This post is in response to David Wilensky’s post from earlier today.
David, you and I both know how most people read news articles: they usually don’t. Maybe they’ll read the headline, maybe–if we’re lucky–they’ll read the lede and the nut graf and maybe–if they actually care–they’ll read an entire article. The truth, though, is that most of the time they don’t care. You know how many Israelis don’t really care about peace? Well most people in general don’t actually give a crap about the news. They’ll look at news tickers, tweets, Facebook statuses and, yes, magazine covers.
And that’s what’s wrong with Time’s issue this week.
Let me be clear, David. I’m not saying that Rabbi Jason is right; I’m saying you’re wrong. Yes, Rabbi Jason is also wrong for judging an article before he has read it. The article may be nuanced, fair, deep and insightful. The cover of the magazine, however, is not. it makes a blanket statement about a country with a pretty diverse and vibrant political atmosphere. It’s true that many Israelis–in my experience–don’t really care about peace because they live their lives in relative security and prosperity. But I know plenty of Israelis who do care about peace, who participate in B’Tselem and Gisha and other organizations so they can help the Palestinians, who protest the antagonizing actions of the Israeli government.
I know it’s a headline, and headlines are often generalized and provocative, but we would be decrying this if it were talking about another country. Imagine if the headline said something like “Palestinians don’t care about Israel.” We and the rest of our liberal Jewy friends would be up in arms! We would be writing righteously indignant blog posts about how Palestine has a vibrant society with a range of opinions on Israel. We should criticize this headline on the same grounds. Again, I’m not criticizing the article, which I haven’t seen. I am criticizing the cover of the magazine, which I have.
I know that you and I will probably read the article, as will many of our friends, but that’s because we surround ourselves with Jewish people and such that read these types of articles. Hell, it’s part of my job to read these types of articles. That is not at all true, however, for most of this country.
“Israel” is not monolithic. “Israel” has a much more lively political debate raging within it that does the American Jewish community. As Etgar Keret says in this publication,
I think that you can’t talk about one point that represents the young generation of Israelis. It’s a very polyphonic and heterogenic society. We have haredim, Arabs, settlers, we have people that are completely involved, people that are blase. In Israel you can’t have one person represent the entire society.
But the majority of people who see this cover of Time will not read the article. They’ll glance at it and it will send one message to them, a message that “Israel” doesn’t care about peace. And that is not true. There’s no way it could be true.