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How The Guardian told me to steer clear of Palestine

by David Cronin

OFFG says: This piece was originally published in March 2015, but is still highly relevant. It gives us an insight into the culture of polite self-censorship that has underpinned the Guardian’s decline into its current status as the Neoliberal/NATO flagship propaganda outlet. We can be sure a similar state of nervous delicacy explains their lamentable record on reporting in Ukraine, Russia, Syria and any area of political sensitivity
Please note: it is not anti-semitic, and never will be anti-semitic to critique the government of Israel, any more than it is anti-Christian, or anti-caucasian (or whatever) to critique the government of the UK.

When I started out as a journalist in the 1980s, I asked an experienced Irish reporter for advice. “Read The Guardian,” he told me.

The message that there was no better newspaper had a lasting effect. For years, I wanted to write for The Guardian. Eventually, this desire was realized after I emailed the late Georgina Henry, then editor of its Comment is Free section, in 2007. Henry was immediately receptive to my idea of tackling the European Union from a critical, left-wing perspective.

I very much enjoyed contributing to The Guardian. Having previously worked for quite a stuffy publication, it felt liberating to be able to express opinions.

There was one issue, however, on which I felt my freedom curtailed: Palestine. Although The Guardian did publish a few of my articles denouncing Israeli atrocities, I began to encounter obstacles in 2009.


Early that year, I submitted an exposé of how the pro-Israel lobby operates in Brussels. While waiting to find out if the piece would be used, I phoned Matt Seaton, who had taken over as comment editor. We had a pleasant conversation but Seaton stressed that he regarded the subject as sensitive.

I, then, modified the piece to make its tone less polemical. Still, it was not published. (Seaton has subsequently moved to The New York Times.)

A few months later, I paid a visit to Gaza. From there, I contacted The Guardian to say that I had interviewed Sayed Abu Musameh, a founding member of Hamas.

Abu Musameh had expressed an interest in visiting Belfast to study how the Irish peace process worked. He had already held discussions with Gerry Adams, the Sinn Féin leader who had persuaded the Irish Republican Army to call a ceasefire.

Abu Musameh, I felt, was saying something that jarred with the official view of Hamas presented by Israel and its Western supporters. Far from being addicted to violence, he was eager to learn about what policy wonks call “conflict resolution.”

The Guardian was not keen to have me writing from Gaza. Brian Whitaker, a commissioning editor at the time, told me that its comment section received more submissions about Palestine than any other subject. Whitaker, ironically a Middle East specialist, effectively recommended that I stick to writing about the EU. (The recommendation was bizarre both because Palestine is a key issue for the EU and because I am one of the few journalists to examine the Union’s complicity in Israel’s crimes.)


I have decided to make my frustrating encounters with The Guardian public after reading the diatribe it published last week by Daniel Taub, Israel’s ambassador to the UK. Taub uses a quotation attributed to Golda Meir, Israel’s prime minister from 1969 to 1974, to hit back at aid agencies who accuse Israel of impeding Gaza’s reconstruction: “We will only have peace when our enemies love their children more than they hate ours.”

The inference that Palestinians hate Israelis more than they love their children is a racist caricature brilliantly demolished by Rafeef Ziadah in her poem “We teach life, Sir.” Yet, according to Taub, Meir’s words represent a “bitter truism.”

The Comment is Free section of The Guardian, where Taub’s nasty rant appears, is now overseen by Jonathan Freedland, a liberal Zionist. I contacted Freedland to enquire if he approved Taub’s article for publication.

Freedland referred my message to the paper’s “media enquiries” unit. A spokesperson, who did not give his or her name, replied by email that Comment is Free “hosts hundreds of discussions every month on a wide range of topics across the entire political and ideological spectrum.”

“We receive a huge amount of submissions for articles and aim to publish a plurality of voices from all over the world,” the spokesperson added. “Naturally, not all of these voices reflect The Guardian’s own editorial position.”

Apologist for ethnic cleansing

I am not in the least reassured by that response. Taub’s article was the second one published by The Guardian in as many months from a senior Israeli political or diplomatic figure. In February, the paper gave Yair Lapid, until recently Israel’s finance minister, a platform to describe calls for a cultural boycott of Israel as “shallow and lacking in coherence.”

Lapid’s view chimes with The Guardian’s “own editorial position,” to quote its anonymous spokesperson. While Israel was bombing Gaza last August, it ran a leader accusing London’s Tricycle Theatre of making a “bad error of judgment” in refusing to host a film festival sponsored by Israel.

As Ben White demonstrated in a trenchant 2014 analysis for Middle East Monitor, Jonathan Freedland is an apologist for ethnic cleansing. Freedland has tried to justify how “400 [Palestinian] villages” were “emptied” by Zionist forces in 1948 on the grounds that “the creation of a Jewish state was a moral necessity.”

If Freedland is prepared to defend Zionist war crimes, I guess it is not surprising that he is reserving space for naked Israeli propaganda in The Guardian’s comment section. While it is difficult to imagine that this bastion of liberalism would welcome openly racist submissions from far-right organizations like the British National Party or English Defence League, it is somehow acceptable for an Israeli diplomat to peddle bigotry against Palestinians.

Freedland has been tipped as a contender for The Guardian’s editor-in-chief, a post that is soon to be vacant [the new EinC is now Katharine Viner – ed]

In a perverse way, it might be a good thing if he gets the job. With Freedland at the helm, it would be easier to show how a supposedly progressive newspaper is in thrall to the toxic ideology of Zionism.


  1. Freedland is a 24carat arsehole & the reason I will never ever buy the Guardian again – I really could not give a fuck if the rag goes out of business – with cunts & israel-aresehole lickers like Freedland calling the shots it deserves to – I hope people from the Guardian read this – this is the reason why your circulation will tank & you go out of business.

  2. Lee Morgan says

    Being an American, who has heard the death knell of all investigative reporters, I have to go to the Guardian or to get international news. I have been discouraged by the Guardians bias against the Palestinians, as well as the lack of any discussion made available through the comments section. I appreciate reading this article which provides the reasoning behind the Guardians bias. I once read an article about the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. The conclusion was, once the Israelis realized the US would do nothing in response, they felt that they could do anything they wanted. This was backed up by the members of our government making their annual pilgrimage to AIPAC. It is hard to imagine that once we fo7ght a World War to free Europe from occupation, while now the world turns a blind eye to the plight of the Palestinians. In today’s world, the French Freedom Fighters would not be admired, but would be classified as terrorists. The US spends over 4 billion a year to ensure the Israelis do not run out of concrete for their settlements, and have enough missiles and mortars to attack the Palestinians at will. The US has continued to call itself an honest broker, which is the biggest joke of all. The UN kowtows to Washington, which makes it nothing more then a social club. Even the letter sent to Netanyahu signed by 100 Holocaust survivors demanding the end to the occupation of the Palestinians was given short shift, and wasn’t even mentioned by the US media. That is why articles like this one is so important. Thank you.

    • Richard Le Sarcophage says

      The funniest aspect of the Zionist take-over of the Western MSM, in content, bias, ownership and personnel, is the manner in which it is verboten for the goyim to notice. Doing so, naturally, brings the all-purpose smear of ‘antisemitism’. Yet, on Jewish blogs and commentaries you will find this truth uttered, often triumphantly, or in plain statement of the facts. My family worked in the Australian MSM for years, and it has long been verboten to criticise Israel, or the behaviour of ANY Jew, no matter that the actions in question would bring condemnation if committed by a goy. The culture of near total impunity to ANY criticism that the ‘antisemitism’ racket has created, in my opinion has materially contributed to Israel’s march ever further to the Right.

  3. Willem says

    Recently something mysterious happened with my cellphone (mysterious to me). That is that everytime when I try to open an article from the Guardian with my cellphone, the screen turns black. I am not sure if this is due to my cellphone settings, or if someone decided that the Guardian is a journal that should not be viewed by people who have a young, open, spirited, tolerant and loving mind. Personally, I prefer the option that my cellphone turned allergic to their articles, which I therefore cannot view anymore. Which I consider to be a great feature of my cellphone…

    On a more serious note: Jonathan Cook used to be a journalist for the Guardian. He wrote a brilliant expose of his years working for the Graun (and other newspapers) before becoming an independent journalist in Nazareth, which you can find here:

  4. Brian Harry, Australia says

    I’ve just discovered this site via “Aletho News”. It looks like it covers those matters too ‘sensitive’ for The Guardian, and which they quite often DON’T allow comments at all. I have added your site to my ‘favourites’, and look forward to getting some REAL facts……..Cheers.

  5. EDLIS Café says

    any more than it is anti-Christian to critique the government of the UK.

    Surely it IS anti-Christian to critique the government of the UK? The head of state is also Supreme Governor of the Church of England. The Church of England is the established church. The UK legislature has more un-elected religious figures in it than any other nation on earth, Iran has far less. Most people on earth see the UK as the most extreme Christian country there is. Especially those killed in the name of Christianity and its just wars in Jesus’ name over the last few centuries.

  6. Also, “Semitism” in “anti-Semitism” should be capitalized, for the same reason that “Semites” and “Celts” and “Osetians” would be capitalized.

  7. Caucasian, not caucasion.

    Further, it’s not clear that this is a helpful phrase, since Anglo-Normans aren’t from the Caucasus Mountain range.

    • Babetrix says

      Also most Semites are not Jewish and most Jews are not Semites. It’s one of the most abused words in modern media.

      • Hey the New York Times told me different – it told me that it only means questioning Israel policy on child murder. And if you did disagree you’re hitler.

      • Arabs are Semites, too. You’re correct that it’s not a helpful word. It’s a word that stems from the biblical legend of the three sons of Noah, and the Medieval tripartite maps of the world that conformed to that symbolic geography.

      • elenits says

        The desert and gulf Arabs are (1) the Semites; and (2) the Arabs….unlike the peoples of the Mediterranean littoral countries that speak arabic. A lot of misnomers floating around: no doubt this is at the convenience of Israel & NATO.

Please note the opinions expressed in the comments do not necessarily reflect those of the editors or of OffG as a whole