The New York Times Inverts the History of Jerusalem

On December 6, 2017, on the eve of President Donald Trump recognizing that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, the New York Times decided to give its readers a primer on #FakeHistory.

The article entitled “The Current Conflict in Jerusalem Is Distinctly Modern,” gave a 100-year history that not only omitted important facts, it told a story that was an inversion of truth. Specifically:

  • The NYT led readers to believe that Jerusalem was an Arab city and that Jews recently began to immigrate there, when IN FACT, Jews have been a majority in Jerusalem since the 1860s
  • The NYT led readers to conclude that Jerusalem has never been important to Jews, and that it is just a recent phenomenon of right-wing Zionists, when IN FACT, Jerusalem has been central to Judaism for 3000 years for all Jews
  • The NYT will talk about the “corpus separatum” of the 1947 partition plan, but only refer to Jerusalem, when IN FACT, the Holy Basin referred to Greater Bethlehem and Greater Jerusalem, and Israel gave control of Bethlehem to the Palestinians 20 years ago

Below are some details highlighting the liberal rag’s distortions.

The Myth of Colonial Fingerprints

The lead-in to the article began to orient the reader about distinct 20th century aspects to the current conflict surrounding Jerusalem. It stated:

“the current one is a distinctly 20th century story, with roots in colonialism, nationalism and antisemitism.”

How was the story of Jerusalem remotely one of colonialism? Several international powers broke up the Ottoman Empire after its collapse; was Syria a French colonial enterprise? Read more in “Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies.

The article would go on to describe the nationalism of “religious settlers,” but never touch upon the deep antisemitism pervasive in Palestinian culture and actions.

Jewish Majority in Jerusalem for 150 Years

The article repeated long-standing #FakeNews by anti-Zionists that Jews were new-comers to Jerusalem, invading an Arab city:

“The three decades of British rule that followed Allenby’s march on Jerusalem saw an influx of Jewish settlers drawn by the Zionist vision of a Jewish homeland, while the local Arab population adjusted to the reality of the collapsed Ottoman Empire, which had ruled the city since 1517…. For Arabs, he said: ‘There was something of the shock at not being in the Ottoman Empire. There was a reordering of their society. The local Palestinian aristocracy, the big families of Jerusalem, emerged as leaders of the Palestinian national movement, which was suddenly being confronted by Jewish migration. Opposition to that migration fueled several deadly riots by Palestinians…‘”

This is an outrageous lie. The Times would have readers believe that there was an Arab majority in Jerusalem for 400 years. These “local Arabs” watched helplessly as the British allowed these foreigners to take over their city.

There were various demographic studies taken of Jerusalem for the past few centuries. They all agree that Jews have been a majority in the city since at least 1870, with the percentage growing well before the British took over in 1922.

Jerusalem population statistics from the JewishVirtualLibrary, which compiled statistics from a variety of places:

Year
Jews
Arabs/Muslims
Christians/Other
Total
1844
7,120
5,000
3,390
15,510
1876
12,000
7,560
5,470
25,030
1896
28,112
8,560
8,748
45,420
1922
33,971
13,411
4,699
52,081
1931
51,222
19,894
19,335
90,451
1948
100,000
40,000
25,000
165,000
1967
195,700
54,963
12,646
263,309
1987
340,000
121,000
14,000
475,000

From IsraelPalestinian.procon.org which also compiled data from various British censuses.

Year
Jews
Arabs/Muslims
Christians/Other
Total
1910
45,000
12,000
12,900
69,900
1922
34,000
13,500
14,600
62,500
1931
51,000
19,900
19,300
90,500
1946
99,300
33,700
31,400
164,400
1967
196,800
58,100
12,900
267,800
1972
261,100
74,400
11,800
347,300
1983
346,700
112,100
13,900
472,700
1995
486,600
171,700
13,900
672,2000

Jerusalem and Its Environs: Quarters, Neighborhoods, Villages, 1800-1948 by Ruth Kark, Michal Oren-Nordheim detailed the growth of Jews in Jerusalem after the Crimean War.

Year
Jews
Arabs/Muslims
Christians/Other
Total
1866
8,000
4,000
4,000
16,000
1887
28,000
7,560
7,070
42,630
1913
48,400
10,050
16,750
90,500
1931
51,222
19,894
19,335
90,503
1945
97,000
30,630
29,350
157,080

Regardless of the source of information, Jews were clearly the dominant religious group in Jerusalem for as much as 30 years before the first Zionist Congress, and 50 years before the Balfour Declaration. To state that the Jews were interlopers into an Arab city is patently false and a complete inversion of history and fact.

This is part of an ongoing false narrative that the New York Times gives its readers even regarding current events. For a despicable example, read “The New York Times will Keep on Telling You: Jews are not Native to Israel,” in which every Israeli – even those whose parents and grandparents were born in Israel – was described as a foreigner, while every Arab was described as a local.

The 1947 Partition Plan Included Bethlehem

The Times continued to go over history, touching upon the 1947 UN Partition Plan.

“After the war, in 1947, the United Nations approved a partition plan that provided for two states – one Jewish, one Arab – with Jerusalem governed by a ‘special international regime’ owing to its unique status. The Arabs rejected the partition plan,… Jerusalem was divided: The western half became part of the new state of Israel (and its capital under an Israeli law passed in 1950), while the eastern half, including the Old City, was occupied by Jordan.”

The Times will forever refuse to correctly state that the Holy Basin in the partition plan was much larger than just Jerusalem, and included Greater Bethlehem.


The “corpus separatum” of the 1947 UN Partition Plan

Israel handed control of Bethlehem to the Palestinian Authority in December 1995 as part of launching the Oslo Accords with some tangible results. That concession of handing over half of the corpus separatum is never mentioned by the Times.

The Crimes of Jordan

The fact that Jordan’s annexation of the West Bank, the eastern half of Jerusalem and Bethlehem were not sanctioned by the international community is NEVER mentioned, while the world’s opinion about Israel’s taking of the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem is ALWAYS mentioned.

The fact that Jordan evicted all of the Jews from the eastern half of Jerusalem and the West Bank is NEVER mentioned.

The fact that Jordan gave citizenship to all Arabs in the newly acquired territories but specifically excluded Jews is NEVER mentioned.

Because for the Times, the problem is the Jews.

The Lie that Israel Doesn’t Care about Jerusalem

Throughout the article, the Times sought to portray Israeli Jews as ambivalent about Jerusalem as a capital city:

  • It was the for the British that Jerusalem was so important – they are the ones who established Jerusalem as a capital… It was not anyone’s capital since the times of the First and Second Temple.”
  • “Paradoxically, Zionism recoiled from Jerusalem, particularly the Old City,.. first because Jerusalem was regarded as a symbol of the diaspora, and second because the holy sites to Christianity and Islam were seen as complications that would not enable the creation of a Jewish state with Jerusalem as its capital.”
  • Jerusalem was something of a backwater, a regression to a conservative culture that they [early Zionists] were trying to move away from,”
  • “The early Israeli state was hesitant to focus too much on Jerusalem, given pressure from the United Nations and European powers,”
  • “Having accepted the idea of international control of Jerusalem, the early Israeli leadership sought alternatives for a capital, perhaps Herzliya or somewhere in the south,”

Get the message? Israel really was never focused on Jerusalem until the 1967 war, according the Times.

But how does that warped narrative fit into the following facts:

  • Jews moved to Jerusalem both before and after the British Mandate took effect in remarkable numbers, as detailed above
  • The Israeli national anthem, written in 1877, was focused completely on Jerusalem.
  • Israel made Jerusalem its capital shortly after the war of independence concluded, in 1950. It placed all of its governmental buildings there.

All of these facts about the early Zionists also doesn’t include the facts that Jews have always faced Jerusalem when they pray, regardless of where they are in the world. They pray for the return to Jerusalem and the reestablishment of the city to its former glory, several times a day.

How does the Times spew the absurd notion that Jerusalem is a novel idea to Israeli Jews?

Jerusalem is Important to All Jews, Not Jewish Extremists

The Times narrative continued that this once irrelevant city all of the sudden jumped into the minds of religious extremists after the Six Day War in 1967.

  • The turning points in 1967 were two: the great victory, including the fast shift from fears of defeat before the war to euphoria and the feeling that everything was possible, and the emotional impact of occupying the Old City…. Images of Israeli soldiers praying at the Western Wall… became seared into Israel’s national consciousness.”
  • “Jerusalem became the center of a cultlike devotion that had not really existed previously…. This has now been fetishized to an extraordinary degree as hard-line religious nationalism,”
  • “The victory of the right-leaning party Likud in 1977… helped solidify this new emphasis on Jerusalem as integral to Israel’s identity. Religious settlers became more prominent in political life in Israel,”
  • “As part of this shift, Jerusalem’s symbolic importance intensified,”

It is unquestionably true that many religious Jews flocked to Jerusalem. They have been doing so for thousands of years because it is the most holy city in Judaism. They are not “right-leaning” or “religious settlers.” They are people who came to live in their holiest city.

As further evidence of the long-standing importance of Jerusalem to the entire country – even the “secular European socialists” that the article highlighted – was Israel’s adoption of a particular menorah as its national emblem in 1949: the one that was pictured in the Arch of Titus in Rome. That menorah symbolized the ransacking and destruction of the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem 2000 years earlier. The deliberate selection of that menorah as the symbol of the Jewish State of Israel was to show that the Jews had returned from the diaspora, to its sacred land and holiest city, Jerusalem.

Today, the entire Jewish people continue to be engaged about Jerusalem. The current controversy surrounding creating a pluralistic place for prayer at the Western Wall is because of the strong interest of Reform and Conservative Jews for Jerusalem. The notion that the city is only important to “cultlike… religious settlers” is absurd.

Jews Belong in Eastern Jerusalem

The Times continued its horrific background by concluding that Jews have no rights to be in the eastern part of the city:

  • “Palestinians say that Jewish settlers have encroached on East Jerusalem,”
  • “‘The entire international community has been in accord that Israeli annexation and settlement of East Jerusalem since 1967 is illegal, and refuses to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,'”

As the Times never explained to readers that all of the Jews were evicted by the Jordanians in 1949, it made their appearance in the eastern half of the city seem strange and foreign. It is not. Jews returned to parts of their holiest city where they lived for centuries.

The Times also did not give background to the international laws of 1920 (San Remo) and 1922 (Mandate of Palestine), which both clearly and explicitly stated that Jews could live throughout Palestine – including the Old City of Jerusalem – and that no person could be excluded from living anywhere in the land due to religious beliefs.

No matter. The paper chose to quote anti-Zionists. It is surprising that it did not state that Zionism is a form of Racism.

Oh, and for those keeping score that Israel limits Arabs in Jerusalem, look at the statistics above again. Under the British from 1922 to 1948, the number of Jews and Arabs BOTH went up by three times. From 1967 to 1995, the number of Arabs in Jerusalem under Israeli rule tripled again, while the number of Jews only went up by 2.5 times. How does the Times keep giving people the impression that Jews overran the Arabs during British rule (when both groups grew by the same percentage) and that Israel has been forcing out the Arabs from Jerusalem (even though the growth of Arab residents surpasses Jews!)


As the world waited for the United States to recognize the reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, the New York Times fed its readers anti-Zionist red meat. It crafted an article that Jews never much cared for the Arab city of Jerusalem until 50 years ago, and that the only Jews who really care about it now are religious fanatics. The masters of #FakeNews are trying their best to instigate a jihad.


Related First.One.Through articles:

750 Years of Continuous Jewish Jerusalem

The Anger from the Zionist Center

The Palestinian’s Three Denials

The Arguments over Jerusalem

The Custodianship of a Child and Jerusalem

Obama’s “Palestinian Land”

Nicholas Kristof’s “Arab Land”

Arabs in Jerusalem

Music video: The Anthem of Israel is Jerusalem

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13 thoughts on “The New York Times Inverts the History of Jerusalem

  1. So what else is new? How soon everyone forgets how the NYT downplayed the Shoah with minimal coverage even while everyone knew it was happening. This seem s to be an enduring legacy from the Sulzberg era.

  2. Maybe off topic but the vast increase in Arab population between 1920 and 1960 occurred because neighboring governments encouraged their poor and troublemakers to go claim free land in Israel.

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