Time Magazine has a long and unfortunate history of anti-Israel media bias, dating back many decades. In May 1977, a Time magazine article introducing Menachem Begin, Israel’s newly-elected prime minister, began by citing all the negatives attributed to him by his critics, before infamously noting that his name “rhymes with Fagin,” the villainous Jew from “Oliver Twist,” with all the anti-Semitic implications invoked by that comparison.
Since then, Time Magazine has periodically published egregiously biased and misinformative articles and negative features about Israel, its leaders and society. The magnitude of Time Magazine’s anti-Israel bias was evidenced in the frank anti-Israel imagery on a September 2010 cover displaying a large Magen David comprised of daisies with the headline “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace” and a story that once again invoked anti-Semitic stereotypes.
This month (April 2016), there were two misleading Time Magazine features on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including: 1) a photo essay on Hebron and 2) an article about a controversial decision by a Haifa high school principal to abolish an annual trip to Holocaust sites in Poland.
The Cauldron of Hebron
The first feature, entitled “The Cauldron of Hebron” (April 5, 2016), consists of a gallery of 15 captioned photos by Beirut-based photographer Lorenzo Tugnoli, accompanied by a short descriptive essay by Time’s former Jerusalem bureau chief Karl Vick (whose anti-Israel bias has been well documented by CAMERA ), and edited by international multimedia editor Andrew Katz.
The feature presents a one-sided view that depicts the Palestinians as Hebron’s natives, oppressed by Jewish colonialists: Palestinians are shown as victims of or demonstrators against Israeli persecutors while Jewish residents of Hebron (who are not photographed) are caricatured as interlopers guarded by an army of soldiers who torment or kill Palestinians.
This is a perspective that erases Jewish history and reality. It is a perspective that favors the Palestinian narrative and denies the millennia-long, historic Jewish presence in a city counted as one of Judaism’s four holy cities. For example, one photo caption uses only the Arabic term, “ibrahimi Mosque” to describe the biblical Cave of the Patriarchs, one of Judaism’s holiest sites.
Nor does this perspective acknowledge the effect of Palestinian aggression on its Israeli victims. While there are several photos and multiple references to Palestinian fatalities, there are neither photos nor references to Israelis hurt or killed by Palestinians.
Ironically for a professional journalist who is expected to provide both sides of a controversial topic, Vick suggests that this unidimensional portrait is the only reasonable perspective on Hebron, explaining that Tugnoli’s photographs “of necessity capture the reality of the Palestinians—the tear gas canisters cascading toward you; the rangy teenagers hefting the rocks they throw in turn.” [emphasis added]
Brutal stonings and stabbings by Palestinians are essentially justified, even while their effect on Israeli victims is ignored. Indeed, deadly attacks are described only in relation to their Palestinian perpetrators — they are termed “suicidal” missions rather than “homicidal” ones. Vick writes:
The terrifying new element—in the absence of any meaningful political outlet—is scores of sudden, apparently random attacks, often with knives, by young Palestinians against Israeli civilians and soldiers.
“Basically what’s happening now is the young guys, something snaps, and they just get out there and stab somebody,” Tugnoli says. “They don’t tell their family, they don’t have party affiliation. They’re just angry. It’s a kind of a suicidal mission, with a knife.” [emphasis added]
The double standards in the text are striking. The journalists convey Palestinian charges against Israeli settlers as undisputed fact. No Israeli resident of Hebron is cited or interviewed to corroborate the allegations or to give their side of the story. For example:
The metal cover was installed to protect the family from stones and garbage that is regularly dumped by Jewish settlers who live nearby. [emphasis added]
Imad Abu Shamsiyeh closes the metal fence that he placed around and above his house in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood to protect him and his family from more settler attacks, Hebron. [emphasis added]
…the mesh ceiling was installed to protect Palestinians from the garbage that settlers throw toward them from their windows, along with epithets.” [emphasis added]
By contrast, a reference to a Palestinian killed while trying to stab an Israeli soldier cites the anti-Israel Amnesty International to cast doubt on Israel’s version of the circumstances:
In late October a Palestinian man was fatally shot here while. Amnesty International said he was retrieving an ID card at the request of a soldier. The rights organization said Israeli authorities labeled the incident an ‘attempted stabbing’.
Leading Israeli Principal Warns Annual Trip to Concentration Camps Fuel Extreme Nationalism
An article that appeared barely a week later, entitled “Leading Israeli Principal Warns Annual Trip to Concentration Camps Fuel Extreme Nationalism”by Inna Lazareva (April 11, 2016), reported on a controversial decision by Zeev Dagani, a left-wing Israeli high school prinicipal, known for his anti-military stance ( in 2010, Degani was one of just a few principals who opted out of a country-wide joint-army-educational program ) to suspend the traditional, annual Holocaust educational trips to Poland because, he claimed, they foster an “ultra- nationalistic” feeling among young Israeli teenagers.
Dagani’s contentious decision was widely reported in the Israeli media, but unlike those articles, the one in Time Magazine used Dagani’s minority viewpoint as
a springboard from which to denigrate Israeli society as a whole. Attempting to underscore Dagani’s negative views of Israeli society, the author first quotes him expressing concern that the atmosphere in Israel, “revolves around fear and hatred for the other.” before asserting that the principal’s “concerns are reflected in Israel’s education ministry study conducted in 2011, which concluded that the school trips to Poland cause participants to have a more positive opinion of the Israel military.”
What’s the connection? How does having a positive opinion of the Israeli military automatically translate to the negative “fear and hatred for the other”? The answer is, it doesn’t, but that doesn’t stop author Inna Lazareva, a freelancer who markets herself as a “political analyst and journalist” specializing in the Middle East, from taking a leap of logic to promote derogatory remarks against Israel.
Lazareva follows this with a vague reference to “a series of studies” that demonstrate that Israeli public opinion has become more rightwing in recent years and later, to “numerous polls” that show Israeli youth growing increasingly right-wing. Perhaps this is so, but the author never actually specifies which numerous polls she relies on or how they arrived at their determination. She does toss out a reference to one poll that supports her message — a March 2016 Pew survey that shows that “48% of Israeli Jews said they agreed with the statement that Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel…” However, she does not bother to note that a leading authority on Arab-Israeli relations, Professor Sammy Smooha, who himself regularly polls Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel on their attitudes toward each other, criticized the validity of the Pew survey, claiming its wording was “misleading and vague.” Nor did she mention the polls conducted by Smooha yield an entirely different result. For example, in answer to a question about whether Arab citizens should leave the country, provided they receive appropriate compensation, only 32 percent of Jews agreed to the statement. Smooha points out that contrary to the Pew survey,his results show a decline from previous years in those wanting Arab citizens to leave.
The author quotes Dagani discussing what he calls “the fascism that is inside our community.” And this apparently is the main point of the article: With cherry-picked polls and Dagani’s extensive quotes, the article paints a misleading image of an increasingly fascist and racist Israeli society— despite any sort of actual evidence for this
Conclusion: When it comes to defaming Israel, Time Magazine doesn’t need any real facts.