Wednesday, January 16, 2008

You Mean Ms. Magazine is Still Publishing?

Amid Fracas over Magazine Rejecting American Jewish Congress Ad is Reason Why Group Would Rush to be in Title That's All But Irrelevant

The American Jewish Congress has raised a ruckus because an ad it wanted to place in Ms. magazine featuring three prominent Israeli women was rejected.
The AJC said that smacked of anti-Israel bias, a charge the magazine hotly denies, though its reasons are wholly suspect. This is part of a statement from executive editor Katherine Spillar:

Ms. policy is to accept only mission-driven advertisements from primarily non-profit, non-partisan organizations that promote women’s equality... In Ms. magazine’s judgment, the ad submitted by AJCongress for consideration was inconsistent with this policy... [W]ith its slogan “This is Israel,” the ad implied that women in Israel hold equal positions of power with men.


All the ad appears to be trying to highlight is that women, in this case Israel's foreign minister, a judge on its Supreme Court and the speaker of the Knesset, do hold positions of power.
It did not imply, as Spillar asserts, that all is peachy and keen for women in Israel. Nor does it imply an endorsement for any political party, another reason given for the ad's rejection.
Two of the three women are from the same party. If political affiliation was a rationale for rejecting ads, there would be a lot of empty magazines nowadays.
And if Spillar's ever been to Israel, she'd know there are many Israels --- and these three represent just one of many in a country that's a lot more polyglot than it gets credit for.
Spillar tried to show Ms. had Israeli bona fides by stating how the magazine -- now reduced to a
quarterly -- had covered Israeli feminist issues 11 times.
What's more, the current issue has an article profiling Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, one of the women in the ad. So Ms. doesn't really hate Israel, right?
Not so fast, says AJCongress President Richard Gordon:

"....Ms. has run a cover article in the Fall 2003 issue on Queen Noor of Jordan, has featured a number of articles on Muslim women, and even ran an article in the Winter 2004 issue entitled, ‘Images of Palestine,’ which discussed the Ramallah Film Festival and gave sympathetic reviews to films concerning ‘the liberation of South Lebanon’ from Israel as well as numerous films which portrayed terrorism as legitimate ‘revolutionary’ activity against Israel and miscast Israel’s activities to counter terrorism as ‘oppressive.’”

Bottom line: The AJCongress has given Ms. a lot more publicity than it deserves. The magazine has managed to wheeze along for 35 years now.
Gloria Steinem is long gone from the masthead if not forgotten. But apparently relegated to the dustbin of history are Jewish feminist icons like Betty Friedan and Bella Abzug, both of whom would have no doubt been displeased if the magazine that helped define their movement betrayed another cause for which they also held great passion.

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