The Guardian has removed a picture of two Hasidic men used to accompany an article about lockdown restrictions unrelated to the Jewish community, following a complaint from Campaign Against Antisemitism.
The original picture associated Jews with a delay in the lifting of lockdown rules, despite the fact that Jews were not mentioned in the article at all.
The article – entitled “Covid lockdown a success but UK ‘not out of the woods’, says ONS [Office of National Statistics] head” – was published online on Saturday and quoted statistician Ian Diamond who praised the UK lockdown restrictions whilst warning that they should not yet be lifted. He made no reference to Jews, nor did the article and no picture caption was provided to explain why the photograph was chosen.
Campaign Against Antisemitism wrote to the Global Readers’ Editor of The Guardian Group on Monday to demand the picture’s removal as well as an apology. The newspaper, as well as its sister newspaper The Observer, have regularly published cartoons by Steve Bell with antisemitic undertones and have promoted conspiracy theories against Jews including that Israel was behind the killing of George Floyd.
Following the complaint from Campaign Against Antisemitism, the picture has been removed, with a non-apology at the foot of the article reading: “This article was amended on 9 March 2021 to replace the picture with a more appropriate image.”
A Guardian spokesperson told Campaign Against Antisemitism that the picture was chosen because it contained a poster related to Covid. The spokesperson said: “We considered the image had been chosen primarily because it depicted a Covid poster in a general street scene, not because it showed Charedi Jews or intended to associate them with the article other than as members of the public”, before stating that they had regarded the report as “largely positive”.
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “The Guardian published an image of two visibly Jewish men in an article about lockdown restrictions not yet being lifted. The image bore no relation to the report but its inclusion insinuated that Jews were somehow to blame for the UK being ‘not out of the woods’ with regard to the necessity for lockdown rules. After we complained to the newspaper, it removed the image and replaced it with a more appropriate image, but no apology has been issued. The Guardian owes the Jewish community an apology and an explanation for how its editors could possibly have arrived at the decision to use this unrelated and insensitive picture. Incidents like this do nothing to improve the newspaper’s horrendous reputation in the Jewish community.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism monitors traditional media and regularly holds outlets to account. If members of the public are concerned about reportage in the media, they should contact us at [email protected].