Guardian apologises for inappropriate photo in story about antisemitism

This morning, CST published their latest antisemitic incidents report showing that 2018 saw the highest levels of antisemitism on record - an increase, CST noted, was driven in large measure by the ongoing Labour Antisemitism row. Yet, the Guardian's report on CST's latest figures used a photo from Gaza to illustrate the piece, as we noted in a tweet to their photo editor minutes after it was published.

This morning, CST published their latest antisemitic incidents report showing that 2018 saw the highest levels of antisemitism on record – an increase, CST noted, driven in large measure by the ongoing Labour Antisemitism row.  CST also reported that “Whereas previous high annual totals in 2014 and 2009 were associated with reactions to conflicts involving Israel, there has been no single [Israel-related] trigger event to cause the high annual totals in recent years (2016, 2017 and 2018).  

Yet, the Guardian’s report on CST’s latest figures used a photo from Gaza to illustrate the piece, as we noted in a tweet to their photo editor Fiona Shields minutes after it was published.

(See an interesting take on the Guardian photo choice, by Jewish Chronicle reporter Daniel Sugarman, here.)

In addition to the fact that the photo would misleadingly suggest to many that Israel was the trigger for the spike in antisemitic incidents, it also obfuscates CST’s conclusion that the increase was in large measure due to antisemitism within British politics – particularly, of course, within the Labour Party.  This conclusion is consistent with a comprehensive European Union poll of Jews in 12 countries published last year which showed that the highest level of concern about antisemitism in political life was expressed by British Jews — at 84%. 

A photo of Jeremy Corbyn, or a screen shot of one the many threatening social media posts by Corbyn supporters to Jewish MKs, to illustrate the Guardian article would have been far more representative of the antisemitism surge than the image from the Gaza border.

Interestingly, this word cloud by CST, composed of the most used words in antisemitic incidents recorded by CST from Facebook and Twitter, shows that “Gaza” in fact ranked extremely low.

A couple hours after our complaint, the photo was replaced.

An addendum noting the change was added to the article, and a Guardian News and Media spokesperson said to the Jewish News:

“We apologise for the original photo on the story which should not have been used, and has now been replaced.”

Though the new photo’s focus on Israel is similarly problematic, the fact that it now depicts graffiti featuring the word “Israhell” with a swastika represents an improvement because CST does usually count – per the IHRA Working Definition – incidents that equate Israel to Nazi Germany as antisemitic.

Related Articles
Written By
More from Adam Levick

Fact-checking Julian Borger on Ahmadinejad’s incitement to genocide

The Guardian’s diplomatic editor Julian Borger published a post on the recent...
Read More