A new, comprehensive poll of British opinion on foreign nations was just released by The Telegraph. The results: Israel is considered by Britons the #1 'least deserving of international respect,' the 'least beautiful country,' the country Britons would 'least like to take a holiday in,' and would 'least like to live in.'

How did this British animosity toward Israel come about, with Israel ranked worse than Egypt, India, China and 20 other countries?

Today's (Jan. 5) UK media coverage of an incident in Gaza goes a long way toward explaining it. The Guardian announced a horrific IDF act of child killing:

seven children on their way to pick strawberries were mistaken for Palestinian militants and killed by Israeli tank shells... The tanks used anti-personnel shells, which throw out thousands of metal darts in a deadly cloud... The attack took place near Beit Lahiya, in northern Gaza, from where militants had been firing mortars at Israeli positions on the Gaza border...

The Guardian report 1) presents as established fact a 'mistaken killing' of innocent Palestinian children, 2) reverses the actual series of events ― IDF response named first, Palestinian mortars second, 3) describes the Israeli civilian target of the Palestinian mortar fire as an Israeli 'position' ― falsely implying a military target, and 4) calls the IDF response an 'attack,' while the Palestinian mortar fire (against civilians) receives no such derogatory description.

Here's what actually happened, according to an altogether fair report from The New York Times:

The troubles began when Palestinians fired four mortar rounds in the morning, wounding an Israeli civilian in an industrial zone on the northern edge of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military said. One shell nearly hit a school bus carrying children in northern Gaza, the military added.

Soon afterward, an Israeli tank fired on a group of Palestinians believed to have been responsible for firing the mortars from farmland on the outskirts of Beit Lahiya, the Israeli military said.
Seven Palestinian youths working in a strawberry field, ages 11 to 17, were killed, according to relatives, witnesses and Palestinian officials at Kamal Adwan Hospital...

Col. Avi Levy, a brigade commander in northern Gaza, told Israel radio that "we understand that the fire actually hit that cell [of Palestinian terrorists]." But he acknowledged the possibility of civilian casualties. "In the event that our fire hit civilians, then this is the place to protest against terrorists who fire mortars from the midst of civilians."

Note that the Times account acknowledges 1) who started the violence ― Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians, 2) the IDF claim that its tanks actually struck the mortar-firing terrorists, and 3) the all-important issue of terrorists firing mortars from the midst of Palestinian civilians, thereby endangering innocents' lives.

Now we understand the results of the UK public opinion poll. Years of reports such as today's from the Guardian have left Britons with a highly distorted understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

How much longer will an irresponsible UK media continue to deceive the British public by blaming Israel for all the region's woes?

Comments to the Guardian: letters@guardian.co.uk