Guardian removes “false accusations of antisemitism”

April 23rd, 2012 by Mark Gardner

In February, CST Blog discussed Guardian Comment is Free headlines that wrongly claimed an article by Rachel Shabi revealed how “Israel’s rightwing defenders” make “false accusations of antisemitism.  

We noted: 

The Jewish community has probably had more run-ins with the Guardian than every other British newspaper combined…

…In recent years, Jewish upset has been exacerbated by the Guardian’s Comment is Free (CiF) website, which carries many more articles than the print edition; and is fundamental to the paper’s future…

…last week it [Comment is Free] reverted to type with a particularly poor and offensive article by Rachel Shabi. Its title claimed to reveal how “Israel’s rightwing defenders” make false accusations of antisemitism.

We asked where the proof lay for such offensive claims and noted that there was none:

…So, surely the article is about how the NY Times new Jerusalem correspondent has been falsely accused of antisemitism by “Israel’s rightwing defenders”?

Well, no actually… The article’s first three paragraphs deal with the new [NY Times] correspondent, Jodi Rudoren. Shabi claims Rudoren has been called an “anti-Zionist”, but there is no mention here by Shabi of antisemitism, none whatsoever. The word doesn’t feature, nor in any of the three articles linked to by Shabi’s article (here and here and here). It isn’t even hinted at in any of them. The headline and sub-headline are simply wrong and insensible. This, despite their being so provocative and insulting.

Now, on-line, the Guardian has changed its “false  accusations of antisemitism” title to read:

Rushing to judge Israel’s critics is dangerous. Slicing and dicing commentary on Israeli policy can lose the bigger picture. The NYT’s Jerusalem correspondent is not the problem

The foot of the article now states:

headline and subheading on this article were amended on 17 April 2012. The originals incorrectly implied that the New York Times’s new Jerusalem correspondent had been accused of antisemitism

It was not the article’s author Rachel Shabi who came up with the heading and subheading about “false accusations of antisemitism”. It was Guardian CiF staff.

So, after contact from CST, this particular false accusation has been removed. It is very little and it is very late.

The damage is done: to Guardian readers’ perceptions of antisemitism and to many Jews’ perceptions of the Guardian (yet again).