by Ricki Hollander
As we approach the Jewish New Year 5771, the Jewish state is again under attack. Middle East figures call for the eradication of Israel while a global campaign is underway to delegitimize the nation, her leaders, army and society.
Unfortunately many in the mainstream media play a role in this alarming delegitimization, not least of all the mainstream media outlet, Time Magazine. In its Sept. 13 edition, Time shocked many readers with a cover image of a large Magen David (Jewish star) comprised of daisies with the title “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace.” The article by newly appointed Jerusalem Bureau Chief Karl Vick, while not quite as slanderous as the cover, nevertheless contains fallacies and invokes anti-Semitic stereotypes of Israeli Jews for whom money is allegedly paramount, more important than concern for “the Arabs who used to live on this land.” Accompanied by numerous photographs of Israelis lounging at the beach, in the park and in cafes, the piece suggests on the basis of a few interviews with Tel Aviv yuppies and left-wing academics and journalists, that Israel’s current successful economy and previous failures in peace negotiations have made Israelis hestitant about embarking on new negotiations with the Palestinians. A very abbreviated version of the article is available online.
Why did Time choose to sensationalize a vapid article with such offensive imagery and such a defamatory headline?
On his CNN television program, “Reliable Sources,” host Howard Kurtz asked Time Managing Editor Richard Stengel just that:
But the headline is a bit of a marketing gimmick, because it suggests that Israel doesn’t want to participate in the peace process, despite the meetings that started this week in Washington. And when you read the story it’s as you described. So, obviously, you’re trying to draw people in with a provocative headline?
Stengel who had proclaimed the piece “a kind of conceptual scoop,” acknowledged that the headline was meant to provoke (and presumably, by extension, to sell more magazines), justifying it by suggesting it may be true:
Yes, it’s provocative headline, it’s provocative thesis. I mean, there are plenty of people who argue, as you know, Howie, that, in fact, Netanyahu is just giving the appearance that he actually wants peace, and to negotiate, because really he wants the U.S. to help him with Iran. And that may in fact be true.
Of course, the employment of anti-Semitic tropes is not new to Time magazine. A profile of Israeli leader Menachem Begin during the 1977 Camp David negotiations, began by flippantly invoking Dickens’ Jewish villain in Oliver Twist (“Begin rhymes with Fagin”).
The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens recalls this in his analysis of Time’s striking departure from ethical journalism.
Victor Davis Hanson also weighs in on the article’s anti-Semitic stereotyping on National Review’s blog, “The Corner.”
Phyllis Chesler analyzes the defamatory nature of the article here.
And Gary Rosenblatt comments in a blog post for New York’s The Jewish Week.
Why didn’t Time choose to “provoke” with the far more truthful headline “Why the Palestinians Reject Peace” and an article that examined Palestinian rejectionism or their readiness to utilize deadly violence in place of peaceful negotiations?
It seems Time believes anti-Semitism, rather than truthful analysis, sells more magazines.
In an environment where Israelis and Jews are increasingly demonized as unworthy of possessing a sovereign state of their own, Time Magazine’s decision to run the article and cover is not only a violation of journalistic standards of objectivity and accuracy, but an incitement to hatred.