Guardian editorial on Israeli vote ignores their own erroneous political predictions

While we’re quite accustomed to Guardian reporters and commentators completely re-writing Israeli history, an editorial on the results of the Israeli election re-writes their own history by ignoring their entire body of work on the subject prior to the Jan. 22 vote.

The official Guardian editorial, Israel: the new normal, is, to be sure, characteristically imperious and hubristic towards the “truculent” Jewish state, but also concedes – based on the likelihood that Netanyahu will be forming a centrist coalition – that “the Israeli voter rejected “the far right”.

However, the editorial also briefly touches on those political observers who didn’t for a second believe that the Israeli center would hold:

“In the end, the crown prince of Israeli politics was not the dotcom millionaire who would annex 60% of the West Bank. He was neither of the far nor the national religious right, as many had confidently predicted.”

So, who precisely were these arrogant prognosticators who got it so terribly wrong?

Here’s a graphic look back at the headlines and passages published by the media group which they may be referring to.


‘Comment is Free contributor, Rachel Shabi


Guardian’s Middle East Editor, Ian Black


Ian Black


Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, Harriet Sherwood

black tweet

Ian Black is Gloomy and Inaccurate


Observer’s foreign affairs editor, Peter Beaumont


Again, Harriet Sherwood


Harriet Sherwood cites a piece by the New Yorker’s David Remnick,  to confirm Israel’s rightward shfit


Guardian journalist, Jonathan Freedland


Jonathan Freedland asks why the Israeli move right – which didn’t in fact happen – was happening.


Freedland also cites wisdom of ‘New Yorker’ contributor on Israel’s “endless” move right 


Once again, Harriet Sherwood

mid east

Guardian’s Middle East ‘Live’ Blog post edited by John Henley 


Guardian publishes two letters from readers affirming Guardian analysis of Israel’s move to the right

As Adam Garfinkle recently observed, in a thoughtful piece about coverage of the Algerian hostage crisis, much of the media often sees what they expect to see, and thus ignores all evidence that “does not fit with [their] framing of the situation”.

Whilst I’ve been following the Guardian far too long to be so foolish as to expect anything resembling a mea culpa from their editors in response to such an egregious misreading of the Israeli electorate, it would truly be a gift to their readers if they were to even briefly acknowledge the limits of their capacity to interpret Israeli political phenomena unfiltered by their preconceived, ideologically inspired, conclusions.

18 replies »

  1. I wrote elsewhere that CiF tends to be wrong, and outright lie whenever possible, when they’re writing about a situation that isn’t in the pocket of their hard-Left fellow travelers. They don’t like centrists, so they don’t have any idea what they’re really like or what they’re actually doing. Actually, they take the same approach to Israel as a whole. This was a very focused example of how idiotic they look when doing so.
    Also, the comments after this editorial were fantastic–only a few of them dealt with how insanely off their favorite paper’s prediction were (to one poster’s credit, he noted that other media outlets also got it wrong; to his discredit, he didn’t note or notice that all of them except Haaretz did so from a factual rather than ideological basis point)–the rest fell into the boilerplate colonizer/criminal/trust Amira Hass school that led to the epic fail this editorial vaguely noticed it was responsible for.

  2. The epic load of bollocks about the recent Israeli elections shows how hopelessly prejudiced the Guardian is. They pretend to see what they do not. If they think it will poison their readers minds about Israel, they’ll print it. Whether its true or not is quite irrelevant..

  3. Adam,

    I’m all for media critique. But I’ve been reading CiF Watch for far too long to believe that your own “preconceived, ideologically-inspired conclusions” make you capable of objectively analysing the Guardian’s coverage of the Israeli elections.

    Here’s why:

    The Guardian were by no means alone in predicting a rightward shift in the Israeli elections: dozens of other publications, including Israeli ones, did the same. They did so partly because, as you know, Naftali Bennett – who is undeniably of the hard-right – became the unexpected star of the election battle, bringing Jewish Home out of obscurity and into the political spotlight, and going viral with YouTube clips explaining his Area C annexation plan. To demonstrate how widespread was the view that the election battle highlighted a rightward drift:

    – Time magazine were calling Bennett “the new face of Israel”
    – the Wall Street Journal (which is about as far from the Guardian’s politics as you can get) predicted that Israel’s parliament was “set for a shift to the right”
    – the Daily Telegraph (again, the Guardian’s ideological opposite) spoke of the overwhelming influence of “the new Right” in the election battle

    So, many commentators from across the political spectrum thought that Bennett’s campaign would translate into more votes than it actually did. Such is life, such are elections. But since this call was made by MANY newspapers, are you willing accuse them ALL of “an egregious [really? egregious?!] misreading of the Israeli electorate”, based on “preconceived, ideologically-inspired, conclusions” – or would you instead accept that, in your laying of these charges exclusively at the Guardian’s door, that you bring some of those very such preconceptions to your own analysis?


    (For those quotes mentioned above, see: and and

    • First off, thank you for not including TIME magazine as a publication whose views are very divergent from CiF’s, as that would have been false.
      That said, while lumping CiF in alongside the WSJ and Daily Telegraph was a clever feint, it doesn’t hold up to inspection because neither of those papers regularly screws up on Journalism 101 in order to ace Advocacy 999. In other words (and I noted this elsewhere), the big miss from pre-election forecasts was the rise of a new centrist party, and outside of CiF and Haaretz, there’s no history of contempt and dismissiveness of centrist politics from the major outlets to pair with them not keying into Yesh Afid.
      The few things CiF gets right when it comes to Israeli issues–BTW, those are regularly noted on this site, as an example of how CiF can report fairly and accurately on those matters when it wants to/has no choice but to face clear facts–do not come close to providing balance with the hundreds of documented examples of what it gets wrong. I’d love for CiF to not shred context, lie when convenient, bury stories that put its ideological brothers in a bad light, take sides in the conflict and later try to deny doing so, and create news instead of reporting it. But that wouldn’t be the CiF that deservedly gets pilloried here. And that’s not a function of what we expect CiF to be like. It’s an end result of what they continuously do.

      • “That said, while lumping CiF in alongside the WSJ and Daily Telegraph was a clever feint, it doesn’t hold up to inspection because neither of those papers regularly screws up on Journalism 101 in order to ace Advocacy 999.”

        – The Guardian got it wrong.
        – Many other papers got it wrong, some of which differ politically from the Guardian.
        – Probable reason: It was a hard result to call on the available evidence.
        – Reasons proposed by the poster: The Guardian got it wrong either maliciously or because of inherent bias while the rest of the press just happened to get it wrong.

        The logic of this reasoning leaves a lot to be desired. When in doubt look for the simplest explanation (i.e. It was a hard result to call on the available evidence).

        • Fair points about it being a hard call and other sources getting it wrong.
          We simply do not agree about what the “simplest explanation” is in this specific case.

        • All papers got it wrong.

          Why Mr Levick only attacks the Guardian, rather than the rest of the foreign press or the Israeli press, is a mystery.

  4. Remnick was on public broadcasting’s Charlie Rose program last night, flogging his incompetence for all to see. At least Dennis Ross knew what he was talking about.

  5. Now the point is that the lefties jabbed that this will be the most right-wing government ever whereas the serious papers indicated a tendency towards right, without any fear-mongering.
    Now the defenders of Al Guardian and the rest try to obfuscate and conflate that important difference.