Times Mid-East correspondent Catherine Philp responds to our criticism

In late February we commented on an apt illustration of the increasingly prevalent dynamic within the UK media of the blurring of news and opinion, in a story at Times of London by their Middle East correspondent Catherine Philp

Catherine Philp
Catherine Philp

The story, about debates in the Knesset over legislation aimed at ending an exemption that allows thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews to skip military service, originally included the following headline:


As we noted at the time, given that roughly 8 percent of Israeli Jews are ultra-Orthodox (Haredi), Philps was in effect using the pejorative “zealot” – a term with very specific Jewish historical connotations – to describe roughly 480,000 Israelis.  Though some ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel can of course fairly be described as extreme or zealous, to paint the entire community in such negative terms represents the kind of crude stereotype that progressive journalists would typically abhor.

Following our complaint to Times editors, the headline was revised, and the loaded word “zealots” was replaced with the more accurate term “ultra-orthodox”.

new header

On March 18 (three weeks after the original post), we received the following Tweets from the Times journalist.

However, the word “zealot” was also used in the body of the story, here:

Ultra-Orthodox Jews who refuse to serve in the Israeli army could face time in jail under a new law agreed by a parliamentary committee in a move likely to trigger fresh protests from zealots.

We asked her about this on Twitter, and she responded with the following:

We appreciate Ms. Philps’ clarification and have updated the original post accordingly.

UPDATE: Some time after this post was published, it appears as if Ms. Philps deleted the the two last Tweets we highlighted.  (We embedded the code from the original Tweets, but now that they are deleted from Twitter the html doesn’t work, and, as you see, merely the text appears.) However, we found copies. Here they are:

cache tweet


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