Amidst recent reports in the British media that Alan Rusbridger will be stepping down after twenty years as editor-in-chief of the Guardian, many have begun wondering whether a change in editors will result in less biased coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
Such questions arise in the context of the disproportionate role played by the Guardian in the delegitimization of Israel and obsessive coverage of the country, as well as its propensity to legitimize anti-Israel extremists and ignore, whitewash and even legitimize antisemitism. As the Community Security Trust (the British charity tasked with protecting the Jewish community) noted in a 2011 report: “the Guardian faced more accusations of antisemitism than any other mainstream UK newspaper.”
However, whilst it was during Rusbridger’s reign that the Guardian firmly established its reputation as (to quote influential columnist Jeffrey Goldberg) “the English-language newspaper least friendly to Israel on Earth”, the media group has become institutionally biased against Israel, and optimism that a new editorial era will usher in better coverage would seem misplaced.
Whilst Jonathan Freedland, who’s been mentioned as a possible replacement for Rusbridger, certainly represents one of their more sober voices on Israel, and could possibly facilitate some positive changes, it seems very unlikely that he would be chosen. The other more likely candidates – particularly Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief of Guardian US and co-creator of the anti-Israel propaganda play ‘My Name is Rachel Corrie’ – can be expected to maintain the status quo in their ideologically motivated pro-Palestinian slant.
An extremely disturbing example of the open hostility towards Israel displayed by some of the paper’s senior editors occurred quite recently. During the summer war in Gaza, Guardian associate editor Seumas Milne actually argued in an op-ed that Hamas has a “right” of armed resistance, while Israel, as the “occupying power”, has no such right to defend itself against the terrorist group.
In light of Milne’s justification for terrorist violence, and countless other examples of the Guardian’s moral confusion when it comes to Jews and Israel, one thing seems certain: Even if the new Guardian chief sets out to make substantive changes in their editorial stance on Israel, he or she will face the arduous task of confronting a political culture that fancies itself “the world’s leading liberal voice” yet often embraces politics which are decidedly reactionary when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians.