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Media Critique: Time's

Media Critique: Time's "Fields of Fire"

In an article bad enough to cancel your subscription over, Time magazine implicates Israel in the deaths of Palestinian children.


In this article Time magazine violates all rules of objectivity, consistently presenting Palestinians in a positive and sympathetic light, while portraying Israelis as callous murderers.

Wael Imad, a violent attacker, is described in warm, humanistic terms: a "lively 14-year-old" who receives "allowance" from "Daddy." "A rubber bullet thwacked into Wael's shin. Thin and small for his age, he reached down and rubbed the stinging wound with one hand... Wael Imad's stricken mother arrived at the chaotic main gate of Shifa Hospital."

Israelis, on the other hand, are characterized as bloodthirsty thugs: "The tall, crew-cut young man lifted a Maccabi beer bottle and bragged like a high school quarterback after a perfect touchdown pass... Their faces shone with admiration. The braggart pointed to his M-16A3."

Indiscriminate Killings

Time’s distorted attempt to paint Israelis as ruthless killers gets worse: "In many cases, Israeli attacks can be indiscriminate, such as machine-gun fire into crowded neighborhoods."

What possible basis does Time have for making such an outrageous claim – essentially a blood libel against the entire Israeli army?

Time continues its inflammatory declarations:

"The Israeli army maintains that it has refined its tactics in the past few years in an attempt to reduce the number killed at demonstrations. Yet a Time investigation reveals that Israel's loosely drawn rules of engagement permit soldiers regularly to shoot at children... Hostile protesters younger than age 18, whether armed with guns or Molotov cocktails, even stones, are fair game when Israeli soldiers find their actions threatening."

One wonders what exactly it is that Time magazine would recommend as the response to a 16-year-old that is "armed with guns or Molotov cocktails"? Isn’t it reasonable to respond with ammunition against an attacker – whether age 16 or 60 – who is wielding automatic weapons, firebombs and stones which can kill? Even Time itself describes the Palestinian “actions [as] threatening." In circumstances such as these, isn’t it reasonable for Israeli soldiers to be shooting to protect their lives? One fails to see the “excessive force” that Time accuses Israel of.

And by the way, since when is a "hostile" individual "armed with guns or Molotov cocktails" ever properly referred to as a "protester"?

Rules of Engagement

Time states: "Part of the problem in investigating and monitoring these deaths is that Israeli rules of engagement are interpreted subjectively by whichever soldier happens to be senior man on the scene. In some cases, that can leave the decision in the hands of a conscript just out of high school."

Again the question is, where is there ever a situation in which the rules of engagement in war are ever interpreted other than "subjectively by whichever soldier happens to be senior man on the scene"? The necessity of split-second decision-making is, of course, an unfortunate reality of warfare, as is the almost uniform circumstance that the ones making them are at times "a conscript just out of high school."

How should Israel properly deal with the unfortunate reality which has been thrust upon Israel of continued violence and terrorism from all sides? That doesn't seem to concern Time magazine. In the end, it all comes down to a question of numbers: "The high number of Palestinian deaths signals that Israel has not met its responsibility under the principles of the U.N. to rely on the "intentional lethal use of firearms only... when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life."

In other words, irrespective of the deliberate, continual, cynical use of children by the Palestinians in one combat situation after another, and irrespective of the tremendous efforts being made by the Israeli soldiers to limit the loss of life as much as is humanly possible, "the high number of Palestinian deaths signals that Israel has not met its responsibility."

Yet as Time itself reports, there have been over 3,100 live fire incidents in the last 11 weeks. 270 deaths is quite restrained when compared to that horrifying statistic. Yet if the standard that Time instead applies – comparative deaths – is truly proof of "excessive force," then what adjective should be applied to the United States and its Arab and NATO allies, who, in Operation Desert Storm, killed 100,000 Iraqi men, women and children – while losing only 100 soldiers in return?

The fact is that no nation, at any time in history, has ever satisfied the distorted standards that Time seeks to impose on Israel. Instead of condemning the initiators of the violence, Time instead criticizes those who are trying to defend themselves under the most difficult circumstances.

Bullets Whiz Harmlessly

While Time paints Israeli gunfire as vicious, whereas comparable Palestinian gunfire directed at Israeli civilians is passed off as laughable and vaudevillian, in the most benign terms: "The bullets whizzed harmlessly through the night... and fired by inexpert marksmen, they were no great threat."

In a further distortion, Time equates the deaths of Palestinian terrorists, which occur entirely in self-defense, with the unspeakable horrors committed by the Palestinian terrorists against the Israelis, mostly civilians: "And Palestinian hard-liners have committed their own atrocities, beating two Israeli reservists to death and attacking an Israeli settler bus, killing two teachers and maiming several children."

On the Front Line

Time makes no mention of why these children are sent to commit violence in the first place. According to USA Today (December 8, 2000), a Palestinian women's group called the Tulkarm Women's Union, has demanded that the Palestinian Authority stop using children as cannon fodder. They wrote to Yasser Arafat: "Our children are being sent into the streets to face heavily armed Israeli soldiers... We urge you to issue instructions to your police force to stop sending innocent children to their death."

One woman from Tulkarm, who refused to give her full name for fear of reprisals, told USA Today, ''We don't want to send our sons to the front line, but they are being taken by the Palestinian Authority."

She added that Arafat's Fatah movement and the Palestinian security forces provide transportation and encouragement to children who wish to take part in the current intifada. "When school finishes, Palestinian Authority security cars go around collecting children from the streets and sending them to the killing fields," she says.

Palestinian television constantly broadcasts images of children carrying weapons and staging mock attacks on Israelis, and the media "exalt not only those killed, but also their willingness to die as martyrs... emphasizing that [this] was the realization of their hopes", according to Itamar Marcus, director of the Palestinian Media Watch monitoring group.

It is distressing that a so-called respectable, mainstream media outlet such a Time has presented such a gross distortion of the Mideast conflict. Canceling one’s subscription should be but the first act of protest.

See the full article:,9171,91386,00.html

December 16, 2000

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 6

(6) Debbie Mankowitz, January 15, 2001 12:00 AM

Your work that you are doing is greatly appreciated

It is absolutely essential to be a source of accurate information for Jews in the rest of the world ,especially since Jews living in the Diaspora are not exposed to the real truth of events in Israel, and tend to believe what they see and hear in their local media and this can be very undermining to Jews as a whole and Israel. We have also formed a group in South Africa called EMET South Africa in an effort to counter media inaccuracy and bias towards Israel.

(5) brian m, December 19, 2000 12:00 AM

your article is biased too

Even though the internet version article does not tell the whole story. I think that they paid special attention to the plight of israeli soldiers who are faced with the decision to shoot or not shoot.

(4) Tsivya Larson, December 18, 2000 12:00 AM

Letters to the Editor of Time Magazine

Letter 1:
December 17, 2000

Dear Editor:

If there was evern a shred of validity in the position of the Arab terrorists, it would not be necessary for the media to distort the truth about what is going on in the middle east. How would the United States respond to armed insurrection with its borders? We don't have to look very far to see what happened in Waco, Texas. We don't have to look very far to see the response to a terorist attack in Oklahoma City. And we don't have to look very far to see what happened to thousands of American citizens during world War II--they were rounded up and incarcerated. Their crime? Looking Japanese.

Perhaps the editors of Time should ask themselves what their response would be were a group of Native Americans to fire upon civilians in an attempt to reclaim the Great Plains.

I refer you to the article below, from Aish.

[included was a copy of the Aish article which I am responding to.]

Letter 2:
Wael Imad's avowed purpose in attending the riot was to achieve "martyrdom"; in other words, to cause as much mayhem as possible before rushing headlong into death. His mother has my sympathy; she, unlike other Arab mothers who have boasted of bearing children for the sole purpose of becoming martyrs (presumably to earn cash rewards), apparently did not encourage her son to join the rioters. Wael Imad, too, has my sympathy; at his tender and impressionable age he easily fell prey to the Arab propaganda which is being taught in schools. In this, the Arabs appear to emulate the ancient Egyptian culture of death and the pagan rituals of child sacrifice, unworthy of a people who claim to be descended from Abraham.

Were this scenario to be played out in the United States, it would be cleaned up very quickly and efficiently by soldiers, without messing around with rubber bullets.

(3) Charles Feldman, December 18, 2000 12:00 AM

I wrote to time at e-mail given, it bounced. See below:

Attached is an e-mail I sent to Time complaining about their article. It was CC'd to all my friends , but never made it to time? Perhaps they are no longer accepting e-mail comments? A copy follows:

Attached is something that quotes one of your recent articles:
in the deaths of Palestinian children. Time reports: "In many cases, Israeli attacks
can be indiscriminate, such as machine-gun fire into crowded neighborhoods."

By contrast, when Time mentions Palestinian gunfire directed at Israeli civilians, it
is in the most benign terms: "The bullets whizzed harmlessly through the night... and

Time magazine (10 December 2000) features a grossly biased article implicating Israel
fired by inexpert marksmen, they were no great threat."

My comments follow:

Why don’t you mention the fact that the Palestinians are placing their children in harms way by taking them from school, literally pushing them into dangerous confrontations and actually offering families money to loose their children in a way that will get their cause positive press. In fact, you people with news reporting of this nature are guilty and responsible for encouraging such behavior. Also, why not mention the fact that the so called Palestinian policemen are shooting from behind their own children. When Israel troops fire their weapons , it is in response to attacks on the population, NOT indiscriminate. What type of attack do you classify a bomb directed at a bus of Israeli school children? Why are you slow to condemn such actions along with the daily shooting from Palestinian areas at Israeli civilians? I am appalled at the way you report the situation in your magazine and will encourage all my friends and relatives to drop their subscriptions to your publications.

Charles Feldman

(2) Ira Berger, December 18, 2000 12:00 AM

Its funny we as Jews are so good at almost evreything except Public Relations. If in fact we as Jews run the Media, Banks, Etc. why arent we using all our talents to properly get the word out. I am 60 years old and the American Jewish Community was always afraid of "What will the Goyim think of us if we talk up. Well I think its about time the WORLD heard KOL YISRAEL. Its about time the Jews made the world feel guilty for all the attrocities that the Christians and Moslems had done to the Jews in the Name of thier peace loving prophets.

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