The British Press Complaints Commission (PCC) “honored” Jerusalem Day by rejecting media watchdog complaints of its describing Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital.
The saga began when the London Guardian publicized a correction to the caption under a photograph last April of passengers on Jerusalem’s light railway as they stood in silence on Holocaust Martyrs and Remembrance Day. The caption stated that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
The correction stated, “The caption on a photograph featuring passengers on a tram in Jerusalem observing a two-minute silence for Yom HaShoah, a day of remembrance for the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, wrongly referred to the city as the Israeli capital. The Guardian style guide states: ‘Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is.’”
The Honest Reporting media watchdog submitted an official complaint to the PCC for committing a “clear breach of the UK Press Complaints Commission clause on accuracy.”
“Irrespective of whether the international community recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it is simply inaccurate to unilaterally confer capital city status on Tel Aviv,” Honest Reporting said on its website.
The PCC sent its reply to Honest Reporting on Jerusalem Unification Day, stating:
“The terms of Clause 1 (i) of the Code make clear that newspapers ‘must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information,’ and the terms of Clause 1 (ii) state that “a significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognized must be corrected promptly and with due prominence.
“In this instance, the Commission noted that the correction published had been a clarification of the newspaper’s earlier claim that Jerusalem was the Israeli capital. The Commission was mindful that while it is correct to say that Israel classes Jerusalem as her capital city, this is not recognized by many countries and those nations enjoying diplomatic relations with Israel have their embassies in Tel Aviv. As such, the Commission was of the view that the newspaper was entitled to refer to Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel. There was no breach of the Code in this instance.
Honest Reporting stated on its website after receiving the reply, “This is astonishing and outrageous. Aside from a sovereign state’s right to determine its own capital, international convention maintains that a capital city is usually where a state’s central political institutions reside.
“The UK Foreign Office itself states:
‘Capital City: Israel maintains that Jerusalem is its capital city, a claim not recognized by the UK and the international community. The UK locates its embassy in Tel Aviv.’
“Unlike The Guardian and the PCC, it does not designate Tel Aviv as the capital… 64 years after the end of the British Mandate, it appears that imperialism is alive and well…. That this has been released on Jerusalem Day adds insult to injury and is yet another example of how contaminated with anti-Israel bias, British officialdom has become.”