Talk:Avi Shlaim

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Critics section[edit]

I have deleted the critics section of the entry, as there were two useless links. The first was to a Haaretz article in Hebrew, which is not acceptable for an English language encyclopedia. The second was to a (very offensive) blog, which is not a credible source. If someone wants to create a critics section, I suggest they find serious criticisms of Professor Shlaim's view by serious historians, academics or journalists. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:10, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

I did the same, as it showed up again, however only with the link to the Heaaretz article in Hebrew. dynam001 (talk) 17:31, 12 February 2011 (UTC)

Does Avi Shlaim self-identify as a post-Zionist?[edit]

In the Post-Zionism article someone has listed Avi Shlaim as a post-Zionist. There was no source listed. There is now a category for post zionists here Category:Post-Zionists. If someone finds a source for this, can you please add the category and describe him as such in the body of the article? Thanks. --Deodar 14:41, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

Is Avi Shlaim an anti-Zionist or anti-semite?[edit]

There should be a discussion about Shlaim's Guardian articles which appear to be anti-zionist or anti-semite. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:45, 10 January 2009 (UTC)

Avi Shlaim as a jew being anti-Semitic? Are you serious? (talk) 12:54, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
The only anti-zionist new historian is Ilan Pappé. None is anti-semite. (talk) 20:07, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

"Shlaim is widely regarded as one of the world's leading authorities on the Arab-Israeli conflict."[edit]

Yes we know the Nation says it, but why is it on this page is if it is the absolute 100% truth that he is? What is "widely regarded?" The Nation is an obviously biased leftwing magazine with Palestinian sympathies. I don't see why it can't just say "The Nation says __________" when there is no proof that he actually is definitively "widely regarded."Tallicfan20 (talk) 20:08, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

Agree. It's an opinion, and opinions need to be attributed. This is doubly so when the opinion is voiced by a non-academic source, in what is an extreme, some would say fringe, source. LoverOfTheRussianQueen (talk) 23:13, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
The oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the U.S., which has published articles by Bertrand Russell, Albert Einstein, George Orwell, Robert Frost, Henry James, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Martin Luther King. But it's extreme and fringe. Very sad. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 00:43, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Reductio ad just because the magazine did something once, it MUST be a "reliable source" for this. Thats logical fallacy and POV pushing. The Nation and Democracy Now are not today, which is when it counts, NPOV sources for this. They cannot tell people what is "regarded as the leading authority" given that not only are they not NPOV, but other more politically neutral sources say that he's a "leading REVISIONIST historian of Israel."Tallicfan20 (talk) 14:41, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
It may be all that, but it still, today, represents an extreme-left position. That's a side issue, though. Even if it represented a center-left position, or a centrist or right-wing one, its opinion would be just that - its opinion, and it needs to be attributed and presented as such, not as fact. This is spelled out quite clearly in WP:NPOV: "The Beatles were the greatest band ever" is an opinion. - "Rolling Stone said that the Beatles were the greatest band ever" is NPOV. Replace The Beatles with Shlaim, "the greatest band ever" with "one of the world's leading authorities", and Rolling Stone with The Nation, and you will see what is required, per one of Wikipedia's core, non-negotiable policies. LoverOfTheRussianQueen (talk) 01:59, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
"Avi Shlaim is widely regarded as one of the world's leading authorities on the Arab-Israeli conflict.", Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, 14 January 2009.[1]
"two leading Israeli ‘new historians’, Ben-Gurion University Professor Benny Morris and Oxford don Avi Shlaim" Aliza Craimer, Association for Israel Studies 2006.[2]
" Shlaim, a professor of international relations at Oxford, is a leading member of the so-called 'New Historians'", Anton La Guardia, Literary Review, December 2007. [3]
"Avi Shlaim, a professor at St. Antony's College, Oxford, and a leading revisionist historian of Israel", Ethan Bronner, New York Times 14 November 1999.[4]
"Avi Shlaim, an Israeli historian teaching at Oxford, is one of the leading new historians", Jerome Slater, Political Science Quarterly, Spring 2001.[5].
"Having made his reputation as a leading new historian, and stating at the outset of his reply that there is a "`new' or revisionist school of writing about Israel's history" to which he belongs, Shlaim then denies membership in this self-styled group", Efraim Karsh, [[Middle East Quarterly, September 1966.[6]
"one of Israel's leading revisionist historians, Avi Shlaim" Rana Mitter, Night Waves, BBC Radio 3, 31 October 2007. [7]
QED RolandR 02:26, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
I would not object to describing him as "one of the leading new historians" or "one of Israel's leading revisionist historians" - which is what these sources support, but which is quite different than "one of the world's leading authorities on the Arab-Israeli conflict". LoverOfTheRussianQueen (talk) 03:51, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
Indeed. This wording is pov. (talk) 20:08, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Again, another source that is used to call him "leading scholar" is Democracy Now. of course they are gonna say that. They are a leftist group, and that is a fact, not a smear. I agree with LoverOfTheRussianQueen. This violates NPOV because it tells the reader something as if it is fact, coming from a far less than neutral source. And it is agenda pushing. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tallicfan20 (talkcontribs) 09:39, 12 August 2009

Notice 6 sources say he's a "leading 'new historian'" 2 say he's a "world leading." 6 beats 2. And these are more NPOV sources.Tallicfan20 (talk) 14:45, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

I'm not in love with any of the proposed texts. It seems that in all cases the opinion of someone is being presented as a true statement. Shouldn't we try to first make a statement that is incontrovertible, like he is a well-known historian of the Middle East, and then (in 1-2 sentences at most since this is only the intro) give a more nuanced version as someone's opinion? It should be possible to both quote someone as saying he is a leader in the field and also to note his "new historian" status. Zerotalk 15:09, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
I share Zero's mind and would even go farther. Let's be purely factual in providing pure information. It is enought to say that he is a British historian and that his field of studies is the Middle East History. No need to say "best" "worst" "controversed" "bad" "well-known"... To point out the "controversies" around him, stating that he is a New Historian is also enough and factual. People can learn about this group by themselves or in reading teh article. (talk) 20:06, 12 August 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Zero and Ceedjee. First the undisputed points need to be presented, then the disputed information (qualified, "according to" [whichever source it came from]). —Ynhockey (Talk) 22:16, 12 August 2009 (UTC)

Roland, can you explain how describing Shlaim as a leading New historian, as supported by half a dozen references, which you yourself have provided, is "stigmatizing" him? LoverOfTheRussianQueen (talk) 16:10, 13 August 2009 (UTC)


Obviously, if he chose the Balfour Declaration for what he has it will (nad has) receive noteworthy critique. One of Israel's mainstream newspapers seems adequate sourcing for this clearly noteworhty issue. JaakobouChalk Talk 10:43, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

My response can be found here. As sources go, this isn't much better than a blog entry. CJCurrie (talk) 06:15, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
The paper is the 2nd laregts in Israel, and your personal dislike of its owner (who does not run the paper, btw, that would be its editor) is immaterial. This is criticism by a notable Israeli journalist. Los Admiralos (talk) 15:30, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
No offense intended, but you're really over the line in how you are interpreting motives behind Hebrew sources here without any knowledge on Israel.
Warm regards, JaakobouChalk Talk 18:43, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

Anyone of the editors (CJCurrie, RolandR, Zero0000) is interested in backing up their assertion that Israel Hayom is not a legitimate newspaper? I know that Shlaim is important to some of you, but I just don't see where this reaction is coming from. Discuss, don't edit-war. Please. JaakobouChalk Talk 04:27, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

Oh come on. All we have here is one right-wing Israeli journalist writing in a right-wing free tabloid that a friend of his disagreed with Shlaim's assessment, on page 27 of biography of King Hussein, that the Balfour declaration was "Britain's most serious deplomatic error in the first half of the twentieth century". Margalit's friend believed that the Munich Agreement was a more serious error, and stopped reading the book.
So what? This is really trivial tittle-tattle. Our article doesn't even discuss this book (or any of Shlaim's work), so to devote a whole paragraph to the opinion of a friend of a journalist is completely disproportionate. RolandR (talk) 10:18, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
Allow me to quote from the lead to this article:
Shlaim is especially well-known as a historian of the Arab-Israeli conflict. He is considered one of the leading New Historians,[1] a group of Israeli scholars who put forward critical interpretations of the history of Zionism and Israel.[2]
As you can see, his anti-Israeli perspective is a cornerstone of this article and, as such, there is nothing wrong with a couple short notes about criticism towards him. As for your argument about the second largest newspaper being a right-wing newspaper, I can't say that I see any merit to it. We don't reject The Guardian or Haaretz because of their left-wing bias. As for the content value - it was notable for Margalit, a mainstream journalistin Israel for the past 45 years. He is, btw a left wing journalist that supported the disengagement from Gaza and still supports discussions for peace.
I don't value much the books by the subject of this article, but certainly, I've no objections to someone taking the time to add notes about his biography of the Jordanian monarch. Still, it bears no value on the topic of his relations with Israel and notable criticism towards some of his statements.
While the subject is quite notable, I'm open to rephrase suggestions if you want to make them. Still, I can't change my opinion if the arguments revolve around false premises, such as the paper or the writer supposedly being not noteworthy or right-wing.
Warm regards, JaakobouChalk Talk 11:42, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
It appears that you haven't rad my notes. I understand that from where you're standing, everyone except for maybe Azmi Bishara are right-wing, but Margalit is not a right wing journalist and Israel Hayom is not a propaganda rag. If you have real reasons, we can discuss them, but you can't expect people to ascribe to your extreme world perspective. JaakobouChalk Talk 16:43, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
You have clearly not read my comments above. This is not notable criticism; it is mere gossip, the comment of a journalist's unnamed friend who disagrees with an assessment by Shlaim in a "remarkable", "monumental", "excellent" book. This is not even worth noting, let alone presenting as a significant response. RolandR (talk) 17:02, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
Heyo RolandR,
Regardless of the supposed value of this book in regards to the issue of the history of the Jordanian monarch (the main topic), it is not the issue we're dicussing. This article puts at a focal point a note that he brings new and unique perspectives about Israel and Zionism (Read: anti-Zionist extremism). In that regards, a criticism written by an exremely mainstream journalist (for the past 45 years) on one of the largest newspapers in Israel is a good addition to the article. Your assesments here, tbh, seem not objective considering you are still walking around the issue raised. I'm still open, btw, to other suggestions that refer to the same issue I'm trying to deal with here (the focal point of the article could use a couple tiny paragraphs by mainstream critics).
p.s. Thanks for coming back to the talkpage to discuss and backing off from the faulty "right wing/propaganda" arguments.
Warm regards, JaakobouChalk Talk 20:50, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
You know...
It goes to show how my choice of content from a "rumor" was a notable issue when the Haaretz source makes note of it as well.
he does not hesitate to speak his mind, directly and even bluntly. "My own view is that the Balfour Declaration was one of the worst mistakes in British foreign policy in the first half of the 20th century,"[8]
Apparently, Haaretz believe it is bold and blunt. Israel Hayom, a larger publication, thought otherwise.
Thoughts/suggestions? JaakobouChalk Talk 20:58, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
I've just had the opportunity to check Shlaim's book, and am more convinced than before that this smear has no place in the article. The sentence quoted in Haaretz, as cited above by Jaakobou, is an accurate quote from the book. Which raises several points. First Shlaim describes the Balfour Declaration as "one of the worst mistakes", not as "the worst". So he is not, as Margalit's unnamed friend claims, stating that it was worse than Munich. Second, it is on page 8 (of the paperback edition), not page 27, as stated by Margalit in Israel HaYom. So it would seem that Margalit's friend, who did not get beyond page 8 of the book, misquoted Shlaim; and then either Margalit, or his friend, inferred from this that Shlaim was so blinded by hatred of Israel that he had taken leave of his senses ("That is what happens when the New Historians' hatred makes them lose their mind"). This is unfounded tittle-tattle, blown up into a controversy by sloppy use of a misquotation provided by an anonymous friend of a journalist who detests Shlaim. It really has no place in this article.
Which goes to show the importance of checking sources, particularly when writing a biography of a living person. RolandR (talk) 21:28, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
Heyo RolandR,
I have to say that you did good work here and I'm, now, convinced that Margalit's criticism is no longer fitting for the article.
Warm regards, JaakobouChalk Talk 22:23, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
OK, and we can agree to differ in our characterisation of Margalit, Israel HaYom, and Shlaim himself. So long as we agree that such comments, if included in articles, must be reliably and accurately sourced. RolandR (talk) 23:49, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
Heyo RolandR,
I have no issues if you yourself find Margalit on the right-side of your views. He is, however, a mainstream left-wing journalist for the past 45 years. Yossi Beilin and Zehava Galon might also be on your right, but they write for this newspaper (a.k.a. "right-wing propaganda rag"[9]) and have been clear members of the Israeli left-wing for many years. You made one errorneous argument. There's nothing horrible in that, but once its clear that you have - agree to move on; I've agreed to move on when it became clear that the criticism (regardless of who wrote it and where it was published) was innaccurate.
p.s. it wouldn't hurt if you read a few issues of the paper instead of coming to a conclusion on its merits based on Nuhi Dankner's (Yediot Ahronot's owner) fight for opinion control against it.
Warm regards, JaakobouChalk Talk 11:13, 24 January 2010 (UTC) add 11:15, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
As it happens, I have read it -- difficult to avoid when it is distributed free everywhere. But I prefer to pay for Haaretz, or even Yediot; I find Israel HaYom as trivial and uninformative as Metro or London Lite, which I also read when I find them lying on the tube. They take me about ten minutes from cover to cover. In its favour. it has a particularly accessible web archive. RolandR (talk) 12:31, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
And by the way, this is not the place to debate what constitutes "right" or "left" wing politics. But for my part, I don't find it useful to equate this with pro- or anti-occupation, or other views on the Israel-Palestine conflict. I use the termds to refer to positions on social, economiuc and class issues. There are people I consider on the right (Uri Avnery, for instance) who have strong anti-occupation views; while there are others on the so-called left (most of the Israel Labor Party, for instance) who do not. RolandR (talk) 12:41, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
In that sense then, I've no idea on where Margalit stands but Israeli definitions of right-left are usually not about liberalism/conservatism but about the level of importance you place on the old Israelite territory or the new Israeli territory. Back in 1948, extremists were those interested in teh territory held by Reuben's tribe. For a short decade, they were those who wanted to hold on to Judea and Samaria and Gaza. Now that Gaza has been given to the Palestinians, I figure the majority are still interested in giving away territory for peace but most are reluctant to believe that the current situation is "ripe". Margalit belongs to this group and still fits the Israeli definition of mainstream left-wing.
Warm regards, JaakobouChalk Talk 16:33, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

Criticism section mostly OR?[edit]

As far as I can see, with the exception of the first paragraph, the Criticism section does not actually contain criticisms of the subject that are attributed to reliable sources. Instead, it seems to contain information which the editors themselves have found by studying other literature in the field and which contradicts assertions made by Schlaim. The initiative to use these contradictions to "criticize" Schlaim would seem to be the editor's own (unless they have simply failed to attribute it in a clear way). In other words, the only attributed thing is the claims themselves, but the "criticism" is the editor's own, which makes it original research (WP:NOR). Sourced criticism would have to involve, at the very least, a source explicitly addressing and naming Schlaim as the author of the claim being disputed; even then I'm inclined to think that such things should be placed in the "criticism" section of an article about an event, fact or position, not in the criticism section of an article about a person that has said something about it. Otherwise, there would be no end to potential "criticisms": Aristotle wrote that the octopus is a stupid animal, but I, editor X, can find a biologist that says the octopus is unusually intelligent, and so I may include that in the article about Aristotle; Bill O'Reilly said this or that on this or that date, but editor X can find some reliable source that says the opposite, so I include it in the article about him; etc., etc.. Rather, for something to qualify as sourced criticism of an author, the cited source should contain an explicit attempt to assess the person being criticized or at least of a major part of his work. -- (talk) 14:40, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

Quite right. There is even a publisher's blurb about Gelber's book quoted as if it is part of the book. This can be fixed, since Gelber certainly does take explicit issue with some of what Shlaim wrote. But it has to be presented according to what Gelber wrote directly about Shlaim, not as it is now. Zerotalk 15:10, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
I agree with the principles that you put forward and I agree it would seem obvious that a "book" was not written to criticize Avi Shlaim's work but as writteh in the introduction : this book is an answer to Shlaim's theory... Discussing this with him, I can also confirm it was the aim of Yoav Gelber. Pluto2012 (talk) 17:15, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

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