As we enter a new decade, we thought it would be fun to look back at some of our more interesting and impactful posts over the past ten years. You’ll note that a lot of those we included in this list are from the early years of our blog. This isn’t because there haven’t been a lot of noteworthy or important posts in more recent years – indeed quite the opposite is true. The reason is simply that that memory fades with time, and, as the editor responsible for the content of our blog since 2010, It’s been fun to go down memory lane and relive some of our early challenges with the Guardian (our sole focus in those years), as well as our accomplishments.
Special thanks to our dedicated group of conspirators/volunteers (they know who they are), and to CAMERA, who, in 2012, took us under their wings and helped take our game to the next level.
Adam Levick, Managing Editor.
2011: Four years before Jeremy Corbyn became Labour Party leader, when he was a fringe backbencher, the MP from Islington North was already on our radar, thanks in part to blog posts from our friend Richard Millett revealing his malign obsession with Israel. In this post, we fisked an op-ed Corbyn wrote for the Guardian which, though about US involvement in Libya, managed to take aim at the Jewish state.
2011: Whilst reading Guardian coverage of the London riots, we noticed that neither the race nor religion of the rioters were mentioned in any of the first 13 articles by correspondent Paul Lewis we reviewed – with one exception: Jews. Our original post (and follow up post) and complaint to the Guardian editor led to a substantive revision to the article.
2011: In a clear sign that our campaign to expose and combat anti-Israel bias and antisemitism at the Guardian was gaining traction, the Guardian Readers’ Editor Chris Elliott published a column titled “On averting charges of antisemitism” that clearly was a response to our work. He warned “reporters, writers and editors” to “be more vigilant to ensure” the Guardian’s “voice in the debate is not diminished because our reputation has been tarnished”, citing “organisations monitoring the Guardian’s coverage” which “examine the language in articles…as closely as the facts.” Though the Guardian didn’t change dramatically since that column, those of us who read their content daily have noticed that, because they care about their reputation, they have been less likely to promote antisemitic ideas.
2011: In this post, we pushed back against increasingly popular progressive narrative that Jews and/or Israelis, especially insofar as they are perceived as “white”, had become a “privilege” class.
2012: The Guardian’s two official editorials on the Islamist inspired murders of four innocent Jews in the French city of Toulouse that year really should have won an award for great accomplishments in rhetorical propaganda, including the absolutely stunning absence of any mention whatsoever, in their moral postmortem, of the antisemitism that inspired the vicious attacks.
2013. Here, we pushed back against the unhinged, completely ahistorical yet increasingly prevalent view among anti-Israel activists and ideologues that Israel is ethnically cleansing the Palestinians.
2014: We never use terms like ‘Der Sturmer’ in characterising even the most antisemitic Guardian content, as we’re extremely careful in our word choices, and strive for rhetorical precision, not hyperbole, when analysing problematic content. However, the depiction, by long-time Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell, of an Israeli leader controlling British politicians like puppets truly evoked the most toxic anti-Jewish imagery of that dark period. (A column by the Guardian readers’ editor admonished Bell for that cartoon, and agreed that it evoked antisemitic imagery.)
2014: The narrative that Israel cruelly targets Palestinian children for abuse (or even murder), is sadly not uncommon within the British media landscape. And, the Independent – which often now competes with the Guardian in its routine delegitmisation of Israel – fully embraced this calumny by claiming that Israeli was literally “torturing” kids. Our post (and follow-up post) demonstrated that this wasn’t true, and led to an improvement in the article.
2016: We posted a response to an incendiary and completely inaccurate charge in both The Times and Independent that Israel had decreased water supply to Palestinians during the holiday of Ramadan. Our complaint to editors resulted in significantly improved language to The Times piece
2019: We’re often asked if we believe the demonisation of Israel in the media is inspired by antisemitism – a question to which we respond by noting that we can never see what’s in a journalist’s heart, and that it’s therefore best to avoid leveling that serious charge unless there’s clear evidence. Well, we’ve come to the conclusion, based in part on a piece he wrote this year that was nearly indistinguishable from the hate you’d see in Stormfront, that Fisk’s animus towards Israel seems motivated by a habit of mind much darker than mere anti-Israel bias.
A few other UK Media Watch posts published over the years worth reading: