Guardian accused of pro-Israel bias after carrying 'child sacrifice' ad rejected by The Times

The Guardian has been accused of “pro-Israel bias” after publishing an advert paid for by Jewish group This World: The Values Network which accused Hamas of “child sacrifice”.

The advert previously ran in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post but was rejected by The Times in London.

According to the New York Observer, an ad buyer for The Values Network was told by The Times: "In brief, [The Times] [feels] that the opinion being expressed is too strong and too forcefully made and will cause concern amongst a significant number of Times readers.”

The Guardian reported yesterday that it had received 140 complaints about the ad, which ran in Monday's paper.

And today it carried a letter jointly signed by a number of leading campaigners who support the plight of residents in Gaza being bombed by the Israeli Defence Force.

The letter states:

We write to condemn the decision to print a wildly inaccurate and inflammatory advert from supporters of the state of Israel branding the Palestinian resistance as ‘child killers’.

This is especially sickening when Israel's latest bombardment of Gaza has killed close to 400 Palestinian children. Amnesty International has condemned the deliberate targeting of schools and hospitals by Israel as a war crime.

Among the advert's very many inaccuracies is the claim that those forces opposing Israel do not have the support of Palestinians, when the current Israeli offensive is against a united Hamas-Fatah government which commands the support of the majority of Palestinians.

Sadly, the decision to print this advert, rejected by the Times newspaper, is another sign of the increasingly pro-Israeli bias of the Guardian's editorial policy, including the gross underestimate of the size of last Saturday's Gaza protest demonstration.

You are repeatedly running the slur that those who campaign in support of Palestine are antisemitic when the very many Jews in the movement, and the movement as a whole, have repeatedly made it absolutely clear that this is not the case. We call on the editor to redress the balance in future coverage.”

The letter was signed by:

  • John Rees Co-founder, Stop the War Coalition
  • Lindsey German Convenor, Stop the War Coalition
  • Jeremy Corbyn MP
  • Sarah Colborne,  Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign
  • Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
  • David Hearst from Middle East Eye
  • Tariq Ali, writer and broadcaster
  • Barnaby Raine, organiser of the Jewish Bloc on demonstrations for Gaza

The advert was written by Elie Wiesel, a Nobel prize-winning author.

Headlined: “Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago. Now it’s Hamas turn,” it says: “In my own lifetime, I have seen Jewish children thrown into the fire. And now I have seen Muslim children used as human shields, in both cases, by worshippers of death cults indistinguishable from that of the Molochites.

“What we are suffering through today is not a battle of Jew versus Arab or Israeli versus Palestinian. Rather, it is a battle between those who celebrate life and those who champion death. It is a battle of civilization versus barbarism…

“Moderate men and women of faith, whether that faith is in God or man, must shift their criticism from the Israeli soldiers – whose terrible choice is to fire and risk harming human shields, or hold their fire and risk the death of their loved ones – to the terrorists who have taken away all choice from the Palestinian children of Gaza.

“I call upon the Palestinian people to find true Muslims to represent them, Muslims who would never voluntarily put a child in danger.”

A spokesperson for Guardian News & Media said: "The decision to run any display advertisement in the Guardian is made on a case-by-case basis and there was a full discussion about accepting the advert in question.

"However, the acceptance of advertising from any organisation does not equate to support or endorsement for the views expressed in that advert. The Guardian is fully committed to reporting from the Middle East and our coverage will continue to be independent and robust."

Executive director of The Values Network Rabbi Shmuley Boteach told Israeli newspaper Haaretz: “Elie Wiesel is one of the most respected human beings alive, a Nobel Peace Laureate, and is the living face of the Holocaust. No greater expert on genocide exists in the whole world. His call for the end of child sacrifice by Hamas, who use children as human shields, and a stop to their genocidal charter, which calls for the murder of Jews everywhere, could only offend the sensibilities of the most die-hard anti-Israel haters and anti-Semites.”

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