Economist deceives in citing partial quote by Israeli MK about the Temple Mount

Mount of Troubles‘, published in the print edition of The Economist on Oct. 18th, included the following claim (underlined in red):


However, that sentence only includes part of what Feiglin said, and omits important context.
According to a report on Feiglin’s visit to the Mount by Israel National News, he was talking specifically about Sukkot, and protesting the police decision to ban Jews from visiting the site during that Jewish holiday – due to a recent surge in Arab riots and attacks on police and Jewish worshippers.
Here are the relevant passages.

Deputy Knesset Speaker Moshe Feiglin (Likud) attacked the Israeli police’s decision to close the Temple Mount to Jewish worshipers on Sukkot.

Sukkot is one of the three Jewish pilgrimage holidays that in ancient times required Jews to travel to the Temple in Jerusalem – a practice maintained today.

The decision to bar Jewish worshippers comes following an onslaught of violent Arab riots against police and Jewish visitors to the mount.

“The person responsible for this is the Prime Minister (Binyamin Netanyahu). I call on the prime minister to order an immediate removal of all Muslims from the Temple Mount during Sukkot. This would allow Jews to visit freely and safely on the holiday.” 

Unless they have another source that we weren’t able to find, the passage in The Economist is extremely misleading as it fails to include a key part of the quote, as well as vital context about the scope and motivation of Feiglin’s demands.  He evidently was referring to visiting rights for Muslims during Sukkot, and only in reaction to the police decision to ban Jews during the holiday due to Muslim riots.

(Alternately, according to his Facebook page, Feiglin was even more narrowly calling for the removal of only Muslim rioters from the site.)

To be clear, Feiglin’s views regarding the Temple Mount (and many other issues) are in fact extreme and morally indefensible. Nonetheless, The Economist – as with all serious newspapers, magazine and journals – has the responsibility to report accurately on even those public figures their journalists don’t view sympathetically, or whose opinions they find offensive.

Why does the Economist treat Palestinian rioters like children?

The media script about rioting at the Temple Mount is as predictable as it is dishonest.

When religious Jews peacefully walk around the Temple Mount (the holiest site in Judaism), and even honor the prohibition against non-Muslim prayer on the site, they are still nonetheless often characterized in the UK media as ‘Jewish radicals’ engaged an inherently provocative act. Conversely, Muslims who riot and attack Jewish worshippers and Israeli Police – in order to “defend the mosque” – are typically framed by the media, at least implicitly, as pious worshippers incited to violence by the presence of Jewish extremists. 

The latest example of this UK media narrative – informed by the refusal of British opinion leaders to take Palestinians seriously as agents of their own fate – comes to us courtesy of the Economist, in an article titled ‘A mount of troubles: Jewish radicals are upsetting the fragile religious balance in the holy city, Oct. 18th. 

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Harriet Sherwood ‘forgets’ to note place of relative Jewish significance in Jerusalem

SherwoodHarriet Sherwood’s latest report, ‘Israeli elections set to amplify religious voice in Knesset‘, Jan. 21, highlights commentators predicting that Knesset representation for religiously observant Jews will likely increase following the Jan. 22 election.

While Sherwood’s report represents the latest in a string of Guardian news stories and commentaries suggesting a ‘rightward’ electoral shift in the Jewish state, one passage in particular stood out:

“Binyamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, currently in an electoral alliance with the former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu, is also expected to be more hardline rightwing in the next parliament. Among those expecting to become new members of the Knesset is Moshe Feiglin, who this month proposed that the Israeli government pay Palestinians in the West Bank $500,000 a family to leave. “This is the perfect solution for us,” he said.

Feiglin, a hardline settler from Karnei Shomron in the West Bank, was recently arrested for praying near the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque. Israeli law forbids Jews from praying at the compound.”

Yes, why indeed would a religious Israeli Jew be provocatively praying “near the the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque” in Jerusalem?

Could there be a place of Jewish religious significance near these sacred Islamic sites?

Indeed, yes there is.  

A little place known as ‘The Temple Mount’, or Har Habayit, is identified in Jewish (and Islamic) tradition as the area of Mount Moriah where Abraham offered up his son in sacrifice, and it is where the Second Temple stood between roughly 515 BCE until 70 CE.

It is universally recognized as the holiest site in Judaism.


Millions pray each year at the Western Wall (a retaining wall initiated by King Herod) due to its close proximity to the original Temple. 

Though Israel does not allow non-Muslim prayer on the Temple Mount to avoid offending Muslims (which is indeed why Feiglin was arrested), it strains credulity to imagine that Sherwood, who’s been the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent since 2010, just innocently forgot to mention the Jewish significance of the site where the Israeli MK was praying.

While we have credited Sherwood for her few recent minimal steps towards more balanced reporting, this glaring omission again demonstrates the degree to which her view from Jerusalem is still egregiously skewed by a knee-jerk anti-Israel bias.