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September 26, 2011

LA Times Remakes Judah Ben-Hur into 'Palestinian Nobleman'

ben hur Palestinian.jpg
Charles Heston starring as Judah Ben-Hur, the "Palestinian nobleman" (Photo by AFP)

The Los Angeles Times has converted Judah Ben-Hur, the fictional enslaved Jewish nobleman who serves as a protagonist in Charles Heston's 1959 Hollywood blockbuster, into a "Palestinian nobleman." Today's paper reports:

Based on the novel by Lew Wallace, the period drama revolves around Judah Ben-Hur (Heston), a Palestinian nobleman who is enslaved by the Romans, engages in one of the most thrilling chariot races ever captured on screen, and even encounters Jesus Christ.

Of course, there was no such place as "Palestine" in the time of Jesus, since the Romans didn't rename Judea as "Palestina" until a hundred years after the death of Jesus (a fact that even the New York Times had to correct).

In earlier coverage, the Los Angeles Times had correctly described Ben-Hur's Jewish/Judean identity. For instance, a March 15, 2001 article referred to "the rich, honorable Jewish man Judah Ben-Hur"; a June 17, 1994 article correctly described him as "the Judean"; and a Sept. 14, 1990 article referred to him as "prince of Judea."

Perhaps the paper's 2011 remake of Ben-Hur, the Judean, into Ben-Hur, the "Palestinian," is testament to the success of ongoing efforts to misleading the masses into believing that a sovereign Palestinian entity did in fact exist before 1948, either in antiquity or in more recent history.

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Sept. 28 Update: Today the LA Times publishes a timely and straightforward correction. Thanks to all the Snapshots readers who, along with CAMERA staff, contacted the paper.

Posted by TS at September 26, 2011 03:49 AM


“Entertainment� might be the best written, most serious section in the L.A. Times, but even the entertainment writers are morons when they get political.
As they say in the Valley: Dude’s name is “Judah.� As in “Jew-duh.� Get it?

Posted by: WN at September 26, 2011 05:55 AM

The use of "palestinian" and "palestine" is definitely anachronistic for the lifetime of Jesus. These names do not appear in the New Testament at all nor did Rome officially change the name Judea to Syria Palaestina until about 135 CE when the Romans under Emperor Hadrian had finally crushed the Jewish revolt under Bar Kokhba. See link:

Posted by: Elliott A Green at September 26, 2011 08:11 AM

The name Palestinian to denote Arabs is of recent vintage. Till 1948 most Arabs living in Mandate Palestine rejected that label and called themselves either South Syrians or just Arabs.

Until 1948 the term Palestinian actually denoted Jews living in Mandate Palestine.

Posted by: Shriber at September 26, 2011 09:21 AM

Maybe we should refer to the author of the article as a "Mexican". California was once part of Mexico, wasn't it? (Of course, I am being sarcastic, but I just wonder how the author of the article would have reacted to my comment? What's good for the goose.......)

Posted by: Arthur Werner at September 26, 2011 10:21 AM

the official WB website describes Ben Hur as a "Jewish nobleman in Palestine" so, even if historically Palestine didn't exist at that time - (and probably the makers of this fictional film didn't look this up because the WB description does reference Palestine) why did the author of this article omit the "Jewish" and convert to "Palestinian?" Very odd and at the least poor/weak/manipulative reporting, unless, of course, the writers and editors are writing for a fiction magazine instead of a newspaper?

Posted by: RAG at September 26, 2011 12:06 PM

Actually, until Arafat created the PLO in 1964, NO Arabs referred to themselves as "Palestinians." "Palestinians" were not even acknowledged as a separate political group until the Rabat Conference in 1974! Prior to then, all references to conflict in the Middle East were always called "Arab-Israeli Conflict" and there is no reference to "Palestinians" after 1948 at all.

Posted by: Dafna Yee at September 26, 2011 03:43 PM

If you want to educate the LATimes editor:

Posted by: kolbee123 at September 27, 2011 11:58 AM

What a wonderful over reaction... I'm willing to bet that the Times briefly reworked an erroneous Warner Bros, PR release. There is no staff writer for the L.A. Times named "Ramon Novarro". However, Ramon Novarro was the silent film star who played Judah Ben Hur in the original 1925 film.

Posted by: Jeffrey at September 27, 2011 09:02 PM

You could always count on the L.A.Times
to slam Israel or Jew's in general.
Since the fiasco with Sam Zell and the Times
having filed BK they (the Times)
never misses and opportunity and absolutely delights in picturing Jew's in a negative light.

Posted by: nick at September 28, 2011 02:34 PM

I suppose we have to ignore the references to palestine by egyptian documents dating around 1100 BCE ?

Posted by: Thomas Clothier at December 1, 2011 08:32 PM

I always considered that Jewish historian, Josephus lived and wrote his documentation referencing Palestine before the Roman's named the territory. Likewise, in modern times (prior to 1947), this territory was similarly named as Palestine. This explains WB use of the word. I'm starting to thing that this is not so much about accuracy.

Posted by: Thomas Clothier at December 1, 2011 08:40 PM

Thomas, in the heyday of the Roman Empire, the Romans called the Land of Israel "Provincia Iudaea." It was only after suppressing the Jewish revolt led by Bar Kokhba, circa 135 CE, that Emperor Hadrian renamed the country "Syria Palaestina," defining it as a part of Syria, thus insulting the Jews. This renaming of their country was a deliberate insult to the Jews, an act of imperialist suppression.

Tom, See the link in my comment above.

Posted by: Elliott A Green at December 22, 2011 09:38 AM

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