British Newspaper Retracts ‘Tel Aviv is Israeli Capital’ Claim

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The Guardian, a well-known British newspaper, has retracted its published claim that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel. The newspaper admitted the statement was made in error and it has amended its Style Guide to reflect that realization. “We accept that it is wrong to state that Tel Aviv – the country’s financial and diplomatic center – is the capital,” the paper said.

The controversy began this past April, when The Guardian put out a correction to a photo caption that had displayed passengers on a Jerusalem tram complying with the national two-minute period of silence for Holocaust Remembrance Day. The correction noted that the newspaper had improperly referred to Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. “The Guardian Style Guide states: Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is,” it stated.

The correction prompted the media monitor HonestReporting to formally complain to the England’s Press Complaints Commission, following which the commission issued a ruling declaring that Tel Aviv truly is the capital of Israel. When HonestReporting responded by taking the first steps to file for a judicial review, the Press Complaints Commission withdrew its ruling and ordered The Guardian to back up its position.

HonestReporting said that The Guardian abandoned its stance due to the potential of a judicial review and issued the current correction. “This correction is a significant achievement against a newspaper that has been a major contributor to the broader delegitimization of Israel in the UK and beyond,” said Joe Hyams, HonestReporting’s chief executive. “It is shocking that it has taken the threat of legal action to reverse a decision that was not based on reality. Nonetheless, it was vital that HR took on The Guardian and the PCC as a matter of principle, particularly at a time when Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital is increasingly being called into question by the media.”

HonestReporting added, however, that the British newspaper’s correction had not been agreed upon when it ended its negotiations with HonestReporting and the Press Complaints Commission. “Now that The Guardian has admitted that it was wrong,” the media monitor concluded, “we call on the PCC to issue a new ruling categorically stating that Tel Aviv is not Israel’s capital, so that it is clear to the British media that it will not be allowed to repeat this error.”

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