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Adam Bronstone,Winnipegger living in Jacksonville



By Dr. Adam Bronstone, December 13, 2010 and further response by Rhonda Spivak

Editor's note: Adam Bronstone  who is a Winnipegger now working in the United States  who wrote following response to  Elliot Leven's piece  regarding Time  Magazine's  article "Why Israel Doesn't Want Peace". Leven's piec can be read by clicking here:



Bronstone is a graduate of Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate and the University of Manitoba, and holds a doctorate in Political Science from the University of Hull (United Kingdom), with a specialization in International Politics. Adam has worked for many years in the Jewish communal field, with a specific interest and expertise in Israel advocacy work. And, he still calls Winnipeg his ‘home’


Dear Elliot,
I have known and listened to you for many years, and always with the highest regard. Having said this, when I read your column with respect to the ADL and Time magazine, I felt compelled to say that you are as equally right, as you are equally wrong.
I used to subscribe to Time magazine but decided not to continue subscribing.

And let me be very clear on this point – I did it before and not because Abe Foxman of the ADL started calling the magazine anti-Semitic, and I did it not only because of the Israel article, but because of what I see as a growing and disturbing trend by the magazine when tackling serious issues such as the Middle East and Islam in the United States.
First let me state that I too at times find Abe Foxman disturbing. During the time of the release of the Mel Gibson movie Passion of the Christ, I spent much time with church groups, and in specific the Catholic Church, speaking about, listening to and understanding much about passion plays, the traditionalist perspective of Mel Gibson, the Gospels and what young adult Catholics (and the Catholic Church, for that matter) thought about the movie and the topic. And in a very interesting, educational and informative session with 40 young adult Catholics, one person did ask if I thought that Abe Foxman’s rants were justified and acceptable. My personal answer was that they were not acceptable, and I wish that Mr. Foxman had not made such a large issue over what became a non-issue. Having said that, I also explained that Foxman is the son of two survivors, and given his background, it might have been almost impossible for him to not say what he said about the movie and its director.

So, as you can see, Elliot, while I respect and work closely with professionals from the ADL, I am not always in agreement with what they say. And this is also one of those instances, since I do not believe that Time, as an institution, is anti-Semitic. There would have to be, for me, a long and systemic pattern of behavior by the editorial board of Time for me to agree with that statement. As far as I know, there is no such pattern, so I wish to agree with you and disagree with Foxman with respect to Time being anti-Semitic.
However (and yes, there is almost always such a word), the issue is not so clear. A few weeks prior to the article on Israel, the cover of the magazine was ‘Is America Islamophobic?’, with the muslim crescent in the colors of the US flag, with a smaller ‘star’ representing the US flag inside the crescent. Of course, the article concluded, that given the number of mosques around the country that the United States is NOT islamophobic, and that the uproar over the expansion of the existing mosque near Ground Zero is in some ways specific to New York, and not widespread across the country. So, the article was very good, but here is the rub – many people out shopping at the local grocery store do not read the article; the only see the cover. And the cover was designed to be highly provocative.
The same is true of the article on Israel. The article IS very good, interesting and shows a growing complexity in Israeli society – an attempt to live in a bubble where the politics of the Middle East do not interfere with the high-tech boom and daily life. However, the Israelis interviewed agreed that it is impossible to live in such a bubble, because the politics of the region always intrudes, and usually not in a good way. (in fact, to best understand this ‘bubble’, there is a brilliant Israeli film entitled ‘The Bubble’ which is worth watching.)
But the article is held hostage to the cover. And the cover – Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace – is not only provocative, but highly inflammatory, and worse, contradicts the article. If you are, again, one of those people who glances at the cover of Time as you are in the checkout line and do not buy the magazine (and there are far more people who do this rather than those who buy the magazine and read the article), then you could easily take from this authoritative magazine that Israel and Israelis do not care about peace, do not care about making peace, and go so far as to believe that Israelis are quite happy as they are now, occupying the land of another people in a brutal fashion with no interest in a better tomorrow.

Of course we (Jews who care and know about Israel) know better; right-minded people ought to know better, and will when they open the magazine and read the article. But in all honesty, in an environment where the myth of the ‘Israel Lobby’ exists and the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions) campaign is taking roots in college campuses across the country (where at Princeton the student union might ban the sale of Israeli hummus because it is from Israel), the cover of Time magazine was just another brick in the wall. And, like the previous cover that I mentioned about Islam and America, it is sensationalist journalism at its worst. Maybe I could live with this if I was looking at the NY Post which thrives on such titles and pictures or The Sun newspaper in Britain, but this is Time magazine.

Of course every company has the right to say what it wants to say, and sell as many magazines in order to stay in business that it can sell, but between bashing Islam and Israel in such blatant and careless manners (and especially since these covers are always well thought out in advance, leaving nothing to chance), Time appears to have ‘jumped the shark’ in the area of journalistic credibility.
Most of President Jimmy Carter’s book ‘Peace not Apartheid’ is fairly tame, innocuous and meaningless in terms of moving the Middle East dialogue forward. And the former president will tell anyone who listens that the title of the book means nothing, and it is not what he believes. But by saying this, President Carter either misses the point, or he gets it, and simply refuses to acknowledge it. Most people will never read his book; but because of who he is, they will see the title, and possibly begin to equate in their minds the awful racial policies of the old South Africa with modern-day Israel.

Again, we know this is not true, but tell that to someone who says that if a past president who helped bring about Israel’s agreement with Egypt and won the Nobel Peace Prize for this (and has done great work for Habitat and monitored elections) can say that Israel is sliding into apartheid, it must surely be true, or have some degree of credibility.
Time magazine has a very large megaphone, and on September 13, 2010, it used this megaphone to create a negative impression about Israel and Israelis that belies the inside article and the complex truths held by a majority of Israelis.
Of course Time is not anti-Semitic, and I discourage the throw-away use of such a term because it cheapens the terms for when it is truly necessary to be invoked. But the cover of Time that could lead the casual observer to believe that the reason for the lack of a negotiated peace in the Middle East is solely the responsibility of Israel is negligible, destructive, without thought, harmful simply crass.

If Americans who are Time readers, when asked in a Gallup poll their position on Israel, choose to respond negatively about Israel, and U.S. foreign policy is altered to better reflect this change in popular attitude, then Israeli security could be at risk, with more pressure applied to Israel by President Obama (already circumspect in the eyes of many pro-Israel U.S. Jews).

Elliot, my wise friend, you are right to finger-point at the ADL. But you are wrong when you do not turn around and do the same to Time.

by Rhonda Spivak, December 13, 2010

Editor’s Response: I would like to add my “two cents” to this discussion regarding what I see to be very problematic in the Time magazine article, which is overlooked in my friend Elliot Leven’s analysis of the article.

The title “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace?” not only is provocative but is highly misleading, and frames Israelis in a negative light. In a country where virtually all Jewish Israelis (with the exception of the ultra-orthodox) have a son or daughter in the army or knows someone in their immediate circle who does, it can not be and is not the case that Israelis don’t care about peace. (In Israel, unlike the United States or Canada, you don’t choose to go in the army: there is universal conscription). This point is made in the very last paragraph of the article which completely contradicts the title. Unfortunately, it is a point that ought to have been made at the very beginning of the article, which would have resulted in having to change the title, something that Time obviously didn’t want to do. 

As writes “The Time article…, glosses over any legitimate reasons why Israelis may have lost interest in the details of the peace process, instead presenting Israelis as callous, insensitive, and decadently more concerned with beaches, water sports, and Tel Aviv's cafe culture than with matters of real substance.”

…The print edition's accompanying photos reinforce Vick's contention that Israelis are preoccupied with leisure. The images feature Israelis lying on the beach, chatting at a cafe, or sitting on park benches. The implication is obvious: Israelis don't care about peace because they are doing fine without it.

Thus, Time distorts Israeli resilience in the face of a decade of rocket attacks and terrorism into an image of decadence.”

While it may well be true that Israelis are skeptical of the peace process leading to any two state solution and an end to the conflict, Time magazine chooses not to explore any of the legitimate reasons why this would be the case.

There is no discussion of the fact that there was much coverage in Israel this past summer (when the Time article was written) about the far ranging peace proposal of Ehud Olmert, which did not lead anywhere with the Palestinians because the gaps were too wide. Ehud Barak's offer of a state at Camp David was rejected by Arafat and, Ariel Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza led to terrorism.

Would Time have run an article “Palestinians Don’t care about Peace”, which would have mentioned that for the first nine months after Netanyahu declared a settlement freeze, the Palestinian Authority leadership chose not to get to the peace table ?.

Would Time have mentioned that PA television constantly refers to Haifa and Jaffa as “Palestine,” or shows maps without Israel on it, and that in PA schools, textbooks  demonize and delegitimize Israel? In short, the PA has not been educating Palestinians to give up maximalist claims and promoting reconciliation. On the contrary, a most recent  article this past week by Saeb Erekat, a PA negotiator appears to take a position that all Palestinian refugees  and their descendents from 1948 have “ a right of return’, a complete non-starter for a negotiated settlement-

If Time had interviewed Palestinians in the West Bank it would have found that increasingly they talk of a one state solution, (with a Palestinian majority and Jewish minority), and say therefore there is no reason to rush into an agreement for a two-state solution.

Time could have mentioned that the Ramallah real estate market is booming, as outlined in an article by Mohammed Assadi August 2, 2010.  “Rammallah Building Boom Symbolizes West Bank growth”, [ note the article contains a  photo of a  Palestinian holding  lots of bills in his hand]. The article says “Developers say property prices have risen by 30 percent  [in Ramallah] in the last two years. Buyers expect prices to go higher.

But would Time have dared to suggest that Palestinians in Ramallah don’t care about peace, because they are engaged in making money? And if there was anyone we could say didn’t care about peace because he was engaged in making money, wouldn’t that be Yassir Arafat himself? How many millions did he divert away from building hospitals and schools and for the Palestinian people  to his foreign bank accounts ? After all the beaches in Gaza are just as nice as those in Tel-Aviv, but rather than build “a Tel-Aviv” on the shores of Gaza, Palestinian leadership under Arafat lined their own pockets. And today Hamas is using its money to buy missiles that target Tel-Aviv, rather than use its money to build a Tel-Aviv.

And what of current PA leadership under Abbas?  How much have they too enriched themselves and their cronies through money that was to go to the Palestinian people as foreign aid? There are some luxurious areas of Ramallah where PA people seem to be living.

Finally, rather than focusing solely on Tel-Aviv ought the Time article have looked a little further to the north or the south in Israel. While Tel-Aviv’s real estate market is booming, on the other hand, the district of Haifa in northern Israel, which shares a border with Hezbollah-controlled districts in southern Lebanon, registered a house price drop of -2.3%  in the last couple of years.

Finally, had Time magazine turned its lens to Sderot, it could have seen that prices of homes have dropped down 50 percent. Housing prices were nearly double in 2000 before the Palestinian rocket fire began. Around 20-30 % of businesses in Sderot and surrounding areas have shut down since the rocket terror. Sales at stores in general have dropped by nearly 50 percent.  According to a 2008 NATAL study (Center for Victims of Terror and War), between 70% to 94% of  Sderot children suffer from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder while 28% of children are diagnosed with PTSD. About 30% of Sderot adults are also diagnosed with PTSD. [see an article  of Jan 27, 2010, by Sderot Media Centre}

One last point,--the Time article fails to note that in between making money, Israelis are also somewhat concerned about the Iranian nuclear threat. Anyone buying a few Israeli newspapers, or listening to Israeli radio or watching Israeli T.V. would know that the Iranian issue is an ongoing concern. How come Time forgot to mention this?

While the article may not be anti-Semitic per say, the article and the cover paint an unbalanced, distorted portrait of Israelis, which ought not to go unchallenged. The article unfortunately plays up one of the most pervasive steryotype's about Jews and money, which has  been around for centuries and may well seep into popular culture, not even necessarily intentionally .  Can we really say Foxman  is 100% out to lunch? 

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