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Posted at 11:45 AM ET, 01/19/2011

Bibi takes on Time

By Jennifer Rubin

As I have reported, Time magazine's serial slimes on Israel have not gone unnoticed or unremarked upon. But today, in a perhaps unprecedented fashion, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu advisor Ron Dermer pens a very, very tough letter to Time's managing editor. It should be read in full to appreciate the exquisite skewering of Time's misleading and inaccurate reporting. He begins with this:

I wanted to bring to your attention a recent article in Time entitled "Israel's Rightward Lurch Scares Some Conservatives." I hope that you will agree that the article's obvious bias and numerous distortions are not worthy of the standards of your prestigious magazine.

He then goes point-by-point through the Time article, debunking and dismantling the hatchet job. On loyalty oaths, Dermer observes, "But your correspondent did not find it necessary to inform your readers of a few facts. Oaths of allegiance are commonplace in most democratic countries, including the United States."

On the issue of legislation to require transparency in funding of NGO's in Israel he suggests:

As for questioning the legitimacy of foreign government funding of Israeli NGOs, mentioning America's Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) may have presented a more balanced picture.

FARA requires that any organization engaged in lobbying in the U.S. that receives money from foreign individuals, let alone foreign governments, must among other things register as a foreign agent with the Department of Justice and permit the Attorney General to inspect all of its activities.

It is hard to imagine any democratic country accepting foreign governments intervening in its domestic affairs by funding domestic groups engaged not merely in criticism of a particular government's policy but also attacking the very foundations of the State.

He also directly rebuts a particularly heinous allegation against Netanyahu: "Contrary to the implication of your correspondent, Prime Minister Netanyahu has publicly and forcefully condemned the racist sentiments that were mentioned in the article." Dermer then documents the double-standard applied to the only country in the region that can say that it "protect[s] the rights of women, gays and minorities, including the 20% of Israelis who are Arabs, who enjoy freedom of speech and religion and the protections afforded by independent courts and the rule of law."

Dermer doesn't use the word, but I (as others have done) will. When a critic defames Israel, tries to delegitimize the Jewish state, and holds it to a different standard than all other countries, it is anti-Semitism. There is no other word for it.

A final note: Multiple sources familiar with the letter's drafting tell me its release was unrelated to any development in the U.S. A knowledgeable source tells me that it was entirely driven by the government in Jerusalem. Another person close to Dermer tells me, "This was in the works going back to moments after the Time piece hit."

The Time article was an especially egregious slur on Israel, and the response was appropriately robust. The time for letting scurrilous attacks roll off their backs is perhaps coming to an end in Jerusalem. It is long overdue.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 19, 2011; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  Israel  
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Comments

What is so dismaying about the Time article, apart from it's obvious bias and stench of anti Semitism, is that fact that it accomplishes absolutely nothing positive.
It reinforces the already rock solid Palestinian intransigence and rejectionism, and can hardly be seen as trying to encourage further Israeli compromise and negotiation.
Tendentious and vulagar anti Israel screeds are almost always an indication that the writer has no positive interests to promote and is simply expressing his hatred and loathing of, and possibly his wish for the elimination of Israel and the Jews.
Time Magazine once held the high ground in journalism, now it is just dying.

Posted by: Beniyyar | January 19, 2011 12:41 PM | Report abuse

It's been many, many years since Time was a prestigious magazine. Now, they would settle for just being a solvent one!

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 19, 2011 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Time's remaining readership is mainly people stuck in doctors' offices. Still, I'm glad that Israel is no longer letting media slurs go unanswered. Their opponents on the left are not quibbling over potential borders or other matters that can be resolved by parties of good faith. Rather they are promoting the Palestinian efforts to delegitimize Israel's right to exist and to defend itself. Israel must speak out against these efforts and the U.S. must join them.

Posted by: eoniii | January 19, 2011 3:05 PM | Report abuse

"He then goes point-by-point through the Time article, debunking and dismantling the hatchet job. "

Correction Jennifer, he tries to and fails.

For example, when he claims that "Oaths of allegiance are commonplace in most democratic countries, including the United States", except that the Israeli oath pledges allegiance to the government and the military, whereas the US oath does not.

Israel's pledge bears all the hallmarks of a fascism.

Stripping ciztizenship can obviously only be directed at immigrants or non nationals. No one in Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy has ever been stripped of citizenship for delegitimizing the state.

The arguments about Joe Lieberman's proposed bill is a desperate one at best. It hasn't even been debated in the house.

It borders on satire when Dermer ridicules the idea of "any democratic country accepting foreign governments intervening in its domestic affairs", when the most poweful foreign lobby in Washington (AIAPC) refuses to register as a lobby for a foreing state.

The real weakness in Dermer's argument is that he implies that the Times report is new or unique. The same arguments have been presented in numerous Israeli papers, including Haaretz, where the the dangers of impending fascism are frequently discussed.

The problem is not that the Times report is controversial, it's that it attarcts a wide leadership and presnets yet another PR problem for Israel.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 19, 2011 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Beniyyar | January 19, 2011 12:41 PM

"What is so dismaying about the Time article, apart from it's obvious bias and stench of anti Semitism, is that fact that it accomplishes absolutely nothing positive."

The same could be said of most news reporting. It's not incumbent upon those reporting the news to deducde whether the report achieves anytign positive. That is for the reader to decide.

One could argue that exposing Israel's shift to the far right, that progressive and Liberal Jews will take action to stem this disturbing developlment.

You don't achieve positive change simply by telling people what they want to hear.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 19, 2011 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer writes:

"When a critic defames Israel, tries to delegitimize the Jewish state, and holds it to a different standard than all other countries, it is anti-Semitism. There is no other word for it."

What about when this is applied to any state but Israel Jennifer?

The Apartheid regime in South Africa was subjected to international sanctions like no other country was at that time. Of course, there existed far worse human-rights offenders, like Mozambique. Would you have supported sanctions against Mozambique and not South Africa Jennifer?

What about when Israel is accorded standards not enjoyed by any other state, like say, being allowed to develop and maintain a stockpile of hundreds of nuclear weapons, and then allowed to maintain it's policy of nuclear ambiguity so that it may continue to receive the world's biggest welfare claques from Washington?

Would you describe that as anti Semitic?

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 19, 2011 5:32 PM | Report abuse

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