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July 09, 2002
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The British magazine 'The Economist' is Anti-Israeli and Anti-Semitic

The Jerusalem Post (www.jpost.com) has published an article with many examples on how the British magazine 'The Economist' is biased against Israel

The Economist has also shown remarkably little interest in the humanitarian tragedies endured by Israelis. Having reviewed dozens of stories, I have yet to see one that names a single victim of terror, or dwells on the consequences for the victim's family, or allows an Israeli voice to have the last word in the story. [...]

[For 'The Economist'] Prime Minister Ariel Sharon represents Israel's "uglier face" (October 7, 2000); he is a calculated liar (April 21, 2001), whose modus operandi is "calculated brutality" (March 10, 2001). In electing him last year, Israelis were in a "bolshie mood" (February 3, 2001). [...]

The picture drawn here is, of course, a familiar one -- a demonic one. Sharon, the Jewish counterpart to Hamas's Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Sharon, the brutish but ineffectual hardliner. Sharon, the quack. Sharon, the mass killer of Arabs. Indeed, reading the news coverage of The Economist, one almost suspects it cribs its lines from Arab press, complete with gross errors of fact. Sharon, for the record, crossed the canal on October 16, 1973, six days before the ceasefire was declared.

I BEGAN this piece by citing what in my view is the single most egregious line published in any mainstream magazine about Israel in recent memory. The implication is clear. Israelis - Jews - are unusually clever. And Israelis - Jews - are also unusually greedy. This is, of course, a transparent anti-Semitic canard, the most enduring and the most obvious. The editors of The Economist could not but have known what they were doing when they wrote those words.

I know three people that read 'The Economist" regularly. They are all extremely anti-Israel, support the Palestinian right of return, and couldn't give a damn about Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism.

I copy the full article below.

Bret Stephens' Eye on the Media: Fear and loathing at 'The Economist'
The Jerusalem Post - BRET STEPHENS - July 4, 2002
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?
pagename=JPost/A/JPArticle/Full&cid=1025787703778

"Israel is a superior country with superior people: its talents are above the ordinary. But it has to abate its greed for other people's land." The Economist, October 7, 2000

Is there a newsweekly smarter, better written, or more globally influential than The Economist? Its worldwide print circulation runs to 838,000. The average subscriber brings in $151,400 a year in personal income. Fifty-two percent of readers work in senior management, and another 27% own a car costing upwards of $40,000. Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger does cameos for the magazine's TV ads. Vice President Dick Cheney even took a copy of The Economist with him down to the White House bunker on September 11, apparently in case he'd need to idle away the time between phone calls to the president and warnings of imminent kamikaze attacks.

I would have taken a copy, too, had I been in his shoes. For sheer intelligent entertainment, there is nothing like it. It is equally interesting when delving into the science of migraine headaches, the life and times of fashion designer Bill Blass, electricity deregulation in China, or the quality of German wines. It regularly supplies lengthy explanatory surveys on everything from the future of Zionism to the future of the universe. The Economist's hard news coverage can be quirky -- it goes for stories on elections in Lesotho and land shortages in Vietnam -- but these somehow are usually worth reading. At the same time, the magazine stays well-focused on its main beats -- politics, economics, business, social trends -- and most of the time it tells the story straight. Its editorials, too, tend to be sensible and fair.

STRAIGHT, SENSIBLE and fair, that is, except when it comes to Israel.

For years, Jewish groups and media critics have aimed their fire at CNN, National Public Radio, the BBC and The New York Times. They don't know what they're missing. To the editors of The Economist, Israel is America's "often awkward" (June 27) and "pampered ally" (April 6). Israel's defenders, notably Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, are prone to "scatological excess and testicular obsession." Prime Minister Ariel Sharon represents Israel's "uglier face" (October 7, 2000); he is a calculated liar (April 21, 2001), whose modus operandi is "calculated brutality" (March 10, 2001). In electing him last year, Israelis were in a "bolshie mood" (February 3, 2001).

The right-wing parties in the national unity government are "scary"; indeed, they are "wolves" (February 2). The only way to prevent the Middle East from "burning" is for the US to intervene "swiftly and much more neutrally in the conflict." Which is to say, on the side of the Arabs.

For The Economist to take this line may seem a surprise. In the main, the magazine champions laissez-faire economics and veers right politically. (It endorsed, albeit with reservations, George W. Bush's presidential candidacy.) What's remarkable about The Economist's coverage of Israel, however, is that while other right-leaning British publications -- The Daily Telegraph and The Spectator in particular -- have taken a broadly pro-Israel line, The Economist has gone the way of The Guardian and The Independent, the country's far-left broadsheets.

Stranger yet is that it does so not for traditionally Tory Arabist reasons -- Britain's interest in cultivating good relations with the Arab states -- but instead on the ostensibly humanitarian grounds championed by the European left. Thus the magazine, citing Amnesty International, alleges in its June 29 issue that Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti (whom it describes as "an inspiring resistance leader") is "being tortured" in an Israeli jail. What The Economist does not say is that the Amnesty claim is in turn based on one unverified allegation from the Palestine Media Center. Nor does the magazine mention that Barghouti was wanted in connection to his involvement in the January 17 Bat Mitzva terror attack in Hadera that killed six, the January 22 attack in downtown Jerusalem that killed two, and the March 4 attack at the Tel Aviv Seafood Market restaurant that killed three.

Similarly, the magazine, although not alleging outright that a massacre took place in Jenin, gave great credence to the accusations with its surprisingly melodramatic dispatches. "In the razed heart of Jenin refugee camp," it reported on April 27, "Palestinians were shovelling out their decomposed dead.... The danger of epidemic is real." "Like earthquake victims," it added, "the Palestinians in Jenin, Nablus and elsewhere in the West Bank need massive humanitarian help." But that help, it reported, "is hindered by the Israeli army's sieges."

The Economist did not, however, subsequently note that no epidemic took place, much less acknowledge that the removal of 56 corpses from the scene of the fighting hardly requires "shovelling." Then too, the magazine has yet to mention that Palestinians have used Red Crescent ambulances to ferry explosives.

The Economist has also shown remarkably little interest in the humanitarian tragedies endured by Israelis. Having reviewed dozens of stories, I have yet to see one that names a single victim of terror, or dwells on the consequences for the victim's family, or allows an Israeli voice to have the last word in the story. A January 26 piece that begins with the January 22 terror attack moves swiftly to an allegation that the IDF "executed" four Palestinians "in their beds or the bathroom, or shot them through the head," before concluding the piece with a line from Ahmed Abdul Rahman, an Arafat minion. Another story, pegged to the Dolphinarium attack, also concludes by bemoaning the "dreadful decades of Israeli gradualism" under which Palestinians have suffered.

Indeed, to get a sense of the pervasiveness of the bias in The Economist's coverage, it's enough to quote passages at random.

* "[Sharon] could not, when he was elected prime minister a little over a year ago, turn the clock back immediately. Instead, he joined the diverse and powerful army of spoilers, led on the Palestinian side by militant Islamists, who have managed between them to sabotage the hopes of a permanent settlement along Oslo lines." (April 6)

* "Ariel Sharon was elected Israel's prime minister in February on the double premise that he would make his people safer, and would not talk to the Palestinians until they were. With strong support for this stand, his army set about bringing the Palestinian leaders to heel by means that included bombing from helicopters, shelling from tanks, kidnapping senior security men and killing suspected terrorists. Unremarkably, the uprising continued...." (April 7, 2001)

* "Although Israel has transformed itself into a lively high-tech society, there are nowadays echoes of the same misconceptions about peace coming cheaply on Israel's terms. If Mr. Sharon is a snake-oil salesman, many Israelis, battered by Mr. Barak's shot-gun approach, are prepared to allow themselves to believe him." (February 3, 2001)

* "If there is one single Israeli who inspires violent feelings, it is the prime minister-elect. Jordanians recall the time in 1953 when a force led by Mr. Sharon destroyed the village of Qibya, leaving 69 civilians dead. Egyptians remember that it was Mr. Sharon who flouted a ceasefire during the 1973 war, counter-attacking across the Suez Canal to turn Egypt's initial success into near-defeat. Syrians, Lebanese and Christians all know him as the mastermind of Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, an act that led to the loss of 40,000 Arab lives and to Israel's 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon." (February 2, 2001)

The picture drawn here is, of course, a familiar one -- a demonic one. Sharon, the Jewish counterpart to Hamas's Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Sharon, the brutish but ineffectual hardliner. Sharon, the quack. Sharon, the mass killer of Arabs. Indeed, reading the news coverage of The Economist, one almost suspects it cribs its lines from Arab press, complete with gross errors of fact. Sharon, for the record, crossed the canal on October 16, 1973, six days before the ceasefire was declared.

Now consider The Economist's portrait of Yasser Arafat. True, the magazine has described him as a "terrorist recidivist" who has "pocketed what Oslo gave him and relaunched a liberation war." Arafat also comes in for criticism for his "lamentable bungling as chief executive of the Palestinian Authority." But in the main, The Economist lets him off with a light slap. Arafat "probably did not plan the intifada." His "brilliance" as a "wily old-time resistance leader" kept "the gleam of Palestinian nationalism against all adversities." He remains, in the magazine's judgment, "unsurpassed at representing his people's aspirations -- and is probably the only one who might, just might, persuade them to do something they do not like."

Not a bad epitaph, one might say, were things to end right there. Yet even by the evidence of The Economist's own reporting, it's a strange judgment. "How" the magazine quotes one Hamas leader as asking, "can Arafat arrest Hamas people for 'violence' when everybody knows that Fatah people led the 'violence'?" The magazine also took note last month that "Islamist and radical national groups have all turned down places in a new Palestinian cabinet." But it failed to explain to readers that this fact owed to Arafat offering these Islamists and radicals places in the cabinet to begin with.

IT WOULD BE an insult to the editors of The Economist not to suppose that a logic informs their reporting and editorial writing. Indeed one does. And it is not the belief that "there is no quick fix, and certainly no military fix, to violence," although this is a theme that recurs frequently in the magazine's pages. Rather, as the editors wrote on April 6:

"Palestine does not fit the September 11th template. For this is terrorism harnessed to a deserving cause: the independent statehood that America itself has taken pains to say it supports."

Put another way, The Economist does not want to see a Palestinian state created in order to end the violence. For them, the end game is not peace in the Levant, nor even democracy for an eventual Palestine. The end is "justice" for the Palestinian people, justice virtually by any means necessary, and justice at the expense of Israel. "The notion that the Palestinian refugees and their families should still, after 52 years, contemplate returning to Israel outraged the nation," clucked one report, in obvious sarcasm.

"The intifada's leaders," added a magazine editorial in April 2001, "mainly members of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, have set their sights, and their guns, at the army-protected settlers who compete for the hills and valleys that may one day be a Palestinian state."

Given the scorn the magazine pours upon the "settler zealots" and their "Jewish nationalist extremist" champions in the Knesset, it isn't difficult to detect where the weight of editorial sympathy lies in that conflict.

Yet never has the magazine expressed itself more plainly than in its June 27 editorial on Bush's Mideast speech. Nor, in my recollection, has it ever expressed itself so angrily about anything. The speech was "the dampest of damp squibs," which could "just as well have been written by... Ariel Sharon." The speech, wrote the editors, was also a puzzle, since "Mr. Bush is after all no Zionist," and "oil has been good to the Bush family."

Coming from a magazine that had endorsed the president, the line contained all the rage of a betrayed spouse.

Most telling, however, was the question the editorial openly posed: "Who are the bad guys?" President Bush, the editorial complains, plainly thinks the bad guys are Palestinians "compromised by terror." The Economist, plainly, thinks they are Israelis, compromised by settlements.

I BEGAN this piece by citing what in my view is the single most egregious line published in any mainstream magazine about Israel in recent memory. The implication is clear. Israelis - Jews - are unusually clever. And Israelis - Jews - are also unusually greedy. This is, of course, a transparent anti-Semitic canard, the most enduring and the most obvious. The editors of The Economist could not but have known what they were doing when they wrote those words.

It is, of course, always important not to jump to damning conclusions on the strength of a couple of sentences. But as novelist Cynthia Ozick has noted in this context, "It all adds up."

"Some Israelis disagree strongly with the policy of collective punishment. Most neither know nor care."

"The election of Mr. Sharon... invites alarming speculation."...

"Mr. Arafat built up shadowy armed groups alongside the official police, and these groups now conduct 'terror' against Israel."...

"This is terrorism harnessed to a deserving cause."...

"Mr Bush is no Zionist."...

"Israel is a superior country with superior people: its talents are above the ordinary. But it has to abate its greed for other people's land."

It all adds up.

Posted by David Melle at July 09, 2002 12:20 AM
Comments

The Jerusalem Post has followed up with a response from 'The Economist' - http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/A/JPArticle/Full&cid=1025787765907

Posted by: David Melle on July 12, 2002 11:08 PM

The terrible bomb attacks against innocent israeli civilians and especially students required government policy change to a war mentality as would any government including the US, the French when they had their period of bombing, the english with the ira attacking the english home land and almost killing the english primeminister. It is overtly antisemetic that the economist and the european press is not more sympathetic and understanding of a government's political necessity of protecting its people from death and terror. See "the hunt for the engineer" by sam Katz, or "finding pablo".

Posted by: robert h. schwab,md on May 26, 2003 08:00 AM

The terrible bomb attacks against innocent israeli civilians and especially students required government policy change to a war mentality as would any government including the US, the French when they had their period of bombing, the english with the ira attacking the english home land and almost killing the english primeminister. It is overtly antisemetic that the economist and the european press is not more sympathetic and understanding of a government's political necessity of protecting its people from death and terror. See "the hunt for the engineer" by sam Katz, or "finding pablo".

Posted by: robert h. schwab,md on May 26, 2003 08:01 AM

The terrible bomb attacks against innocent israeli civilians and especially students required government policy change to a war mentality as would any government including the US, the French when they had their period of bombing, the english with the ira attacking the english home land and almost killing the english primeminister. It is overtly antisemetic that the economist and the european press is not more sympathetic and understanding of a government's political necessity of protecting its people from death and terror. See "the hunt for the engineer" by sam Katz, or "finding pablo".

Posted by: robert h. schwab,md on May 26, 2003 08:05 AM

The terrible bomb attacks against innocent israeli civilians and especially students required government policy change to a war mentality as would any government including the US, the French when they had their period of bombing, the english with the ira attacking the english home land and almost killing the english primeminister. It is overtly antisemetic that the economist and the european press is not more sympathetic and understanding of a government's political necessity of protecting its people from death and terror. See "the hunt for the engineer" by sam Katz, or "finding pablo".

Posted by: robert h. schwab,md on May 26, 2003 08:06 AM

The terrible bomb attacks against innocent israeli civilians and especially students required government policy change to a war mentality as would any government including the US, the French when they had their period of bombing, the english with the ira attacking the english home land and almost killing the english primeminister. It is overtly antisemetic that the economist and the european press is not more sympathetic and understanding of a government's political necessity of protecting its people from death and terror. See "the hunt for the engineer" by sam Katz, or "finding pablo".

Posted by: robert h. schwab,md on May 26, 2003 08:06 AM
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