Guardian columnist suggests that Israel’s defenders are akin to climate change deniers.

If British news consumers were to rely on the Guardian as their sole source of information about the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, they’d be forgiven for not only falsely believing the IDF failed to take adequate precautions to avoid civilian casualties, but that it may have targeted Palestinian kids. Though – with one or two exceptions – this wasn’t stated explicitly, the Guardian’s op-eds, reports, headlines and photos from the war could have led many to reach this erroneous conclusion.

Guardian, July 31, 2014.

In fact, something close to the opposite is true.  Despite the fact that Hamas routinely used Palestinian civilians as human shields, firing rockets from and hiding weapons in mosques, schools and hospitals, the IDF took extraordinary measures to avoid killing civilians.

Sadly, this false narrative alleging Israeli attacks on civilians is being sustained by the usual UK media commentators, including Guardian journalist Zoe Williams.  Her column, on allegations of political bias against Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow, includes a vicious smear relating to Israel’s conduct during the war.

Though the column (Jon Snow’s ‘anti-Tory rant’ and the myth of the pinko inside the TV, June 28th) mainly focuses on comments attributed to Snow critical of the British Conservative Party, Williams somehow pivots to Israel – and a previous accusations of anti-Israel bias against Snow – in this paragraph:

[Snow] made a series of points about the humanity of scatterbombing a place where you know the average age to be 17, and, therefore, how many of your victims are likely to be children. To my ears and most likely yours, they read as utterly uncontroversial. However, Israel and Gaza is, joint with climate change, the issue on which broadcasters effectively demand not balance but something quite different: equal voice given to the staunchest proponent of each side. For want of finding someone who could defend the killing of the children of Gaza, it is much easier to stay silent on the subject, and this marked a distinct downturn for the channel’s explorations into new media, with its looser regulation.

This is an extraordinary example of Williams’ own bias and carelessness with the truth.

Here’s the 2014 video by Snow that Williams is referring to, which, as you can see, represents a classic example of advocacy journalism – suggesting that all decent people must stand against Israel.

First, contrary to Williams’ claim, Snow made no allegations of “scatter bombing” (cluster bombing) in Gaza, and in fact we could find no such allegations during the war, even by “human rights” groups. 

Far more troublesome, however, is Williams’ analogy between Israel’s defenders – whom she characterises as defenders of “killing children” – and climate change deniers is indicative of a view of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, held by many in the media, which sees it as a binary tale of ignorance vs truth, good vs evil.

Herein lies the vicious cycle of media coverage of Israel:

  1. The intrinsic anti-Israel bias of reporters informs their reporting from the region.  
  2. This results in coverage portraying the nation’s conflicts through a highly distorted lens, which – as with Williams’ astonishing credulity in reaction to Snow’s Gaza report – is rarely critically examined.
  3. This skewed coverage – which imputes maximum malevolence to Israel and denies Palestinians any semblance of moral agency – informs and reinforces the bias of journalists and editors when covering future stories.

Williams’ capacity to maintain belief in her own commitment to empirically driven conclusions whilst simultaneously disseminating complete fabrications about Israel would only come as a surprise to those unfamiliar with the pro-Palestinian media echo-chamber in which she operates.


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22 replies »

    • If you read the excerpt, it certainly seems like she’s suggesting that climate change is as much an established truth as the ‘fact’ that Israel targeted kids in Gaza,

  1. Adam I’m sorry but up to a point I agree with Zoe Williams.
    When she writes ” However, Israel and Gaza is, joint with climate change, the issue on which broadcasters effectively demand not balance but something quite different: equal voice given to the staunchest proponent of each side.”
    She is correct. It is nonsense that when you write an article, or broadcast a piece, you have to give an equal voice to the staunchest proponent of each side.
    Balanced reporting is good journalism, but ‘equal voice’ even to a viewpoint that is clearly morally wrong e.g. terrorist groups such as Hamas or in the case of climate change scientifically wrong is distorted journalism and gives weight to morally and scientifically repugnant nonsense.

    • Nonsense. In both cases, one side is given free rein while the other is openly mocked.

      • Perhaps you missed my point.
        While I support balanced reporting, I definitely do not agree that you have to give ‘equal voice’ to the staunchest proponents of each side.
        For example, Hamas launches indiscriminately rockets/ mortars into civilian areas in Israel, that should not mean there is any need to give ‘equal voice’ to a spokesperson for Hamas. A balanced report about the attack is what I want to read, hear or see. I am of course referring to ALL media not just The Guardian.
        As for those who deny climate change, anyone who supports such unsound, unscientific, and irrational bullshit deserve to be mocked in the same way that anyone who supported alchemy, astrology, or wanted to indoctrinate children with garbage such as God created the Earth in six days, could and should be.

    • The clear take-away from this is that Williams thinks that Israeli killed children, carelessly or possibly even with intent. She finds her view on this uncontroversial and beyond debate – as uncontroversial as her belief in climate change – and questions why broadcasters have the need to bring on anyway that would actually defend Israel’s killing of children.

  2. I think the critiscisms of Adam’s little ditty fail to factor in that the whole purpose of blog spots like this is affirmation, Forgive them Adam they know not what they type.

  3. “[for] want of finding someone who could defend the killing of the children of Gaza,”? But you can look to the pages of The Guardian for articles by people who defend (indeed promote) the killing of Israeli children.

      • The most egregious was a column by a Hamas representative some time back. Leader page, right column. But the whole mood is to denigrate any attempts to prevent attacks by Hamas and Fatah – look at this feed for many examples.

          • An op-ed from a representative of a racist, misogynistic, homophobic group who have a policy of attacking civilians seem to me to be a good example. Are you sure you want to defend the decision to publish that column?

  4. Let’s face it–Adam is right. The big picture is inarguably that the Guardian has been writing malicious, dishonest, bigoted commentary about Israel for a long time. Their whole coverage of the defensive action in Gaza is just one more sad example of how distorted their articles about Israel are, and can only reflect a combination of stupidity, far Left lies about Israel, and miserably poor “journalism”.

    These people should be ashamed of themselves and their hate campaign against the Mideast’s only democracy.

    • As if Israel has anywhere near the blood on its hands the left does. It’s not even in the same ballpark. Hypocrites.

      • You just created a Left Boogeyman like others have exploited their need for the Zionist Boogeyman. You need a gross exaggeration of the Left like hate mongers need their gross exaggerations of Zionists/Israel. And the kicker? The Left is only billions of people more than either the Jews and definitely the State of Israel.

        In my book, that’s hypocrisy.

  5. I would say the Guardian is an “anti-Israel echo chamber than a pro-Palestinian equivalent, for the focus is not on the welfare of the Arab-Palestinian populace but the demonisation of Israel. Zoe Williams’ comment reminds me to some extent of one of the senior founder member of the Irish wing of the PSC, who claimed that those who defend Israel are akin to those who defend paedophilia – he also justified the arming and training of Hamas by Iran so once again has little concern for the welfare of the Arab-Palestinian

    • One major problem in getting balance is that Israel is a free place for journalists to work in, whereas any journalist working in Gaza will have a minder/translator who’ll be there whenever the reporter goes out or talks to anyone. If the journo doesn’t toe the Hamas line they won’t get back into Gaza if they leave. If you want your job, follow the Hamas line. And of course, don’t report this censorship.