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The Economist Strikes Again

The Economist is a curious publication.  A weekly newsmagazine published in London, devoted to international politics, business news, and social trends, it largely hews to a classical liberal (or libertarian) line in economics and a correspondingly conservative line in politics. In contrast to most newsmagazines today, it is also a rousing success: while the moribund Time and Newsweek are tightening their belts, the proudly highbrow Economist has more than doubled its circulation (now at 1.6 million, half in the U.S.) in the past decade and continues to wield great influence in the world of ideas and opinion.

Relevant Links
It All Adds Up  Bret Stephens, Jerusalem Post. Is there a newsweekly smarter, better written, or more globally influential than the Economist—or one with a more pervasive anti-Israel bias?
Lies, Damn Lies, and the Economist  Bret Stephens, CAMERA. A compilation of errors, distortions, biased reports, and obfuscations in the magazine’s coverage of Middle Eastern affairs.

As reputable and sophisticated as the Economist's coverage has been, however, its political stance lends credence to charges of bias. This is particularly true in the case of Israel, where the magazine consistently drops its façade of cool detachment and recklessly scatters diagnoses and accusations like daisies.  The current cover story, "Please, Not Again: The Threat of War in the Middle East," is the latest case in point.

According to the Economist, war could break out at any point this year over Iran's "apparent" desire to build atomic bombs, the arms race "between" Israel and Hizballah (presumably, the two share an equal thirst for aggression), or "miscalculations" on the Gaza border. The solution to these frightening scenarios? The Obama administration must exert "tough love" on Israel by imposing a settlement that will establish a Fatah-led Palestine in the West Bank. For, the article reasons, once this is done, Iran, Hizballah, and Hamas in Gaza will all find it "much harder" to attack Israel.

Economist editorials and feature articles are published anonymously—though the newspaper's Israel correspondent, former Haaretz editor David Landau, would likely have contributed to the latest barrage. Landau is on record as asserting that Israel is begging for "more vigorous U.S. intervention" and in fact "wants to be raped" by Washington. In the Economist report, an unappreciative Israel is now pocketing billions in American aid even as it rebuffs pleas to "pause in its building of illegal Jewish settlements." The reasons for this supposed obstinacy are Israel's "thriving economy" and "America's pro-Israel lobby"—hence the need for muscular and determined action by the White House.

One despairs of rehearsing the fatal flaws with this argument, to the extent that it is an argument at all rather than an unsubstantiated rant. Suffice it to say that Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, has latched onto any pretext not to negotiate with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government. But it is hardly any wonder that relative moderates like him are fearful. Coddled by the international community, Hamas is solidifying its grip on Gaza, and with Syria's support Hizballah has for all intents and purposes usurped Lebanese sovereignty. Iran may soon provide the rejectionists with a nuclear umbrella. In this geopolitical climate, Abbas would be pilloried if he negotiated in earnest with Netanyahu.

The implication is clear: unless the international community first tackles the jihadists and rejectionists, moderates will be afraid to make the compromises necessary for a settlement. But don't tell that to the Economist.  Indeed, in its survey of the entire Middle East, from Afghanistan to Iran to Iraq, the "biggest headache" the editors can find to name is not the metastasizing evil that, in its latest incarnation, inspired the terror bombing of a New Year's eve mass at a Coptic church in Egypt but rather "Jewish colonization in the West Bank." Swept aside as evidently beneath consideration is the possibility that disputed territory captured in a war of self-defense, of immense strategic value to Israel's survival, and deeply rooted in Jewish civilization ought at least to be the subject of direct negotiations between the parties.

All this is par for the course. Reading the Economist, one learns that Israel perpetually, and lethally, magnifies and then bungles even legitimate security threats; that it obdurately "colonizes" the "Palestinian side of the 1967 border"; that its harassment of Arabs extends to setting traffic lights in Palestinian areas to flicker green only briefly. Such "reporting," which falls somewhere on the grid between the false, the farcical, and the fabricated, lends a sobering relevance to the words of billionaire CEO Larry Ellison, quoted in one of the magazine's canny ad campaigns: "I used to think. Now, I just read the Economist."   

One trembles to imagine how many among its 1.6 million readers let the Economist do their thinking for them.

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emanuel feldman on January 7, 2011 at 8:19 am (Reply)
Jager, as usual, is excellent, and right on the mark.
Jacob Arnon on January 7, 2011 at 10:09 am (Reply)
Is there some way of holding the editors accountable when they publish obvious lies about Israel?

Recently, the London Review of Books which had been publishing anti-Israel propaganda for years was taken to task by "Just Journalism." It showed that the LRB was receiving public monies.

See: “New Report: London Review of Books on Israel”

There should be a way of publicizing The Economist’s bias more widely. I see Elliot Jager’s important article as part of a project that I hope will go mainstream.
shimshon on January 7, 2011 at 10:16 am (Reply)
The Economist is sometimes biased agaist Israel, but I am not sure why you think that this article is biased. Many Israelis believe that there needs to be a Palestinian state in order to secure Israel's future as Jewish and democratic. Many Israelis also fear (rightly) the belligerence of the current Israeli government. It appears that you think anything that does not repeat right wing talking points is biased. And that is ridiculous.
Ron Broxted on January 7, 2011 at 10:32 am (Reply)
There will always be anti-Jewish elements in the media.
chloe on January 7, 2011 at 11:07 am (Reply)
we no longer get the ECONOMIST: Vote with $

Subscription renewals & cancellations, let alone to overseas, costs them.
steve on January 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm (Reply)
Shimshon, your oft-repeated strawman that "anything that does not repeat right wing talking points is biased" is wearing thin with intelligent readers.
Bias is demonstrated by ignoring and misrepresenting the facts. It has nothing to do with your imaginary "right wing talking points".
Jacob Arnon on January 7, 2011 at 2:46 pm (Reply)
shimshon “Many Israelis also fear (rightly) the belligerence of the current Israeli government.”

“Many?” How many?

Israel has a democratically elected government and if some feel that the government is too belligerent they can vote them out in the next election.

“Many Israelis believe that there needs to be a Palestinian state in order to secure Israel's future as Jewish and democratic.”

The formulaic phrase “many Israelis” doesn’t tell me much.

I am a secular Jew and I am for a Two State Solution, but that doesn’t stop me from seeing the lies, the hypocrisy and plain bigotry of the Economist’s reports on Israel, Shimshon.
Ben on January 7, 2011 at 5:31 pm (Reply)
Strange but usual situation: Jewish correspondent writes biased articles and commentator offers to punish the Economist. Is it the declaration of impotence to influence on Jewish patriotism or recognition of the sacred right of liberal Jew to be Anti-Zionist?
LT COL HOWARD on January 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm (Reply)
This comment is meant in part to respond to those of your readers who believe that the solution is “two states for two peoples”.

Many of your readers are too dismissive of the wide-ranging boycott attempts which are directed not only against the West Bank but more against the entire state of Israel. The British academics wanted no interaction with any Israeli university. The advocates of divestment within the mainline Protestant churches target the entire state of Israel. Those advocating disinvestment of the California retirement funds include the entire state of Israel.

I strongly suggest that every Jew review the murder of SALMAAN TASEER,governor of Punjab province, for the lessons that it can teach us as to the functioning of the “Islamic thought process” as it pertains to infidels such as Christians and Jews. Taseer was a religious Moslem. He was murdered for the “crime” of urging clemency for a woman who was sentenced to death for blasphemy… She was a Christian who was deemed to have “insulted” Islam, a death penalty offense in Pakistan. Within hours of his death ,hundreds of Islamic clergy issued statements of support of his murder. No Islamic cleric could be found who is willing to preside at his funeral Couple this with the finding that although a majority of Palestinians favor a “two state solution” such as many of your readers advocate, the vast majority of those Palestinians view the two state solution as a step toward one state, a Muslim dominated country governed by Islamic law ,which will include what is currently the entire state of Israel.

Unfortunately some problems may not have solutions. Jewish impatience might jeopardize Jewish survival. You are to be complimented on helping to identify the source of many of the charges that dwell on what is wrong with the current government of Israel.
rorkesdrift on January 8, 2011 at 10:21 am (Reply)
The magazine has not been "classic liberal" in at least 20 years and "libertarian" never. Do you really understand what those terms mean?

The Economist usually sides with big government or big business and never with the concept of individual rights, freedom or liberty.

I canceled my subscription long ago.
hophmi on January 8, 2011 at 4:47 pm (Reply)
After reading this article, one quietly asks oneself: Who is actually ranting here? You try so hard to play it coolly British but you fail epically. This is just an enthocentric puffpiece of a hurt ego. Israel's no longer getting the special treatment but people see it as the state it is. Clue: it ain't pretty with the rascist rabbis, laws against marriage of Jews and non-Jews in a clear Jim Crow-style, the witch hunt of human rights NGOs and so on.

Petty lobbyists for Israel like yourself will be increasingly depressed the coming years, much to the pleasure of many. Israel's sad state of its "democracy" will no longer be excused. Although we can be sure petty lobbyists like you will continue to try.

I'd be surprised if this went through the filter.
I'm not sprouting the Zionist propaganda.
Silly me.
annie on January 8, 2011 at 8:34 pm (Reply)
"we no longer get the ECONOMIST: Vote with $

exactly the same logic behind the bds campaign.

Ben Plonie on January 8, 2011 at 10:24 pm (Reply)
It's OK, hophmi. The Elders like to let comments like yours get through the filter just so you anti-Zionists can embarrass yourselves.

To make a long story short, if Israel isn't perfect it's better than the next best country, and Britain isn't the next best anyway. The most popular name for boys in Britain is Muhammad in its various spellings; can't say I'm sympathetic. Nor to any other place that got rid of its Jews and got Muslims in their place.
piotr on January 8, 2011 at 11:35 pm (Reply)
Elliott Jager wrote a curious article. One can wonder what does he really want. Just compare two sentences:

"unless the international community first tackles the jihadists and rejectionists, moderates will be afraid to make the compromises necessary for a settlement. "

This kind of implies that there exists some "compromise necessary for a settlement". But what it could be? One problem is that Netanyahu did not spell out his offer, and neither does Mr. Jager hint what a "sufficient compromise" could be. But compare with the next sentence:

..."Jewish colonization in the West Bank." Swept aside as evidently beneath consideration is the possibility that disputed territory captured in a war of self-defense, of immense strategic value to Israel's survival, and deeply rooted in Jewish civilization ought at least to be the subject of direct negotiations between the parties."

Seems that Mr. Jager would offer Gaza to Palestinians, as "West Bank has immense strategic value". Presumably, some unknown moderates would dare to accept this ungenerous offer once the jihadist are dispatched by the "international community".
talknic on January 9, 2011 at 12:59 am (Reply)
"Swept aside as evidently beneath consideration is the possibility that disputed territory captured in a war of self-defense, of immense strategic value to Israel's survival, and deeply rooted in Jewish civilization ought at least to be the subject of direct negotiations between the parties."

A) What gives one entity a legal right to more defensible borders than their neighbour, especially when the territory being claimed for defensible borders, actually belongs to their neighbour?

B) The extent of Israel's Sovereignty as declared and the Israeli Provisional Government informed the world of it on 14th MAY 1948, "within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947"

C) Israel's Sovereignty was confirmed by the Israeli Provisional Government on May 22nd 1948 and June 15th 1949 to the UNSC

D) It is inadmissible to 'acquire' territory by war, ANY WAR! (see Stephen M. Schwebel )

E) It is illegal to annex territory without agreement of those whose territory is being annexed. UNSC Resolution 252 (1968) of 21 May 1968 UNSC Resolution 267 (1969) of 3 July 1969 UNSC Resolution 271 (1969) of 15 September 1969, UNSC Resolution 298 (1971) of 25 September 1971, UNSC Resolution 465 (1980) of 1 March 1980, UNSC Resolution 476 (1980) of 30 June 1980

F) Take all the land one wants for defensible borders, you'll still have a neighbour. The notion of defensible borders is nonsense.

Is it logic to demand even more territory of a neighbour in order to protect for one's self, the territory one has already illegally acquired from them, when Israel is OBLIGED under the UN Charter Chapter XI to PROTECT the occupied their property and their territory

G) There are NO UNSC resolutions calling territories 'disputed'. UNSC Res 1860 " Recalling all of its relevant resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003) and 1850 (2008), Stressing that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the territory occupied in 1967 and will be a part of the Palestinian state"

H) UNSC Res 242 was between states only, with already defined and Internationally recognized boundaries. It calls for those states, INCLUDING Israel to have "respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;" The word negotiate does not appear ANYWHERE.
d /feder on January 9, 2011 at 7:03 am (Reply)
I can't remember the title of the book that recounts the history of British anti-semetism that was recently published. My cousin was reading it. I just remember the last line: " The closed season on Jews is over". Evidently, THE ECONOMIST is part of that movement.
Jacob Arnon on January 9, 2011 at 3:24 pm (Reply)
The Economist counter attack was inevitable:

annie "'we no longer get the ECONOMIST: Vote with $'

exactly the same logic behind the bds campaign.'"

It's not the same logic because the two campigns are not analogous.

The Economist is entitled to their opinion, but not to their own facts.
Jacob Arnon on January 9, 2011 at 3:30 pm (Reply)
"The notion of defensible borders is nonsense."

I don't know where Talknic lives but in the real world defensible borders are not 'nonsense' if your neighbors are trying to destroy a country and kill its people.

Israel can achieve defensible borders by trading some territory as its previous and current government has offered.

That the PA is ruling this out is a sign that they are not serious about achieving peace.
Amo Fuchs on January 10, 2011 at 4:08 am (Reply)
Does the Economist know that Israel exists?
According the recent peblication of the LSE there is no such thing as Israel.
chloe on January 10, 2011 at 8:06 pm (Reply)
toda to Jacob Arnon

"But There Are No Jews in England" may be out of print

but they refuse to be confused by facts.
chloe on January 10, 2011 at 8:18 pm (Reply)
thank you again Adon Arnon
talknic on January 17, 2011 at 12:37 am (Reply)
Jacob Arnon

"I don't know where Talknic lives but in the real world defensible borders are not 'nonsense'"

In the real world countries stick to their own boundaries. No matter how much territory Israel takes in order to protect the territories it has already illegally acquired from it's neighbour, it will always be next to the neighbour who's land it has been illegally taking.

Furthermore name any other country that claims to have more of a right to defensible borders than its neighbours. Especially by taking even more of their neighbours territories.
Amo Fuchs on January 17, 2011 at 3:23 am (Reply)
Defensible borders were an important issue in the past, when there was a real danger of invasion. Not always by taking territory, sometimes by taking the whole country by proxy through puppet government. Russia had good reasons to fear from Germany(*) even after WWII, France had good reasons after WWI (Sarre).
Currently, to my humble knowledge, Israel is the only threat by rogue states and their proxies (Hamas and Hisballah) as proxies of Iran, even if Lebanon, at least until yesterday, wasn't a danger.
Steve on January 18, 2011 at 2:21 pm (Reply)
I cancelled my subscription to Economist long time ago. Can't stand English - geniuses, Americans - stupid, Jews - filthy attitude....
Paul Marks on February 15, 2011 at 8:56 am (Reply)
I agree that the Economist magazine is biased against Israel (indeed even pro Israeli comments on its articles tend to be deleted - as I can personally testify), but the idea that it is libertarian or classical liberal in its economics is absurd.

The Economist magazine not only backed the bank bailouts (trillions of Dollars of government support round the world) it has historically been pro Welfare State - for example backing Obamacare.

The Economist CALLS ITSELF "pro free markets and free minds" but it is not really. It is deception - propaganda.

As for politics "conservative" - not only does the Economist magazine support "gun control" (using any excuse to push this agenda). It also (for example) supported John Kerry for President of the United States in 2004 (Senator Kerry was then the Senator with the most leftist voting record in the United States Senate), and even supported Barack Obama (a man whose life long leftism is virtually off the scale) for President of the United States in 2008.

Beware of taking people, or organizations, at face value - the Economist magazine is not "economically libertarian" or "politically conservative".

susan on February 22, 2011 at 1:06 pm (Reply)
I just cancelled a subscription to the Economist we had received as a gift. After six weeks of negative comments about Israel, I wondered how truthful the rest of the magazine was. Then I went online and asked, "Is the Economist magazine anti-Israel?" Lots of links assured me I made the right decision.
DF on January 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm (Reply)
I almost dismissed this article without reading it when I saw the claim in the first line that the Economist is conservative or libertarian. I used to receive the Economist regularly. It may not be as gushingly left-wing as the Guardian, but in no sense can it be called conservative. I did continue reading, and the piece was well written. But please do not provide conservative bona fides for publications or persons that plainly do not deserve them.
voxpop4 on February 14, 2012 at 9:04 pm (Reply)
The Brits never got over their screw-up in the "Palestine region" after World Wars I and II. Look what they lost: India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Egpyt, and all those Islands in the Pacific; they still got the Falklands, but even the Irish kicked them out. With their loss of empire, they never got back on the superpower map. Although the Brits are a good ally in case of trouble, they are all wrong on Israel. I still want the Brits on America's side; soon they'll get it right on Israel, too. What was his name--Disraeli. . . .

Bernhardt on April 26, 2012 at 6:45 am (Reply)
The Economist has never let facts get in the way of its opinions.

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