TIME Magazine hits the stands today with its weekly issue – and with one explosive cover. I happen to be quite a fan of TIME – it is hands down one of my favorite publications – and I have been a regular reader for well over a decade. But I have only one word for its brand-new cover – it is nothing less than vile. No, I take that back. I actually have two words. It is vile and antisemitic.
TIME’s cover story is boldly titled “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace.” The cover presents this outrageous title wrapped in a daisy-chain Star of David. How nice.
Personally, I find it rather incredible that after Israel had made peace with longtime bitter enemies Egypt and Jordan – giving up tremendous amounts of territory and oil reserves, and evacuating a large number of settlements in the process; after Israel withdrew from the Gaza strip – evacuating more settlements – to give the Palestinians a chance to start building a peaceful state of their own; after Israel offered an unprecedented amount of territory, including East Jerusalem for their capital, to the Palestinians in 2000; and after all this has been answered by nothing but decades of violence, bombs, and rockets against its civilians from Palestinians who still refuse to even put Israel on a map – after all this, the one thing TIME can manage to write at the start of another peace process is that Israelis do not care enough about peace? Really? That is the one notable thought that comes to mind?
And even if that truly is the only thought that TIME feels is worth commenting on at this junction in history – they could have used an Israeli flag on the cover, no? And this is where this cover morphs from just offensive, into straight antisemitism. A story on Israeli attitudes about peace – presented with a Star of David? The most-recognized, universal symbol for Jews? Forget those uncaring Israelis – it’s those war-mongering, uncaring Jews we all need to worry about, of course.
We hear time and time again these days how we should not lump the attitudes of one subgroup of a religion with the entire religion. But of course, that doesn’t apply to the Jews. Let’s make them all seem responsible for anything Israel does. Hey, Israel’s actions (and now apparently thoughts) justify violence against Jews in France all of the time, right? Why should we here be any better?
But I’ve said enough about the cover itself – let me now tell you a little bit about the story.
Like I said, I’m a longtime dedicated reader of TIME. And normally, their cover stories are major, multi-page, elaborate, well-sourced affairs. For instance, late July’s cover: a 4-page, elaborate investigation of what will happen to Afghan women if the U.S. withdraws and the Taliban returns to power. Or last week’s cover: another 4-page investigation into why homeownership may no longer be economically viable. Next week will cover what measures are being taken by states to improve America’s schools. Impressive, right?
But this story? As far as I can tell from the preview version, the author interviews precisely 2 real estate agents. Who conveniently work in one office – probably to save himself walking time. He offers no statistics or hard numbers – aside from a single poll back in March (we are not told who was polled, or by whom) – which tells us that Israelis are worried about things like crime and national security, too, and not only the bombs. Well, gee.
I guess if these real-estate agents sold 12 apartments last week that must really mean something. Is 12 a lot, or a little? Nevermind that yes, they are selling, but for half what they are worth in Tel Aviv – because Ashdod (the city in question) is within rocket range of Gaza! And these agents dare talk about interest rates in a real-estate office! How non-socially conscious of them!
I bet if I went around the U.S. and interviewed 2 random real estate agents, I could write just about any article I wanted, too. For instance, that the U.S. is turning to communism. Or Islamic fascism. Or alternatively, is about to start arresting and shooting immigrants on sight. Can I get a job like that for Time?
But the lack of any actual evidence doesn’t stop this author from making the big pronouncements. Like:
Israelis are no longer preoccupied with the matter. They’re otherwise engaged; they’re making money; they’re enjoying the rays of late summer.
What does that even mean? How could you possibly back up whether Israelis are preoccupied with something or not? Are you just saying so? They are making money and enjoying the sunshine? What kind of reporting is that? How many of them? Are they really enjoying the sunshine? Or suffering from the heat? And does that mean you can’t be in danger when it’s sunny?
And shame on them for daring to actually, you know, still have jobs, and enjoy the weather (which I hear has actually been extremely hot and unpleasant lately), while there is no peace. I guess a caring people would just sit around at home all day, unemployed and miserable. (I suppose nobody told this guy that Gaza’s beaches have recently been reported to be full, as well. I guess they, too, do not care).
The story ends with another brilliant contribution from those prolific real-estate agents:
The people, Heli says, don’t believe. … People in Israel are indifferent. … They live in the day.
Of course Israelis “live in the day.” They all know they might die the next day. But I guess that would land you with a different conclusion that this author cares to draw. See how easily you can make 2 people’s quotes mean anything you like? Or perhaps nothing at all? And this they call a cover story?
Funny how journalistic standards seem to go right out the window the minute Israel enters the picture. Amazing how TIME manages to write about charter schools, or Afghan women, by doing more than just interviewing 2 New Jersey moms, or 2 women on the street in Afghanistan. But I guess Israel is just so different that any random, poorly-sourced trash can land on the TIME Magazine cover, with a big Jewish star attached.
I don’t normally like to write about my family, since that’s personal, but just this once, I’ll make an exception. My mother has been a dedicated reader of TIME Magazine for many, many years. She told me last week that she is now canceling her subscription. No publication (no matter how good generally) that places a giant Jewish symbol on its cover, with a basically-made up story about how Israelis are getting rich, and don’t care about peace, is getting her money any longer. I sincerely hope she’s not the only one.
Note: I read the preview story online last week. If you would like to read it for yourself (which I do not necessarily recommend), may I suggest you do the same, and read it for free online, instead of paying for an issue of TIME at the news stand? No magazine should get even $5 of your money for this kind of outrageous excuse for “reporting.” The story is available for free online here.
[Image: Time Magazine]
I really appreciate your response to this vile Jew-baiting. I think it would be great to have such a response in a National fourm like the NY Times, or do you think that would put more fuel on the flames?
The Time article is shamefully pathetic. Since when does (or did) Tel Aviv represent most of Israel?????
Thank you for your comments.
Personally, I think it would be great to see this covered in a national publication like the New York Times or Washington Post, and I have been watching for any such coverage today, but so far, I have seen nothing on a national level.
I think TIME is a major enough publication that it couldn’t make it any worse – enough people have already seen it. So in my opinion, it can only be an improvement to draw attention to just how outrageous this is.
I think the media, and certainly the national media, now wields tremendous power as far as which issues do and do not get raised up to national awareness, and are spoken about, and my hope would certainly be that they exercise that power responsibly (though I must admit I am often disappointed).
The message we seem to be sent is: “if you scream and shout a lot, and threaten a whole lot of violence over being offended, we’ll cover it as a major and offensive issue; if you’re offended quietly – then sucks for you, must not be so bad then.” Seems like the kind of system that would have priviledged Malcolm X and the Black Panthers over Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks back in the day.
Incidentally, I would like to note that the TIME managing editor, Richard Stengel, recently told MSNBC that “they haven’t had a car bombing in two and a half years, and the sad truth really is that the wall with the West Bank has actually worked.”
Sad truth, indeed. Just terrible. I’m just devastated that more Israeli civilians are not being blown up every day in their cars. It’s just heart-wrenching that security measures actually work to protect innocent people in Israel.
So I guess we know where the TIME editors stand. I’m just waiting for him to next say that 9/11 was a good thing, since it opened America’s eyes to Al-Queda’s understandable grievances against us.
On a slightly bright side, a newly released poll shows that nearly 60% of Americans believe that the Israeli Prime Minister is committed to making peace with the Palestinians, and Americans, by a 6 to 1 margin, believe that Israel is more committed to reaching a peace agreement than the Palestinians are. So I guess the writers and editors of TIME must be in a real isolated minority on this one. But I guess they must be living with some version of truth of their very own.
Very good point.
I was particularly taken aback by the photo that accompanied the online version of the story.
In the picture, we see 4 Israeli men sitting on the beach, smoking a nargillah.
Of course, to an American, it would look like they’re smoking marijuana.
Very few Americans are aware of the traditional use of nargillahs with fruit-flavored tobaccoes all over the Middle East.
And of course, there is no caption explaining this, either.
Way to make Israelis look like a bunch of pot-heads.
And I won’t even go into the photo in the magazine itself, of the guy with the tattoos. Given how rare tattoos are in Israel – which until recently had issues with Jewish burial with tattoos, and where tattoos have such a serious stigma because of the Holocaust – they must have walked all around the country looking for that one guy to photograph. But I’m sure he really represents “the real Israel.”
A professor of mine, David Cobin, once taught that the cure to speech we don’t like isn’t censorship, it’s more speech. I agree, and my challenge the past few days has been trying to figure out what to say. I do not politically agree with all Israelis any more than I politically agree with all people from the United States, or even from Minnesota. However, I consistently abhor hypocrisy. If we believe in freedom of religion in the United States as we say we do – then we have an obligation to back that up especially when it makes us uncomfortable. If we are going to celebrate the Statue of Liberty and maintain her as a national symbol, or a flag that claims we know something about our history and have some sense of national unity – a unity that include everyone in our nation, all of our people, whether or not we always get along or like one another – then we’d better stand by those ideals when it isn’t easy. People are complicated, people’s stories (and each person has more than one) are nuanced, about any issue we should always have more questions than answers, and journalism should expect a higher standard from itself than this Time article demonstrates. I don’t have to like the conclusion, but if you are a journalist at least give me something real to grapple with as I follow you on the journey to get there and understand where you are coming from. I believe many Palestinian people want peace DESPITE the fact that if I only paid attention to bombings, hateful rhetoric, that Gilad still hasn’t been released, that Israel doesn’t even show up on the political map in many places as though the denial of its very existance will just make it go away, the way the UN treats Israel and who the primary UN players are, and so much more I could come to a very different conclusion. I’m all for Time having a cover article wrestling with questions of peace, or bringing to light things people would rather pretend aren’t happening. However, this article doesn’t do either.
Shana Tova & Chatima Tova! First, thank you for this – very passionately and well stated….I want to add, however, I am both an American and Israeli, and frankly, Jewish people and Israel aren’t separate, and should never be. Our fate as Jewish people is entirely tied up with Israel, and not only because it is our truest home. What I mean is, if Israel falls (God forbid!), all Jewish people fall: our center of gravity in terms of history, identity, culture, and essence is there. Several Jewish Americans get touchy about this, but if we were to experience an alternate reality where Israel wasn’t refounded or was obliterated, my point would be born out. We don’t need to and shouldn’t wait for any such occurrence to realize this, though. All the proof you need is here, now, ever since the intensification of trying to delegitimize Israel’s right not just to defend itself, but even exist, has happened we see things precisely like this mainstream magazine’s article, and attack on all Jewish people. Israel is our hope, our protection, our home, our future, our legacy, and our salvation. AM YISRAEL CHAI! I urge us all to really consider the meaning and ramification of those words – our continued existence depends on it….
Head’s up – to those who’ve wondered when this might be noticed by the national news media – The Los Angeles Times yesterday ran an editorial by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, responding to the TIME piece. So maybe there is some hope, yet.
Admittedly, so far, no one seems to have noticed the offensive elements of the TIME piece, but still, this is at least some progress.
Ambassador Oren’s excellent piece is available here:
I am just wondering – with all the negative attention this vile, flippant, nonchalantly antisemitic cover story has brought to Time Magazine, has Mr. Stengel, or anyone else in a position of editorial authority apologized or replied in any way? Just imagine if Islamic symbols were used by Time Magazine on the cover this way to revile Muslims and Mohamedism what an international outcry there would be. At a time when claims are heard that America is Islamophobic and crimes against Muslims are on the rise, let them point out that antisemitic acts are five times as high as those against Muslims, but you can’t find that in the mainstream media.
At this point, no one from TIME Magazine, and certainly not the editor, has stepped up to apologize for this piece.
In fact, Richard Stengel, TIME’s editor, actually went on MSNBC to *defend* the piece, instead.
(I’d like to point out that in many publications, the editors write all the headlines, so Mr. Stengel’s may have actually been personally responsible for that most offensive element of this coverage, especially given that it was on the cover).
That interview with MSNBC was also where Mr. Stengel so wisely stated that in his opinion, it is a “sad truth really is that the wall with the West Bank has actually worked.”
Videos of his interview with MSNBC are available all over the internet, if you’d like to see the rest of it for yourself.
Incidentally, I absolutely agree that had the TIME cover featured a half moon and star, with a statement about Muslims not caring about peace in the Middle East, the worldwide outcry, and accusations of bias, would have been tremendous.
The question of why there is such a major double standard around how Americans (and Europeans) allow themselves to write about Muslims vs. about Jews is a larger question than I can address here.
Thank you for your article. I have been saying times are changing for a long time, but nothing can prepare you when it happens. I’m really shocked, you pointed out some very poor journalism. How can they get away with it?
Beit Shemesh Israel