Media bias was everywhere

The first port of call for an examination of bias in media coverage of the teens' murders is naturally the Guardian, one of the largest purveyors of the anti-Israel narrative. But it would be a mistake to focus there exclusively, as such coverage is, sadly, ubiquitous.

News stories during the weeks before the discovery of the bodies included a predictable emphasis on the settlements, a pictorial focus on Palestinian suffering and a failure to report the context of incitement.

Several stories falsely reported that the teens were "settlers", a pejorative term used to position Israeli victims of terror as somehow deserving their fate. The Guardian and Independent suggested this, although both errors were later corrected following our complaints. But the Economist has refused to correct their false characterisation of the teens as "three young Jewish settlers".

Most photos focused on the Israeli military response, rather than the boys or their families. A Daily Mail article stood out as the worst example: 16 photos depicting Israeli military operations near Hebron.

Other examples of selective reporting include the fact that none of the articles mentioned the support expressed by some Palestinians for the kidnapping, while several found space to mention a marginal Israeli Facebook group calling for the killing of terrorists.

There was, inevitably, a common focus on Israel's "disproportionate response" to the killings. The Guardian's Jerusalem correspondent re-tweeted a colleague who, on learning of the deaths, said his main fear pertained to IDF "reprisals" against Palestinian civilians. A Guardian editorial warned Israel against "lashing out indiscriminately" at "all Palestinians for the actions of a few".

A Financial Times feature focused on "fears of retaliation by settlers and a tough military response", and an Economist article on an entirely different subject managed to inveigh against the "unjustified suffering" likely to be inflicted upon innocent Palestinians. A story in the Independent also emphasised "Palestinians' fear of Israeli collective punishment".

In short, stories were typically aligned with the UK media's preferred narrative - Israeli aggression and Palestinian victimhood. UK readers, however, have a right to demand higher standards, in which facts, balance and objectivity take precedence over the kind of agenda-driven journalism which continues to compromise UK media coverage of the Middle East.

Adam Levick is the managing editor of CiF Watch, an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA)

    Last updated: 10:05am, July 9 2014