'Time' magazine's subtle anti-Israel bias

The magazine’s cover story on PM "King Bibi" delegitimizes Israel with a whisper, not a bang.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 370 (photo credit: GPO / Amos Ben-Gershom)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 370
(photo credit: GPO / Amos Ben-Gershom)
The campaign to delegitimize Israel is often framed in subtle ways.  A recent example is Time magazine's cover story of May 28, 2012, "King Bibi," written by its Managing Editor, Richard Stengel.
In many ways, the 8-page spread is accurate in its account of the broad coalition Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has forged and even occasionally flattering in its description of Mr. Netanyahu and the two and a half hour conversation Mr. Stengel had with him in the Prime Minister's "unmemorable" private residence in Jerusalem.  Mr. Stengel also documents Israel's impressive achievements and honestly reflects some of the complexities of the peace process.
But every now and then, Mr. Stengel includes a phrase or an insidious sentence which may seem to be an aside but which actually colors his piece and suggests immoral qualities about both the prime minister and the State of Israel.
For example, in an early paragraph describing the various courses of action from which Mr. Netanyahu might choose if he is to be "a historic figure" in Israeli history, Mr. Stengel writes of Mr. Netanyahu: "As a soldier, he understands the dark history that lies behind the creation of Israel.  The question is whether he is a prisoner of that history or can write a new narrative."
To what is Mr. Stengel referring with the words "dark history" in relation to the "creation of Israel?"  He writes the sentence as if a skeleton-laden closet is an accepted fact of Middle East history.  To any reader who does not bring a knowledge of the history of Palestine from the end of the 19th Century through the first part of the 21st Century, Time magazine is making it sound as if there was something malevolent and evil in the creation of the Jewish state.
This is how the State of Israel is delegitimized, not with a bang, but with a whisper.  A mainstream American magazine subtly conveys to its readership that Israel's creation is shameful.  It is as if Time magazine is authenticating the Palestinian assertion that Israel's creation by the UN Partition Plan of 1947 was a "Nakba" (a "catastrophe") rather than a glorious fulfillment of the Jewish People's dream to return to its homeland in the context of international legitimization.
Are there aspects of Israel's creation which hurt the Arab population in Palestine?  Of course.  But David Harris of the American Jewish Committee puts this issue in context, saying:  "In every creation of a state where there is a contest things happen. ... I'm not one who holds Israel to the kind of standard that is impossible to reach; who sees Israel in a vacuum as if it is disconnected from the history of every other nation in the world."
Mr. Stengel's reference to Israel's creation is not the only inappropriate passage.  In describing the breakdown of the peace process, Mr. Stengel writes: "Perhaps the biggest impediment is Bibi's insistence that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a 'Jewish state.'"
Not only is this statement sophomoric (there are many impediments to peace and the biggest one is that the worldview of the Palestinians and that of the Israelis are miles apart), but with this sentence Mr. Stengel suggests to Time's readers that Israel is the party responsible for stalled peace.  
Mr. Stengel is also making a subtle argument against Israel's right to be the Jewish state mandated by the United Nations Partition Plan.  Mr. Netanyahu and the Jewish world do not want Israel to be recognized as a "Jewish state" for religious reasons; the "Jewish" character of Israel is at the core of its existence.  When Mr. Abbas says he does not want to recognize the "Jewish" state of Israel, it is because his ultimate goal is for there to be no "Jewish" sovereign state in the Middle East.
Those who vilify Israel today argue that the Palestinians have the right to define themselves as they see fit and to receive international recognition accordingly.  Surely, Israel has the same right to define itself and for the world, including Time magazine, to recognize it as the "Jewish state" without subtle attempts at delegitimization.
The writer, a rabbi, is the president of Shalom TV, American Jewry's national television network.