Time adds its voice to the delegitimizers (& WaPo: “The Economist’s unforgivable silence”)

September 08, 2010

* Washington Post: “The line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is becoming increasingly blurred”
* The Guardian finally reports on Gaza’s shopping mall, its “swimming center with chutes and slides,” and its “burgeoning seafront cafes”
* C-SPAN allows conspiracy theorists to say “Israel is behind 9/11” and “have bought off General Petraeus”


There are two other dispatches this week:

* “I am a refugee” (& “The Paula Abdul theory of foreign policy”)

* Genghis Khan with a nuclear bomb (& Israel’s best friends in the Mideast: The Kurds).



1. Time magazine criticized for Israel-bashing cover story
2. “Rhymes with Fagin”
3. Ethan Bronner, telling both sides of the story
4. The Guardian: “A riding club thrives in Gaza City”
5. “Burgeoning seafront cafes”
6. The Guardian hated it; it seems it wasn’t anti-Israel enough
7. Washington Post: The Economist’s unforgivable silence on Sayyid Qutb’s anti-Semitism
8. “C-SPAN’s ‘Washington Journal’: Hosting anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists
9. “Israel behind 9/11” lie
10. “Israel bought off General Petraeus”

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


While many news outlets have softened their line on Israel in recent days, following the relaunch of peace talks with the Palestinians, Time magazine has instead run a provocative cover story with a large Star of David titled “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace” (edition dated September 13, 2010).

Opinion polls have consistently shown that Israelis strongly support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, Time magazine presents Israelis as uncaring and uninterested in peaceful coexistence and more interested in “making money”.

This “Israelophobic piece” comes only a week after Time criticized Americans for “becoming Islamophobic”.

Time has on several occasions run stories which many have said were insensitive to Israel. For example, in 1982 it ran a cover with the words “Israel’s blitz” drawing comparisons with the Nazi blitz.

And its latest cover is reminiscent of the infamous 1981 cover of Newsweek magazine which depicted a Star of David made up of guns.


During the 1977 Camp David peace talks with Egypt (talks for which Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin won a Nobel Peace Prize), Time headlined its article “Menachem Begin (rhymes with Fagin)” – invoking Dickens’ portrayal of a Jewish villain in Oliver Twist. (That same Time article contained fabrications about Begin ordering the “mutilation” of elderly Arab men and the “raping of many women”.)

Writing yesterday in The Wall Street Journal, columnist Bret Stephens says “Time magazine has added its voice to the chorus of those attempting to delegitimize the Jewish state – the idea that the country ought not to exist.”

If Time were fair, instead of claiming Israelis are not interested in peace, writes Stephens, it might have pointed out that “Nearly every Israeli has a child, sibling, boyfriend or parent in the army. Nearly every Israeli has been to the funeral of a fallen soldier, or a friend killed in a terrorist attack. Most Israeli homes and businesses come equipped with safe rooms or bomb shelters; every Israeli owns a gas mask. The whole country exists under the encroaching shadows of Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, and the prospect of a nuclear Iran. How many Americans, to say nothing of Europeans, can say the same about their own lives?”

“Yet when it comes to scoring cheap shots against the Jewish state, Time is not the sort of magazine to allow the obvious to disturb a prejudiced hypothesis,” adds Stephens.

“But raising that line of inquiry probably asks too much of a magazine whose circulation is in steep decline, and whose journalism is now the subject of parodies in The Onion. (Recent headline: ‘TIME Announces New Version of Magazine Aimed at Adults.’)”

Eminent historian Victor Davis Hanson, writing yesterday on the website of The National Review, called it “probably the most anti-Semitic essays I have ever read in a mainstream publication.” (In fact, I can think of several worse.)



New York Times Jerusalem correspondent Ethan Bronner has been in touch with me about my dispatch last week in which I criticized The New York Times’s Gaza coverage, including his own. I accept that I should have made clearer that he has been much fairer than most Middle East correspondents in his coverage. In addition to exposing the hardships of life for many in Gaza, he has on several occasions made clear that Gaza is not as impoverished as most other major media and many prominent NGOs and politicians would have us believe.

For example, in June 2008, Ethan Bronner wrote: “Those who reject Israel’s policy as evidence of its ill will make it sound like Gaza has turned into Somalia. It has not.”

And in his May 2009 story from Gaza, he wrote: “It is, of course, crowded and poor, but it is better off than nearly all of Africa as well as parts of Asia. There is no acute malnutrition, and infant mortality rates compare with those in Egypt and Jordan, according to Mahmoud Daher of the World Health Organization here.”

In June 2010, he wrote: “In truth, most of the postwar tents are gone now, and daily life is neither as awful as many abroad assert nor as untroubled as Israel insists. Instead, it has a numbing listlessness. ‘In Gaza, no one is dying,’ said Amr Hamad, deputy secretary general of the Palestinian Federation of Industries. ‘But no one is living.’”

In another article in June 2010, he wrote: “For some, it’s the relative modernity -- the jazzy cellphone stores and pricey restaurants. For others, it’s the endless beaches with children whooping it up. But for nearly everyone who visits Gaza, often with worry of danger and hostility, what’s surprising is the fact that daily life, while troubled, often has the staggering quality of the very ordinary.”

Tom Gross adds: I would maintain, however, that the overall coverage of The New York Times (and even more of its global edition, The International Herald Tribune) has not generally been nearly as fair as Ethan Bronner has been personally -- when one considers the editorials, comment pieces, headlines, photos, photo captions, letters and cartoons that the paper has chosen to run. Moreover the paper, it seems to me, is particularly unfair when one compares its coverage of Israel to its coverage of dozens of other conflicts around the world, including the one in Afghanistan where troops from the U.S. and 42 other countries are involved, and soldiers from Germany, France, Britain, Italy and elsewhere have killed many civilians.



Yesterday, The Guardian became the latest paper to mention the Gaza shopping mall, as well as the riding club on the edge of Gaza City where, it said, “young women wearing brightly-patterned headscarves and high heels order ice cream and fruit cocktails”.

“The Faisal riding club hosted its first showjumping tournament in July,” The Guardian’s relatively new correspondent Harriet Sherwood reports, adding that it has been open for five years and has been “doing rather well.”

“Next door is the Crazy Water Park, a swimming center with chutes and slides, [alongside] a burgeoning number of seafront cafes,” she adds.

Sherwood’s piece is a long way from the impression of dire poverty and “prison camp” conditions that The Guardian has been putting out for many years.


Indeed while Sherwood’s news piece appeared prominently with a large photo of young Gazan woman riding a horse on Page 7 (Guardian international edition), a few pages later, the Comment page was dominated by an anti-Israel piece by anti-Zionist, Israeli-born, Oxford University professor Avi Shlaim, who told (presumably by now confused) Guardian readers that “Gaza has become an open-air prison”.

Shlaim then went on to say that “this is the most rightwing chauvinistic and racist government in Israel’s history”. All this contrasts greatly with leading commentators for Ha’aretz (Israel’s equivalent of The Guardian) such as Ari Shavit and Aluf Benn* who have been pointing out in recent days that Netanyahu’s government is “the most left-wing in years” and “on the left of Yitzhak Rabin’s”. Shlaim also added that “Netanyahu belongs to the hawkish wing of the Likud” (not true) and had “declared war on the peace process”.

The Guardian, like its British broadcast counterpart the BBC, is determined to criticize Israel and often uses anti-Zionist Israeli professors to do so. Opposite Shlaim’s article, the main letter in yesterday’s letter page was by another ex-Israeli British-based professor, Moshe Machover, writing to deny that “Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people”. Another letter published by The Guardian under it played into the fiction that America invaded Iraq to help Israel.

* To read Aluf Benn’s latest article praising Netanyahu, please see items 2 and 8, here.

* For background on the Gaza shopping mall, please see here.



Here is The Guardian’s review of the new anti-Israel film “Miral” that headlined the Venice Film festival:

“Sad to say, one film-maker has performed a terrible belly-flop at Venice. Julian Schnabel, widely revered for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, has produced an incredible clunker with Miral, the fictionalised adaptation of a memoir by Rula Jebreal, a Palestinian author and journalist radicalised as a young woman by the intifada.

“Lumpily and boringly constructed, the movie tells the story of leading character Miral (based on Jebreal) and her unhappy family history, but only after laboriously working through the story of the Jerusalem children’s home in which Miral was brought up, founded by an indomitable, pioneering woman called Hind Husseini in 1947.

“Very unhappily, Schnabel has cast Freida Pinto, the Indian star of Slumdog Millionaire, as young Miral, this supposedly proudly Palestinian woman. The miscasting is absolutely awful. The genuinely Palestinian actor Hiam Abbass, best known in the UK for Lemon Tree, plays Hind, and almost has a chance to shine in the film’s earlier scenes when she is a dynamic activist; but then she subsides into an old mother-hen character, with grannyish hair and specs that make her look like Maureen Lipman from the BT ads.

“Having shown Miral being tortured by Israeli police in custody, and sided thoroughly with the Palestinians for two long hours, the movie ends with a bland and feeble dedication to those ‘who have worked for peace on both sides’. What a disaster.”




Writing in The Washington Post under the title “The Economist’s unforgivable silence on Sayyid Qutb’s anti-Semitism”, columnist Richard Cohen says:

“I always read The Economist magazine. I like many things about it, but I particularly cherish its book reviews. They are cogent and snappily written, and they often deal with books that I don’t find reviewed elsewhere. An example is a forthcoming biography of one of contemporary Islam’s most important thinkers, Sayyid Qutb. The book gets a good review. It’s more than I can say for The Economist itself.

“Qutb was hanged in 1966 by the Egyptian government of Gamal Abdel Nasser after the customary torture. He had been the intellectual leader of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and a man of copious literary output. One of his efforts was called ‘Our Struggle with the Jews.’ It is a work of unabashed, breathtakingly stupid anti-Semitism, one of the reasons The New York Review of Books recently characterized Qutb’s views ‘as extreme as Hitler’s.’ About all this, The Economist is oddly, ominously and unforgivably silent.


“This is both puzzling and troublesome. After all, it’s not as if Qutb was some minor figure. He is, as a secondary headline on the Economist review says, “the father of Islamic fundamentalism,” and it is impossible to read anything about him that does not attest to his immense contemporary importance. Nor was Qutb’s anti-Semitism some sort of juvenile madness, expressed in the hormonal certainty of youth and later recanted as both certainty and hairline receded. It was, instead, the creation of his middle age and was published in the early 1950s. In other words, his essay is a post-Holocaust work, written in full knowledge of what anti-Semitism had just accomplished. The mass murder of Europe’s Jews didn’t give him the slightest pause. Qutb was undaunted…

The Economist’s review is stunning in its omission. Can it be that a mere 65 years after the fires of Auschwitz were banked, anti-Semitism has been relegated to a trivial, personal matter, like a preference for blondes – something not worth mentioning? Yet, Qutb is not like Richard Wagner, whose anti-Semitism was repellent but did not in the least affect his music. Qutb’s Jew-hatred was not incidental to his work. While not quite central, it has nevertheless proved important, having been adopted along with his other ideas by Hamas. Qutb blames Jews for almost everything: ‘atheistic materialism,’ ‘animalistic sexuality,’ ‘the destruction of the family’ and, of course, an incessant war against Islam itself.


“Obviously, this is no minor matter. Critics of Israel frequently accuse it of racism in its treatment of Palestinians. Sometimes, the charge is apt. But there is nothing in the Israeli media or popular culture that even approaches what is openly, and with official sanction, said in the Arab world about Jews. The message is an echo of Nazi racism, and the prescription, stated or merely implied, is the same…

“I cannot quite suppress the feeling that the need to demonize Israel (by The Economist and others) is so great that the immense moral failings of some of its enemies have to be swept under the carpet… The line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, a demarcation I have always acknowledged, is becoming increasingly blurred...”



Writing in The American Thinker, Eric Rozenman and Myron Kaplan accuse the cable network C-SPAN of “giving the lunatic fringe an establishment address” in its daily “Washington Journal” program.

For example, on August 16’s “Washington Journal”, the subject was “Is the Afghanistan war winnable?” The host was C-SPAN’s Paul Orgel. “Darrell” called from St. Louis. He said:

“The war is unwinnable. It’s unwinnable because the Afghanistan people have nothing to do with 9/11. If you want to bomb somebody for 9/11, then you need to go to Israel. They were the ones that were behind 9/11.”


To this “Truther” conspiracy theory claim and a similar one by caller “Ken” from Virginia four minutes earlier – that Israel either had prior knowledge of but did not counter the Sept. 11, 2001 al-Qaeda attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon or committed them directly – Orgel said nothing.

The day before, the subject was “Becoming an American citizen,” with guest Sonal Verma, chair of the Washington, D.C. chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “Yusuf” of Atlanta was given air time to say:

“I think we should let all the Mexicans, we should let all the Haitians, all the Jamaicans, we should let all of them into the country because this is God’s land ... And so, if we can allow them to come in, then we can really find out and fight those Jews, who really are behind this stuff and really divide the people with immigration ... “

Host Steve Scully did not cut off Yusuf, and allowed him to then continue his rant against Jews.


On August 1, the subject was “Congressional agenda for August recess,” and the guests were Patricia Murphy of Politics Daily and Kathleen Hunter of Roll Call magazine. Host Scully took a call by “Debby” from Los Angeles, another of C-SPAN’s frequent anti-Jewish phoners:

“Hi. You were talking about ethics and the Ethics Committee. How come no one is bringing this up: on anti-war dot com there’s an article entitled, ‘Who bought off General Petraeus?’ No one addresses this issue. How come no one is addressing this? He’s been bought off by the neocons – you know – the Israeli lobby, AIPAC.”

Rozenman and Kaplan write: “Since November 2008, ‘Washington Journal’ has aired, usually uncritically, more than two hundred anti-Jewish, anti-Israeli smears and rants. The people generally ignoring them, the people failing to challenge bigots and affirm that their anti-Jewish, anti-Israel conspiracy theories are over the line and unacceptable, are the program’s hosts and C-SPAN executives. Blacks, Hispanics, women, homosexuals, Christians, Muslims, Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans – no other religious, ethnic, or other U.S. minority group is subject to similar, chronic vituperation on C-SPAN’s ‘Washington Journal.’ Why this intolerable exception when it comes to defaming Jewish Americans?”

[All notes above by Tom Gross]

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.