Steve Kramer

Just the Facts

July 21, 2017
Editor in Chief David Horowitz,

Dear David,
I enjoy reading your online newspaper, The Times of Israel – I’m even one of the paper’s many bloggers. But there are a few editorial decisions about terminology that I find grossly inaccurate. These terms, which appear too often (including today – June 20), undermine Jewish sovereignty in Israel.

Jerusalem has many sectors, like all large cities. However, there is no capital “E” East Jerusalem, or capital “W” West Jerusalem. The description, East Jerusalem, insinuates that part of Jerusalem belongs to the Arabs and that only “West” Jerusalem is for the Jews. This is false. It is true that the boundaries of Jerusalem have been expanded since the Six Day War of 1967. Still, Jerusalem residents are free to live in every sector of the city.

Certain Jerusalem neighborhoods are predominantly this or that ethnicity, which is common in all cities. (Exception to the rule: 18 Israeli cities/towns populated exclusively by Beduin tribes.) No one is precluded from living anywhere in Jerusalem, if they can afford it. Since King David made Jerusalem the Jewish capital thousands of years ago, the city was only divided for 19 years (1949-1967). That division occurred when Jordanian troops were left in control of parts of Israel following the ceasefire ending Israel’s War of Independence (1948-49). The Times of Israel should refer only to east Jerusalem, not East Jerusalem.

Another thing: your paper disparages the use of the geographical names Judea and Samaria, which are termed the “biblical names” for the West Bank, as if the latter term is the only acceptable description. Thus, “West Bank” is given legitimacy while Judea and Samaria are delegitimized.

“West Bank” is the recent Jordanian (c. 1950) name for Judea and Samaria. King Hussein of Transjordan brilliantly coined the term “West Bank” to legitimize his occupation of the land to the west of the Jordan River. He also renamed his kingdom, “Jordan,” replacing the name Transjordan, indicating a state sitting on both sides of the Jordan River.

The names Judea and Samaria originated in biblical times but remained in use even in the 19th and 20th centuries. Many books mentioned Judea and Samaria, most prominently Mark Twain’s influential Innocents Abroad (1867). In addition, there are many governmental references:

“In 1938, there is the Report by His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom to the Council of the League of Nations on the Administration of PALESTINE AND TRANS-JORDAN for the year 1938:

Jerusalem [is] situated in the midst of the hills of Judea, and the principal towns are Haifa … Jaffa … Tel Aviv … and Nablus, the ancient Shechem, in the hills of Samaria.

“From United Nations document A/364, September 1947:
Apart from these inland plains in the north and portions of the desert area in the south, the interior of the country is very mountainous with the hills of Judea and Samaria in the centre and the hills of Galilee in the north ….

(1994) Lord Gilmour of Craigmillar, former Secretary of State for Defence, questioned Her Majesty’s Government: “In 1967 Jordan was in occupation. It is generally accepted that after its annexation of the territories, Jordan had no sovereignty in international law. Its presence in Judaea and Samaria was only given de jure recognition by two countries out of the whole international community. … (Y. Medad

While I’m at it, I’ll mention two more very common misrepresentations which appear in many Israeli publications, but not in today’s The Times of Israel. These were suggested by my friend Jerry Verlin (
#1: “Arab and Jewish States”:  The U.N. did not attempt to partition Palestine between “Palestinians and Jews,” as the media puts it, akin to partitioning Pennsylvania between Pennsylvanians and Jews.  It said over and over “the Arab State and the Jewish State,” not “Palestinian and Jewish States.”
#2:  “The Two Palestinian Peoples”:  The U.N. did not refer to Palestine’s Arabs as “The Palestinians.”  It referred to Palestine’s Jews and its Arabs as “the two Palestinian peoples.”

David, I hope you will take to heart this constructive criticism. Israel has many enemies. We should not add fuel to the fire by using incorrect, misleading terminology. Just the facts, please.

Steve Kramer
Alfe Menashe

About the Author
Steve Kramer grew up in Atlantic City, graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1967, adopted the hippie lifestyle until 1973, then joined the family business for 15 years. Steve moved to Israel from Margate, NJ in 1991 with his family. He has written more than 1100 articles about Israel and Jews since making Aliyah. Steve and his wife Michal live in Kfar Saba.
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