Toronto Star Corrects False Claim: Israeli Government in Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv

February 6, 2013


When news organizations use “Tel Aviv” as an alternate noun for “Israel’s government” this only serves to deligitimize Israel’s connection to Jerusalem.

On January 31, the Toronto Star featured a front-page article reporting on the alleged Israeli air strikes on a Syrian arms convoy destined for the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. The Star carried a report from the New York Times claiming that: “Israel’s move demonstrated Tel Aviv’s determination to ensure that Hezbollah — its arch foe in the north — is unable to take advantage of the chaos in Syria.”

This statement erroneously contended that not only is Israel’s government housed in Tel Aviv, but so is its capital. It’s noteworthy that on the same day that this article was published, the National Post printed a slightly different version of this Times dispatch (not online) also on their front-page which reported that: “Jerusalem has long maintained a policy of silence on military strikes far from its borders.”

Thanks to the sharp eyes and quick action of HRC letter writer Robert Sarner, Director of Communication and Public Affairs at Roots Canada, who brought this error to the Star’s attention, the following correction was issued on February 2:

Responding to an email from Mr. Sarner requesting that a correction be issued, Toronto Star Editor-in-Chief Michael Cooke replied: “Tel Aviv is not the capital of Israel. The story moved to us from the NYT last night at 9.46 with that misinformation, and it should have been caught by our desk. Then the NYT moved a write-through at 1.37 that wrote over the sentence but didn’t correct the original error. But the bottom line is that we should have caught it.”

While the Star’s printed correction did not acknowledge that the newspaper had incorrectly referred to Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem, as being the capital of Israel (an error that CTV News also made, but which recently owned up to), we are satisfied with Mr. Cooke’s acknowledgement that “Tel Aviv is not the capital of Israel”.

HonestReporting Canada congratulates Mr. Robert Sarner for prompting the Toronto Star to issue this significant correction that like CTV News, has set an important precedent for this news organization.


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