Sewell’s Sewer

On November 3, 2000, London’s Evening Standard printed an article by Brian Sewell entitled “Bible Stories.” The article draws a gross parallel between the Nazi slaughter of 6 million Jews, and Israel’s clumsy way of handling the recent riots. Sewell also refers to “International Jewry,” a phrase popularized by the anti-Semitic text, the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” and used regularly by Adolf Hitler and every anti-Semite since.

Sewell makes a whole series of unsubstantiated historical claims — Palestinians “cut off from Holy Places of Islam” and questioning whether the land of Israel could have been as “Jewish as the Bible implies.” Sewell then justifies lynching by saying that he would perhaps have done it himself in the same position.

Following the publication of Sewell’s article, HonestReporting sent out a letter to its subscribers, which at the time numbered less than 1,000 subscribers. Still, the wave of reader outrage was so great that the Evening Standard printed two separate follow-up articles: “Sewell sparks wave of protests” and “Sewell and Israel.”

After more pressure, the Evening Standard published an unprecedented counter-opinion piece entitled, Why Brian Sewell was wrong.” Says writer Simon Sebag Montefiore: “[Sewell’s] article was so riddled with clumsy mistakes, historical lacunae and silly ignorance about basic events, that it would take this entire page to correct.”

This is a prime example of what HonestReporting can accomplish when we work together.


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