‘Guardian’ retracts claim that Tel Aviv is capital

British newspaper amends style guide following media watchdog's threat of judicial review.

August 8, 2012 23:44
2 minute read.
Jerusalem's old city

Jerusalem's old city 370. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)


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LONDON – The Guardian has retracted a claim it made that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel, issuing a correction on Wednesday in its print edition and online.

The newspaper said it had been wrong to refer to Tel Aviv as the capital city of the Jewish state and it has amended its Style Guide accordingly.

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“We accept that it is wrong to state that Tel Aviv – the country's financial and diplomatic center – is the capital,” it said.

In April, the newspaper issued a correction to a photo caption – that had featured passengers on a tram in Jerusalem observing a two-minute silence for Holocaust Remembrance Day – stating that it had wrongly referred to Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

“The Guardian Style Guide states: Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is,” it stated.

Jerusalem-based media monitors HonestReporting complained to the UK’s Press Complaints Commission at the time and the media regulator issued a ruling in May declaring that Tel Aviv was indeed Israel’s capital.

HonestReporting then took initial steps to file for a judicial review. This forced the PCC to withdraw its ruling and demand that the Guardian defend its position.


The media monitor organization said the Guardian backed down following the threat of judicial review and issued a correction. It also changed its Style Guide, which had stated that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel, to reflect the correction.

“This correction is a significant achievement against a newspaper that has been a major contributor to the broader delegitimization of Israel in the UK and beyond,” said Joe Hyams, HonestReporting’s chief executive.

“It is shocking that it has taken the threat of legal action to reverse a decision that was not based on reality. Nonetheless, it was vital that HR took on the Guardian and the PCC as a matter of principle, particularly at a time when Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital is increasingly being called into question by the media.”

HonestReporting said, however, that the Guardian’s correction had not been agreed upon when the newspaper unilaterally terminated its negotiations with HonestReporting and the PCC.

“Now that the Guardian has admitted that it was wrong, we call on the PCC to issue a new ruling categorically stating that Tel Aviv is not Israel’s capital, so that it is clear to the British media that it will not be allowed to repeat this error.”

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