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October 28, 2014 11:57 am

In 2014, Guardian Received 17 Complaints From Local Israeli Embassy Over Israel Coverage

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The Guardian offices.

The UK’s Guardian newspaper received 17 complaints from the Israeli embassy in London this year regarding its Israel coverage, Guardian reader’s editor Chris Elliott wrote on Monday.

The latest complaint was filed on Oct. 16 and was the third in three days, Elliott said. It was submitted by Yiftah Curiel, press attache for the embassy, and concerned what he deemed a disproportionate amount of coverage the Guardian gives to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and Gaza in particular. He cited several examples where the publication used images from Palestinian controlled areas in its daily Guardian Eyewitness middle page spread, including a photo on Oct. 21 of a Palestinian child standing among rubble in Gaza City.

“[Curiel] queried why something described as ‘a world of photography online’ should concentrate on one part of that world?” Elliott wrote. “He said that the Gaza content, even in terms of square inches of print, far outweighs the space allotted to other no less important events in the Middle East.”

Elliott defended the Guardian‘s focus on Israel and Palestinian-related issues, saying the publication has a “focus of interest” in the region for two reasons: “one is historical and the other pragmatic.”

As I have written before, the Guardian has had an interest in the future of Israel and Palestine for more than 100 years, dating back to the editorship of CP Scott, whose support for Zionism earned him a letter of thanks from Chaim Weizmann, the first president of Israel, thanking Scott for his help in achieving the Balfour declaration,” he said. “The second reason reflects the tough reality that there are more photographs coming out of the destruction wrought in Gaza than there from other parts of the world where conflict is taking the lives of men, women and children. Gaining access to Syria, Islamic State and Ukraine is far more difficult – and there are fewer photographs from which to choose, according to picture editors.”

Elliott said that Curiel told him the number of complaints from the Israeli government was “simply an evaluation and response” to the Guardian. Curiel also said that the media discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become “polarized to an extent that often precludes any possibility for real dialogue.”

Curiel added, “I believe that the media has a clear professional choice to make here: to engage and promote understanding by reflecting the challenges both sides face, or to remain on the (sterile) moral high ground, expressing disdain at the imperfect reality that is the Middle East.”

The Guardian has faced extensive criticism in the past for anti-Israel bias.

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