The Guardian: Decline of a once great newspaper

Counterpoint to:
"It is hard to tell who appears worst: the Palestinian leaders, who are weak and craven; the Israelis, who are contemptuous in deed; or the Americans, bullying the weak and holding the hand of the strong."
The Guardian (London)
January 25, 2011
For the past ten years Britain’s self-proclaimed voice for justice and human rights, The Guardian newspaper, has been on a steady course of increasing hostility towards Israel. The paper, which counts many of Britain’s intelligentsia among its readership, turns to Israel for a grossly disproportionate amount of the material it publishes. In fact the paper has become fixated and obsessed with the Jewish state. 
Even one of their own senior staff writers wrote to me that when it comes to Israel the Guardian can lose its moral compass. Quite an indictment when it comes from within the senior ranks of the paper itself.
Periodically the Guardian and its website are inundated with reports, articles, letters, and commentaries deploring Israel. This past week has seen one such instance.
The cause for the latest torrent is the publication, jointly by Al Jazeera and The Guardian, of hundreds of internal Palestinian memos related to the peace negotiations with Israel. Consequently Israel is now sharing a spurious dock with the Palestinian Authority, the latter being derided for appearing too forthcoming in its negotiations.
In an editorial early in the week, the editors of the Guardian expressed their scorn for the ‘weak’ and ‘craven’ Palestinian negotiators and for the ‘contemptuous’ Israelis.
However, one Guardian staff writer did not entirely agree with his editors. Columnist Jonathan Freedland wrote:
“For the record, I disagreed with the Guardian editorial that described Palestinian concessions as ‘craven’: I prefer to admire the readiness of the Palestinians to move, urging Israelis to do the same.”
For the record, I didn’t agree with that editorial either, though I would be inclined to use much stronger words to describe my opinion of it. A maliciously conniving attempt to wreck any remaining chance of peace between the Palestinians and Israel might be a more accurate characterization of the editorial.
Other prominent political commentators expressed similar sentiments. British political analyst Robin Shepherd described the editorial as spiteful, resentful, apoplectic, and coming alarmingly close to the position of Hamas, and political scientist Emanuele Ottolenghi wrote:
“…the real story behind the leaks is not the papers themselves but the Guardian’s agenda for leaking them... The peace process may have been moribund, but surely, after this weekend’s leak, it is dead. The Guardian has just given it the coup de grace and is now busy taking credit for it.”
The Guardian editors not only take credit for their death blow, they do so while showing contempt for everyone involved in the peace process; the Palestinian Authority for too many concessions, the Israelis for too few (if any), and the “bullying” Americans for supporting Israel. “It is hard to tell who appears worst”, they say.
The only party to receive a measure of admiration is Hamas; a group defined by the European Union as a bunch of terrorists. Hamas is worthy of the Guardian’s admiration because they offered a one-year ceasefire. Of course there is no mention that in return they wanted Israel to open the Gaza Strip borders so they could replenish their stock of Iranian explosives and rockets which they depleted by firing cross border barrages into Israeli towns and villages.
This is the very same Hamas whose formal published charter includes such gems as “Islam will obliterate Israel, just as it obliterated others before it", and:
"There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."
"The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him." 
The Guardian editors demand that Israel include Hamas in the negotiations with the Palestinians, an excellent recipe for futility if ever there was one.

The editorial continues: “Haram al-Sharif, the third holiest site in the Muslim world? That, too, is up for grabs.” This is undoubtedly a statement that elevates the word chutzpa to a new level. ‘Haram al-Sharif’ is the Islamic name for the Temple Mount, the most holy site in Judaism (not the third most holy). Arguing that the Temple Mount is “up for grabs” would be like arguing that the Kaaba in Mecca is up for grabs. Besides chutzpa, other descriptives such as insensitive and malevolent come to mind.

The editorial next hurls racist innuendos at the Israeli negotiators for daring to suggest that part of the new border be drawn inside Israel’s current territory so that some Israeli Arab villages come under the jurisdiction of the future Palestinian state. The Guardian calls this a ‘transfer’ of Israel’s Arab citizens – some of whom refer to themselves as Palestinians – without bothering to mention that these people and their homes would not actually move an inch. This may indeed be a bad idea, but it is a perfectly legitimate one, particularly since the proposed new border will be drawn so that some Jewish towns inside the West Bank become part of Israel.
In a recent broadcast on Channel 10 TV of Israel’s popular London and Kirshenbaum current affairs program, Samir Darwish, former mayor of the Israeli Arab village Baka Al Gharbia, categorically rejected any arrangement whereby Israeli Arabs would become part of a future Palestinian state, explaining that they have become accustomed to Israeli democracy and freedoms, privileges that he suspects they would not similarly enjoy in a future Palestine.
The Palestinian Authority’s negotiators, the Guardian editors maintain, are no longer legitimate, and the two-state solution could ”just as swiftly perish”. There may possibly be a degree of wishful thinking in that prediction, because, as we all know, a one state solution would not only be the end of the Jewish state, it would make the inter-faction fighting in Lebanon look like a picnic compared to what would happen west of the river Jordan. If there is one thing that the Israelis and the Palestinians have clearly shown it is that they cannot live together in one state.
The editors end on a point of profound pessimism. One requires unreasonable optimism, they say, “to believe that these negotiations can one day be resurrected.”  That may indeed be true, given the current handiwork of The Guardian and Al Jazeera.
In the current wave of vilification of Israel, and in the pronouncement of the illegitimacy of the Palestinian negotiators, the Guardian seems to have totally lost its moral compass. And as if to dispel any doubt, the paper has for good measure also provided a platform for the hatemongering of Hamas and published a letter calling Palestinian terror against Israel''s civilians “a moral right”. 
The Guardian has strayed a very long way from the time in 1921 when its most revered editor, Charles Prestwich Scott, a pro-Zionist and friend of Chaim Weizmann, wrote what were intended to be the guiding words for his newspaper:
“A newspaper plays on the minds and consciences of men. It may educate, stimulate, assist, or it may do the opposite. It has, therefore, a moral as well as a material existence, and its character and influence are in the main determined by the balance of these two forces. It may make profit or power its first object, or it may conceive itself as fulfilling a higher and more exacting function.”
“Fundamentally a newspaper’s character implies honesty, cleanness, courage, fairness, a sense of duty to the reader and the community. A newspaper is of necessity something of a monopoly, and its first duty is to shun the temptations of monopoly. Its primary office is the gathering of news. At the peril of its soul it must see that the supply is not tainted. Neither in what it gives, nor in what it does not give, nor in the mode of presentation must the unclouded face of truth suffer wrong. Comment is free, but facts are sacred. "Propaganda", so called, by this means is hateful. The voice of opponents no less than that of friends has a right to be heard. Comment also is justly subject to a self-imposed restraint. It is well to be frank; it is even better to be fair.”
“I think I may honestly say that, from the day of its foundation, there has not been much doubt as to which way the balance tipped as far as regards the conduct of the paper whose fine tradition I inherited and which I have had the honour to serve through all my working life. Had it not been so, personally, I could not have served it.”
I struggle to believe that Charles Scott could have served that paper today.
Update: Three days after their first editorial about the Palestinian memos, the Guardian, apparently concerned with the angry fallout in the international media, decided to come out with a second editorial. In a complete about face the editors resurrected the peace process and proclaimed that “a two-state solution remains the only show in town” and “is still achievable despite the agony of these revelations”.
This flip-flop leaves much doubt as to what the Guardian editors truly believe. It is reminiscent of the familiar amoral quip: these are our principles, and if you don’t like them then we have others.