woman looking out the window

UPDATE: In response to complaints by the media watchdog, The Guardian amended its article, which was based on a report by a blatantly anti-Israel NGO – but only to an extent.

By Rachel O’Donoghue, Honest Reporting

According to The Guardian’s website, its mission since its founding has been to deliver “fearless, investigative journalism” that is “free from political and commercial influence.”

Unfortunately, there was little in the way of fearless and objective journalism displayed when the outlet published an article that falsely claimed Israel has “rules restricting a woman’s freedom to live, work and study.”

The Guardian Human Rights Watch report

The piece is based on a report by Human Rights Watch that includes Israel in a list of countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait that impose restrictions on women “preventing them from moving freely in their own country and from traveling abroad without the permission of their male guardians.”

Sadly, the international media’s tendency to treat HRW’s word as gospel means outlets like The Guardian all too often ignore the organization’s nakedly anti-Israel agenda and uncritically reprint its most outrageous and verifiably-false claims.

And this is apparently the reason why the Guardian journalists who wrote the piece failed to do a modicum of fact-checking, which might have helped them realize that Israel has no business being mentioned in the same sentence as Saudi Arabia and Jordan when it comes to women’s rights.

The Guardian even went as far as to republish a faulty HRW map that jaw-droppingly included Israel as one of the “15 countries where women can face sanction if they leave the home without male guardian permission.”

The Guardian might also have included the succinct statement that the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry gave to HRW when approached: “Israel is a modern democracy and therefore the questions are not relevant at all regarding it and its population.”

Of course, Human Rights Watch has never made any effort to disguise its utter contempt for Israel.

From disseminating the apartheid libel to whitewashing Hamas war crimes, it seems that barely a week goes by in which the organization does not smear the Jewish state with some kind of unfounded and unjust accusation.

A quick scan of its latest report reveals HRW cannot back its risible assertion, with the authors instead referencing isolated incidents of sex discrimination that resulted in Israeli women suing in court (ironically, the successful lawsuits actually disprove HRW’s claim of state-sanctioned discrimination in Israel).

In fact, Israel’s inclusion in the report appears to be based on HRW gazing into a crystal ball and prophesizing that some members of the Israeli government might push for legislation that would “permit gender segregation at publicly funded events or public spaces.”

While HonestReporting has complained to The Guardian, it is unlikely Human Rights Watch will make any changes to its hatchet job of a report.

But perhaps The Guardian’s error may be a useful lesson to other media outlets: anything HRW says about Israel should be treated with more than a pinch of salt.

Update: In response to our complaints, The Guardian appended the following to its story:

“This article was amended on 19 July 2023 to clarify that Human Rights Watch says it has included Israel in the report because some religious courts can have jurisdiction over marriage and divorce, and deprive women of spousal maintenance. A graphic in which Israel was listed alongside 14 other countries “where women can face sanction if they leave the home without male guardian permission” lacked adequate context and was removed.”

This is as close as The Guardian will get to acknowledging the error without throwing Human Rights Watch under the bus. Nevertheless, the offending map has been removed as has the reference to Israel in the headline’s subheader.