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Economist Partially Apologizes over Yair Stern Article

Book review claimed Kochav Yair is a 'fanatical settlement,' says Israelis called Yair are named after founder of Lehi resistance movement.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 5/11/2014, 10:29 AM

Lehi founder Avraham "Yair" Stern
Lehi founder Avraham "Yair" Stern
Menachem Begin Heritage Center

The Economist has apologized for one egregious error in a review of a book that details the story of the 1942 murder of Jewish underground leader Avram 'Yair' Stern by British Mandate authorities - but has yet to apologize for a second.

Tablet magazine noted that the review's writer “ignorantly impugns thousands of Jews” when he claims that “Stern still commands a striking hold over many of Israel’s ruling right-wingers, including the successors of the mandate-era Jewish underground who continue to perpetrate attacks on Palestinian civilians. Many still choose his nom de guerre, Yair, for their sons, including Israel’s current prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. One of the most fanatical settlements, Kochav Yair, is named after him.”

The first claim – that Kochav Yair is “one of the most fanatical settlements,” is pure fantasy. Kochav Yair straddles the Green Line from the west but is not “a settlement,” since it is located on land that was liberated in 1948, not 1967.

It is also not a “fanatical” town by any means. Tablet notes that according to the official results from the last Israeli elections, its residents voted predominantly for centrist and left-wing parties.

The Economist has issued a correction regarding Kochav Yair but not regarding the use of the name Yair.

“Yair,” explains Tablet, is “a famous biblical name that has been popular among Jews for centuries. It is one of the few names possessed by multiple characters in the Hebrew Bible. The father of Mordekhai, one of the protagonists of the Purim story, is named 'Yair.' So is one of Jacob’s grandsons (...) While there may be a handful of extreme-right [sic] Israelis who took Stern as a namesake, the vast majority of men named 'Yair' – from all political backgrounds – bear no connection to him whatsoever.”

If it is indeed true that Binyamin Netanyahu named his son after Yair Stern this is not a well-known fact andThe Economist has brought no evidence that this is indeed so.

It does not appear very likely that such evidence exists either, since Israel's left-wing media would most likely have pounced on such a fact long ago, in its attempts to portray Netanyahu as a dangerous fanatic.