Guardian pulls 'ghetto wall' letter

By Jessica Elgot, April 19, 2012
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A letter which suggested Jewish identity was defined by "the ghetto wall" has been pulled from the Guardian's website after complaints.

The letter, written by Guardian reader Niels Engelsted, claimed that Israel was building the security barrier along the West Bank border as "protective wall building", creating conditions akin to living in a ghetto.

Israeli officials in London told the JC that the timing of the letter, published in the Guardian Weekly edition of the paper, was particularly shocking given that it was published in the week of Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day).

The Guardian has now removed the letter from its website after receiving complaints.

The original letter from Mr Engelsted read: "As no doubt Israeli politics have much to do with preserving and protecting Jewish identity, and as this identity historically was defined by the ghetto wall, one cannot help think that it is the ghetto wall that all this protective wall-building in Israel is meant to rebuild".

An Israeli Embassy spokesman in London said: "It is not news to us that there are plenty of lunatics out there with such twisted opinions. What is more disturbing however, is that the filters at such a prestigious newspaper failed to establish that this was not a suitable view for publication."

Board of Deputies president Vivian Wineman said: "It is outrageous at any time to compare the situation in the Middle East to the murder of most of Europe's Jews in the Second World War. To do so in the week of Yom HaShoah adds insult to injury."

A Guardian News & Media spokesperson said: "The letter in question was brought to our attention by one reader [on Tuesday morning]. The issue was immediately addressed in the normal way by the Guardian's independent readers' editor, who took the decision to remove the letter in question from our website.

"The online page has also been footnoted to acknowledge the deletion, and the fact that the letter used language inconsistent with the Guardian's editorial guidelines."

    Last updated: 5:42pm, April 19 2012