By Jennifer Lipman
September 2, 2010
Nobody yet knows what will come of the latest round of Middle East peace talks, although it seems everybody in the international media has an opinion. That’s to be expected; there is perhaps no topic that gets tongues wagging quite so much as Israel.
But reasoned analysis is one thing. Quite another is what Time magazine have done this week. The cover of their September 13 issue reads, delicately encased in a star of David made of flowers: “Why Israel doesn’t care about peace”.
Time is one of the biggest selling weekly news magazines out there. Which means that for the next week, on every newsstand and every magazine rack, across countless coffee tables and waiting rooms, the message is: “blame the Israelis for the failure of the talks”, or that “any progress comes despite them.”
In a week when four Israelis have been viciously murdered by Hamas terrorists and two others injured, not only is that unhelpful, it’s insulting. The worst part is that it appears the article isn’t even saying that.
From the abridged version already online, the report actually looks at the disillusionment amongst Israelis, the sense of living life day by day and not hoping too much for change. For example, it quotes an estate agent, bragging in typical Israeli style that, "Even when the Qassams fell, we continued to sell”.
Last month, Time faced criticism for putting on its cover an Afghan girl who had been maimed by the Taleban, accompanied by the words: “What happens if we leave Afghanistan.” Many people objected; the image was too shocking, it was emotional blackmail, etc.
Whether that decision was right or wrong, it wasn’t cheap. This cover, which buys into the “Israelis as aggressors, Israelis as obstacles to peace” narrative that pervades so much of the media, is.
As a Time subscriber for many years, I expected better from a magazine with a deserved reputation for in-depth coverage. Headlines should be provocative, eye-catching – they should push your buttons. But they shouldn’t be misleading.
I’m going to read the whole article. But how many people will just see these six words and walk on?