My history column for the Register this week is on Temple Trutherism. It’s like 9/11 Trutherism, only with slightly more anti-semitism!
Reporter Rick Gladstone shows us some of those high-quality skills you only get from journalism school by utterly ignoring the experts he interviewed and concocting a story about scholarly doubt as to whether the Temples were on the Temple Mount.
The New York Times found itself at the center of a firestorm last week after publishing an article that suggested there’s no proof the First and Second Temples ever stood on the Temple Mount. The claim is common among Palestinians and their allies eager to deny the historical ties of Jews to Jerusalem, but it’s shocking to find “the paper of record” giving credibility to the notion.
Archaeologists and Biblical scholars—including those quoted for the story—reacted with outrage on the internet. As with the so-called “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” hoax, social media and blogs drove the story, pouncing on errors in the report and forcing the Times to retreat with a flurry of corrections, retractions, and ultimately an “editor’s note” attempting to clarify the initial, highly biased piece.
The story, titled “Historical Certainty Proves Elusive at Jerusalem’s Holiest Place” was written by Rick Gladstone, a reporter and editor on the Foreign Desk, who interviewed several noted academics on the subject. Two of these these sources later issued statements saying their words had been used out of context in such a way as to wholly alter their meaning.
There is no scenario in which this was an honest error or just sloppy writing. The statements of Jodi Magness, certainly one of the most famous and respected experts on the subject, make it clear that she spent an hour outlining the facts for Gladstone, and he simply ignored them.
The New York Times is all arrogance, with little left to back it up. Witness this alarming, jaw-dropping exchange with a Times editor:
[Oren] called the New York Times editorial-page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, after the paper published an op-ed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in which Abbas startlingly claimed the Arabs had accepted the UN Partition Plan of 1947. The conversation went thus:
“When I write for the Times, fact checkers examine every word I write,” I began. “Did anybody check that Abbas has his facts exactly backward?”
“That’s your opinion,” Rosenthal replied.
“I’m an historian, Andy, and there are opinions and there are facts. That the Arabs rejected partition and the Jews accepted it is an irrefutable fact.”
“In your view.”
“Tell me, on June 6, 1944, did Allied forces land or did they not land on Normandy Beach?”
Rosenthal…replied, “Some might say so.”