London Review of Books: Ten years of anti-Israel prejudice

This is a cross post from Just Journalism

Literary magazine the London Review of Books has used funds from nearly £190,000 of taxpayers’ money to pay contributors to depict Israel in a uniformly negative light. A report published today by Just Journalism uncovers ten years of unswervingly anti-Israel rhetoric, coupled with apologetics and sympathy for groups shunned by the British government as terrorist organisations.

The report, entitled, ‘London Review of Books: Ten years of anti-Israel prejudice’ is a comprehensive review of the 92 articles commissioned to external writers on the subject of Israel-Palestine between 1 June 2000 and 31 May 2010. The findings show an unremitting hostility to the Jewish state, embodied by the views of editor Mary-Kay Wilmers who has described herself as “unambiguously hostile to Israel”.

Despite the volume of coverage devoted to Israel-Palestine, only one article deviated from the fringe anti-Israel narrative and presented the situation from a mainstream Israeli perspective. Given that the London Review of Books receives government funding via the Arts Council, it is striking that the Israeli perspective is near totally absent.

Just Journalism’s Executive Director Michael Weiss commented:

“This comprehensive report reveals a stunning one-sidedness in the London Review of Books on a hugely complex issue. There is no effort to showcase a range of views on Israel-Palestine or to take Israel’s legitimate security and political concerns seriously. But more revealing is how truly fringe the LRB’s conventional wisdom is on this issue. Hezbollah rockets raining down on Israeli towns are depicted as symbols of ‘consciousness-raising’ about the injustice of Israeli poverty. Overt comparisons are made between Israeli military policy and the Nazi Final Solution. Hamas is seen as a big-tent party of spiritual progressivism and not as a totalitarian, anti-Semitic terrorist organisation.

“The fact that taxpayers’ money is being used to pay for contributors to write these unremittingly hostile articles ought to prompt some sort of public debate about whether, particularly in today’s economic climate, this funding should continue.”

Benny Morris, professor of history at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, responded to the report, saying:

“Many contributions are no more than pro-Arab propaganda. On the face of things, it would appear that sending taxpayers’ pounds their way is misguided if not downright hostile toward Israel – which is not British government policy.”


* A Freedom of Information request revealed that since its inception the LRB has received over £767,000 from Arts Council England, funded by the public purse
* Between 2000 and 2010, over £188,000 was received by the LRB specifically for the purpose of paying contributing writers. In this period 92 articles on Israel-Palestine were produced by contributors
* More than one third (36%) of articles were written by Jewish Israelis and more than half (53%) of all articles were written by people known to be Jewish. On only one occasion was a mainstream Jewish and Israeli perspective on the conflict showcased by this (or any) contingent
* The LRB consistently portrayed Israel as a bloodthirsty and genocidal regime out of all proportion to reality, while sympathetic portraits abounded of groups designated as terrorist organisations by the British government such as Hamas and Hezbollah
* While the Palestinian narrative was fully represented, Israel’s narrative on its legitimate security concerns, Arab rejectionism and terrorism was near absent

For the full report, Click here.