By Jenni Frazer
April 25, 2012
The Guardian's letters page and its adjunct Corrections column is a constant source of fascination. This week it excelled itself with a letter from Ben (I am not an antisemite) White, letters attacking the Globe Theatre for not withdrawing its invitation to Habima to perform in London, a correction for having traduced the JC over a BNP blog, and this little gem:
"The caption on a photograph featuring passengers on a tram in Jerusalem observing a two-minute silence for Yom Hashoah, a day of remembrance for the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust, wrongly referred to the city as the Israeli capital. The Guardian style guide states: 'Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is.'"
Well. Where to start? With one hand the Guardian giveth, with the other it taketh away. It carefully cloaks itself in we-love-the-Jews-hood by running the Yom Hashoah photograph in the first place. Even the Guardian couldn't find anything snarky to say in the caption.
But wait! Yes, it had made a mistake according to the paper's style guide. It is the paper's style guide, you see, which carelessly runs roughshod across international norms of sovereignty and a country's right of self-determination. No matter that Israelis believe Jerusalem to be their capital; the Guardian style guide trumps that belief, as simply wrong.
No ifs, buts, qualifications; the Guardian knows best. Here is The Times on the same issue: "Jerusalem must not be used as a metonym or variant for Israel. It is not internationally recognised as the Israeli capital, and its status is one of the central controversies in the Middle East." That's a reasonable and sane approach.
Sad conclusion: the Guardian has lost the plot.