Maybe not ‘anti-Semitic,’ perhaps Time is ‘anti-semantic’
By Bruce S. Ticker
PHILADELPHIA — Editors at Time Magazine may be unfairly accused of anti-Semitism, but they are reckless with their semantics. As experienced journalists, they should understand that misleading language can be dangerous.
The magazine’s Sept. 13 cover headline – “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace” – brought its editors condemnation from supporters of Israel. The Anti-Defamation League slammed the Time article for stressing Israelis’ inclination to make money.
Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight, a staunch gentile supporter of Israel, called Time “anti-Semitic” because of the headline and its accompanying article inside which contends that Israelis are apathetic toward the peace process with the Arabs.
Karl Vick, the writer, indeed succeeds in reaching this conclusion. Who can blame the Israelis?
Hostilities resulted from the offer of a Palestinian state in 2000 and withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.
Personally, I long ago ceased understanding what Israel gets out of negotiating a pact with Arabs over Israel’s territories.
Vick and his editors made three mistakes. First, a Time spokesman boasted that the article is a scoop. Oh yeah? A Newsweek article reached the same conclusion last January.
The article carelessly states: “They’re otherwise engaged; they’re making money; they’re enjoying the rays of late summer.”
No doubt that claim is factually true for many Israelis, but the phrase “they’re making money” is delicate wording when applied to Jews, who have been stereotyped as greedy throughout the ages.
The most gaping blunder is the headline, which presumes that Israel is apathetic to peace.
“Peace” is not what Israelis need from Arabs in the territories. They already have a relative level of peace within Israel proper. Terrorist bombings from the West Bank ended after the security barrier started going up. Rocket attacks from Gaza and southern Lebanon dwindled after recent military confrontations with Hamas and Hezbollah.
Time would have been more factual, if tedious, had they composed this headline: “Why Many Israelis Don’t Care About Reaching Terms.”
The word “peace” is tossed around too casually in the context of this conflict, and Time is far from alone in committing this offense. “Peace” has evolved as shorthand for a process that is too convoluted to be reduced to a single five-letter word. It allows for a catchy phrase, but Time editors may disdain letting the facts get in the way of a good headline.
The only objective that seems plausible is the handover of land – namely, Gaza and the West Bank – so the Arabs can form their own society. That’s fine, but a treaty will not ensure “peace” and “peace” need not be achieved through a treaty. Even if it agrees to a near-perfect deal, Israel must still worry about Iran’s nuclear designs and the ongoing arms build-up in Gaza and southern Lebanon.
The same obstacles persist – security needs, excessive Arab demands, settler resistance, Hamas’ control of Gaza and right-wing pressures within the Israeli government.
Hawkish advocates for Israel will insist that the West Bank is not peaceful, but what do the settlers expect when they choose to live amid a hostile population? “Peace” can only be accomplished there by removing the settlers, even unilaterally; expelling the Arabs; or negotiating a pact that is fully enforced. Israelis who live in Israel proper care about West Bank “peace” when their sons and daughters in uniform are assigned to protect the settlements.
For the record, it would be valuable if an accord is reached, but it is still a feat that most Israelis can live without…in peace. Violence can erupt at any time, as was the case with riots in east Jerusalem and the murder of four settlers in recent weeks. Even if a “peace” treaty is ever implemented.
Ticker is Philadelphia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World