Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Daily Mail admits error in its clumsy anti-Israel narrative

(Not actual headline! But the photo and caption is what actually appeared)

On 6 August I complained to the Press Complaints Commission about the Daily Mail publishing a photograph of an Israeli home with the caption 'Palestinians who sheltered in UN-run schools began returning to examine the widespread damage from four weeks of fierce fighting.' As you can see from the communication below the Daily Mail has acknowledged the error and corrected the caption in its online edition (for reasons of confidentiality I have removed the names of the PCC spokesman and the Daily Mail editorial spokesman, but interestingly both have Jewish names and the latter sounds Israeli!). Since the PCC asked me for my further comments before a final decision can be made I sent the following statement:


I am pleased that the Daily Mail has admitted its error. In my view, in addition to just quietly changing the caption I believe the Daily Mail should publish a statement along the lines of the following: 
On 6 August 2014 we published a photograph of an Israeli home with the caption 'Palestinians who sheltered in UN-run schools began returning to examine the widespread damage from four weeks of fierce fighting.' This error was the inevitable result of our simple narrative of "Palestinians victims, Israelis aggressors" and is symptomatic of the shoddy journalism and routine anti-Israel media bias that has characterised all media coverage of the conflict. In particular, to maintain our simple (but incorrect) narrative of the conflict we had to completely ignore the facts that a) the war was started by Hamas (a terrorist organisation dedicated to the destruction of Israel which is nevertheless the elected Palestinian government of Gaza), who also broke every one of the 7 ceasefires and used civilians as human shields throughout; b) the Palestinians launched 5000 missiles at Israel during the war causing widespread damage, mass migration, three million people confined to shelters, and economic meltdown to Israel (as well as many deaths in Gaza from some 500 rockets falling short); and c) all the Palestinian 'casualty' figures we quoted were supplied by Hamas sources that were never verified and included many victims murdered locally by Hamas. 


Dear Mr Davidson

I refer to your complaint against the Daily Mail.

The Commission has now received a response to your complaint from the newspaper (copied below).

As you will see, the newspaper has accepted that the photograph depicted an Israeli home, and has corrected the caption to make this clear.

Kind regards


Complaints Officer
Press Complaints
Halton House
20/23 Holborn
London EC1N 2JD


Sent: 27 August 2014 17:20
Cc: Editorial Dailymailonline
Subject: PCC 144149


Thank you for sending us the complaint from Mr Davidson and please accept our apologies for the delay in response.

Mr Davidson is quite right. Our reporter mis-captioned the photograph which shows Hebrew lettering on the bomb shelter wall.

We always strive for the highest standards in our reporting and apologise if we fell short on this occasion. We would like to assure the complainant that this matter has been followed up with the reporter in question and that his comments have been circulated for review.

We have now amended the caption and added a footnote to the article clarifying the error that was made.

I am grateful to the complainant for drawing his concerns to our attention and do hope he is now happy to consider his complaint resolved.

Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

Best wishes,



The Daily Mail has been by no means the worst offender in terms of anti-Israel coverage during the conflict, but the basic news reports in every single UK paper have uniformly presented the Hamas version of events.

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