Guardian continues pushing false narrative of Israel’s ‘lurch towards the right’.

On Jan. 22, shortly after exit polls were published on the evening of the Israeli election, we published a post demonstrating that the Guardian’s predictions prior to the election – warning of a dangerous shift to the right – were proven entirely inaccurate.

Scare passages from their “analysts” before Israelis went to the polls included predictions of “a more hawkish and pro-settler governmenta more right-wing and uncompromising government than Israel has ever seen beforeand ”the most right-wing government in its history

The Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood predicted that “Netanyahu’s parliamentary group will be markedly more rightwing after 22 January.”

When all the votes were counted, it was confirmed that the country had moved slightly to the left in comparison to the 2009 results, and the government formed by Binyamin Netanyahu and presented to President Peres on Feb. 22 – comprised of Likud-Israel Beiteinu, Yesh Atid, Jewish Home, and Hatnua (Tzipi Livni’s party) – represented, broadly speaking, a centrist coalition.

The Guardian invested heavily in promoting their desired political narrative of a Jewish state lurching to the far right, and they got it completely wrong. 

Whilst we didn’t expect a mea culpa from the Guardian, their March 17 editorial on Obama’s visit to Israel, which lamented the ‘dim prospects’ for a breakthrough in peace negotiations, made a quite telling mistake – conveniently omitting one member of the new government.  The editorial misled readers by claiming that the coalition was composed of “the Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu bloc: Yesh Atid, founded by former TV personality Yair Lapid; and Jewish Home, a party linked to the West Bank settler movement led by Naftali Bennett” – leaving out Tzipi Livni (Hutna), whose aggressive position on the need to resume peace talks would have undermined their desired narrative.  

The editorial was only adjusted to reflect reality when CiF Watch contacted Guardian editors and alerted them to the mistake.

The Guardian error, it should be noted, was especially egregious in light of the fact Livni, who led negotiations with Abbas while serving as foreign minister under Ehud Olmert, will be in Bibi’s inner cabinet, a member of the security cabinet and will lead a small team of “personally appointed staff into peace talks with the Palestinians”.

Harriet Sherwood’s latest report on efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry to revive peace talks, ‘John Kerry returns to Middle East amid lowered expectations’, similarly demonstrates an unwillingness to acknowledge the profound errors in predictions that she, and her Guardian colleagues, confidently offered in the weeks leading to the election.

Sherwood’s report includes the following passages:

Kerry is believed to be keen to dust off the 11-year-old Arab (or Saudi) peace plan, under which regional states would normalise relations with Israel in return for the establishment of a Palestinian state. And he is likely to ask Turkey to play an active role in any revived process.

It all seems reasonably promising on paper, but the reality on the ground looks rather different.

The new Israeli government, sworn in two days before Obama’s visit, is a rightwing pro-settler coalition

In the spirit of the Guardian editorial from March 22, Sherwood conveniently omitted the presence of center-left parties (Yesh Atid and Hatnua) in Bibi’s 68 seat coalition – a government which, for only the third time since 1977, excludes ultra-orthodox parties.

Whilst terms such as “right”, “left” and “center” are, in fairness, fraught with problems, it’s interesting to observe that the decidedly liberal Jewish newspaper, The Forward’, for instance, saw fit to characterize the new government, in a March 14 report, as  ‘reflecting a shift to the centre’.

In fact, even Al-Jazeera, on March 15, in a story titled ‘Turbulent road ahead for Netanyahu coalition‘, avoided characterizing the new government in such deceptively monolithic terms.  Instead, they wrote that the “Centre-right [Israeli] government set to be formed in Israel seems wired for dysfunction”, and noted the ideological split represented by the four party coalition.

In our election eve post we predicted that the Guardian would likely learn nothing from their journalistic miscalculation about the political trajectory of the Jewish state – that, once again, nothing would be learned which could serve to lessen the grip of their hubris, the rigidity of their ideology. 

It doesn’t provide any comfort to note that our suspicions appear to have been valid.

22 replies »

  1. And if Israel has lurched to the right so what? The left failed to bring peace like they promised. All we got was terror in return for concessions. Lurching right makes perfect sense. Every time the left come into power Israelis get slaughtered.

    • Like in the first Lebanon war …. oops, sorry – Begin was PM .. and in the first Intifada ….. oops, sorry – Shamir was PM.

      The Right are the true Zionists – they don’t promise peace, they don’t have any desire to achieve peace. A perennial war is the only form of true Zionism, one that will bring security to Israelis …

      errrr, wait a minute …..

      • “The Right are the true Zionists – they don’t promise peace, they don’t have any desire to achieve peace”

        The Israeli PM that signed the Camp David Accords was a well-known leftist…

      • Actually it was a right PM Begin who made the first peace agreement with egypt.
        Oslo by Rabin brought us 256 dead Israelis.

      • So you both agree with me: all Israeli leaders have pursued policies that have resulted in both positive and negative results. For example, Begin signed the peace treaty with Egypt but the subsequent Lebanon War resulted in over 600 Israelis killed. Do you agree with “Evil Zionist” implied claim that only the policies of the left have resulted in Israeli casualties ?

        • Let me get this straight: You make a false statement and then you are refuted. And then you ask if we agree with you?

        • You said quote
          The Right are the true Zionists – they don’t promise peace, they don’t have any desire to achieve peace. A perennial war is the only form of true Zionism

          Do you or don;t you stand by your words?

        • Well when you look at what happaned after Oslo and what happned after we left Gaza it does seem that left policiy reslted in Isralei casualties.
          YOu also forgot all those Israeli causualties that were the reason for the 1st Lebanoan war.

          • The first Lebanon is almost universally accepted as a misguided adventure based on a fantasy view of Lebanese politics, an adventure in which the Israeli cabinet was deliberately deceived about the true goals. Even if we agree that the Palestinian terror from Lebanon had to be dealt with, the question still remains if there was a more efficient and less costly way to achieve these goals.

      • I disagree with EZ. I don’t see that left = failed, right = hope correlation at all, but that’s a political argument that we can have and many Israelis have between them all the time.

        However, whether individuals wished it or not, it is undeniable that there WAS no “lurch to the right” at the last General Election in Israel, and that the new Government is demonstrably NOT the “most right-wing in Israeli history”. What is odd is that the Guardian refuses to recognise these facts and continues to peddle a lie that it thinks will support its narrative.

        As for you, external with your “A perennial war is the only form of true Zionism”. You just lost the right for any sort of measured response. You are clearly so deep in the mire of your prejudices you will never even consider the worth of any civil attempt at reason.

  2. This forum invests a lot of effort in attacking everyone who even hints that they support the policies of the Israeli left. So why do we see yet another article criticising the Guardian for for stating something that logically should be embraced with joy and satisfaction ?

    • First, we’ve always been a big tent zionist blog, and have embraced writers such as A. Jay Adler and David Hirsh, to give just two examples of those on the left side of the political divide (in the US and the UK respectively). Second, the Guardian wasn’t simply using the word “right” as a descriptive term, but as a pejorative, false implying that Israelis don’t embrace the values of liberalism, tolerance and peace. As nothing could be further from the truth we’ll continue to refute such accusations.

      • I have used the search option to see what these two writers have contributed:
        – Hirsh appears to have written entirely about anti-semtism in the UK – specifically the UCU – a topic that has nothing to do with Israeli politics and one that I think that we all agree on.
        – I have looked at Adler’s website: An interesting writer, but I would hardly classify him as “left side” wit regards to Israel.

        • Obviously Labour Students of whom Hirsh was an activist must be a far right Zionist organisation to you.

          • What is so difficult for you to understand ? Adam boasts that this site hosts “left” writers such as Hirsh. But my search shows that Hirsh never posted anything on this site related to Israeli politics; he has only posted articles related to and condemning antisemitism in Britain – articles that I assume all of us agree with. Therefore, there is no basis to the claim that Hirsh is an example of a “big tent” balanced view regarding Israeli politics on this site.

            • What is difficult for me to understand is why you are obsessing about whether this blog is right or left wing or big tent? What difference does it make?

              The POINT is – was Sherwood accurate in her recent published statement that “the Israeli government … is a right-wing, pro-settler coalition”? Demonstrably not. THAT is the point. Sherwood writes and spreads inaccuracies (to put it politely) in order to make Israel seem worse than it is (to the Guardian target market, right-wing + pro-settler = evil). THAT is the point.

              • The only one obsessing here is Adam Levick, The article he refers to, which failed to mention Tzipi Livni, was almost entirely about the Israeli elections and the Obama visit, both major issues. Adam later admitted that he disagreed with everything that Sherwood wrote about these truly important items, yet his entire criticism focused on what may have been an error in editing or an innocent oversight (Adam, of course, never errs). The real issues – the new govt, Obama and the peace process are apperently irrelevant, but the omission of a small party from the coalition list “proves” that the nefarious Sherwood is a notorious Israel-hating anti-semite !!!! And Adam accuses her of “lazy journalism” !!!!! What a joke.

                • When an organ/journalist consistently over-plays the “evil” side of a state or a government and consistently under-plays the “positive” side, when it consistently frames its reports in such a way as to make all that state’s actions seem more extreme and less sympathetic, and those of its enemies less extreme and more sympathetic, that is not a “typo”. It is a deliberate, conscious decision.

                  Now – can we get your view please? Was it accurate to say that “the Israeli government … is a right-wing, pro-settler coalition”?

            • Obviously you are an idiot who denies that left orientated can be pro Israel as it is outside his ideology.