Guardian’s Jerusalem reporter wants critics of his coverage to stop their kvetching

If you’re critical of the Guardian’s coverage of Israel, and believe that the media group often gets the facts wrong about the conflict, the paper’s Jerusalem correspondent Oliver Holmes has a message for you: he doesn’t much care about your concerns and would rather not hear from you.

That’s our take-away from his first person account reflecting on his first year in Jerusalem (Reporting from Jerusalem: The focus is always on how the story is told, April 28).

Here are the relevant paragraphs:

I had arrived in Jerusalem a year earlier, taking on one of journalism’s most toxic beats: Israel-Palestine. Covering this place is so contentious that there is a whole book on the Guardian’s history with Israel. Unlike anywhere I’ve ever reported, the focus here is not on what happens, but how that story is told, dragging us journalists into the fight over the narrative.

I was deported from Yemen and shot at in Syria, yet I have never experienced such a determined, day-to-day attempt to influence the independence of our work as I do here.

This is done with online attacks and relentless complaints, and also with smiles. Lobbyists offer to “help” by setting up interviews or trips, but only those that promote their cause. These groups don’t understand how our goals are completely at odds. If they succeed, to make press coverage of Israel glowing, while playing down the country’s failings, then we neglect our goal, which is, of course, to report fairly and objectively.

Tellingly, Holmes’ article cites only examples of Israelis attempting to influence his coverage, not Palestinians.  He ignores the fact that top Palestinian official Saeb Erekat issued a document to foreign journalists telling them how to cover the region, and that Hamas threatens and intimidates journalists who don’t follow their script.

Though he may truly believe he’s reporting “fairly” on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, our analysis to date shows that Holmes has drawn from the standard Guardian playbook – which includes obsessive criticism of every Israeli sin, real and imagined, accompanied by a near total failure to treat Palestinians as moral actors whose decisions impact their political and economic outcomes.  We’ve demonstrated, for instance, that Holmes has adhered to Palestinian talking points on the Great March of Return in portraying the violent rioters entirely as victims, and has amplified and promoted the narrative of BDS activists and other marginal anti-Israel voices. 

Oliver Holmes

Further, whilst it’s unclear what he means when he complains of “online attacks”, if he’s referring to us, it would have been more accurate to describe them as ‘tweets respectfully pointing out his factual errors and omissions’.

Moreover, he seems completely unaware that most British Jews hold the Guardian in utter contempt, anger driven by their history of fanatical hostility towards the only Jewish state – bias and outright vilification that a large majority of Jews believe fuels antisemitism in Britain.  

Finally, it seems not to have occurred to Holmes that those who promote Israel’s cause, and submit “relentless complaints”, may be making reasonable arguments and could impart information about the region he wasn’t aware of, or provide perspectives he hadn’t previously considered. What he frames as shielding himself from attempts to compromise his “independence” strikes us as just a fancy way of putting his fingers in his ears while shouting “I can’t hear you!”.  

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19 replies »

  1. The fact that the Guardian is entirely capable of covering all sorts of other controversial subjects without anything approaching the systematic biases and outright falsehoods documented on this website only serves to heighten the discrepancies. Arguably, it is the single most shameful aspect of mainstream news and opinion coverage extant.

  2. To me, he looks like a kid. I don’t trust him to know much of anything useful.
    Someone might mention to him that independence is the freedom to say whatever you want. Objectivity is an effort to be fair. Perhaps he should try it.

  3. Someone should organize for this poor victim of Zionist silencing a drive thru tour in the ,a href = “”>nonexistent tunnel under the Mount of Olives…

  4. The Der Guardian smearer Oliver Holmes is stunned to discover that there are people who push back on their antisemitic narrative. What are these Jews thinking? Going against the regressive left narrative? Going against the move of delivering their throats to the knife of the antisemite. The gall of these Jews. 🇮🇱

  5. Actually working in Israel as a journalists is a lot safer and easy than being a journalists in the rest of the middle east , little chance of a risk to personal safety , virtual total freedom to talk to who you want and say what you want you can even openly say how much you hate the country without facing any jail time which would the norm in most other countries in the area . And given the Guardian has a ‘party line ‘ you always know what angle to take to get your story in the paper . Add in the weather and it is frankly easy time , with lots of beach time too. Nice job when you can get it .

  6. Indeed. Subdued, yet genuine rabid hatred of anything smelling of jewish sovereignty.

  7. As USUAL, when a person can NOT dissolve the arguments of the other, because they are TRUE, he starts to say irrational things, like this man, because he knows he is WRONG.

    Comes a moment, when The TRUTH Teller has no more time to loose with this type of TRUTH Deniers, like this bozo.

    À TOUS les jours, il y a, de plus en plus d’ignorant-menteurs invétérés, qui s’ajoutent au Panier de Cause Perdue.!

    S’ils veulent s’opposer aussi fortement à La Vérité, laissez-les se perdre alors…

    LA VÉRITÉ Triomphe Toujours, c’est juste une question de temps.!

  8. He doesn’t seem to realize, or doesn’t care, that when anti-Israeli sins are obsessed on and blown-up in a major medium outlet, Jewish lives are at stake, not just in Israel, but everywhere.