Friday, January 11, 2008

Who is acting like the Nazis?

I am as ready to criticize Israel as the next guy. More ready than most, in fact. But it has to be said that for too many, Israel is the embodiment of all evil. Totally beyond the pale. As bad as Nazi Germany, and a worse offender of human rights then China; more oppressive of national minorities than Sri Lanka or Sudan; more dangerous to the world than Iran or the U.S. And this demonizing of Israel, well beyond legitimate criticism, is becoming more common. See this story form the JTA.

Ms. magazine rejected a pro-Israel advertisement from the American Jewish Congress.

The ad highlights successful women in Israel. It shows photographs of three prominent Israelis -- Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni and the president of the Supreme Court, Dorit Beinish -- above the words “This is Israel.”

Harriet Kurlander, the director of the AJCongress Commission for Women’s Empowerment, said in a news release that she was told when she tried to place the ad that it “would set off a firestorm” and that “there are very strong opinions” on the subject, which she believed to mean Israel.

“What other conclusion can we reach except that the publishers -- and if the publishers are right, a significant number of Ms. magazine readers -- are so hostile to Israel that they do not even want to see an ad that says something positive about Israel?” AJCongress President Richard Gordon asked.

Ms. magazine's executive editor, Kathy Spillar, told the JTA that the ad showed political support for one of Israel's parties and thus violated magazine standards.

"We only take mission-driven ads," Spillar said. "Because two of the women in this ad were from the same political party," that showed favoritism, and the magazine's policy is not to get involved in the domestic politics of another country.

Gordon noted that the magazine in its Fall 2003 issue ran a cover story on Jordan’s Queen Noor, and the Winter 2004 issue contained an article on the Ramallah Film Festival called “Images of Palestine.” ...

Ms. Magzines explanation is absurd (would they reject an ad about American women if it did not show equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats; would the "political imbalance" of this ad really caused howls of protest among its readers ?)

The AJCs assumption that Ms editors and/or readers are:

"so hostile to Israel that they do not even want to see an ad that says something positive about Israel?"

is clearly correct. It is a sad comment when people are so sure of themselves they don't want to hear anything that could challenge their world view. I thought the critical press was supposed to challenge conventional thinking. To reject a benign ad like this - because it would cause a firestorm - is either a sad lack or journalistic courage, or just plain bigotry on the part of Ms. editors.

Israel deserves to be criticized - severely and harshly IMO. It does not need - nor deserve - to be demonized as something beyond the pale of humanity. We know where that kind of thinking can lead.


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4:25 pm  

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