CiF Watch prompts Guardian correction to anti-Bibi smear by Chris McGreal

On Aug. 1st we fisked the claim in the following Tweet (on July 22) by Guardian reporter Chris McGreal

McGreal actually doubled-down on the Tweet’s suggestion – that the Israeli conflict against Hamas is, in fact, a racist war designed simply to murder Arabs – in his July 31st Guardian article titled ‘American media’s new pro-Israel bias: the same party line at the wrong time.

His column began thusly:

Here are a few questions you won’t hear asked of the parade of Israeli officials crossing US television screens during the current crisis in Gaza:

  • What would you do if a foreign country was occupying your land?
  • What does it mean that Israeli cabinet ministers deny Palestine’s right to exist?
  • What should we make of a prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who as opposition leader in the 1990s was found addressing rallies under a banner reading “Death to Arabs”?

However, after a modest amount of research – evidently more than McGreal put into his own column – we were able to establish that the banner in question, at a right-wing rally in Jerusalem in 1994, did not read ‘Death to Arabs’ but, rather, death to the father of modern terror – Yasser Arafat.

After contacting Guardian editors, they acknowledged McGreal’s error, revised the passage in question and added the following addendum to the article:


We commend Guardian editors for their positive response to our complaint. 


Huffington Post UK Corrects: No ‘West Bank’ Airstrikes by IDF

Cross posted from CAMERA

CAMERA’s Israel office has prompted a Huffington Post UK correction of a headline which had incorrectly referred to airstrikes in the West Bank. In fact, while the Gaza Strip has been subjected to airstrikes following a barrage of rocket attacks from that territory into southern Israel, there have been no West Bank airstrikes.
Editors also promptly corrected the accompanying July 1 article by Paul Vale, which had falsely asserted that the airstrikes were in response to the murders of the three Israeli teens, Gil-Ad Shaar, Naftali Frankel and Eyal Yifrach. In fact, the airstrikes on 24 targets in the Gaza Strip were in response to the aforementioned 18 rocket attacks on Israel.
A screen capture of the erroneous headline and article, first noted earlier today on CAMERA’s Snapshots blog, follows:
huffpost airstrikes

CAMERA staff contacted Huffington Post editors, noting that the airstrikes in the Gaza Strip were a response to the rocket fire coming from there, not to the murder of the three teens. The Huffington Post article is itself hyperlinked to an Associated Press story, also on the Huffington Post UK site, which notes that the Israeli military said it was rocket fire from the Gaza Strip which led to the airstrikes there:

Early Tuesday, Israel carried out an especially intense series of airstrikes in Gaza, saying it had struck 34 targets across the Hamas-controlled territory. The military said the airstrikes were a response to a barrage of 18 rockets fired into Israel since late Sunday.

As a result, editors immediately corrected both the headline and text, which now appear as follows:
huffpost airstrikes corrected
CAMERA commends Huffington Post UK for its timely and forthright corrections.

CiF Watch prompts Guardian correction over Iran Sanctions Bill claim

Earlier this month we criticized a Guardian report by Harriet Sherwood and Dan Roberts (Binyamin Netanyahu visit will test strains in US-Israel relationship, March 2) that included the following claim regarding efforts in the US Senate to pass a new Iran Sanctions Bill:

…the failure of an Aipac-supported effort to pass legislation blocking Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran has led to a reassessment of the fabled ability of its lobbyists to wield a veto over US policy when it comes to matters of Israeli security.

We noted that this represented a significant mischaracterization of a bill (S.1881 – Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013) which, by all accounts, was designed to increase sanctions against Iran only in the event negotiations with the six world powers failed to produce an agreement, or if Iran failed to abide by the terms of any agreement.

Following our communication with Guardian editors, they agreed to revise the relevant passage. It now reads:

But the failure of Aipac to garner enough support in the Senate to oppose the Obama administration over its nuclear deal with Iran has led to a reassessment of the fabled ability of its lobbyists to wield a veto over US policy when it comes to matters of Israeli security.

Additionally, the following addendum was added to the article, noting the change:


Though we are not totally satisfied with the revised passage – which still fails to clearly state the intent of the legislation  – it nonetheless represents an improvement over the original, and we commend Guardian editors on their positive response to our complaint.

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Guardian improves original headline to story on ALLEGED ‘Israeli tear gas’ fatality

The Guardian published this Reuters report today:

headlineThere’s one big problem. As you read the report it’s clear that, at this point, there are only “claims” by Palestinian “witnesses” that “an 85-year old Palestinian died after inhaling teargas fired by the Israeli army”.   The Israeli military is investigating the incident, and the allegation has not been corroborated.

Indeed, if you read reports elsewhere which cite the same Reuters story, you’ll see that a significant qualification was included:


Even Al-Arabiya noted that the report was only based on Palestinian sources:


Later in the day, Guardian editors changed the headline, adding quotes around ‘after inhaling tear gas’ and revising language in the strap line (“Villagers say…”) to indicate that the allegations are only based on what some Palestinians are telling the media.


Finally, as past claims about Palestinians allegedly killed by Israeli tear gas demonstrate, responsible media outlets would be wise to follow this story closely and not base their reports merely on Palestinian sources.

Editor’s Note:  We were recently contacted by Guardian editors to explain that CiF Watch did not prompt the correction, and that their staff caught the error and made the change on their own. The title of this post has been amended accordingly.

CiF Watch prompts correction to false Indy claim about “caged” Palestinian kids

A couple of hours ago we posted about a horribly misleading report in The Independent (Israel government tortures Palestinian children by keeping them in cages, human rights group says, Jan. 1) which included the following:

  • The broad, unsubstantiated insinuation, based on very vague wording in a report by the radical NGO PCATI, that Palestinian kids detained by Israeli security personnel are “tortured”.
  • The charge, based on completely uncorroborated allegations, based on a PCATI report, that Palestinian children are sexually abused while in custody.
  • The completely erroneous charge that Palestinian children were cagedfor months” -  an allegation which was not even leveled by PCATI, nor by anyone involved in the story.

Following our complaint to Indy editors, the word torture in the headline was placed in quotes and, more importantly, the false charge that Palestinian children were caged for months has been amended.

First, the strap line has been revised. Here’s the original:

strapNow, here the revised version:

revisedAlso, they revised the opening sentence of the story. Here’s the original:

unnamedNow, here’s the revised sentence:

new sentenceDespite this modest improvement, it’s still shameful that such sophomoric agitprop – which, as we noted, engages in a far greater degree of hyperbole than even Electronic Intifada’s post on the same story – saw the light of day in the first place, and evidently got past the eyes of Indy editors.

You may want to Tweet Adam Withnall, the Indy reporter responsible for the story, to respectfully note your objections.


Guardian editor struggles with Jewish Geography, but puts ‘Israeli hawks’ back in Jerusalem

On Nov. 18 we reminded readers that until the summer of 2012 the Guardian’s Style Guide stated that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel – a shamefully false claim which was only officially retracted by their editors after a complaint was filed with the PCC.  We noted this quintessentially Guardianesque misinformation in response to a recent report by their Middle East editor, Ian Black, titled ‘Hawks squawk even before Iran nuclear deal is sealed‘, Nov. 8.  

Black’s report included this sentence:

Hardliners in Tehran, hawks in Tel Aviv and Washington, nervous Saudis and their Gulf allies are all alarmed at the prospect of a nuclear deal between Iran, the US and the international community [in Geneva].

As we noted, the context made it clear Black was referring to the putatively “hard-line” and “hawkish” political leaders within the governments of Iran, Israel and the United States.  Yet, while the capitals (where the ‘seats of government’ is located) in Iran and the United States were of course correct, the paper’s Middle East “expert” bestowed this status to the wrong Israeli city.

Though no change was prompted to Black’s misleading Nov. 8 report after our complaints, the following sentence in Black’s latest report (a ‘Middle East Year in Review’ published on Dec. 19) included an update on the nuclear deal which, at the very least, is quite curious.

It is an interim [nuclear] agreement and faces opposition from hardliners in Tehran who mistrust the emollient Rouhani, Republicans in Washington and hawks in Jerusalem, where Israel – anxious to maintain its monopoly of (undeclared) nuclear weapons – was ignored by Barack Obama

Yes, those ‘squawking Zionist hawks’ are safely back in their nation’s capital.  

We of course can’t formally claim credit for Black’s ‘evolving’ expertise in the subject of Jewish Geography which likely inspired his implicit acknowledgement that it is wrong to suggest that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital.  But, in the event that one of their contributors attempts similar rhetorical slights of hand in the future, you may want to ‘gently’ remind them of the following:


CiF Watch prompts correction to Economist claim about American Jewish views on Israel

We won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty of what it took to get the Economist to correct a false claim about Jewish American attitudes towards Israel, but suffice to say that the word “begrudging” seems apt in characterizing their willingness to acknowledge error.

econ header

As we noted in a post on Nov. 27, in an attempt to support their conclusion – in a story (Israel heads for a terrifying split, Nov. 25) about Israel’s opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran and the P5+1 – that Jerusalem may find itself  “at loggerheads with a large fraction of American Jews”, there was this passage (which we took a screenshot of at the time):


However, when you actually open the hyper-link embedded in the text it’s clear that the ADL poll gauged the views of all Americans, NOT specifically American Jews.  


If the Economist’s intent was to show that American Jewish support for Israel – in the context of the current crisis – has diminished, the poll cited (on the views, again, of ALL Americans) clearly did not demonstrate this.

Today, after a series of emails to editors at the magazine, the passage has finally been amended – and now reads:

An earlier poll by the Anti-Defamation League found that if Israel were to carry out a military strike against Iran, 48% of Americans think their country should take a “neutral” position, while just 40% would favour supporting Israel. 

The bottom of the article now also includes the following:

corexWe commend Economist editors on their decision to finally revise this unambiguously false claim.

CiF Watch prompts correction to extremely misleading Livni quote at ‘Comment is Free’

Yesterday, we posted about a selectively edited quote in a Nov. 26 essay at ‘Comment is Free’ by an anti-Zionist Jew named Michael Brull.  

We noted that the highly misleading quote – from comments made by Tzipi Livni in 2007 during negotiations with the Palestinians – was previously published at the Guardian during their special series in 2011 known as the “Palestine Papers”, and then soon corrected by the paper’s editors after a fury of complaints. 

Here’s the incomplete quote used by Brull:

Livni knows perfectly well why Israel builds settlements. In another candid moment, she explained that “the Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that it is impossible we already have the land and cannot create the state.” 

Now, here’s the full quote which, as you’ll see, indicates that Livni was certainly NOT admitting that “Israeli policy is to take more and more land” in order to prevent a new Palestinian state from being created, but was merely characterizing what she believed was the Palestinian view on settlements:

I understand the sentiments of the Palestinians when they see the settlements being built. The meaning from the Palestinian perspective is that Israel takes more land, that the Palestinian state will be impossible, the Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that it is impossible, we already have the land and cannot create the state.”

A couple of hours after we contacted Guardian editors – reminding them that they made a correction to a similar “error” two years ago – Brull’s piece was amended, and the following now appears at the bottom of the essay:


Guardian ‘inadvertently’ acknowledges that the Western Wall is NOT Judaism’s holiest site

As we’ve noted in previous posts, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (where the First and Second Jewish Temples stood) is the holiest site in Judaism.  The Western Wall, on the other hand, is merely the holiest site where Jews are currently permitted to pray – an uncontroversial, firmly established fact we leveraged to prompt a correction to a story at The Telegraph on Oct. 24 which falsely claimed that the Western Wall was the holiest site.  

Other news sites which have corrected their original false claims over the significance of the Western Wall include the LA Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the BBC (corrections which were prompted over the years by CAMERA).

In contrast to these corrections, however, the Guardian has engaged in characteristic obfuscations and stonewalling in refusing to revise Harriet Sherwood’s false claim regarding the Western Wall back in June.  Here’s Sherwood’s erroneous claim, which still hasn’t been amended.

During his three days in the Holy Land, he is scheduled to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, believed to be the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection; the Western Wall, the most revered site in Judaism

So, we were quite surprised to see the following caption accompanying a Guardian photo of a member of ‘Women of the Wall’ praying at the Western Wall (10 Photo Highlights of the Day, Nov. 4).


Whilst this is of course merely a photo caption, Guardian editors have, on occasion, revised such accurate descriptive text below their photos when they believed it to be misleading.  So we’ll continue to monitor this entry and see whether this inadvertent collision with accuracy is eventually ‘rectified’. 

CiF Watch prompts Guardian correction #2: Evidently, Jewish ‘extremists’ didn’t enter the mosque

We recently commented on two false and remarkably propagandistic photo captions at the Guardian in a Sept. 21 story titled ‘Life in Palestine 20 years on from the Oslo accord – in pictures, both of which have now been corrected.  

Whilst we already posted about one of the corrections (a caption, before the correction, which included the comical claim that Jews had “stormed” the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem on Yom Kippur!), there was an additional caption we complained about which also prompted a correction.

Here is the photo:

Here is the original caption:

As we noted in our original post, regardless of what the Palestinians in Betunia thought they were protesting, the claim that “Jewish extremists” had entered the al-Aqsa mosque was untrue.  Whilst non-Muslims are permitted to walk around the mosque compound (The Temple Mount, which is the holiest place in Judaism), all non-Muslims (including Jews) are forbidden from entering inside the mosque. Additionally, we asked, even if Jews had somehow managed to enter the mosque itself, how would anyone be able to determine if they were “extremists”?

The Guardian was unable to defend the original caption and revised it as follows:


Whilst we’re glad they acknowledged that their original claim (that “Jewish extremists” entered the mosque) was untrue and that Jews had in fact only entered the area around the mosque (as they are permitted to do every day except Friday), note that the word “extremists” was curiously changed to “settlers”.

We asked in our original post how the photographer (and Guardian editors) could possibly have determined if Jewish visitors to the site were political “extremists”, and their revision begs a similar question: Absent interviews with each visitor, how precisely can the Guardian determine if the Israelis touring the holy sites were in fact “settlers”?

It’s almost as if Israelis who live in the “West Bank” have some sort of distinct physical marking on their body which is absent from those who live within the state’s pre-1967 boundaries – an idea which may be a bit of a stretch, but no less fantastical than the Guardian tale (implicit in their original captions) of masses of crazed, extremist Jews storming the al-Aqsa mosque!   


3rd time’s a charm: CiF Watch prompts correction to Telegraph “correction” on refugees

On Aug. 20th we posted about a report at The Telegraph by their Middle East correspondent, Robert Tait, which grossly inflated the number of Palestinian Arab refugees from the 1948-49 Arab-Israeli war.  

Here’s the passage in question:

On the table are the familiar sticking points that have defied several previous peace-making attempts — namely borders, Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian lands, the fate of almost five million Arab refugees expelled to neighbouring countries during Israel’s 1948 war of independence, and the status of Jerusalem, which both sides claim as their capital.

We complained to Telegraph editors, explaining that the number of refugees from the war was actually, per UN figures, 711,000 (of whom only 30,000 remain today), while the 5 million figure only represents those who presently qualify for “refugee” benefits (which includes the descendants of refugees) under UNRWA’s bizarre guidelines.

Shortly after our complaint, the passage was amended as follows:

On the table are the familiar sticking points that have defied several previous peace-making attempts — namely borders, Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian lands, the fate of almost five million Arab refugees and their descendants expelled to neighbouring countries during Israel’s 1948 war of independence, and the status of Jerusalem, which both sides claim as their capital.

Unfortunately, the ‘revised’ passage (as we noted in a new post) was still extremely misleading, as it would likely be understood to mean that there were 5 million refugees from the ’48 war plus an additional number of descendents from these 5 million. 

So, we again contacted Telegraph editors, and recently saw the following new revision to the passage:

On the table are the familiar sticking points that have defied several previous peace-making attempts — namely borders, Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian lands, the fate of 700,000 Arab refugees and their descendants (a number that has now swelled to almost five million) expelled to neighbouring countries during Israel’s 1948 war of independence, and the status of Jerusalem, which both sides claim as their capital.

Though it took a while, we commend Telegraph editors on finally getting it right on the number of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war.

CiF Watch prompts correction to inaccurate Indy headline about settlements

Yesterday, we posted about a report at The Independent which included a headline falsely claiming that Israel had recently announced the construction of “900 more settlements“.  As we noted, what Israeli authorities had actually announced was “900 more homes” in existing neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem.

Here’s the original headline:

Shortly after our communication with Indy editors, the headline was corrected, and it now reads as follows:


We commend Indy editors for promptly responding to our complaint.


CiF Watch prompts correction to Guardian claim on Gaza construction material

On Friday we commented on a report by Harriet Sherwood focusing on Egypt’s recent re-closure of Gaza’s supply tunnels (Palestinians in Gaza feel the Egypt effect as smuggling tunnels close, July 19) which included the claim that Israel forbids the passage of construction materials into Gaza “apart from small quantities destined for UN projects”.  Here’s the passage in question:

About 20,000 construction workers have been laid off as a result of the shortage of materials. Israel, which allows consumer goods to be imported into Gaza, forbids the passage of construction materials – apart from small quantities destined for UN projects – on the grounds they could be use to make weapons or arms storage depots.

We noted that Sherwood’s claim that ‘Israel only allows construction materials into Gaza which is destined for UN projects’ was not true – citing widely reported news in Dec. 2012 that Israel had expanded the legal passage of construction materials (which had previously only allowed materials for UN projects) to include such materials for private contractors, as well.

Shortly after contacting Guardian editors, the passage in question was revised to more accurately reflect Israeli policy vis-a-vis the import of construction material into Gaza. It now reads as follows:

About 20,000 construction workers have been laid off as a result of the shortage of materials. Israel, which allows consumer goods to be imported into Gaza, until recently forbade the passage of construction materialsapart from small quantities destined for UN projects – on the grounds that they could be use to make weapons or arms storage depots. Small amounts of building materials are now being let in for the private sector. 

Whilst the claim that only a “small amount” of private sector material enters Gaza is questionable considering that 20 truckloads of such material now enter the strip daily under the new policy, the revised passage is clearly an improvement over the original and we commend Guardian editors for their prompt action.

CiF Watch prompts Guardian correction to report on Palestinian prisoners

On April 10, we commented on a Guardian report by Harriet Sherwood, titled ‘John Kerry: talks with Netanyahu and Abbas very constructive‘, about efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.  Sherwood’s report included several passages about concessions demanded of Israel by Mahmoud Abbas before he’ll agree to resume negotiations, including the following:

[Abbas] also wants the release of 123 political prisoners who have been in jail since before the Oslo accords were signed almost 20 years ago, and for Israel to present a map showing proposed borders. [emphasis added]

As we attempted to demonstrate at the time, using merely open source information, the Palestinians she was alluding to were all convicted for their involvement in murder, or attempted murder, and that the characterization of them as “political prisoners” – suggesting that they were imprisoned merely for their beliefs – seemed to be flatly untrue. 

Additionally, some time after our post CiF Watch was able to obtain detailed information on the pre-Oslo prisoners from Emi Palmor, the Director of Pardons at the Israeli Justice Ministry, which included the crimes, dates of conviction and other relevant facts on every Palestinian prisoner in question.   Palmor’s information proved conclusively that all of the prisoners consisted of common criminals convicted of murder and (mostly) terrorists who murdered or attempted to murder Israeli civilians, soldiers, or foreign tourists.

Some time after providing the Guardian with proof that the Palestinians in question can not fairly be referred to “political prisoners” they agreed to revise the passage, which now modifies the claim to note that the pre-Oslo prisoners are merely described as “political prisoners” by the Palestinians:

The Palestinians also want the release of 123 prisoners, viewed as political prisoners by the Palestinians, who have been in jail since before the Oslo accords were signed almost 20 years ago, and for Israel to present a map showing proposed borders.

As we noted at the time of our original post, many Palestinians regard even compatriots convicted of deadly terrorist acts euphemistically as “political prisoners”, and that Sherwood’s text, intentionally or otherwise, served to legitimize the Palestinian narrative which glorifies even terrorists convicted of the most gruesome crimes as ‘victims’ of Israeli oppression. 

Our efforts to secure the definition of the term “political prisoner” – which is clearly understood to mean ‘those who are imprisoned for their political beliefs’ – represents an attempt to fight back against the manipulation of language, in the service of an egregiously pro-Palestinian agenda, which is routinely advanced by the Guardian and their fellow political travelers.

This Guardian revision represents one victory within the larger cognitive war.

CiF Watch prompts correction to Indy post by Matt Hill about Ethiopian contraception

Yesterday, we posted about a commentary at The Independent, written by ‘Liberal Conspiracy’ blogger Matt Hill, on April 16 titled ‘At 65, modern Israel is falling short of Zionism’s most basic goal, which included the following passage:

Israel’s story, in brief, might be described as overcoming a horrific infancy to grow rich and successful. But its triumphs have come at a cost. Once full of youthful idealism, today it is cynical, increasingly corrupt, and calloused by hubris. The land of socialist pioneers has become, besides America, the most unequal country in the world. A state established as a home for the homeless now treats immigrants with contempt, as the scandal of its forced sterilisation of Ethiopian women has shown.

However, as we noted in our post, the row which Hill alluded to – based on an Israeli documentary and subsequent reports by Haaretz – merely involved unproven allegations that some Ethiopian women may have been coerced by doctors into receiving a long-lasting popular contraception called Depo-Provera.  

There was never anything resembling “forced sterilisation’ – a term which is commonly defined as ‘a process of permanently ending someone’s ability to reproduce without his or her consent’.

Shortly after our post yesterday we contacted editors at The Independent to object to the misleading term, and today the paper removed the reference to “forces sterilisation” and added this note at the end of Hill’s commentary:


Indy editors deserve credit for their prompt response after being alerted to this error.