Monday, August 31, 2009

Reuters: antisemitic or simply asinine?

We're returning to a Reuters AxisMundi post from July because it would be difficult to find a more breathtaking example of both the ignorance and conceit demonstrated by their Middle East correspondents.

In "Insulting the Intelligence", Douglas Hamilton patronizes readers by assuming the role of teacher who is going to demonstrate to his students the "rhetorical tricks" of disingenuousness and the straw man argument. Hamilton's teaching exhibit: Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

Hamilton cites Netanyahu's reply to demands by the Obama administration that Israel halt construction of 20 apartments in eastern Jerusalem as an illustration of these "rhetorical tricks":

“We cannot accept the idea that Jews will not have the right to live and buy (homes) anywhere in Jerusalem... I can only imagine what would happen if someone would suggest Jews could not live in certain neighborhoods of New York, London, Paris or Rome. There would certainly be a great international outcry.”

Hamilton admits that discrimination against Jews, i.e., preventing them from building or living in these Western cities, would indeed be proof of antisemitism but that because Jerusalem is a disputed city claimed also by the Palestinian Arabs, such an injunction is perfectly acceptable. For Hamilton, Netanyahu is employing a straw man, and (because Hamilton presumes Netanyahu accepts his distinction between Jerusalem and London) is further guilty of being "disingenuous".

Of course, it is Hamilton who is actually being disingenuous or simply ignorant of the historical facts. As we replied in the comments section to Hamilton's post, at various times in the past, sovereignty over New York, London, Paris, and Rome was also in dispute. The same holds true with Prague, Toronto, Istanbul, Pittsburgh, and today, Belfast, Gibraltar, and Jerusalem.

Competing claims did not prevent the English, the French, the Czechs, or the Catholics from living or building in their cities while borders were tussled with. Competing claims have not compelled the UK government to block condominium construction for British pensioners in Gibraltar. And competing claims have not prevented Arab governments from spending hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize and encourage Palestinian Arab construction in Jerusalem.

Only the Jews it seems, are to be singled out for special treatment.


  1. ethnic cleansing because of conflict? how would that work anywhere?
    the same argument against Jews is used on every issue. they apply rules that no other nation in the world has been held accountable for.

  2. If you guys are going to take on Reuters, as some "academics" who supposedly know bad and unprofessional journalism, then you ought to tell us who you REALLY are--as in names, locations, where you teach.

    At least journalists at Reuters sign their real names and identities on their work so it makes them seem, for that reason alone, a heck of a lot more professional than you!

  3. Articles submitted for publication in academic journals are subject to blind review. We'll let our work be judged on its merits.

    Any criticism of our work?

  4. Interesting how eager your detractors are to make you tell everyone who you are & where you work/live (as opposed to actually refuting you) - no implied threat whatsoever, eh? But the punchline comes when you remember that the most famous Reuters fauxtographer is also famous for changing his name every time he is discovered - and getting re-hired at Reuters!!

  5. The upshot of it all, at the most basic level, was that Palestinians have no right to live in areas reserved by law for Jews- now well over 90% of a country that was formerly 90% Palestinian- in much the same way that blacks could not live in the similary disproportionate 'white' areas of South Africa, or Jews in 'Gentile' areas of some countrries of pre-modern Europe.
    Israel Shahak asks:
    'is the differnce between prohibiting a Jew qua Jew from living in saudi arabia and prohibiting a non-jew qua non jew from living in Carmiel? Let us just compare it with how Jewish organizations in the US react when they discover a club which refuses, or merely avoids accepting , Jewish members. It instantly becomes a target for a furious public protest campaign. Yet a club is only a private affair. By contrast, the Israeli policy of preventing non-Jews from living or doing business in specific Israeli cities is a public one. Isn't it much worse?. In truth, the Zionists here and the anti-semites there are on the same side of the fence. They achieve here what the anti-semites try, usually without success, to achieve there.'

  6. The upshot of it all, at the most basic level, was that Palestinians have no right to live in areas reserved by law for Jews- now well over 90% of a country that was formerly 90% Palestinian

    This claim is false. 93% of land in Israel is classified as state land and any Israeli citizen can purchase property -- including Israeli Arabs. The reality is quite the reverse of what you suggest; including the "settlements", Jews now live in less than 30% of the original Palestine Mandate.

  7. 93% of state land is reserved for jews only. a arab israeli cannot purchase property on this land

  8. 93% of state land is reserved for jews only.

    Can you cite a source for your claim?


  10. Your linked article is written by a self-proclaimed "anti-Zionist" and simply engages in a sophistical argument over the term "national". It makes an unsubstantiated claim in the headline and offers no evidence or citations. Here are the facts:

    "Israeli Arabs have equal access to state-owned land—four-fifths of the entire country—both in theory and in practice. Indeed, about half of the land they cultivate is directly leased to them by the Israeli government through the ILA."

    The only point that appears to be in dispute is whether the land administered by the ILA (93.5% of the total) is available for purchase or lease only. The articles we linked to above indicate it is available solely for lease; we've seen other articles suggesting otherwise. In either event, the land is available to Israeli citizens -- Jew or Arab -- on a non-discriminatory basis.

  11. how come arabs have great difficulty in leasing land in west jerusalum and some arabs have to go to court to stop this racist practise. and if the court rules in their favour or a new high sounding law passed by the knesset, still they have trouble because there is almost always that one little catch that negates their whole beneficient effect, that one little paragraph ensuring that the lastest dispenation had no retroactive impact on earlier ones, and therefore on the whole structure of legalized discrimination to which these had given rise.