illegal migrants from Africa, Holocaust Memorial Day (3 items), Easter, and  hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners (2 articles). 

On the Israel page of Comment is Free, seven articles were published during April – reflecting the same themes as above. 

Pessach, Memorial Day and Independence Day (all of which took place in April) were not covered, despite their importance to anyone hoping to understand Israel. 

Neither did the Guardian report on any of the following events: 

“On the morning of April 2 a 65 year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish man was attacked by a young Arab man wielding an axe. The attack took place near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. The victim, who had been on his way to the Western Wall to pray, sustained minor injuries and was evacuated to a hospital for medical treatment.”

“On the evening of April 2 stones were thrown at a bus near Beit Horon, an Israeli village to the northwest of Jerusalem. Two women suffered minor injuries and were evacuated to a hospital for further treatment.”


“On the night of April 4 residents of Eilat heard explosions throughout the city. Searches conducted by the Israeli security forces discovered the remains of two 122mm Grad rockets, two of three launched at Eilat from the Sinai Peninsula. The rockets fell in open areas near residential structures. There were no casualties, but a number of residents were treated for shock.”

“On the morning of April 8 two long-range rockets landed near the city of Netivot. There were no casualties and no damage was done.”

“On the evening of April 8 a rocket landed in an open area near the city of Sderot. There were no casualties and no damage was done.”


“On the night of April 15 two rockets fell in open areas in the western Negev. There were no casualties.”

“On April 11, IDF military police detained a Palestinian at the Beqa’ot checkpoint in the Jordan Valley. He was found to be carrying seven improvised IEDs, three knives and bullets. He was transferred to the security forces for questioning.”

“The Egyptian and Palestinian media reported that the Egyptian security forces had stopped a vehicle in the northern Sinai Peninsula driven by an Egyptian and carrying three Palestinians who had illegally entered Egyptian territory on April 13. The three admitted that they had been en route to Libya to buy weapons to smuggle into the Gaza Strip through the tunnels. The interrogation conducted by the Egyptian security forces in El-Arish revealed that the three were residents of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip and belonged to the Salah al-Din Brigades, the military-terrorist wing of the Popular Resistance Committees.” 


“Rocket fire from the Gaza Strip targeting the western Negev continues. One rocket hit was identified in an open area. There were no casualties and no damage was done.”

“On April 19 in Jerusalem a 20 year-old yeshiva student was stabbed in the stomach, incurring serious wounds. Two young Arab men were detained as suspects. The initial investigation revealed that the motive for the attack was apparently nationalistic.”

“On April 21 Israel border policemen saw two Palestinians about 17 years old alighting from a taxi at the Tapuach junction (south of Nablus), carrying a suspicious-looking bag. The policemen ordered them to halt but the two turned and ran. The youths, both residents of the Balata refugee camp near Nablus, were found to be carrying four IEDs, a gun and ammunition.”

The IEDs and weapons found in the possession of the two Palestinians (Israel Border Police Media Office, April 21, 2012)

The IEDs and weapons found in the possession of the two Palestinians

(Israel Border Police Media Office, April 21, 2012)

“There has recently been a rise in the number of stones and Molotov cocktails thrown at Israeli vehicles south of Jerusalem in the Gush Etzion district; on April 19 there were five such attacks. In one instance Palestinian youths threw stones and rocks at an Israel car at the Gush Etzion junction. One of the rocks hit the car and shattered the front windshield. Riding in the car were a couple and their two-year old son.”


“The Mount of Olives in Eastern Jerusalem was the scene of an attack on Sunday night [April 15th], as 7 molotov cocktails or “firebombs” were hurled at Jewish homes in the neighborhood of Maale HaZeitim.”


“Three separate attacks in Jerusalem Thursday, [April 26th] left 4 people injured.

A Jewish family was assaulted by Arab teenagers in eastern Jerusalem, leaving three of the family members injured and in need of medical treatment.

In the Old City of Jerusalem, an 11 year old boy was injured when Arabs began throwing rocks near Israeli Jews in the area.  The boy was hit in the head and also received medical help following the incident.

The last attack to occur happened late Thursday night when an Orthodox man was attacked by two Arab youths, who fled the scene on foot before causing any physical harm. Police have arrested a suspect in the case and are reportedly looking for another.”


“An Israeli cab driver heading from Tel Aviv to Kfar Saba – a 14.5 mile trip – was stabbed several times overnight by an Arab man described by police as being in the country illegally.”


It is expensive to keep a permanent correspondent in a foreign country and that expense might well be queried if its only outcome is to produce multiple versions of the same carefully selected items in order to cultivate a tailored view of the country covered. 

But the stories untold are just as relevant as the ones which do get published. It is, for example, much easier for both British politicians and members of the general public to voice criticism of Israel’s checkpoints and security barrier as impediments to free movement if neither they nor the people listening to them know anything about attempts to smuggle IEDs, guns and knives intended to kill civilians through those checkpoints. 

The Guardian’s placing of a total black-out on the reporting of rocket fire into Israel from Gaza (unless Israel reacts), ‘cold weapon’ terror attacks on Israeli civilians and attempted armed infiltrations into Israel from Palestinian Authority-controlled areas is an additional method of influencing foreign perceptions of Israel which should not be underestimated. 

12 replies »

  1. It is a carefully engineered picture of a rogue state that the Guardian feeds its gullible public. One wonders whose interests are served. Perhaps a clue lies in the multiple repetitive articles on poor little Iran (only about 90 million inhabitants) and gigantic threatening Israel (a breath-taking 8 million ) bristling with weapons, every man woman and baby and the bomb

  2. Great Hadar.

    Tabulation of Israel’s security problems on a monthly basis set off against what the Guardians shows its readers as a biased and bigoted presentation of Israel is just what is needed to show the Guardian off as the propaganda rag that it actually is.

  3. Perhaps most emblematic of all is the coverage of the sub-Saharan African migrants seeeking security and a better life in Israel.

    Their numbers would be a problem for any country, let alone one as tiny as Israel, but the Guardian – and the BBC – regularly portray Israel as racist.

    Meanwhile the cruel and rapacious behaviour of most of the Arab neighbours towards black migrants is prety well ignored.

  4. Regarding NobblyStick, anneinpt, OyVaGoy et al: me too.

    • I suspect that CiFWatch needs volunteers to implement this idea. Wish I could spare the time.

  5. What a shock, the Guaridian isn’t reporting this
    April 27, 2012

    Where’s the Coverage? Palestinian Authority Hands Down Death Penalty for Land Sale to Jews

    A racist law that says you can be executed if you sell land to people of a different race? If this were true, then, The Guardian would be all over it, because it believes in social justice.
    Oops, because its the fascist PLO, The Guaridan cant talk about it.

  6. Cifwatch should change it’s name to, “This weeks reasons why The Guardian is a Marxist propaganda haterag.”

    The 2 mistakes with all the critiquing, on this and other sites (as brilliant as you are), of the BBC and the Guardian is that you expect them to uphold normal standards of journalism and that you expect them to change. They were, are, and will be the propaganda arm of the enemies of the Judeo-Christian Western tradition be it previously Soviet Communism and now Islamic Jihadism.

  7. The current craze (and I use that descriptor in its literal sense) on CiF is to argue that Israel wants to provoke a nuclear confrontation with Iran. The ignominious Mehdi Hasan (he of “ kufar are like cattle” infamy) has burbled about this at
    with his usual deliberate bias (how on earth could such a one even begin to imagine what Israelis want or don’t want?) and was getting such a pasting that the page was open for just an hour.

    Berchmans, of course, was his usual oleaginous sycophantic “daft old fart” self, but among the notably intelligent contributions were those from “WingedHussar”, who in several posts reminded the readerships what Mehdi Hasan had deliberately omitted, such as this one:


    29 April 2012 7:41PM

    Time for a quiz question. Last week, who said Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak – Israel’s prime minister and defence minister – “are misleading the public on the Iran issue” and making decisions “based on messianic feelings”? Was it (a) Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; (b) the Stop the War Coalition president, Tony Benn; or (c) the former Israeli spymaster Yuval Diskin?

    Time for another quiz question. Less than three months ago, who said Israel is a “cancerous tumor that should be cut and will be cut”.

    Was it a) a popular children’s TV character?; b) a blogger on an extreme right wing website?; or c) the supreme leader of a Holocaust-denying Islamic theocracy?

    No prizes for guessing C):

    “From now on, in any place, if any nation or any group confronts the Zionist regime, we will endorse and we will help. We have no fear expressing this,” said Khamenei. He said Israel is a “cancerous tumor that should be cut and will be cut”.

    CiF needs commenters like WingedHussar. I hope I haven’t signed his/her death warrant by quoting her/him here.