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May 21 2012 2 21 /05 /May /2012 22:17

The Press complaints commission has decided that it is correct to say that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel, not Jerusalem, and that the Guardian was correct to make a correction in these terms. The basis of the PCC’s decision seems to rest on the fact that:

                The Commission was mindful that while it is correct to say that Israel classes Jerusalem as her capital city, this is not recognised 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 will be many who will ask, quite correctly, since when do bodies whose role is to adjudicate on the truth or otherwise of media content have the capacity to decide something that is within the power of a sovereign state? One can refer to anything as the capital of anywhere and either be right or wrong.


One could ponder why Tel Aviv is the choice of the Guardian. It is the location of foreign embassies. The fact that the institutions of government are in Jerusalem has little bearing on the issue. Perhaps Haifa would be a better choice. It is the world centre of the Bahai faith and is, in my opinion, a more attractive city than Tel Aviv.


My essential point in regard to this incredible assumption of ultra vires jurisdiction is that the apparent rationale for the PCC’s decision is in and of itself absurd. The fact that countries may or may not enjoy diplomatic relations with Israel is irrelevant to where Israel chooses to have its capital. Whether those countries choose to house their embassies in Tel Aviv or Eilat for that matter does not confer capital status on those cities. Neither should the non-recognition of Jerusalem as capital have any significance. The fact that some of Israel’s diplomatically linked partners do not accept Jerusalem as capital is irrelevant. Let us not forget that there are many countries and individual’s out there who do not accept Israel either. Perhaps the Guardian or the PCC, should use the term Palestine instead of Israel since there are those who do not recognise Israel at all.


We might suggest, since Spain enjoys diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom but does not recognise British sovereignty over Gibraltar; it would be inaccurate to describe Gibraltar as British. Similarly since Argentina claims the Falklands as her own it is inaccurate to describe the Falkland’s as a British colony? If accurate reporting depends on recognition then very little can ever be published. The fact that some Christian denominations do not recognise one another must preclude the papers as describing the various Pope, archbishops or patriarchs as being Christian.


Perhaps, we could say that neither the Guardian nor the PCC consider the non-recognition of Israel as an entity or sovereign state, on the same footing as the non-recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Perhaps since those countries that refuse to recognise Israel have no diplomatic relations with it their non-recognition is of no significance. If this is what the PCC and the Guardian intend, we can be thankful for their statement of support for Israel’s sovereignty and legitimacy, albeit they do not allow Israel to decide for itself what its capital can be. In this anti-Israel world, that is support for which we could be grateful.

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