The World Is Going To End

Why are Jewish Americans so angry?

Last week, Karl Vick’s article (see shortened version here) was published in Time magazine. It explains that average Israelis have become intrinsically indifferent to the peace process and, in essence, have begun moving on with their lives– the “good life,” as Vick calls it. The article is not an offensive one, nor is it an erroneous one.

What Vick has written is not explicitly or implicitly anti-Israel. He doesn’t try to illustrate an Israel that is actively avoiding the peace process or one that is violent in its nature. It is a factual, investigative piece that strives to put together pieces of the very convoluted Middle East puzzle.

Vick writes (quoting Israeli political scientist Tamar Hermann) that Israelis have “no sense of urgency” about peace with the Palestinians. My opinion? Frankly, who can blame them? The modern State of Israel has been around for more than sixty-two years and it is still facing similar problems to what it was facing at its origin: enemies from all sides, a flailing media war, and an opinionated group of people who — despite much rhetoric — is still attacking on an almost daily basis. No matter how many times the leaders of all parties meet at the White House, the prospect of a full ceasefire and an exhaustive peace will always be bleak. Israelis are justified in moving on with their lives.

The article is warranted.

So, why are Jewish Americans so angry?

Because of the cover (“Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace”).

Time magazine is a for-profit organization. They are in business to sell magazines. Whenever I write an essay for school, my dad, a journalist, tells me to start by writing the body of the essay. Then, he says, write a catchy beginning that will bring in the reader. Then, write the title.

Are you more likely to read the story with the headline ‘Scientists Believe that Pollution is Harming Environment and May Eventually Lead to Detrimental Effects’ or ‘The World is Going to End’? My guess is the latter.

It’s not irresponsible or insolent of Time to put such a controversial statement on its cover. In fact, because the article is so pertinent and informative of Israeli culture, I applaud Time for its business acumen, and I hope more Americans read the article and grasp a fuller understanding of the current Israeli mindset.


8 thoughts on “The World Is Going To End

  1. I think that this is a great outlook on the article. I agree completely with the dramatic title idea. Attention must be grabbed before the true idea can be truly delved into. I am very impressed with the wording of this post. I also agree with the opinions stated. I will be checking back in for more =]

  2. Ami, as much as I agree with you, I still think Time made a big mistake using that title. You make a good point that a catchy title IS important to catch the reader’s eye. But you also have to remember, that many people DON’T read the article, and simply see the cover. So for those who didn’t actually take the time to read Vick’s article, not only is it extremely offensive but again, bad press for Israel.
    I’ll admit, when I first got this issue out of the mailbox, i was pissed off. Like true to G-d angry. After spending the entire summer in Israel it offended me a great deal. But me being the person I am, took the time to read (or at least peruse through) the article and saw that Vick wasn’t so much dissing or insulting Israel, but merely stating that they have and will go on with their lives, with or without an official peace agreement, which makes a certain amount of sense to me.
    So yes, I agree that Time’s article wasn’t as offensive as many take it to be, but I still think it was a bad move. It’s caused a great deal of controversy (which yes, does sell more), but I’m not sure it was worth it.

  3. Ami. Great article! I actually purchased this issue to use for my Israeli current event presentation in history. I think that Vick contradicts his whole point in his last few paragraphs in his article, however I applaud his new taking on the peace matter with Israel. Great analysis! I love your blog, it really helped me out for my project!

  4. So many things about the Time article bothered me. For one, it gave the impression that Israelis don’t care about the peace process because “they’re making money.” Of course Israelis care about peace! All of their teenagers must serve in the army. Everyone knows someone who has been killed in the conflict — soldiers, innocent victims of terror, etc. Nobody wants ware. Everybody wants peace. It’s not that they don’t care. It’s that they have been so burned so many times that they simply press on in their lives, determined to build lives despite the constant state of war. They’re realistic.

    I also hated the portrayal of Jerusalem on Shabbat as “a mausoleum.” Huh? I’ve never been anywhere as *alive* as Jerusalem on Shabbat. There’s something very disturbing about that portrayal.

    I think you’re right that the headline on the cover is an attempt to stir controversy and sell magazines, but it’s not so far off from the claims of the article.

    • Jerusalem is the last thing from being “*alive*” on Shabbat. Nor should it be, as Shabbat is a day of rest and most of the city’s inhabitants are observing by either praying in shul or resting at home. This makes the city resemble a mausoleum as stated by the article.

      • Totally disagree with Sammy. A mausoleum is a place of stillness and death. On Shabbat, Jerusalem is alive and pulsating with the power of music, prayer, family and friends. It is a center of life, the center of life. A different kind of alive — alive and unplugged.

  5. Thanks for the thoughtful commentary; it helps put everything in perspective. I, too, however, worry that many who see the cover won’t read the article. It’s my hope those people then don’t use the title of the cover as FACT. Maybe a better title could have been: Is There a Reason Israelis Appear Blase About the New Attempt For Real Peace? Oops, that’s too long for a cover. What about: Why Israelis Seem Blase about the Latest Rounds of Peace Talks…

  6. Great comments, Ami. I couldn’t help but grab this magazine as I prepared to board an airplane. I was sure the article was going to be “wrong” and hateful. Like your comments suggest, I found the article informative and, it seemed to me, accurate. It was definitely the headline that grabbed my attention. And, yes, I’m glad it got me to buy the magazine, read the article, and pass it on to others.

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