“A good dissection of the articles on the conflict that appeared in the LRB over the past decade. 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.”
Benny Morris, professor of history in the Middle East Studies Department
at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

Written by Chris Dyszynski - November 2010


The London Review of Books (the LRB) has long been known as a publication virulently hostile to the State of Israel and Zionism. This report covers the ten years from 1 June 2000 to 31 May 2010, examining the fortnightly magazine’s reviews and essays on Israel-Palestine and exposing an entirely one-sided, fringe narrative, paid for by British taxpayers’ money via Arts Council funding. Despite Britain’s alliance with Israel, public money has been used to pay extreme opponents of Israel to pen articles demonising the Jewish state.



London Review of Books on Israel-Palestine

First published in 1979, the London Review of Books is the most widely circulated European literary magazine. 1 It has, in its own words, ‘stood up for the tradition of the literary and intellectual essay in English.’2 Consisting primarily of lengthy essays and book reviews by a range of contributors, the LRB concerns itself with providing commentary on a wide range of subjects, including culture, politics and history.

The LRB proudly describes itself as combining ‘topicality with depth and scholarship with good writing’, and states that it ‘isn’t afraid to challenge received ideas’3. However, there is one topic on which the LRB is content to promote a single perspective, without offering any alternative to its own received ideas: the Israel-Palestine conflict. Since 1992, the LRB has been edited by Mary-Kay Wilmers, who explained her editorial stance on Israel thus: ‘I’m unambiguously hostile to Israel because it’s a mendacious state. They do things that are just so immoral and counterproductive and, as a Jew, especially as a Jew, you can’t justify that.’4

This unambiguous hostility is borne out unswervingly in the pages of the LRB over the 17 years since Wilmers took the helm. Despite the sheer volume of coverage devoted to the conflict, with each article running to several thousand words, there are two notable and wholesale omissions: any insight from the mainstream of Israeli society into the policies adopted by their country; and any attribution of responsibility for the conflict to the other parties involved, namely the various Palestinian groups, including Palestinian Hamas, as well as the Lebanese Hezbollah. Instead, Israel’s actions alone have been consistently denigrated, its leaders maligned, and its concerns ignored. This charged analysis fails even to pay lip service to one side in an immensely complex situation. Faced with a narrative that paints a picture of endless Israeli brutality, while refusing to acknowledge the role that Arab violence and rejectionism has played in perpetuating the conflict, it would be understandable if readers of the LRB concluded that Israel’s policies really were ‘directed at annihilating everything Palestinian.’5

London Review of Books and Public Funding

As a result of a Freedom of Information request submitted by Just Journalism in August 2010, it can be revealed that since 1981, the magazine has received £767,679 from the Arts Council, the national development agency for the arts in England. This body is funded solely by public money from the Government and the National Lottery6, and since 2000 the LRB has been allocated its annual Arts Council grant to pay contributors to the magazine, receiving £188,538 over the past 10 years for this purpose.

The Arts Council states that it works to ‘get great art to everyone by championing, developing and investing in artistic experiences that enrich people’s lives.’ 7 In the case of the London Review of Books, it is unclear to what extent people’s lives are enriched by a magazine whose most frequent contributor on the Israel-Palestine conflict in the last decade wrote that the state of Israel wishes to inculcate in its soldiers a ‘neo-Nazi ideology wrapped in Judaism.’8 Just Journalism has analysed the 92 articles9 published by the LRB on the Israel-Palestine conflict in the last decade. This period has seen the collapse of the Oslo peace process, the launching of the Second Intifada, the Gaza disengagement, the Second Lebanon War, the Gaza War and the resumption of bilateral negotiations. In addressing all these events, the LRB has hosted the most ardent critics of Israel and never failed to present an overwhelmingly negative account of the Jewish state.

The LRB is free to take whatever editorial stance it chooses on any number of subjects, within the wide parameters of free expression allowed in the UK. However, when it consistently maligns a country with which our government enjoys strong bilateral relations, in terms which evoke the crime of genocide, the question arises as to whether it should do so with public funds. The following table reveals all Arts Council funding for the following London Review of Books, as communicated to Just Journalism by the Arts Council:


Mearsheimer and Walt and ‘The Israel Lobby’

The contributors most associated with the LRB are undoubtedly John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, co-authors of ‘The Israel Lobby,’ published on 23 March 2006. Originally commissioned by the US magazine The Atlantic in 2002, Mearsheimer and Walt’s manuscript was rejected by that publication and subsequently published by the authors in March 2006 as a ‘working paper’ on the website of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where Walt serves as a professor of international relations. The now notorious essay – later revised into a third version and since expanded into a best-selling book10 – put forward the thesis that US Middle East policy was dictated to the government by domestic organisations and individuals whose interests lay primarily with Israel.

The authors described The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as ‘a de facto agent for a foreign government’ which ‘has a stranglehold on Congress, with the result that US policy towards Israel is not debated there, even though that policy has important consequences for the entire world.’11 The article gained global attention and sparked a heated transatlantic debate between supporters and detractors. In the preface to the book that resulted, Mearsheimer and Walt described the reaction to their LRB article two years prior, giving an indication of its sheer impact. They characterised the response as ‘breathtaking’, citing coverage in 14 high profile US, British and Israeli publications, many of which are read the world over.12 They also noted that within four months of its publication in the LRB, ‘the Kennedy School’s website had recorded more than 275,000 downloads of the working paper and we had received numerous requests to translate or reprint the LRB article.’13

One of the main criticisms of the essay was that its central thesis relied upon anti-Semitic notions of disproportionate Jewish power in media and politics. Christopher Hitchens, by no means a reflexive supporter of Israel, responded to the essay in ‘Overstating Jewish Power,’ an article for Slate (27 March 2006). He criticised the way that Mearsheimer and Walt ‘present the situation as one where the Jewish tail wags the American dog, and where the United States has gone to war in Iraq to gratify Ariel Sharon,’ describing this as ‘partly misleading and partly creepy’.

On how convincing the pair’s case was, veteran Israel critic Noam Chomsky concluded: ‘not very’14. He also criticised Mearsheimer and Walt’s ‘highly selective use of evidence’, offering alternative examples of US-Israel friction in which ‘Israel was compelled to back down’.

In marked contrast, the political far right was much more welcoming of Mearsheimer and Walt’s thesis. Former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke gave ‘The Israel Lobby’ his full approval, saying:

‘It is quite satisfying to see a body in the premier American University essentially come out and validate every major point I have been making since even before the war even started… the task before us is to wrest control of America’s foreign policy and critical junctures of media from the Jewish extremist Neocons that seek to lead us into what they expectantly call World War IV.’15

The LRB published more of the same from John Mearsheimer in 2009 in ‘The Lobby Falters’ in which he complained that President Obama is unwilling to assert his authority over the pro-Israel lobby – ‘this is one opponent he is not willing to challenge’.16

Israeli profiles, Arab positions

Of the 92 articles published by the LRB on Israel-Palestine in the 10 years to 31 May 2010, only one can be said to offer a mainstream Israeli perspective.17

Given the uniform anti-Israel narrative presented in the LRB, it might be expected that an analysis of the contributors would reveal a preponderance of Muslim, Palestinian and other Arab authors. On the contrary, of the 45 external contributors (See Appendix I) paid to produce articles for publication in the LRB, 20 percent18 are of known Muslim, Palestinian and other Arab descent, compared with 36 percent19 which are of known Jewish and Jewish Israeli descent.

In terms of how this translates into articles published by the LRB on Israel-Palestine, the Jewish and Jewish Israeli contingent was responsible for 49 out of the total 92 (53 percent - See Appendix II). This is particularly noteworthy given that only Naomi Shepherd’s ‘Diary’, from 3 February 2005 can be said to have proffered a perspective held by mainstream Jews or Israelis.

By contrast, all articles penned by Muslims, Palestinians and other Arabs on the topic were very much in line with the views held by mainstream Muslims, Palestinians and Arabs. Palestinian-American academic Edward Said was instrumental in influencing editor Mary-Kay Wilmers, and, therefore, the LRB’s approach to Israel-Palestine. In October 2009 she told The Guardian: ‘Edward Said converted me… Up until then I had supported Israel, though not fiercely.’20 Since his death in 2003, the most prolific writer of Palestinian or Arab origin at the LRB has been Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University – and he has only penned three articles.21

Both Said and Khalidi openly promoted Palestinian nationalism and the right of the Palestinian people to their own state. By contrast, the defining characteristic of the three most prolific writers on Israel-Palestine in the LRB over the last decade – all Jewish Israelis – was a deep-set ambivalence, if not outright hostility, towards the legitimacy of a Jewish homeland in the Middle East and of Zionism as an expression of Jewish self-determination.

The contributions of Uri Avnery, Ilan Pappe and Yitzhak Laor, who wrote 24 articles between them over the last 10 years (See Appendix III), exemplify the trend in the LRB of the strongest condemnations of the Jewish state coming from its own citizens. However, unlike the vast majority of their compatriots, the three position themselves as post or anti-Zionist, believing that the very concept of Israel as a home for the Jewish people is at best redundant and at worst illegitimate and a threat to global security. Avnery regards Jewish nationalism as an anachronism22, Laor believes that it is so fundamentally illiberal that even left-wing Zionism is more akin to ‘Le Pen or Heider [sic]’23, and Pappe has stated that ‘Zionism is far more dangerous to the safety of the Middle East than Islam.’24

While in Israel these views are extremely marginal, albeit not unheard of, within the LRB they represent conventional wisdom. While Avnery, Pappe and Laor might be regarded as fringe thinkers in their homeland, amongst this select group of compatriots their opinions simply form part of a wider echo chamber of recrimination against Israel.


Throughout the last decade, contributors to the LRB, paid with public money, have repeatedly painted Israel, a diplomatic and commercial ally of Britain, and as a racist villainous country, whilst reserving sympathy for terrorist groups like Hamas – shunned by the British government. In the publication’s treatment of the major events of the last 10 years, while Palestinian and Arab obstinacy and aggression are excused away, Israel’s explanations for its actions are either ignored or dismissed as mere propaganda. Accordingly, Israel is portrayed as primarily responsible for all of the suffering in the region.

Outbreak of the Second Intifada: 2000

The decade began on a note of optimism, as Israelis and Palestinians appeared to be on the brink of signing a lasting peace deal. In July 2000, US President Bill Clinton had brought the newly elected Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation Yasser Arafat to Camp David, Maryland to negotiate the terms of a two-state solution. However, despite Barak’s unprecedented offer of an autonomous Palestinian state on approximately all of the West Bank, with appropriate land swaps for the remainder, Arafat rejected the plan, failed to offer any counter-proposals, and walked away from the talks. Two months later, following a visit by then Defence Minister Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem, the Second Intifada began. A second round of negotiations was attempted in Taba, Egypt in January 2001, but the February election of Sharon as Israeli prime minister concluded the brief period of direct peace talks as a result of his emphasis on security over negotiations.

The outbreak of violence was directly addressed at the time by the LRB in two articles by Palestinian-American Edward Said and Israeli Avi Shlaim, respectively. Both writers depicted the Israeli offer at Camp David as inadequate, sympathised with Yasser Arafat’s decision to walk away from negotiations, and portrayed the Palestinian resort to violence as legitimate.

In ‘Palestinians under Siege’, published on 14 December 2000, Said dismissed the Camp David offer as ‘chimerical nonsense’ that would have left Arafat ‘without a real state, or even the prospect of viable statehood’. For Said, this was the reason why the Palestinian leader rejected further negotiations; that and the fact that ‘he had woken up to the enormity of what he had already signed away.’

Avi Shlaim took a slightly different tack in ‘Ehud Barak’ (25 January 2001). He alleged that the real problem was that Israel ‘had insisted that the Palestinian Authority renounce any further claim against the state of Israel’ and that it ‘make an unequivocal statement about ending the conflict’ as part of a final agreement between the two sides. Barak’s insistence that Palestinians declare the conflict over and reject the use of violence to gain future concessions was described as his ‘great mistake’. On the contrary, Shlaim seemed to support the Palestinian resort to violence in order to further their aims:

‘The al-Aqsa Intifada seems to show that to make any impression on the Israel of General Barak, diplomacy must be backed by violence and the threat of violence. In other words, the Palestinians have learned from bitter experience that the only language Israel understands is the language of force.’

Said also expressed the belief that the outbreak of Palestinian violence was justified, reminding readers that ‘natives of a place under military occupation… are entitled by international law to resist by any means possible.’ For Said, the Second Intifada was ‘an anti-colonial rebellion of the kind that has been seen periodically in Setif, Sharpeville, Soweto and elsewhere.’

In the following years, LRB contributors almost invariably supported or excused Arafat’s role in the collapse of peace talks. Raja Shehadeh, a one-time Palestinian negotiator, described Arafat as ‘admirable’ for not having ‘betrayed his people and accepted the offer made at Camp David’.25 Ilan Pappe described the Israeli offer as a ‘total abuse of the concept of statehood and independence’; ‘[even] the fragile Arafat… could not sign a document that made a mockery of every Palestinian demand.’26

Sara Roy would also criticise Barak’s demand that a negotiated peace deal signal the end of hostilities27, while Edward Said, Yitzhak Laor and John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt would all portray Barak’s offer as inadequate.28

The Second Intifada: 2000 – 2005

The Second Intifada saw a wave of terrorist attacks targeting public places in Israel and the occupied territories, resulting in wide-ranging Israeli military action in the West Bank and Gaza. Between 2000 and 2005 there were 140 separate suicide attacks as well as additional shootings and bombings, which killed approximately 1000 Israelis.29 Military operations carried out by Israel in the West Bank and Gaza over the same period caused the deaths of over 3,300 Palestinians of which at least 1,000 were engaged in hostilities at the time they were killed.30

The most pervasive theme in the LRB’s coverage of the Second Intifada was the alleged brutality of Israel with its desire to ‘annihilate’ the Palestinians. Several writers saw this as a function of the supposed racism of Israelis, who do not care about Palestinian suffering. Raja Shehadeh, for example, in his ‘Diary’ entry from 25 July 2002, railed against Israeli ‘violence’ and ‘brutality’, contending that Israelis were ‘obdurate’ and ‘insular’, and that their army was ‘arrogant’ and ‘[did] not recognise our humanity.’

Israeli contributors to the LRB voiced support for this view. Yitzhak Laor, in ‘Who shall we blame it on?’ (20 February 2003) bemoaned the ‘non-existence of the Palestinians in the Israeli consciousness’ and claimed Israelis were ‘deaf to Palestinian suffering... [as] a way of life.’ Ilan Pappe agreed. In ‘As long as the plan contains the magic term ‘withdrawal’, it is seen as a good thing’ (6 May 2004), he described Israel as a ‘paranoid society led by a fanatical political elite, determined to bring the conflict to an end by force and destruction, whatever the price to its society or its potential victims’. He further accused the Jewish state of having ‘an ethical void which allows the government to go on killing unarmed Palestinians’.

The suffering of Palestinians was accentuated in the LRB to the total exclusion of that of Israelis. John Berger, giving a first-hand account of his travels in ‘A Moment in Ramallah’31 (24 July 2003), described the conflict as a ‘confrontation... not between equals, but between the all powerful and the apparently powerless’. His determination to see all Palestinians as ‘powerless’ was evident in his euphemistic description of suicide bombers, who murdered hundreds of Israelis, as ‘those who decided to sacrifice themselves in suicidal counter-attacks.’

While it is undoubtedly true that Israel is much stronger militarily than the Palestinians, approximately one thousand Israelis were killed intentionally by Palestinians between 2000 and 2005, over two thirds of which were civilians32, belying the image of Palestinians as the sole victims. This image, however, was presented consistently by contributors to the LRB.

Scene of Mike’s Place bombing,
Tel Aviv, 30 April 2003
Scene of Mike’s Place bombing, Tel Aviv, 30 April 2003

Not only were the Palestinians portrayed as the only victims, but they were painted as being on the receiving end of violence that went far beyond the normal standards of war. In Rita Giacaman’s first hand account, ‘From Ramallah’, published in the LRB on 25 April 2002, she argued that the ‘unbelievable destruction [could] only indicate that this war is not merely about security, but is directed at annihilating everything Palestinian.’ She failed to provide any context which might have shed light on Israel’s perspective on the same event.

Ilan Pappe used similarly apocalyptic terminology when he asserted that living in Israel felt like being ‘trapped on a plane which is following a course that will end in catastrophe for the Israeli citizens onboard, and will also annihilate the Palestinians in our way.’33 Later in the same article, he criticised Western governments who were ‘unwilling or unable to stop the occupation and prevent the annihilation of the Palestinians.’

The LRB’s most prolific and arguably, most extreme commentator on Israel-Palestine, Yitzhak Laor, compared Israel to Nazi Germany. In ‘In Hebron’, published on 22 July 2004, he described the Israeli army as a ‘monster’ which ‘needs to reproduce in its soldiers...either sheer racism...or a brand of religious messianism, neo-Nazi ideology wrapped in Judaism.’ In ‘After Jenin,’ (9 May 2002), Laor said the IDF were wont to ‘arrest hundreds of people... [and] concentrate them in camps behind barbed wire’. The most explicit reference to the Holocaust came when he argued that ‘the only danger is the danger facing the Palestinians. Gas chambers are not the only way to destroy a nation.’

But when Israel employed non-lethal tactics against terrorism, these too were assailed and portrayed as being designed specifically to punish ordinary Palestinian civilians. In particular, checkpoints and the separation barrier were frequently criticised – often with no mention of the suicide bombers they were designed to stop.

The clearest case of this gaping omission was Saree Makdisi’s ‘Diary’ article, published on 3 March 2005. The piece was an in-depth rendering of her first-hand impressions of the impact of check-points and the separation barrier, which didn’t give any indication of the threats that prompted their installation. Makdisi cited 763 impediments to movement in the West Bank (checkpoints, road blocks and the like), before explaining that they were ‘all designed to disrupt or halt the circulation of Palestinian traffic.’ The only reference to Israel’s perspective on these measures still completely elided the campaign of suicide bombings, car bombings and shootings which Israel had faced throughout the intifada, and which killed hundreds of Israeli civilians:

‘Despite the talk of this being a ‘security fence’, it is obvious that the real aim of the barrier is to absorb as much land, and as few Palestinians, as possible, to acquire pockets of territory that can easily be connected – and are already de facto annexed – to Israel.’

Such attacks were drastically reduced by the erection of the separation barrier – by approximately 90 per cent.34

Similarly, in Edward Said’s ‘A Road Map to Where?’ (19 June 2003), he described in his opening paragraph ‘the eight-metre-high wall, and the dozens of Israeli Army checkpoints that have made life so difficult and the future so bleak for Palestinians.’ He also characterised the barrier as racist:

‘Almost a decade after the end of South African apartheid, this ghastly racist wall is going up with scarcely a peep from the majority of Israelis’.

Again, nowhere in the article were suicide bombers mentioned; instead, Said wrote of Palestinian ‘resistance’ – which he saw as a ‘relative success… [irrespective] of its methods, its exorbitant cost, and the heavy toll it has taken on yet another generation of Palestinians’.

Said’s condemnation of security measures was shared by Israeli political activist Uri Avnery, who summarised Ariel Sharon’s policies in ‘The Boss Has Gone Crazy’ (6 January 2005). He said that while Israeli troops occupied Palestinian towns, ‘every day Palestinians (including children) are killed, the systematic humiliation at roadblocks goes on, the building of the wall continues, [and] settlers uproot Palestinian olive groves without hindrance.’ However, once again, there was no mention in the article of persistent Palestinian violence.

Compounding this glaring lack of context was the total absence of any first-hand experiences of Israelis directly affected by terrorist attacks. The one article out of 92 over ten years which alluded to the Israeli experience of living in fear of suicide bombers, ‘After Jenin’ (9 May 2002), proceeded to suggest that Israel behaved the way it did in spite of, rather than because of, the attacks on its civilians:

‘I’m against terror, too. I don’t want to die walking my son to the mall. In fact I don’t take him there anymore. I don’t ride buses, and I’m scared that my family’s turn will come, but I know that they – that is, our generals – accept terrorist attacks as a ‘reasonable price to pay’ to reach a solution.’

Yitzhak Laor also claimed that Israel’s idea of a solution was ‘the elimination of the Palestinian national movement, under the guise of the war against terror.’35 This was the prevailing view expressed in the London Review of Books – that the Israeli military tolerated and even encouraged deaths of Israeli civilians in order to achieve its goals.

Raja Shehadeh argued that Israel used the ‘nuisance’ of armed insurrection in order to ‘justify extreme measures against the Palestinians.’36 John Berger went a step further; according to him Israeli claims that the measures are to combat terrorism were a ‘feint’, and its policies were instead intended to ‘destroy the indigenous population’s sense of temporal and spatial continuity’.37

On numerous occasions the ingrained cynicism regarding Israel’s motives encouraged speculation that Ariel Sharon actively wanted suicide bombers to strike. Discussing speculatively the increase in these attacks that Arafat’s death might cause, Virginia Tilley’s ‘The One-State Solution’ (6 November 2003) claimed that such a scenario would ‘suit Sharon, giving him the opportunity... to intensify the military occupation’. In ‘Quisling and Occupier’ (3 November 2005), she devised a hypothetical scenario where, if Israel was confronted with the possibility of peace-talks, it would simply assassinate a Hamas member in order to trigger a suicide attack, then denounce the Palestinians as ‘terrorists’ while responding with force.

Edward Said had no doubts that Sharon was promoting suicide attacks on Israeli civilians. The assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud Abu Hanoud, as recounted in ‘Is Israel more secure now?’ (3 January 2002), was, for Said, ‘an act designed to provoke Hamas into retaliation and thus allow the Israeli Army to resume the slaughter of Palestinians.’ This statement neatly captures the LRB’s portrayal of the intifada: ‘slaughter’ by the Israelis and ‘retaliation’ by the Palestinians.

The Gaza Disengagement: 2004 – 2005

In June 2004, the Israeli parliament adopted Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to remove all settlers from the Gaza Strip. This policy represented something of a u-turn for the Israeli government, and in particular for Sharon, who had been a long-time advocate of building Jewish settlements in the occupied territories. While thousands had marched to protest the withdrawal38, in August 2005 the IDF finally removed the remaining settlers who had failed to leave their homes willingly and turned over the land to the Palestinians.

Given that Palestinians and their supporters - fully represented at the LRB - regularly clamour for the removal of Jewish settlements and the Israeli military presence in the West Bank and Gaza, a mildly positive response in the LRB might not have seemed unthinkable. However, the prevailing view was that the disengagement was not only a phony gesture, it would actually make life worse for the Palestinians.

The withdrawal was portrayed as motivated primarily by a desire to consolidate control of the West Bank, and as a cynical move which would spell the end of the Palestinian hope for an independent state. There was no suggestion that the withdrawal might signify willingness on Israel’s part to dismantle settlements and withdraw from occupied territories. In the following years, the fact that Israel had vacated Gaza would be severely downplayed, and the coastal strip would remain, in the eyes of the LRB, very much under occupation.

The first full discussion of the disengagement came in Ilan Pappe’s ‘As long as the plan contains the magic term ‘withdrawal’, it is seen as a good thing’ (6 May 2004), the first of three articles in the LRB that set out just why the withdrawal would only harm Palestinian interests.39 Pappe described the plan in suitably overblown terms; it was in his view a ‘destructive ploy masquerading as a peace plan’ and an attempt to ‘impose the vision of a Greater Israel.’ As such, the first article in the LRB to broach the topic of disengagement not only rubbished the move, but appealed to the West to subject Israel to boycotts and sanctions, since ‘their governments are no less responsible than Israel for the past, present and future catastrophes of the Palestinian people.’

Towards the end of 2005, after the Gaza disengagement was completed, the LRB published a further two articles on the subject. Sara Roy, in ‘A Dubai on the Mediterranean’ (3 November 2005) asked rhetorically, ‘How... can the current plan be seen as a political departure, or an act of Israeli courage or magnanimity, as many have argued?’ Saree Makdisi, in ‘Closed off, Walled in’ (1 September 2005) gave the blunt answer that it could not:

‘The suggestion that the withdrawal from Gaza is a sign of hope for the peace process – or even the beginning of the end of the occupation – is absurd.’

Unlike Roy, Makdisi was at least willing to acknowledge that the withdrawal of settlements would ‘offer some immediate relief after 38 years of military occupation’ and ‘end some of the disruptions of life for the Palestinians of Gaza.’ However, she made sure to point out that ‘it’s clear that [the withdrawal] is designed to serve Israel’s interests, not those of the Palestinians.’

Both Makdisi and Roy shared Ilan Pappe’s view that Israel was merely ceding Gaza in order to legitimise greater control over the West Bank. Makdisi described the plan as ‘designed to cement Israel’s grip on the core of the West Bank around an artificially expanded and systematically de-Arabised Jerusalem’, while for Roy it was ‘at heart, an instrument for Israel’s continued annexation of West Bank land and the physical integration of that land into Israel.’

Israeli security forces clashing with Gaza settlers in 2005
Israeli security forces clashing with Gaza settlers in 2005

Neither writer was mindful of the political obstacles Sharon had to surmount in order to get his plan through the Knesset. Despite the parliamentary debates, thousands-strong protests, and the forced eviction of resistant settlers, both saw disengagement not as a dramatic change of policy, but – counter-factually - as a continuation of an age-old strategy of ‘national dismemberment’ of the Palestinians – ‘long a cornerstone of Israeli policy’, according to Roy.

Even though Israel had vacated Jewish citizens from Gaza, Makdisi and Roy both floated the idea that actually it was the Palestinians who would be forced to leave. Makdisi argued that the ‘ultimate purpose’ of the disengagement was not just separation, ‘but what the Israelis call transfer, the completion of the ethnic cleansing project begun in 1948’, while for Roy it could ‘only accelerate Palestine’s gradual depopulation’.

Despite Israel vacating all civilians and military personnel from Gaza, and handing over all the settlements, both writers insisted that in the immediate future Gaza remained the responsibility of Israel as the ‘occupying power’. Roy argued that Israel had simply decided to ‘reshape the occupation without ending it’. For Makdisi, if Gazans were not allowed free access into Egypt and Israel, then the latter ‘should still be regarded as an occupying power there... [and] Gaza would then have to be recognised for what it is: an enormous open-air prison.’

The stance that Gaza remained an occupied territory would become a staple in the LRB’s coverage in the years to come. Rashid Khalidi and Yonatan Mendel, for example, would both state in the next two years that Gaza was still under occupation.40 Mendel would later clarify that Gaza could be regarded as having ‘soft sovereignty’, before asking: ‘Does ‘soft sovereignty’ bring full sovereignty closer or refer it further away?’41 The unmistakable conclusion from the writers in the London Review of Books was that Israel’s withdrawal of settlements in 2005 was designed to achieve the latter, not the former.

The Second Lebanon War: 2006

After years of sporadically firing rockets into Israel from south Lebanon, on 12 July 2006 Hezbollah launched a crossborder raid, killing three Israeli soldiers and kidnapping two more. The attack prompted a 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah forces which resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis.42

The London Review of Books devoted six articles to the conflict.43 While Israel was painted as a racist, militaristic society with no regard for civilian casualties, Hezbollah was portrayed as a matured and tolerant organisation.

As recently as October 2010, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah made public declarations of his fundamental opposition to the existence of Israel and his desire for the Jewish state to be destroyed. Addressing tens of thousands of supporters at a rally in honour of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon, Nasrallah expressed his support for:

‘the land of Palestine to be restored to the Palestinian people… for the land from the (Jordan) River to the (Mediterranean) Sea to be returned, for all the refugees to return to their land… and for this oppressed people to establish its independent state on its land, which has been liberated with blood.’44

He also emphasised that Ahmadinejad ‘is telling the truth when he says that Israel is an illegitimate state, and must cease to exist.’

This extremely aggressive positioning is clearly pertinent to Israel’s policies towards Hezbollah, including during the 2006 war. Such statements of intent have been in the public domain long before 2006 45 and yet none of the LRB’s six contributors saw fit to take their significance into account.

The most telling case of Hezbollah’s true ideology being totally elided was Charles Glass’ ‘Learning from Its Mistakes’ (17 August 2006). At no point in the 2,500 word article was there any mention of the group’s rejection of Israel’s right to exist or its touted loathing of Jews.46 Instead, Hezbollah’s attacks against Israel, such as the kidnap incident that triggered the war, were described as being motivated solely by their commitment to justice for Palestinians; unlike Iran and Syria, the Lebanese group had ‘never abandoned the Palestinian cause.’

Similarly, Hezbollah’s radical Islamism was also ignored. Glass concentrated on presenting the group as a unifying, moderate force in Lebanese politics, citing its support amongst some Christians, and highlighting its alleged inclusionary vision for society. According to him, ‘[Hezbollah] jettisoned its early rhetoric about making Lebanon an Islamic republic, and spoke of Christians, Muslims and Druze living in harmony.’

Even when it came to detailing its use of violence, Glass’ characterisation was disingenuous. While acknowledging that Hezbollah is a military organisation, he stressed that the group was a ‘sophisticated and successful political party’ alongside being an armed force. Despite stating that Hezbollah had been responsible for killing hundreds of Israeli soldiers, Glass described its methods as ‘the weapons of the weak’. He also argued that the group used car bombs, suicide bombers and rockets ‘intelligently’, and in ‘conjunction with an uncompromising political programme.’ In keeping with the rest of essay, no further explanation was given of what this ‘uncompromising political programme’ might consist of.

Like Glass, Elias Khoury also offered a sanitized account of Hezbollah’s motivations. In ‘Do I see or do I remember?’ (3 August 2006), he stated that Hezbollah had become involved in a war with Israel ‘not because it wants to… but because the only options Israel offers the Arab Middle East are to submit or to collaborate in the crushing of the Palestinians.’

In line with Glass’ lack of criticism of Hezbollah’s methods, Khoury also downplayed the group’s aggressive and deliberate targeting of civilians, arguing that their weapons were intended for the ‘defence of Lebanon…[and] to defend Iranian nuclear weapons’.Karim Makdisi in ‘How the War Will End’ (3 August 2006), on the other hand, argued that actions such as rocket attacks on civilian towns were actually a form of anti-globalisation protest:

‘Hizbullah’s response must be read as part of a political struggle against the uneven distribution of rewards in the USdominated world order.’

Gabriel Piterberg in ‘Travels in Israel’ (21 September 2006), also saw Hezbollah’s Israel-bound rockets as a type of political activism:

‘Raining missiles on Israel’s deprived communities is intended as a frightening piece of consciousness raising.’

He further argued that it ‘may not [have been] coincidental’ that Hezbollah was targeting an area that was, in ‘socio-economic terms’, a ‘weak community’. The implication appeared to be that, rather than trying to kill people, Hezbollah was in fact trying to raise awareness of the economic disadvantages of northern Israelis.

This denial of Hezbollah’s aggressive tendencies was also notable in the depiction of the group’s incursion into Israel which triggered the war. Of the six articles that covered the conflict, only one mentioned that Israeli soldiers had been killed in the ambush.47 Karim Makdisi excluded the Israeli deaths but did offer a justification for Hezbollah’s ambush:

‘Hizbullah’s capture of the Israeli soldiers had a specific objective: to exchange the soldiers for Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. This was neither a new strategy nor was it unexpected’.48

The portrayal of Hezbollah as being unmotivated by any ideologically and religiously fuelled animosity towards Israel, and the downplaying of its use of force, was in stark contrast to how Israel was painted; namely, as a racist and militaristic state, whose actions were inexcusable.

Karim Makdisi viewed the war as just ‘the latest instance of the long-standing Israeli policy of collective punishment of Arab civilian populations that resist Israeli dictates’49, ignoring the fact that the war had plainly been instigated by Hezbollah crossing the border into Israel and killing and kidnapping Israeli soldiers.

Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon
Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon

Gabriel Piterberg, touring Israel during the conflict, alleged an inherent racism in Israeli culture.50 He described an Israeli municipality spokesman giving ‘a hard-line racist speech, denouncing Arabs, Muslims, Hizbullah, insisting on the pointlessness of any agreement or ceasefire that might pre-empt the destruction of Hizbullah.’ Unsurprisingly, not a word was written about the blatant bigotry indulged in by Hezbollah’s highest ranks.

It was Yitzhak Laor, however, in ‘You are terrorists, we are virtuous’,51 who was most vehement in his belief that Israel was irredeemably racist. He said Israelis believe they are ‘the only ones who count in the Middle East [and] are the only ones who deserve to live [there]’. Furthermore, they ‘cannot recognise [Arabs] as human beings’ and think of them ‘much as [they] think of chickens or cats.’ According to Laor Israel has a ‘lynch-mob culture’, whose people were ‘incited’ by a leader ‘launched and legitimised by rivers of fire and destruction’. Again, the same writer had not a word of criticism of Hezbollah’s Islamist culture and ideology which actively promotes the annihilation of Israel through its para-state apparatus.

Against this backdrop, Israel’s military conduct in the Second Lebanon War was characterised as excessive beyond all norms and totally unjustifiable. Elias Khoury stated that the conflict was a ‘massacre’ rather than a war52 and Gabriel Piterberg rubbished Israel’s claim that Lebanese casualties were high due to Hezbollah operating out of civilian areas, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Michael Byers, in ‘War Crimes’53, argued that Israel had violated the Geneva Conventions. In his eyes, Israel had also violated the criteria of necessity and proportionality that govern the right to self-defence. While the writer claimed that many of Israel’s actions were illegal due to the number of civilians killed, he went further than arguing that it was not doing enough to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants – he implied that Israel was deliberately targeting civilians:

‘In no circumstance may attacks on civilians or civilian infrastructure be justified by similar violations on the other side. The horrors of Qana, where dozens of Lebanese civilians died in a single precision air-strike, cannot be balanced by lost Israeli lives.’

Again, it was Yitzhak Laor who was the most vociferous in his condemnations of Israel’s actions.54 He spoke of ‘atrocities’ and ‘massacres’, of ‘terrorised escapes from burning houses’. According to Laor, the motivation behind all of this was that ‘Israel must always be allowed to do as it likes even if this involves scorching its supremacy into Arab bodies.’ He argued that there was only one suitable course of action:

‘We must remember the crimes of Olmert, and of our minister of justice, Haim Ramon… and of the army chief of staff, Dan Halutz. Their names should be submitted to The Hague so they can be held accountable.’

The Gaza War: 2008 – 2009

The Gaza War followed the killing by Israel of several Hamas operatives in Gaza on 4 November 2008, increased rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, and a Hamas announcement on 20 December that it would not renew a ceasefire. The broader context for the war was the intensifying hostilities between Hamas in Gaza – particularly since Israel’s disengagement from the strip in 2005 – and Israel. Over the course of 2008 a total of 1,750 rockets and 1,528 mortar bombs were fired into Israel from Gaza.55 On 27 December Israel struck several targets inside Gaza, commencing Operation Cast Lead, in which approximately 1,400 Palestinian combatants and civilians were killed.56

The London Review of Books covered the Gaza War in three separate articles published in January 2009. ‘If Gaza falls…’ (1 January 2009) by Sara Roy focused solely on the privations caused by the blockade. ‘Israel’s Lies’ (29 January 2009) by Henry Siegman argued that Israel’s account of the war was false. And ‘Responses to the War in Gaza’ (29 January 2009) showcased the viewpoints of 15 contributors, running to just under 10,000 words. Despite the sheer number of writers tackling the subject, only one57 raised the issue of Hamas’ refusal to recognise Israel’s right to exist, and the issue of sustained rocket fire at Israeli civilians was largely ignored. On the other hand, the Gaza war was presented as a horrific Israeli crime for which no justification could be made.

This distinct lack of recent historical context created the impression that Israel had launched its assault for no reason. Of the 15 writers in ‘Responses to the War in Gaza’, only one directly addressed the issue of rockets being fired into Israel prior to Operation Cast Lead. David Bromwich characterised them, alongside suicide bombings, as ‘tactics of a spectacular vengefulness’. However, their ‘spectacle was greater than their damage’, since, according to Bromwich ‘no Israeli had been killed by a rocket before the IDF launched their assault’. This was incorrect as four Israelis had already been killed in 2008 alone. Furthermore, this one mention offered no insight into the reality of living in border towns like Sderot, where the population was in a permanent state of fear because of the constant rocket attacks. On the day Hamas announced the end of the ceasefire, over 40 rockets and mortars were fired into Israel.58

In their examination of the outbreak of the conflict, both Sara Roy59 and Henry Siegman60 pinpointed the Israeli raid on the 4 November as the trigger event that would culminate in the full conflagration. Roy claimed that the incursion was ‘no doubt designed…to undermine the truce’, and Siegman agreed that it ‘seriously violated’ the temporary ceasefire. However, neither author cited Israel’s explanation that it had killed the six militants because it suspected them of trying to kidnap Israeli soldiers stationed on the border.

On the issue of the Gaza blockade – implemented by Egypt as well as Israel - neither writer gave Israel’s reasons for the policy: that Gaza was hostile and its leaders committed to the destruction of Israel. Roy instead argued that Israel maintained its ‘siege’ in order to try and foist Gaza onto Egypt, and reduce Gazans to the status of ‘beggars’ with ‘no political claims’. Siegman agreed that Israel’s primary motivation was to harm Gazans:

‘It cannot be said that Israel launched its assault to protect its citizens from rockets. It did so to protect its right to continue the strangulation of Gaza’s population.’

This discussion of the blockade chimed with a general unwillingness to discuss the nature of Hamas or its ideology. Only one contributor to the ‘Responses to the War in Gaza’ collaboration, R.W Johnson, mentioned in passing Hamas’ rejection of Israel’s right to exist. Even then, there was no discussion of the possible implications of Gaza being controlled by such a group.

Henry Siegman, on the other hand, tackled the nature of Hamas head-on.61 For him, it was ‘too easy to describe Hamas simply as a ‘terror organisation’.’ It was ‘a religious nationalist movement that resorts to terrorism, as the Zionist movement did during its struggle for statehood.’

Siegman stressed his belief that Hamas ‘is no more a ‘terror organisation’ (Israel’s preferred term) than the Zionist movement was during its struggle for a Jewish homeland.’ He was also at pains to deliver the message that Hamas were not religious fundamentalists, but rather progressive for the region:

‘Non-observant Muslims, Christians and other minorities have more religious freedom under Hamas rule than they would have in Saudi Arabia, for example, or under many other Arab regimes.’

Having either ignored or rejected Israel’s position on the outbreak of the Gaza War, the LRB-sponsored writers proceeded to paint Israel’s conduct in the worst possible light.

In ‘Responses to the War in Gaza’ many contributors talked about Israel’s actions in terms of criminality. Conor Gearty considered Operation Cast Lead to be a ‘crime’ and Rashid Khalidi asserted that when Israel closed Gaza to foreign journalists, it appeared to be an effort to ‘remove witnesses from the scene before the crime took place.’

Aftermath of Gaza War, 2009
Aftermath of Gaza War, 2009

According to Alistair Crooke, Israel showed a ‘wanton disregard for the deaths of civilians’. Crooke, a former British spy, is the founder and director of Conflicts Forum, an organisation which seeks to reconcile Islamist terrorist groups with Western governments, and has on its advisory board a Hamas supporter who advocates suicide bombings.62

For Eric Hobsbawm, Israel’s actions constituted ‘armed terror’ and ‘barbarism’. Jacqueline Rose wrote of ‘unrestrained and indiscriminate violence’. Michael Wood argued that Israel ‘had entered a moral territory from which there may be no return’, and accused Israel of having ‘no qualms at killing such an astonishing number of children.’

The most strident criticisms emanated from Israelis Ilan Pappe and Yitzhak Laor. For Pappe, the problem was that ‘Palestinians have been so dehumanised by Israeli Jews…that killing them comes naturally’. Operation Cast Lead, therefore, was the product of Israel having both ‘firepower, and no moral inhibitions against massacring civilians.’

Laor, however, went further than accusing Israel of dehumanising Palestinians; he claimed that Israel’s actions were a milestone in human history:

‘The extent of the cruelty, the lack of shame and the refusal of self-restraint are striking, both in anthropological terms and historically.’

Operation Cast Lead, in his eyes, was not a response to the firing of rockets, but an attempt to destroy the Palestinians as a people:

‘Israel is engaged in a long war of annihilation against Palestinian society.’

These extraordinary denunciations which paint Israel’s actions as barbaric, genocidal and uniquely violent in the context of human history go far beyond the realities and scale of the three-week conflict in Gaza.

Not one of the 15 writers responding to the Gaza war offered any insight into Israel’s predicament - the reality of a rejectionist group firing rockets at civilians over a period of years was almost totally ignored. There was silence on obvious issues for the IDF arising from warfare in a densely populated urban area where Palestinian combatants were non-uniformed and operating among civilians. It is unclear what the purpose was of inviting so many contributors to offer their views when they all agreed that Israel was wrong and the Palestinians were right.


The relentless presentation by the London Review of Books of the world’s only Jewish state as solely responsible for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with virtually no word of criticism over the last ten years for the other parties involved, is seriously askew.

Whilst there can be no doubt that the London Review of Books is entitled to showcase fringe views, it is questionable whether the publication should be granted hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money to pay writers to unswervingly characterise a British ally as abhorrent, uniquely evil and an affront to justice.

The near-total absence of any representation on the pages of the most widely circulated European literary magazine of mainstream Israeli views on the conflict is striking, especially since so many Jewish and Israeli writers were invited to put forward the pro-Palestinian narrative. The London Review of Books claims that it ‘isn’t afraid to challenge received ideas’; however, it does seem afraid of offering both sides of a very complicated story when it comes to Israel-Palestine. On this issue, the magazine takes a uniform view which brooks no dissent.

Given the current economic climate which is seeing the biggest cuts in public spending since World War II, and in particular, the recently slashed government funding to the Arts Council – due to be cut by 30 percent - the British taxpayer ought to consider whether it wants to continue to foot the bill for this naked partisanship.

Appendix I

External contributors to the London Review of Books between 1 June 2000 and 31 May 2010 in the Israel and Palestine category:

  • Uri Avnery
  • John Berger
  • Dinah Birch
  • Glen Bowersock
  • Judith Butler
  • Michael Byers
  • Alastair Crooke
  • Jenny Diski
  • Sheila Fitzpatrick
  • James Francken
  • Rita Giacaman
  • Charles Glass
  • Amira Hass
  • Frank Kermode
  • Rashid Khalidi
  • Elias Khoury
  • August Kleinzahler
  • Peter Lagerquist
  • Yitzhak Laor
  • Karim Makdisi
  • Saree Makdisi
  • Kanan Makiya
  • John Mearsheimer
  • Yonatan Mendel
  • Andrew O’Hagan
  • Ilan Pappe
  • Gareth Peirce
  • Nicolas Pelham
  • Gabriel Piterberg
  • Richard Popkin
  • Sameer Rahim
  • Jacqueline Rose
  • Sara Roy
  • Edward Said
  • Raja Shehadeh
  • Naomi Shepherd
  • Avi Shlaim
  • Henry Siegman
  • David Simpson
  • Virginia Tilley
  • Stephen Walt
  • Louisa Waugh
  • Geoffrey Wheatcroft
  • Michael Wood
  • Slavoj Žižek

Appendix II

Jewish and Jewish Israeli contributors

The following writers produced 49 out of 92 articles published between 1 June 2000 and 31 May 2010 in the Israel and Palestine category:

  • Uri Avnery:
    In The Mukatah’ (6 November 2003)
    ‘The Boss Has Gone Crazy’ (6 January 2005)
    ‘Next to Israel, not in place of it’ (8 March 2007)
    ‘After Rabin’ (15 November 2007)
    ‘Olmert and Friends’ (19 June 2008)
    ‘The Ceasefire’ (31 July 2008)
    ‘One Foot on the Moon’ (25 June 2009)
  • Judith Butler:
    ‘No, it’s not anti-semitic’ (21 August 2003)
  • Jenny Diski:
    ‘Short Cuts’ (13 May 2010)
  • James Francken:
    ‘Diary’ (1 November 2001)
  • Amira Hass:
    ‘Return to Gaza’ (26 February 2009)
  • August Kleinzahler:
    ‘Diary’ (17 August 2006)
  • Yitzhak Laor:
    ‘It’s wild. It’s new. It turns men on’ (20 September 2001)
    ‘After Jenin’ (9 May 2002)
    ‘Diary’ (3 August 2002)
    ‘Who shall we blame it on?’ (20 February 2003)
    ‘Silent Partner’ (8 May 2003)
    ‘Before Rafah’ (3 June 2004)
    ‘In Hebron’ (22 July 2004)
    ‘Children of the State’ (26 January 2006)
    ‘You are terrorists, we are virtuous’ (17 August 2006)
    ‘Orchestrated Panic’ (1 November 2007)
  • Yonatan Mendel:
    ‘Diary’ (22 February 2007)
    ‘Imagined Territories’ (2 August 2007)
    ‘Diary’ (6 March 2008)
    ‘Fantasising Israel’ (25 June 2009)
    ‘Hasbara’ (11 March 2010)
  • Ilan Pappe:
    ‘The Geneva Bubble’ (8 January 2004)
    ‘As long as the plan contains the magic term ‘withdrawal’, it is seen as a good thing’ (6 May 2004)
    ‘Fortress Israel’ (19 May 2005)
    ‘The Disappointing Trajectory of Amir Peretz’ (15 December 2005)
    ‘Ingathering’ (20 April 2006)
    ‘In Court’ (20 July 2006)
    ‘In Upper Nazareth’ (10 September 2009)
  • Gabriel Piterberg:
    ‘Travels in Israel’ (21 September 2006)
    ‘Cleanser to Cleansed’ (26 February 2009)
  • Richard Popkin:
    ‘When it is advisable to put on a fez’ (23 May 2002)
  • Jacqueline Rose:
    ‘Failed State’ (18 March 2004)
    ‘Deadly Embrace’ (4 November 2004)
  • Sara Roy:
    ‘Short Cuts’ (1 April 2004)
    ‘A Dubai on the Mediterranean’ (3 November 2005)
    ‘If Gaza falls…’ (1 January 2009)
  • Avi Shlaim:
    ‘Ehud Barak’ (25 January 2001)
    ‘Capital Folly’ (21 March 2002)
  • Naomi Shepherd:
    ‘Diary’ (3 February 2005)
  • Henry Siegman:
    ‘The Great Middle East Peace Process Scam’ (16 August 2007)
    ‘Gaza’s Future’ (7 February 2008)
    ‘Grab more hills, expand the territory’ (10 April 2008)
    ‘Israel’s Lies’ (29 January 2009)

Appendix III

The most prolific contributors between 1 June 2000 and 31 May 2010 in the Israel and Palestine category:

  • Uri Avnery:
    ‘In The Mukatah’ (6 November 2003)
    ‘The Boss Has Gone Crazy’ (6 January 2005)
    ‘Next to Israel, not in place of it’ (8 March 2007)
    ‘After Rabin’ (15 November 2007)
    ‘Olmert and Friends’ (19 June 2008)
    ‘The Ceasefire’ (31 July 2008)
    ‘One Foot on the Moon’ (25 June 2009)
  • Yitzhak Laor:
    ‘It’s wild. It’s new. It turns men on’ (20 September 2001)
    ‘After Jenin’ (9 May 2002)
    ‘Diary’ (3 August 2002)
    ‘Who shall we blame it on?’ (20 February 2003)
    ‘Silent Partner’ (8 May 2003)
    ‘Before Rafah’ (3 June 2004)
    ‘In Hebron’ (22 July 2004)
    ‘Children of the State’ (26 January 2006)
    ‘You are terrorists, we are virtuous’ (17 August 2006)
    ‘Orchestrated Panic’ (1 November 2007)
  • Ilan Pappe:
    ‘The Geneva Bubble’ (8 January 2004)
    ‘As long as the plan contains the magic term ‘withdrawal’, it is seen as a good thing’ (6 May 2004)
    ‘Fortress Israel’ (19 May 2005)
    ‘The Disappointing Trajectory of Amir Peretz’ (15 December 2005)
    ‘Ingathering’ (20 April 2006)
    ‘In Court’ (20 July 2006)
    ‘In Upper Nazareth’ (10 September 2009)


LRB Articles

All 92 printed articles in the London Review of Books’ ‘Israel and Palestine’ category between 1 June 2000 and 31 May 2010 were included in this study.

  • 2000
    Charles Glass, ‘The Great Lie’ (30 November 2000)
    Edward Said, ‘Palestine under Siege’ (14 December 2000)
  • 2001
    Avi Shlaim, ‘Ehud Barak’ (25 January 2001)
    Charles Glass, ‘Balfour, Weizmann and the Creation of Israel’ (7 June 2001)
    Yitzhak Laor, ‘It’s wild. It’s new. It turns men on’ (20 September 2001)
    James Francken, ‘Diary’ (1 November 2001)
    Edward Said, ‘My Guru’ (13 December 2001)
  • 2002
    Edward Said, ‘Is Israel more secure now?’ (3 January 2002)
    Kanan Makiya, ‘Whose Jerusalem?’ (7 February 2002)
    Charles Glass, ‘Diary’ (21 February 2002)
    Avi Shlaim, ‘Capital Folly’ (21 March 2002)
    Rita Giacaman, ‘From Ramallah’ (25 April 2002)
    Yitzhak Laor, ‘After Jenin’ (9 May 2002)
    Richard Popkin, ‘When it is advisable to put on a fez’ (23 May 2002)
    Slavoj Žižek, ‘Are we in a war? Do we have an enemy?’ (23 May 2002)
    Raja Shehadeh, ‘Diary’, (25 July 2002)
    Peter Lagerquiest, ‘Very Active Defence’ (19 Sep 2002)
    Yitzhak Laor, ‘Diary’ (3 October 2002)
    Edward Said, ‘‘We’ know who ‘we’ are’ (17 October 2002)
  • 2003
    Yitzhak Laor, ‘Who shall we blame it on?’ (20 February 2003)
    Yitzhak Laor, ‘Silent Partner’ (8 May 2003)
    Edward Said, ‘A Road Map to Where?’ (19 June 2003)
    John Berger, ‘A Moment in Ramallah’ (24 July 2003)
    Judith Butler, ‘No, It’s not anti-semitic’ (21 Aug 2003)
    Michael Wood, ‘On Edward Said’ (23 October 2003)
    Uri Avnery, ‘In The Mukatah’ (6 November 2003)
    Virginia Tilley, ‘The One-State Solution’ (6 November 2003)
  • 2004
    Ilan Pappe, ‘The Geneva Bubble’ (8 January 2004)
    Jacqueline Rose, ‘Failed state’ (18 March 2004)
    Sara Roy, ‘Short Cuts’ (1 April 2004)
    Ilan Pappe, ‘As long as the plan contains the magic term ‘withdrawal’, it is seen as a good thing’ (6 May 2004)
    Yitzhak Laor, ‘Before Rafah’ (3 June 2004)
    Charles Glass, ‘It was necessary to uproot them’ (24 June 2004)
    Yitzhak Laor, ‘In Hebron’, (22 July 2004)
    Jacqueline Rose, ‘Deadly Embrace’ (4 November 2004)
  • 2005
    Uri Avnery, ‘The Boss Has Gone Crazy’ (6 January 2005)
    Naomi Shepherd, ‘Diary’ (3 February 2005)
    Rashid Khalidi, ‘After Arafat’ (3 February 2005)
    Saree Makdisi, ‘Diary’ (3 March 2005)
    Sheila Fitzpatrick, ‘I sailed away with a mighty push, never to return’ (17 March 2005)
    Ilan Pappe, ‘Fortress Israel’ (19 May 2005)
    David Simpson, ‘Ruin and Redemption’ (23 May 2005)
    Saree Makdisi, ‘Closed off, Walled in’ (1 September 2005)
    Virginia Tilley, ‘Quisling and Occupier, (3 November 2005)
    Sara Roy, ‘A Dubai on the Mediterranean’ (3 November 2005)
    Ilan Pappe, ‘The Disappointing Trajectory of Amir Peretz’ (15 December 2005)
  • 2006
    Yitzhak Laor, ‘Children of the State’ (26 January 2006)
    John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, ‘The Israeli Lobby’ (23 March 2006)
    Dinah Birch, ‘Land of Pure Delight’ (20 April 2006)
    Ilan Pappe, ‘Ingathering’ (20 April 2006)
    Rashid Khalidi, ‘What Hamas must do’ (6 July 2006)
    Ilan Pappe, ‘In Court’ (20 July 2006)
    Karim Makdisi, ‘How The War Will End’ (3 August 2006)
    Elias Khoury, ‘Do I see or do I remember?’ (3 August 2006)
    Yitzhak Laor, ‘You are terrorists, we are virtuous’ (17 August 2006)
    August Kleinzahler, ‘Diary’ (17 August 2006)
    Michael Byers, ‘War Crimes’ (17 August 2006)
    Charles Glass, ‘Learning from Its Mistakes’ (17 August 2006)
    Sameer Rahim, ‘Why did they bomb the lighthouse?’ (17 August 2006)
    Gabriel Piterberg, ‘Travels in Israel’ (21 September 2006)
  • 2007
    Yonatan Mendel, ‘Diary’ (22 February 2007)
    Glen Bowersock, ‘Provocateur’ (22 February 2007)
    Uri Avnery, ‘Next to Israel, not in place of it’ (8 March 2007) Alastair Crooke, ‘Our Second Biggest Mistake in the Middle East’ (5 July 2007)
    Yonatan Mendel, ‘Imagined Territories’ (2 August 2007)
    Rashid Khalidi, ‘Shared Irresponsibility’ (16 August 2007)
    Henry Siegman, ‘The Great Middle East Peace Process Scam’ (16 August 2007)
    Yitzhak Laor, ‘Orchestrated Panic’ (1 November 2007)
    Uri Avnery, ‘After Rabin’ (15 November 2007)
  • 2008
    Henry Siegman, ‘Gaza’s Future’ (7 February 2008)
    Yonatan Mendel, ‘Diary’ (6 March 2008)
    Frank Kermode, ‘Did It Happen on 9 April?’ (20 March 2008)
    Henry Siegman, ‘Grab more hills, expand the territory’ (10 April 2008)
    Louisa Waugh, ‘Diary’ (5 June 2008)
    Uri Avnery, ‘Olmert and Friends’ (19 June 2008)
    Uri Avnery, ‘The Ceasefire’ (31 July 2008)
    Andrew O’Hagan, ‘Short Cuts’ (5 December 2008)
  • 2009
    Sara Roy, ‘If Gaza falls…’ (1 January 2009)
    Various Authors, ‘Responses to the War in Gaza’ (29 January 2009)
    Henry Siegman, ‘Israel’s Lies’ (29 January 2009)
    Amira Hass, ‘Return to Gaza’, (26 February 2009)
    Gabriel Piterberg, ‘Cleanser to cleansed’ (26 February 2009)
    John Mearsheimer, ‘The Lobby Falters’ (26 March 2009)
    Charles Glass, ‘Belts Gleaming’ (11 June 2009)
    Uri Avnery, ‘One foot on the Moon’ (25 June 2009)
    Yonatan Mendel, ‘Fantasising Israel’ (25 June 2009)
    Geoffrey Wheatcroft, ‘On Trying To Be Portugal’ (6 August 2009)
    Ilan Pappe, ‘In Upper Nazareth’ (10 September 2009)
    Gareth Peirce, ‘The Framing of al-Megrahi’ (24 September 2009)
    Nicolas Pelham, ‘Diary’ (22 October 2009)
  • 2010
    Yonatan Mendel, ‘Hasbara’ (11 March 2010)
    Jenny Diski, ‘Short Cuts’ (13 May 2010)

General Articles

  • The Times: Anne McElvoy, ‘Mary-Kay Wilmers: Queen of Plots’ (18 Oct 2009).
  • Kennedy School of Government: John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, ‘The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.’ KSG Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP06-011 (March 2006).
  • ZCommunications: Noam Chomsky, ‘The Israel Lobby?’ (28 March 2006).
  • The New York Sun: Eli Lake, ‘David Duke Claims to Be Vindicated By a Harvard Dean’ (20 March 2006).
  • The Guardian: Nicholas Wroe, ‘Mary Kay Wilmers: ‘I like difficult women. Not just because I’m a bit difficult myself. I like their complication’’ (24 October 2009).
  • Ynet: Etti Abramov, ‘Prof Tania Reinhardt, linguist and activist, dies in New York’ (19 March 2007).
  • The Washington Post: Scott Wilson, ‘A Shared History, a Different Conclusion’ (11 March 2007).
  • Middle East Quarterly: Eyal Zisser, ‘The Return of Hizbullah’ (Fall 2002).
  • BBC News website: ‘Thousands rally against Gaza plan’ (11 August 2005).
  • BBC News website: ‘Israel accused over Lebanon war’ (6 September 2007).
  • Ynet: Ilana Curiel, ‘5 Qassams fired towards Negev Saturday evening,’ (20 December 2008).



  • John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S.


  1. ‘The London Review of Books has the largest circulation of any literary magazine in Europe (2009 ABC: 48,555). Its circulation outside the UK gives it worldwide reach and an unmatched international reputation’. http://www.lrb.co.uk/about
  2. www.lrb.co.uk/about
  3. www.lrb.co.uk/about
  4. Anne McElvoy, ‘Mary-Kay Wilmers: Queen of Plots,’ The Times, 18 Oct 2009.
  5. Rita Giacaman, ‘From Ramallah,’ LRB, 25 April 2002.
  6. www.press.artscouncil.org.uk
  7. www.artscouncil.org.uk
  8. Yitzhak Laor, ‘In Hebron,’ LRB, 22 July 2004.
  9. A further four articles were published in LRB’s Israel-Palestine category in the given period; however, these were penned by senior editor at LRB Adam Shatz (3 August 2006, 14 May 2009) and contributing editor Jeremy Harding (16 November 2006, 25 June 2009). They have been excluded from this study as it is not known whether public money funded these contributions.
  10. John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, ‘The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,’ New York, 2008.
  11. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, ‘The Israel Lobby,’ LRB, 23 March 2006.
  12. John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, ‘The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,’ pp. viii-ix, New York, 2008.
  13. The article was originally published by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government as ‘The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.’ KSG Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP06-011, March 2006.
  14. Noam Chomsky, ‘The Israel Lobby?’ www.zcommunications.org, 28 March 2006.
  15. Eli Lake, ‘David Duke Claims to Be Vindicated By a Harvard Dean,’ The New York Sun, 20 March 2006.
  16. John Mearsheimer, ‘The Lobby Falters,’ LRB, 26 March 2009.
  17. Naomi Shepherd’s ‘Diary’ piece, published on 3 February 2005 in LRB, examined the myriad problems faced by Israel as a political, social and religious entity.
  18. Rita Giacaman, Rashid Khalidi, Elias Khoury, Karim Makdisi, Saree Makdisi, Kanan Makiya, Sameer Rahim, Edward Said, Raja Shehadeh.
  19. Uri Avnery, Judith Butler, Jenny Diski, James Francken, Amira Hass, August Kleinzahler, Yitzhak Laor, Yonatan Mendel, Ilan Pappe, Gabriel Piterberg, Richard Popkin, Jacqueline Rose, Sara Roy, Naomi Shepherd, Avi Shlaim, Henry Siegman.
  20. Nicholas Wroe, ‘Mary Kay Wilmer: ‘I like difficult women. Not just because I’m a bit difficult myself. I like their complication’ 24 October 2009, The Guardian.
  21. ‘After Arafat,’ LRB, 3 February 2005; ‘What Hamas must do,’ LRB, 6 July 2006; ‘Shared Irresponsibility,’ LRB, 16 August 2007.
  22. Etti Abramov, ‘Prof Tania Reinhardt, linguist and activist, dies in New York,’ Ynet, 19 March 2007: ‘I define myself as a post-Zionist - I recognize Zionism and its importance but believe that that chapter in our history is over and we need to move forward’.
  23. Yitzhak Laor, ‘Did You Two Squabble?’, CounterPunch, 20 October 2004.
  24. Scott Wilson, ‘A Shared History, a Different Conclusion’, The Washington Post, 11 March 2007.
  25. Raja Shehadeh, ‘Diary’, LRB, 25 July 2002.
  26. Ilan Pappe, ‘The Geneva Bubble’, LRB, 8 January 2004.
  27. Sara Roy, ‘A Dubai on the Mediterranean’, LRB, 3 November 2005.
  28. Edward Said, ‘‘We’ know who ‘we’ are’, LRB, 17 October 2002; Yitzhak Laor, ‘Who shall we blame it on?’, LRB, 20 February 2003; John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, ‘The Israel Lobby’, LRB, 23 March 2006.
  29. www.btselem.org/English/Statistics/Casualties.asp
  30. www.btselem.org/English/Statistics/Casualties.asp
  31. John Berger, ‘A Moment in Ramallah’, LRB, 24 July 2003.
  32. www.btselem.org/English/Statistics/Casualties.asp
  33. Ilan Pappe, ‘As long as the plan contains the magic term ‘withdrawal’, it is seen as a good thing’, LRB, 6 May 2004.
  34. www.securityfence.mod.gov.il
  35. Yitzhak Laor, ‘After Jenin’, LRB, 9 May 2002.
  36. Raja Shehadeh, ‘Diary’, LRB, 25 July 2002.
  37. John Berger, ‘A Moment in Ramallah’, LRB, 24 July 2003.
  38. ‘Thousands rally against Gaza plan’, BBC News website, 11 August 2005.
  39. Ilan Pappe, ‘As long as the plan contains the magic term ‘withdrawal’, it is seen as a good thing’, LRB, 6 May 2004; Saree Makdisi, ‘Closed in, Walled off’ LRB, 1 September 2005; Sara Roy, A Dubai on the Mediterranean’, LRB, 3 November 2005.
  40. Rashid Khalidi, ‘What Hamas must do’, LRB, 6 July 2006; Yonatan Mendel, ‘Diary’, LRB, 22 February 2007.
  41. Yonatan Mendel, ‘Imagined Territories’, LRB, 2 August 2007.
  42. ‘Israel accused over Lebanon war’, BBC News website, 6 September 2007.
  43. Karim Makdisi, ‘How the War Will End’, LRB, 3 August 2006; Elias Khoury, ‘Do I see or do I remember?’, LRB, 3 August 2006; Yitzhak Laor, ‘You are terrorists, we are virtuous’, LRB, 17 August 2006; Michael Byers, ‘War Crimes’, LRB, 17 August 2006; Charles Glass, ‘Learning from Its Mistakes’, LRB, 17 August 2006; Gabriel Piterberg, ‘Travels in Israel’, LRB, 21 September 2006.
  44. www.memritv.org/clip/en/2643.htm
  45. Eyal Zisser, ‘The Return of Hizbullah’ Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2002.
  46. Hassan Nasrallah in 2002: ‘One of the central reasons for creating Hizbullah was to challenge the Zionist program in the region. Hizbullah still preserves this principle, and when an Egyptian journalist visited me after the liberation and asked me if the destruction of Israel and the liberation of Palestine and Jerusalem were Hizbullah’s goal, I replied: “That is the principal objective of Hizbullah, and it is no less sacred than our [ultimate] goal. The generation that lived through the creation of this entity is still alive. This generation watches documentaries and reads documents that show that the land conquered was called Palestine, not Israel.”… As we see, this is an illegal state; it is a cancerous entity and the root of all the crises and wars and cannot be a factor in bringing about a true and just peace in this region. Therefore, we cannot acknowledge the existence of a state called Israel, not even far in the future, as some people have tried to suggest. Time does not cancel the legitimacy of the Palestinian claim.’ (Eyal Zisser, ‘The Return of Hizbullah’ Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2002).
  47. Michael Byers, ‘War Crimes’, LRB, 17 August 2006.
  48. Karim Makdisi, ‘How the War Will End’, LRB, 3 August 2006.
  49. Karim Makdisi, ‘How the War Will End’, LRB, 3 August 2006.
  50. Gabriel Piterberg, ‘Travels in Israel’, LRB, 21 September 2006.
  51. Yitzhak Laor, ‘You are terrorists, we are virtuous’, LRB, 17 August 2006.
  52. Elias Khoury, ‘Do I see or do I remember?’, LRB, 3 August 2006.
  53. Michael Byers, ‘War Crimes’, LRB, 17 August 2006.
  54. Yitzhak Laor, ‘You are terrorists, we are virtuous’, LRB, 17 August 2006.
  55. www.mfa.gov.il
  56. www.btselem.org/English/Statistics/Casualties.asp?sD=27&sM=12&sY=2008&eD=18&eM=01&eY=2009&filterby=event&oferet_stat=during
  57. R.W. Johnson in ‘Responses to the War in Gaza’, LRB, 29 January 2009.
  58. Ilana Curiel, ‘5 Qassams fired towards Negev Saturday evening,’ Ynet, 20 December 2008.
  59. Sara Roy, ‘If Gaza falls…’ LRB, 1 Jan 2009.
  60. Henry Siegman, ‘Israel’s Lies’, LRB, 29 January 2009.
  61. Henry Siegman, ‘Israel’s Lies’, LRB, 29 January 2009.
  62. Crooke, a former British spy, has used the Beirut-based Conflicts Forum to facilitate meetings between members of the American and European governments and agents of Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood and Pakistan’s Jammat-e-Islami. In addition to Azzam Tamimi, the British-Palestinian academic who supports Hamas and suicide bombings, Conflicts Forum’s advisory board also contains Moazzem Begg, an avowed supporter of the Taliban.