Is Israel the 4th most powerful nation on earth? And, does the Guardian fact check letters?

Are letters published at the Guardian even minimally fact-checked?

Assuming, of course, that Guardian editors are involved in some capacity in the process of reviewing, editing, and selecting reader letters for publication – what are their responsibilities regarding unsubstantiated claims?  

In April the Guardian published, and then removed, a letter which suggested that the ubiquity of Israeli security and border fences represents evidence that Jews are on some psychological level trying to recreate the European ghetto life of their ancestors.

After quite a few complaints to the readers’ editor, the Guardian removed the letter.  In their corrections section, they wrote following:

So based on that incident, it would appear that Guardian editorial guidelines apply even to ‘letters to the editor’.

Indeed, the Guardian’s Editorial Code, Appendix 3.1, citing the Press Complaints Commission Code of Practice (PCC), clearly suggests that content in the paper should adhere to the PCC requirements to take care not to publish “inaccurate, misleading, or distorted information”.

On August 1st, the Guardian published letters (Letters: Israel, Hamas, and blame for the plight of women in Gaza“) in response to a piece by Angela Robson on July 30th titled “Women in Gaza: How life has changed”, which largely blamed the Israeli blockade for the increase in domestic violence in Gaza. (You can see Hadar Sela simply eviscerate Robson’s specious claims, here.)

However, one Guardian letter writer evidently believed that even the minimal guilt Robson imputed to the Islamist regime for the deterioration of women’s’ rights in Gaza was unfair and wrote this:

While there’s much in Hamed’s letter we could take apart, I was struck by his claim that Israel is the 4th most powerful nation on Earth.

I had never seen the Jewish state ranked anywhere near 4th in military or political prowess. – which provides analyses of global military powers with statistics compiled through a breakdown of 45 factors, including air power, naval power, total number of military personnel, etc. – ranks Israel’s military 10th in the world, just ahead of Brazil and Iran.

Israel’s total military spending is 18th in the world (based on data tallied by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute).

The site of the Academic Association for Contemporary European Studies ranks the 15 most “powerful” nations based on economic, military, and political factors.  Israel is not one of the 15 top countries on their list.

Of course, the author of the Guardian letter was probably hoping that his claim wouldn’t be scrutinized by Guardian editors – and he clearly got his wish.

More broadly, the intentional inflation of Israeli power (much like the historical narrative regarding Jewish power more broadly) typically has an ulterior motive.  Those who greatly exaggerate the Jewish State’s might – and infer a corresponding capacity for malice – are practicing the tried and true anti-Zionist strategy of transforming the image of the Arab-Israeli (and Islamist-Israeli) struggle into an Arab (Palestinian) David against an Israeli Goliath.

Whether or not the Guardian editor reviewing the letter examined the particular claim about Israeli power, this oppressor-oppressed political paradigm which informs much of the paper’s coverage (and commentary) regarding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict often renders facts and particulars moot.

As Ronen Shoval wrote:

“The political philosophy of the far left-wing has its roots in post-modernist thought.

That is the basis for [those who say that] history is not what actually happened, but what is believed to have happened. In other words, there is no absolute truth. There is only the narrative that partially represents the truth.

This is the basis of the religion of doubt, relativism and falsehood that rejects the concept of truth and recognizes only discourse. In the language games, all wars are judged on a moral basis and every ideal expresses, by necessity, the oppression of a particular political group.”

As long as Palestinian Arabs are seen by the Guardian Left as the oppressed party in the conflict, truth and empirical evidence will necessarily be subservient to the desired political narrative.

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