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Ms. Magazine Fends Off Charges of Anti-Israel Bias

by Staff

Tags: American Jewish Congress, AJCongress, Ms., Ms. magazine, feminism, feminist magazines, Israel, anti-Israel bias,

AJCongress adTwo unlikely foes have been trading barbs of late: the feminist magazine Ms. and the American Jewish Congress. The AJCongress, whose mission is to “defend Jewish interests at home and abroad,” took the first public swing by harshly criticizing Ms. for its refusal to run an AJCongress ad (PDF) featuring photos of three women who occupy high-level positions in the Israeli government. In a statement on the AJCongress website, Richard Gordon, president of the AJCongress, accused the magazine’s publishers of being “hostile” to Israel; similar charges of anti-Israel bias soon popped up across the blogosphere. “For a publication that holds itself out to be in the forefront of the Women’s Movement,” Gordon said, “this is nothing short of disgusting and despicable.”

Ms. responded to the organization’s criticism with its own strongly worded statement, explaining that the ad was rejected for being “inconsistent” with the magazine’s ad policy, which accepts “only mission-driven advertisements from primarily non-profit, non-partisan organizations that promote women’s equality, social justice, sustainable environment, and non-violence.” She also points out that the Winter 2008 issue of Ms., which hit newsstands a few weeks ago, includes a profile (PDF) of Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, one of the women pictured in the AJCongress ad. And Clare Kinberg, the editor of Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal, defended Ms. in a letter to the Forward a few weeks ago, accusing the AJCongress of “playing on fears of antisemitism.”  

On the other hand, it’s possible that Ms. is vetting its ads too cautiously. The magazine’s editors should expect that their readers can differentiate the viewpoint of the magazine from those presented in advertisements. Or Ms. should simply establish an “accept all” policy to avoid these types of traps, as Katha Pollitt suggests in a column for the Nation. Pollitt writes that by accepting all ads, as the Nation does, “You don’t have to explain why you rejected this ad last week when you accepted that one three years ago, you don’t get embroiled in ideological flash fires over words you didn’t write, and you don't get enmeshed in other people’s agendas.”

(Thanks, New York Sun.)

Sarah Pumroy