"You know the law - every son of Israel must have some occupation."
- Lew Wallace, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, Chapter IV
On September 26, The Los Angeles Times ran a short Calendar section item on new belated 50th anniversary, fully restored DVD and Blu-Ray editions of William Wyler's 1959 blockbuster biblical epic Ben-Hur. The film, which was based on an 1880 novel by former Civil War general and New Mexico territory governor Lew Wallace, is described by the paper as a "period drama [that] revolves around Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton 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."
As no innocuous (or factual) mention of "Palestine" goes unpunished, especially when the culprit is a major American publication, the Zionist advocacy group, The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), was immediately on the case.
The same day the Ben-Hur blurb appeared, CAMERA issued a call to its zealous supporters to contact the LA Times and complain about its usage of the term "Palestinian nobleman" to describe Ben-Hur's title character, claiming, "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."
Considering CAMERA's supposed interest in "accuracy", it should be noted that its condemnation calls Ben-Hur a "1951 Hollywood blockbuster." In reality, the film was released in November 1959.
Nevertheless, two days later, as a result of CAMERA's complain-campaign, the LA Times printed a correction to its original item. It apologized for referring to Ben-Hur as a "Palestinian nobleman" and continued:
"The character Ben-Hur was a Jew from Judea who lived long before the place now known as Palestine was given that name."Unfortunately, the paper was far too quick to issue this correction and should have checked some primary sources rather than merely rely on the flurry of emails and phone calls from outraged and misinformed Zionists for their historical information.
To call CAMERA's claim that "there was no such place as 'Palestine' in the time of Jesus" is a matter of revisionism is an understatement. The allegation is not only simply false, it is a deliberate lie.