UK Media Watch Prompts Times of London Correction to Church Land Sale Claim

Though The Times (Times of London) is one of the fairer British news sites in their treatment of Israel, a recent article (“Squeeze on Christians in the Holy Land”, June 15th) by contributor Michael Binyon was extraordinarily misleading on the issue of the country’s Christian community, and included one outright factual error.

The article, about a row over a Supreme Court ruling upholding a controversial land sale between the Greek Orthodox Church and a pro-Jewish settlement organisation, falsely suggested that the rights of Christians in the holy land were being eroded by Israel’s government – a libel we’ve refuted repeatedly.   

The factual error in the piece involved a sentence which repeated the church’s claim, as if it were an established fact, that the land sale in question was fraudulent in part because the properties were sold for a sum “less than half the market value”.  As we pointed out to editors, this allegation was specifically refuted by the court ruling, which noted that this particular claim “was not upheld by surveyors”.

Editors upheld our complaint, and added additional words (in bold) to the relevant sentence:

The 99-year leases were negotiated in secret by a junior 29-year-old official of the patriarchate for a sum said by the church to be less than half the market value,although this claim was not upheld by the court.

This post originally appeared at CAMERA’s UK Media Watch.