The Guardian scrubs reference to 'Jewish political establishment' with no explanation

Once again The Guardian has added to its record of unfortunate rhetoric aimed at Britain's Jewish community, this time trying to cover it up

by Harry Cole on 5 May 2012 09:45


It seems that ever-wrong British newspaper The Guardian has made yet another blunder in what can only be described as a serious and continued internal confusion over 'the Jews'. The Guardian, self-admittedly has form with ingrained anti-Semitism within the rank and file.

Following the Labour mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone's loss to Boris Johnson last night, the print edition of The Guardian asserted that it was Ken's own baggage that brought him down. We couldn't agree more, but on a scan through the article and as highlighted by various people on Twitter this morning, we found this:

"How much damage did he [Ken] inflict by failing to make peace with the Jewish political establishment..."

This could be interpreted quite innocuously at first, or conversely, be read into as The Guardian tarring the entire British political establishment as Jewish run. But putting the quote in context regarding Ken's Nazi insult to Jewish reporter Oliver Finegold and the 'embrace of Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi' we see further into what The Guardian is getting at.

This appears to be a case of foot-in-mouth disease once again, painting an image of a London Jewry led by a cabal of high-power, high-profile men and women pulling the strings over every Jew in London, and quite possibly non-Jews like us as well. "Vote as we say!" The Guardian might imagine, "Or you'll lose our your invite to the annual London Jewish gathering where we all talk about Iran and read passages from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion!" The Guardian has adopted a tone in its writing about British Jewry that actually, unintentionally, lampoons their own approach to this small but diverse community.

Perhaps we jest too much though and this was a perfectly okay thing to say. Why then, did The Guardian choose to scrub the text 'Jewish political establishment' from the article on its website, without a hint of an admission, and replace it with the term 'Jewish communal leadership'? Perhaps an editor at The Guardian took one look at the sentence, spat out his bagel and demanded a retraction? But there's no such retraction on the website itself, and trying to erase from existence what found its way into the print edition is a faux pas more befitting Johann Hari than Alan Rusbridger. Or is it?

Hugh Muir, who wrote this article, seems to also imply that Jewish voters only have time to consider Nazi slurs and Muslim clerics. Surely Jewish people might be more sensitive to being called Nazis but these are things that many Londoners would have considered when marking their vote against Ken on Thursday. Or perhaps it is the case that Mr. Muir believes that the Jewish community must be told by the 'political leadership' oops, 'communal leadership' how to vote. Waiting at their doors for instructions from 'the elders'?

We contacted The Guardian news desk today who told us exactly this:

"Hugh contacted us this morning. We had put up the first draft of his article. It was all him. He wanted that one paragraph changed. I don't know any more than that. It was his first draft that we put up by mistake." 

Interesting. Tweets and e-mails directed at @Hugh_Muir and went unanswered.

Either way, while it may be regarded as a simple Freudian slip, The Guardian's attitude towards Britain's Jewish community shines through once again. The deeply rooted flippancy over conflating the Jews and the political establishment, the Jews and their voting patterns, the Jews and their being 'still sore' over Nazi jibes and anti-Semitism is yet another sign of how out of touch The Guardian is with all politics, all Londoners and even basic journalistic ethics.


Following our article, the author of the original piece in The Guardian, Hugh Muir, tweeted this:

Clumsy phrase “Jewish political establishment” in print version of my piece about Ken's defeat.

and this...

Changed online this morning to final draft version. Apologies for offence.

And you thought the little guy (us) couldn't make a difference...

Raheem Kassam is the Executive Editor of The Commentator and tweets at @RaheemJKassam. Harry Cole is the UK Political Editor of The Commentator and tweets at @MrHarryCole

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