Acceptable in Polite Society (A Commentary Magazine Blog)

The German word Salonfähig doesn’t have a precise English translation. The closest English can do is something along the lines of “acceptable in polite society.” Salonfähig came to mind when I got my first look at the outrageous cover of this week’s Time magazine. Against a light blue background is a Star of David composed of white daisies. “Blue and white” brought to you by Time. But in the middle of the star, in stark black letters, lies the title of this week’s cover story: “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace.”

Here we are in the middle of peace negotiations that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, insisted upon, and to which the president of the Palestinian Authority, Abu Mazen, had to be dragged, and Time writes about “why Israel doesn’t care about peace.” Is there no limit to the Israel-bashing that now passes for serious conversion in polite society?

The Web version of the story hardly even qualifies as journalism. It’s nothing more than a few sentences strung together, interspersed with links to a series of photographs.

The printed version, at least, has a thesis, and it’s not a bad one. Its claim is that Israelis don’t discuss the peace process much (true), that they have low expectations (true), and that they don’t care (also true). And why do Israelis not care?

Ah, here comes the rub. Part of the answer that Time offers is that Israelis have despaired of peace (though why that might be is never explicitly stated – Palestinian recalcitrance is never actually mentioned, like a dark family secret that everyone knows but that everyone hopes will go away if it doesn’t surface). Israelis have learned to build decent lives even in the face of the conflict, and the Palestinians are now a nuisance, not a strategic threat. That’s true, and a fair point.

But what about the rest of the answer that Time offers? Why are Israelis not more interested in the peace process? Money.

Yes, you read that correctly. The Jews are more interested in money than in peace. In four pages of text, the Israeli (Jewish) pre-occupation with real estate, startups, and high rises on the Ashkelon beaches is repeated again and again and again, like the refrain of a bad country song. “Newspapers print fewer pages of politics … and more pages of business news.” That’s news? How is that different from dozens of other papers throughout the world? It seems that this is important because now we’re talking about Jewish newspapers, and those stubborn Jews who “don’t care about peace” just print more and more pages of business news.

The Israeli economy is, indeed, doing well. And we Israelis have, indeed, built a good life for ourselves now that we’ve figured out how to squelch Palestinian terrorism, for the most part. And most us of would gladly sign a deal, if we could only be convinced that the West Bank won’t turn into Gaza and that a treaty would genuinely end the conflict. But by and large, we’re not convinced. The implication that Israelis are not overwhelmingly concerned about the peace process because we’re more interested in money is well … so stereotypical that it’s hard to believe that Time actually went that far. But that’s the world we live in. The line between Israel-bashing and Jew-baiting is so thin as to be nonexistent. And crossing the line is Salonfähig.

The editors at Time seem to have had a good time with this story. The first page of the article is a full-page photograph of an Israeli at the Tel Aviv beach. He’s got an enormous tattoo on his right arm (a Star of David, of course), dark sunglasses, and closely cropped hair. At first glance, he looks almost like a skinhead – and there’s an Israeli flag fluttering in the background. And then, the text starts by introducing us to Heli Itach, a real-estate agent. “The skull on her designer skirt is made of sequins that spell out ‘Love Kills Slowly.’” Which is relevant to the story because … because why?

Then, Heli speaks to the intrepid interviewer, Time’s correspondent. “You’re not client. I tell you the truth.” So she doesn’t speak English perfectly, and usually, she lies? (This is interesting, I assume, because in the rest of the world, real-estate agents regularly describe the properties in question perfectly objectively.)

And shortly later, still on the first page of text, we’re offered a comparison of life in secular Tel Aviv versus largely religious Jerusalem: “On a Saturday, when Jerusalem turns into a mausoleum in observance of the Jewish Sabbath,” Karl Vick writes. A mausoleum? Would any decent publication dare describe the quiet that descends over Arab villages and neighborhoods as people enter their homes to eat the post-Ramadan-fast meal as a “mausoleum”? Can one imagine a sentence describing some New Hampshire town on a Christmas Eve as “quiet and still like a mausoleum”? It’s unthinkable. But it’s not unthinkable to describe the capital city of the Jewish state, at a moment of quietude in observance of a several-thousand-year-old tradition, as a “mausoleum.” Dead. Rotting. AndSalonfähig again.

The worst, though, is still the cover. Across bookstore and airports this week, Time’s cover will scream to those who (wisely) do not read the story that it’s Israel, and Israelis, who simply don’t care about peace. It’s a setup, of course. Because these talks are likely to stall, and then to fail. And Time has already predicted whose fault that will be.

Will anyone react to this story? One certainly hopes so. There’s a line in the Rosh HaShannah liturgy, which many Jews will recite in just a few days, that reads tein kavod le-amekha, roughly translated as “restore some dignity to Your people.” It’s going to take more than prayer to do that, though, and more than a silent shaking of the head. Time will tell (no pun intended) whether Time’s decent readers will make it clear that they have had more than enough, that even today, even with appallingly low standards to which we have become accustomed, not everything is Salonfähig.

About Daniel Gordis

Dr. Daniel Gordis is Senior Vice President and the Koret Distinguished Fellow at Shalem College in Jerusalem. The author of numerous books on Jewish thought and currents in Israel, and a recent winner of the National Jewish Book Award, Dr. Gordis was the founding dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the University of Judaism.

52 Comments on "Acceptable in Polite Society (A Commentary Magazine Blog)"

  • The Teaching of Contempt

    The cover was appalling. I knew I was being manipulated to read it by its weird and inflammatory title. And I felt vindicated afterward…the title does not really represent the story; it sells magazines. The text is flimsy and treats dismissively a very important topic. The writer was doing his research in odd places (how was the beach?) and did he really think his respondents represent the Israeli people?

    The idea that money is the real interest of Israelis also shocked me. Is this writer just simple-minded or malicious? And the use of the word “mausoleum” was so bizarre…I was speechless. Let’s see if I have the hutzpa to use it this Christmas eve to describe my small village in western Massachusetts.

    Thank you for putting words to my outrage and pain.

    The pain has to do with this persistent feeling that things will never change… that people live to slander, misuse, attack, and then dump on Jews/Israel. And what does it matter to anyone if I suggest charitably that this reporter or that politician is misguided or under-educated? The result is the same. The venom is spread. One cannot apologize for slander; there is no taking it back. The damage is done and yet another group of people are being taught contempt for us. I do not want to be the pariah nation for the world!

  • Naomi Eisenberger says

    Not more than 15 minutes before the arrival of your piece in my inbox did I glance at the front cover of the Time magazine sitting on my dining room table with all of the other publications that had piled up in our late summer vacation absence.

    The cover caught me by surprise and so I stopped my work and started to read why “Israelis don’t care about peace”. I swear you must have been hiding in the corner of the room–each picture and each paragraph elicited a deep gasp…I am not sure which was more offensive–the text or the pictures.
    You are correct–it is a new low, even for Time. I cannot wait to read the apologists’ comments in next week’s Letters to the Editor.
    It IS a new world–I am happy to be on the far side of 60 as opposed to the opposite.

  • irwin kula says

    As Danny and many of those who have studied with us both know while I always respect and read Danny I almost never agree with him. So, I want to publicly say that here I agree with him 100%. The Time cover and article are so outrageous that I think Danny actually deserves incredible praise for remarkable restraint in even being able to write! There is an argument to be made – that we can and do as people who love the Jewish people and the State of Israel seriously argue about- regarding this particular Israeli government’s capacity or readiness to make peace but this article in Time not only does not make that argument but – and I never speak this way has crossed the line and is anti-semitic. I do not know what is more dangerous and disturbing – that it is anti-semitic unconsciously or consciously, that it got by editors who did not pick up on the obvious…that
    YAsher Koach Danny on being calm enough to write this post.
    Shanah Tova,
    respectfully,
    Rabbi Irwin Kula

  • nathan Laufer says

    Great piece, Danny. Fix one typo – end of second paragraph- you meant to write “conversation” not “conversion”.

    shanah tovah,

    Nathan

  • already posted to my facebook page – thank you for saying what needs to be said. we are sooooo glad you made aliyah!

    shana tova

    arnie

  • Daniel Kass says

    Excellent article!

    Unfortunately, we live in an incredible time for Jews. We have a great life, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, etc….However, these are not the best of times. There are more incidences of anti-semitism each year and the lead article in Time magazine is a perfect example.

    It seems like some of the indicators of the rise in anti-semitism parallel the late 1920’s and 1930’s in Germany. If that’s the case, we must be diligent to cultivate friends who will speak up and say that this is not acceptable.

  • Clifton Rothman says

    Excellent article because it is evidence based. Your book has some of the best ideas, also evidence based.
    Why do we never say why the Press is against Jews and Israel? When I grew up in the 1930’s the Christian clergy taught hate just as the Moslem clergy does today and much of European clergy still do. The press further spread that hate and hence we had World War Two.
    Much of that religious hate still persists and Israel is the Jew among the nations. Since almost all nations took part in the Holocaust, organiased by Germany and backed by the British Empire, we deal with an evil world, with one exception, The United States of America.
    Thank you for your good work.
    Clifton Rothman

  • I was disheartened when I read the time article last week. Disheartened because after coming so far from its very conservative roots, TIME takes a step back to reintroduce the old anti-Semitic link between Jews and money, disheartened because when Israel needs encouragement to seek a real solution this diversion takes away from that effort, and disheartened, too, because the picture the article paints, of people so inured to violence and attacks and disrespect, that they have no hope for peace, just isn’t true.

  • Jeffrey Donfeld says

    Would it not be a nice gesture for President Obama to evidence his “even handed” approach on the Middle East to excoriate the Time Magazine assasination of Israel?

  • Kay Ohana says

    I sent off a letter to the editor protesting the article, and will never buy another of their magazines.

  • juanita driggs says

    This is one of your better offerings. Not as long as the usual fare(thank you for that) and spot on.

  • Robert Vincent says

    Fortunately, as Bret Stephens pointed out in a similar column in the WSJ today, Time’s readership is plummeting. I take some comfort from the fact that the only people reading that rag probably came to the magazine thinking that way, so in net terms, one can at least hope that little “new” damage is being done.

    I’ve been involved in Israel advocacy at the grassroots level for about 13 years now. At 49 years old this month, I can say unequivocally, though, that these are the most anti-Semitic times I’ve seen. I’ve confirmed with WW2 vet friends of mine that these are the worst times in that respect since WW2. Here is yet more evidence, as if any were needed.

    I’m not sure that writing to the editor of Time is going to do any good. I’d wager that while they will print a couple of letters of protest, the majority publisehd will pile on the Jews/Israel in lynch-mob style. This is all contrived. Even if the protest letters outnumber the “fellow travelers” ten to one, Time will “selectively” print only a ratio out of the thousands they will receive in order to reinforce their editorial bias. That is as predictable as night follows day. I’ve seen this pattern at other major media venues that make a similar habit of bashing Israel, such as the New York Times.

    In my years of dealing with this issue, one thing I’ve learned is that for many of our enemies – e.g., the editorial staff of Time – facts, logic, reason, morality, mean NOTHING. It doesn’t matter how passionately you argue with them, they won’t change. If facts, logic, reason, morality were all it took to win this public debate, we’d have crushed our enemies in the court of public opinion long ago. More is at work here than that.

    It has been reported that Saudi Arabia along has spent – and this is publicly acknowledged, it may be even more – some two billion dollars a year for the past twenty years on various aspects of “public relations”. This funds “Islamic Centers” that propagate anti-Western filth. This endows “Chairs of Middle Eastern Studies” at universities across the land (Harvard alone has no less than three Saudi-endowed chairs). Their money is throughout the media. They – this is just the Saudis, not including other Gulf Arab or Iranian efforts – admit publicy to owning a 5% stake in Newscorp (that’s FOX and the WSJ), and some say it is a high as 20%. They own more of other media outlets. They lavish millions on lobbies and think tanks, and are VERY friendly with many Washington influentials (e.g., Colin Powell, James Baker III, James Jones – the current NSA – the list is very long).

    Any place where public opinion can be influenced against Israel – on college campuses, in the journalistic community, in the halls of government – the Saudis are there, dangling cash and complimentary Rolex watches.

    They have acted upon indigenous anti-Semitism in the West in much the way a passive night vision device functions, by taking ambient light and magnifying it thousands of times. This is part of their “jihad”.

    I don’t think it does much good to directly attack Time magazine by writing them. Articles like yours are good, Dan, just to let people know what is going on. But writing Time directly won’t change a thing. They just don’t care what we think. To them, we’re just a bunch of pushy, greedy, paranoid, Israel-loving Joos who care about Israel more than we do the U.S. (if we’re Americans). And if they are in financially bad straits, and getting worse, I’m fairly well convinced they’ve got Saudi friends who are happy to “lend a hand” so that they can keep bashing Israel.

    We should boycott them, to be sure, and encourage everyone we can to do the same. We need to publish where we can, and mobilize our friends to resist such garbage. Facts and logic are needed to educate/convince those who are sitting on the fence, who really are approaching the issue in good faith, and who need to have their inclinations reinforced, if they are on our side. But the forces behind what is responsible for the relevant cover of Time will not be moved by these. They need to be confronted and defeated outright; in their pocketbooks, at the polls, and on the battlefield, as the case warrants. That is the only way we can combat this.

  • G Cohen says

    Just cancelled my subscription. There are consequences in this world.

  • Steven David says

    While I didn’t read the time article, I must say that it’s true that many people superimposed stereotypical anti-semitic beliefs onto Israelis. This seems to be a the core of your problem with the article.

    However, we need to be careful not to make loose connections. If the article is criticising Israelis as money-driven, that doesn’t mean that the authors were criticising all jews as money-driven. In the end, a criticism of a government and social elite is not a criticism of all jewish people – that’s totalitarianism. With that being said, I disagree with the following:

    “The line between Israel-bashing and Jew-baiting is so thin as to be nonexistent.”

    I think we’re too afraid of dissent in our monolithic little country. We can’t take criticism not only from the authors of Time, but also from ourselves.

  • elvie says

    The problem it seems to me…is not just with those that are spreading anti semitism..the problem is also with us..the Jews….Because even if we are completely right…and unfairly sited..and completely misunderstood..sending e-mails to each other…..with explanations or rationalizations to gain support ..has value…but is not a solution to the realities that lie embedded in our history.

    In addition…..Israeli’s have valiantly fought the battles against the attacks Arab countries and won..and we have built a good life…..however, Hamas strategy seems to be…….”Come on in..we are ready for you….we will make a cemetary out of Gaza…….” and then after the Israeli enter….Gazians led them to schools and hospitals..and after great distruction….Gaza turns the focus of the world to the distruction of Gaza by Isreal..who they call Zionist Nazis…and away from how they purposely instigated this response with rockets and proclaiming that it is their right to reclaim the land they insist Israel stole from them…

    On sites all over the web….there are articles and commentators advocating hate of Israel who wags the tail of America…they say….and Zionist……they openly teach their hate Israel and the Western culture….. They have people from young to old, from uneducated who can barely piece together a coherent argument..to P H D’s and journalist……who often spin the truth……and if you were following their path of articles over the last year or two you would notice…..they have changed..and are feeling stronger and closer to the win….

    It is time for Jews to come out from under the yoke of “scapegoat”…..by understanding the war strategy has changed, Hamas seems to be writing the script and presenting the drama on the world stage….by refocusing attention from the reason the war took place……to the crimes of the power (which is Israel)to the victims (which is them_)….and therefore, they are justified in blaming and hating and rocket throwing..etc….

    Another strategy they use..is to shout over others…..forinstance: the only reason one would be angry at the Cultural Center near Ground Zero….is because one is a bigot…..and it does not matter what others say..and they are trying to gain control through the meme’s…and the people in power or in the public eye…..who support them.

    German Jews did well..economically, academically –they fought in germany’s wars — they strengthened their economy — they made major contribution and advancements to science ..and that did not save them. Hitler just taught his angry unemployed…that the Jews were an inferior group of people……and they…supposedly the most educated democracy in the world…mostly bought his lies…..

    It is time to understand..the history we keep repeating generation after generation..not just when the years are lean and we are being oppressed..but also when they are fat..for that is the time we are strong enough to help create a healthier world of attitudes values and a higher level of thinking……….from which we, along with humanity can benefit.

    .our history is based on……”and a new Pharoh who did not know of Joseph…or pretended not to know of Joseph…….in Egypt..in Spain…in Germany….etc…

    The lesson to learn is being wonderful and successful and not the problem…did not protect us……rationalize what a gift we are to the world…..and how well we are doing….did not work for us before…why should we expect it to work now?…….

    We are reactive rather than pro active. The time has come…to realize..that diverting anger to the Jews and now Israel….is the meaning of the word scapegoat and the role we have played in history.

    There are other problems……Jews need to be more sensitive to what is happening in the world. These are bad time for Americans…and Europeans citizens…..which is the time that anger can be harnessed amongst those hurting….

    This is the time…to recognize the old strategy has not worked for us…and to explore new methods of operation and self protection….for take heed..this article is just one little sample……of damage that has the potential to grow…..

  • Alan Katz says

    Thank you for this beautiful, succinct response. I wish that I still subscribed to “Time”, so that I could cancel my subscription in protest of this article. But I cancelled long, long ago because of “Time”‘s too liberal views and its generally anti-Israel tone.

    I love and would welcome a real peace but, as my rabbi once told me, more important than peace is people not getting killed or harmed. That has been largely accomplished, at least for now. Why risk that for an uncertain peace?

  • Charles S. says

    We had the privilege of having Dr. Gordis speak at our shul in New Jersey last November. His analysis then of “Why Israel is Necessary” was cogent and insightful, and his blog today is even more so on the reprehensible cover story in TIME magazine.

    As a long-time reader of TIME I am embarassed and ashamed at what passes for journalism in that article – it is little more than a thinly-disguised piece of “yellow journalism” that belongs in some radical political publication, not an established and mainstream news magazine. As Dr. Gordis points out, there is little “news” to be found in the TIME cover story – but just enough false and misleading characterization to do great damage to the fledgling peace efforts recently renewed.

    Shame on you, TIME magazine.

  • Michael Waterman says

    You hit the nail on the head. The only omission was that Israelis (and many Diaspora Jews) also realize that the deck has been stacked against them – they are publicly blamed by the U.N., most European nations for the troubles of the world, while the Arab nations are generally given a “pass”. It is racism at its worst – huge expectations of Israel and virtually no expectations of Arab nations and people. There is an attitude that we should expect Israel to have the highest regard for human rights, while “everyone” tacitly accepts the Arab nations’ hatred of women, homosexuals, non-Muslims and, even of allowing Palestinians to enter “their” countries as equals. Note that the Arab countries have failed to fund their pledges to the P.A.
    It’s sad that Time Magazine has bought into this as well.

  • Saul Gamoran says

    This issue of TIME will wreak untold damage into the subconscious of countless Americans who merely glance at the magazine’s cover. Your post is an eloquent refutation of a venomous piece of garbage. I agree with 99% of your post, however,you are mistaken in your claim that Israelis do not care about the peace process. On the contrary, Israelis care deeply about the peace process. Putting the peace process out of one’s mind has nothing to do with whether one cares about the peace process. For example, most cancer patients endeavor greatly to return to normalcy without constantly thinking or talking about whether the cancer will return. They care deeply; it’s just that they’ve concluded that the outcome is largely out of their hands, so they try not to think about it. So it goes with most Israelis and the peace process; there is cynicism, and even despair, but not apathy. Danny, if you have lost all hope in the peace process, please remember that a successful resolution to the conflict will come only when, some day, a peace process that is doomed to failure miraculously yields fruit. Let us never lose hope that this day will come. Shana tova.

  • perrie nordlicht says

    thank you so much for being so articulate in the face of such obvious bias. i am left speechless at this outrage and am grateful that you were able to formulate this intelligent, eloquent response.

  • Kay Ohana says

    I don’t think racist or racism are the correct words to use as Jews come in all colors. However, I’ve been thinking about a different idea, the problem isn’t just anti-Jewish or anti-Semitism. I’m beginning to think maybe its disappointment. The world is disappointed with us. I know there are going to be a lot of holes in my argument.

    The Jews gave the world the Torah, the teachings. The radical Jews have turned, twisted and revised the teachings until most of the core is no longer recognized. The secular Jews don’t pay much attention to it at all. Christianity took the core and again twisted it out of shape. Islam did the same thing, not only twisted the core, but in the end tossed it out and substituted something entirely different. But for all these thousands of years, mainstream Judaism has hung in there with the core intact. I think we are losing our core.

    A Reformed Rabbi converted me to Judaism, but it wasn’t an easy deal. I studied for years, and one of the things he taught was a “Reformed Jew was an informed Jew, and knew the difference between tradition and law.” I was required to learn those differences. Those traditions we wish to practice in our daily lives were fine. Law was not to be broken.

    There are those of our brethren who on Shabbat will stand on the street throwing rocks at those they think are dishonoring the Shabbat, dishonoring it themselves. This shameful activity will always make the media, as will the radicals who chose to disobey the secular laws. The radicals who chose not to defend Israel. They don’t even recognize themselves as being out of step with the times. There are so many Jews, bashing other Jews, the media if full of it, and its shameful, and the world sees.
    We who were given the Torah, and gave it to the world cannot live up to its standards of even of the Decalogue, so who are we to criticize others for not doing so? I often hear disparaging remarks “… and those are G-d’s chosen?” The full statement is, we were chosen to be a light unto the nations, and we have failed.

    What kind of light are we when our politicians are corrupt? When left or right extremists can sway our judges? When our military personnel haven’t been taught correct conduct towards prisoners? When the police act like thugs instead of trained peacekeepers? When the law of the land doesn’t apply to all citizens equally? When some citizens can disregard the law of the land? When the world sees through the eyes of a self-described lying real estate agent, a beach stud, and a prejudiced reporter?

    Someone said to me in an email in response to my query as to what is happening in Israel today: “to put myself in the position as a shepherd who has to lead this flock. He doesn’t know where they should be going, they don’t know where they want to go, and everyone is pulling in the direction that he deems as good for him.” I was inclined to remark, then “get a couple of good sheep dogs, round them up and herd them in the correct direction.” Problem is, who is going to choose their shepherd.

    Yes, Israel and Jews, religious and secular are held to a higher moral standard than any other country or people in the world.

  • Jonathan Cohen says

    This is the response, titled “Pushing Up Daisies” that I sent to Time:

    Your recent cover showing an array of daisies arranged in the form of a Magen David was very eloquent.

    Clearly, it represents what your author, your editors, and your friends in the Arab world think about the Jewish State.

    All of you are simply stating that the Jews of Israel should be “six feet under”, “pushing up daisies”.

    Just as we thanked Arafat for his clarity in talking about a redrawing of Israel’s borders (“we want it all”), we thank you all for telling us where the Jews should be.

  • Robert Vincent says

    I don’t agree with your analysis, Kay.

    Does Israel need to be “perfect” in order to be worthy of support vis-a-vis the Arabs? The woman-stoning, child-molesting Arabs? (The UN estimates that there are 50 million child brides in Moslem SW Asia/NE Africa, between the ages of ten and fourteen, and some even younger than that; this isn’t isolated perversion, IT IS THE NORM).

    No, I’m sorry, but Jews are human beings, and like other groups of human beings, we’ve got our share of shmucks, but you look at what Israel has accomplished against the odds she has faced and continues to face, against an adversary with NO moral floor (you mean there are armies at war who NEVER mistreat prisoners?…give me a break!)

    Look, even Colonel Richard Kemp, the former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan – and someone like him would surely know the kind of enemy Israel fights – testified before the UN that no army in HISTORY did more to protect the lives of civilians than the Israeli army in Gaza.

    Enough with the “Jewish guilt trip”, puleeeze. We “disappointed” the world…rubbish! No, quite the oppposite, they hate us – to the extent that they really do, and I don’t think it would be near as bad if it weren’t “encouraged” by petrodollars – because we show them up for what they fail to accomplish.

  • Moshe Werthan says

    Why is anyone still shocked by Time magazine? We cancelled our subscription more than 20 years ago due to its anti-Israel bias. As a typical Israeli, I value my MONEY too much to buy that trash.

  • There is another difficult-to-translate German word that applies to this kind of scribbleritis; the word is Stallgeruch, and its sense is the distinctive odour by which one can tell which clan or tribe someone hails from. (In this case perhaps heils from?)

  • Bernie Cohn says

    Coincidentally I cancelled my subscription two weeks before this offensive cover story came out. I trust I avoided a big rush of like minded folks. I read this ugly article in a waitng room in a library and was extremely offended at such slanted narrow vision “jornalism”. I think TIME owes an apology to Jewish people everywhere.
    I had been a subscriber for fifty years and will never pay for any product they put out.Bernie Cohn

  • As I’ve just responded on the TIME website:

    Sadly, I’ve grown very accustomed, over the last number of years to the reality within the mainstream media: “good news” from Israel is inevitably “no news”. As far as the MSM is concerned, it’s just not fit to print.

    Notwithstanding this reality, I don’t think I ever envisaged the day that a so-called respectable magazine, such as Time, would abandon all journalistic ethics so that “good news” from Israel has, in effect, been obscenely warped into, well, “bad news” about Jews.

    [followed by some excerpts from this post]

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2015602,00.html#ixzz0yvE6wp5v

    And I’ve also used extended excerpts in a post on my own blog today:

    http://hro001.wordpress.com/2010/09/07/a-tale-of-two-prejudices-the-tides-of-time-and-time/

  • Ofer Vilenko says

    Great article.

    Exactly my sentiment.

    At the risk of being labeled naive, maybe if Time will encounter a few fierce web protests and hopefully some ad revenue will be taken from them we will hear a more balanced tune.

    Sad to see how a serious publication degraded to a rag

  • Ben Dor A. says

    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.

    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.

    I guess that de-legitimizing the state of Israel and its people (the Jews) is now contemporary, otherwise how to sell the magazine to anti-Semites and Jew haters?

    Following the footsteps of Der Sturmer will get them plenty of attention and coverage.

    If you still subscribe to Time Magazine, or receive it for an office waiting room, reconsider continuing the subscription. BE SURE IF YOU DISCONTINUE THE SUBSCRIPTION TO EXPLAIN WHY.

    For subscription cancellations call:

    1-800-843-8463

    https://secure.customersvc.com/wes/servlet/ShowTD

    • If your doctors or dentists display Time in their waiting rooms, tell them about the magazine’s incitement to anti-Semitism and ask them not to display it.

    •Contact Time’s advertisers to express displeasure about their use of a magazine that believes it can market itself with provocative, anti-Semitic and anti-Israel tropes.

  • Ricardo says

    This just emphasizes the fact that time is a very much a lightweight in journalism, that panders to its audience. May I have an example when time provided a good, useful analysis on ANY subject?

  • elvie says

    Dear Ben Dor A,

    thank you for suggestions of discontinuing Time Magazine..after all..hitting a business in the profits and popularity is the best incentive towards change.

    Additionally, could we open a space for suggestions……of change?

  • I would add my voice to those of my friends and teachers who have praised this article. I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Having said that, I have a hard time reconciling the fact that the same person who wrote this piece just a few days ago wrote the article you posted about the Muslim Center in Lower Manhattan.

    http://danielgordis.org/2010/09/03/the-ground-zero-mosque/

    It seems as though in this piece you were guilty of the very sins that you accurately attributed to Time Magazine.

  • Peter Shalen says

    Mr. Gellman, I read Mr. Gordis’s piece about Cordoba House, and I have no idea what connection you see between the concerns expressed there and the bigotry exhibited by Time. If you think there is a connection you should explain what it is, instead of writing “It seems as though…” and letting people try to guess what you might be talking about.

  • Itzchak Shai says

    I find this article sad and very disapointing.
    Yes, being Jewish or Israeli thee days is not easy.
    This article is an example of a new fashion wave which mimics that of Europe’s 1930’s.

    People find it hard to think for themselves and rather join the crowds to vent anger and agree with poor articles or slogans.

    Some one should wake them up.

  • E. Orenstein says

    A young guest from Israel recently asked me: Why do they hate us? It broke my heart but I had no answer for her. But why would Time print such a horrendous article? For money; it sells copies. They are the low-lives selling their souls for money.

  • Lorraine says

    I just visited Time’s website to try and post about Mr. Vick’s disgusting article.(gotta keep those petro dollars hard at work!) There are over 500 comments and they are no longer allowing any! The most vicious anti Semites have found yet another place to spew their hatred. Oh, and by the way, did you know that for $15.95 you can buy a copy of that beautiful cover to frame and hang on your wall to be memorialized in perpetuity?? Then you can remind yourself every day that Israel is to blame for the lack of peace. So what’s new in the world?

  • Laurie Star Lynn says

    Is this more evidence of “Here We Go Again”?
    I knew as a kid that Time was no more than yellow journalism. (I lived abroad in many places where Time consistently misrepresented and sensationalized events). If I hadn’t already cancelled my subscription, I would certainly do it now. I only wish I had anough clout to pull some ads… It isn’t enough for Jews to be outraged. I’m not Jewish, but I can read and understand history. I find it most chilling that there are so few voices raised in outrage.

  • Peter Shalen says

    Steven David: “Afraid of dissent”? “Monolithic little country”? Are you sure you’re talking about Israel? Maybe an Israel in some parallel universe?

  • Mel Gross says

    Show me the money! Disgusting, bias and hurtful. Time Magazines stooping to this level unknowingly, don’t beleive it.
    I read all the comments before mine and all I can say it thank you.

  • John says

    Thank you very much for saving me the trouble of reading the trashy story in Time. Naturally, the cover caught my eye in the grocery store, and I wondered first about the timing of the “story.” Why now? Obviously because “peace talks” were recently held. I guess the good people at Time decided that there hadn’t been enough Jew-baiting or Jew-bashing recently. I’ve written a few times to journalists who use the expression “the Jews.” I’ve never liked it. Who would? No one writes about “the African-Americans” or “the Latinos.” It’s the kind of expression that’s reserved for Jews, and it means “those others, over there…that group of outsiders.” Thanks again for your fine post.

  • Chagrined says

    How refreshing that Karl Vick speaks the truth. Karl Vick is exercising his cherished First Amendment freedom, freedom of the press for which many brave people, including mine, excluding Jews, fought, sacrificed and died. Any insidious ingrate in this country who is too fragile for our First Amendment Freedoms should find another country! Bon Voyage!

    Jews ‘partly responsible’ for their troubles: Churchill

    The Second World War prime minister Winston Churchill argued that Jews were “partly responsible for the antagonism from which they suffer” in an article publicised for the first time Sunday.

    Churchill made the claim in an article entitled “How The Jews Can Combat Persecution” written in 1937, three years before he started leading the country.

    He outlined a new wave of anti-Semitism sweeping across Europe and the United States, which was followed by the deaths of millions of Jews in the Holocaust under the German Nazi regime.

    “It would be easy to ascribe it to the wickedness of the persecutors, but that does not fit all the facts,” the article read.

    “It exists even in lands, like Great Britain and the United States, where Jew and Gentile are equal in the eyes of the law and where large numbers of Jews have found not only asylum, but opportunity.

    “These facts must be faced in any analysis of anti-Semitism. They should be pondered especially by the Jews themselves.

    “For it may be that, unwittingly, they are inviting persecution — that they have been partly responsible for the antagonism from which they suffer.”

    The article adds: “The central fact which dominates the relations of Jew and non-Jew is that the Jew is ‘different’.

    “He looks different. He thinks differently. He has a different tradition and background. He refuses to be absorbed.”

    Elsewhere, Churchill praised Jews as “sober, industrious, law-abiding” and urged Britons to stand up for the race against persecution.

    “There is no virtue in a tame acquiescence in evil. To protest against cruelty and wrong, and to strive to end them, is the mark of a man,” he wrote.

    The article was discovered by Cambridge University historian Richard Toye in the university’s archive of Churchill’s papers.

    At the time, Churchill’s secretary advised him it would be “inadvisable” to publish it and it never saw the light of day.

    Churchill was voted the greatest Briton ever in a nationwide poll held by the BBC in 2002.

  • Jack Bieler says

    “Al Nakba” (Israel) is the hand of Allah. Does it happen without his will? The awakening of the People of the Book is the return home of an elder brother. The catastrophe is the Arab refusal to accept their kinsmen, and it is being suffered primarily by the Palestinian Arabs.

  • Chagrined, what is your point? Of course Vick has the right to publish his hate-filled trash, and others have the right to call it what it is.

    At least Vick writes under his real name, as I do (and I’ve linked to my web page). You claim that you belong to a “brave people” and that I don’t, and yet you hide behind a pseudonym.

  • Lynn says

    Every time you fill up your car you are supporting this type of trash from Time that passes for journalism, as well as the spin machine of the anti-“anyone not muslim” attitudes that are funded by many of the Arab nations. So don’t just cancel your magazine subscription. Get an automobile with a very high mpg or an electric car. Support alternative energies such as wind and solar. Support research and development of new technologies for electricity storage so we can drive without a single drop of Arab oil.

  • m. meyer says

    Dr. Gordis
    I think the Israelis do care about peace!
    Marjorie Meyer

  • Yonatan Glaser, Israel says

    I published this on a forum I recently joined and wanted to share it:
    “For a really nuanced (and blistering) analysis of the article, that makes Susan Weisinger’s accurate comment that the content was not as bad as the content pale into insignificance, see Daniel Gordis’s insightful yet incomplete article here: http://danielgordis.org/2010/09/07/acceptable-in-polite-society-a-commentary-magazine-blog/ . Why incomplete? Because for all the outrage we should rightly muster against the article, those who published it and those who create the environment in which it is seen as acceptable, or ‘Salonfähig’ (you just have to read Gordis’ piece…), we must not miss the opportunity to reflect – especially at this juncture – on whether we really do care about peace. That our critics and enemies attribute to us outrageous qualities, intentions or actions is used again and again as a ‘cover’ to dodge the really hard questions we ought to be asking ourselves. For all the failures of the past, all the opportunities the Palestinians have given us to blame them for the lack of progress, we commit a profoundly un-zionist act when we hand others the keys to the future. If we truly cared about peace, we would mobilize massively, consistently, creatively, resiliently, coherently, across all parts of society (government, civil society, business, etc) and not rest for a moment till our goal was reached. Yet careful observers of Israel society will see that events like the Flotilla – an inexcusable outpouring of anti-Israel sentiment – are actually seized upon by Israel to provide a respite for having to live up to our real mission which is to pursue peace (and, with it and after it, justice…).”

    So while I applaud Daniel’s nuance, insight and accuracy in relation to the article, it is – despite the intelligence it belies – actually part of the problem. Does pursuing peace really animate us as a collective? I invite you to wonder what our – Israeli and Jewish people’s policies, programs, budgets, culture, philanthropic efforts, literature, music (you get the point) would look like if we were even half the peace-seeing nation we paint ourselves to be. The idea that ‘a poll would show Israelis prefer peace’ is a serious indicator of our real deep held values is an indication of how ‘thin’ the meaning of us being a Am Rodef Shalom (People that pursues Peace) has become. While we need to keep pointing the finger and speaking up when others are out of line, we should not allow others’ sins to be the occasion for a self-congratulatory discourse with which we simply flatter ourselves and refuse to look at the facts of OUR lives as they are and the values – apparently quite conflicted and messy – which the facts indicate we apparently hold.

  • Karen says

    I stopped reading TIME magazine in 1980, after spending the summer on kibbutz and coming back to the US to see how much of what they reported out of the middle east had absolutely no relationship to the way I saw things. I was 18 years old then, and I can say that I haven’t missed this magazine. I wasn’t aware of the issue until I read this essay, sent to me by my rabbi. Thanks for writing it, it is quite on point.

  • Beny says

    Being raised singing “Shalom Aleichem”, “Osse Shalom Bimromav”, etc, etc – 99% of Hebrew songs talk about peace, how we long for the day we’ll be able to live in peace with our neighbors…not just we’re far from that day, now we’re supposed to quietly listen to all these LIES and for the sake of “freedom of expression” let them distort reality? TIME is repugnant. What can we do about it? I already cancelled my subscription a long time ago – it’s TRASH – but is it OK to let it spread more anti-semitism based on total non-sense biased BS?

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