Guardian not wrong to say Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital, panel says


(JTA) — A complaint leveled against the Guardian over Israel’s capital city was decided in favor of the British newspaper.

In correcting a photo caption that had referred to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the newspaper wrote that "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 6 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.’ "

The watchdog group HonestReporting submitted an official complaint with the United Kingdom Press Complaints Commission saying that Israel has identified its capital as Jerusalem.

In its decision issued Sunday, the Press Complaints Commission said that "While it is correct to say that Israel classes Jerusalem as her capital city, this is not recognized by many countries and those nations enjoying diplomatic relations with Israel have their embassies in Tel Aviv. As such, the Commission was of the view that the newspaper was entitled to refer to Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel. There was no breach of the Code in this instance."

Clause 1 of the commission’s official code states that newspapers “must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information,” and the terms of Clause 1(ii) state that “a significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognized must be corrected promptly and with due prominence.”

"We believe that this flawed ruling has the potential to further delegitimize Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital, giving the British media a carte blanche to follow The Guardian’s lead," HonestReporting said in a statement on its website.

The watchdog points out that the UK Foreign Office says that "Israel maintains that Jerusalem is its capital city, a claim not recognized by the UK and the international community. The UK locates its embassy in Tel Aviv." It does not, however, identify Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital.

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