In a surprising move last week, Ms. Magazine refused to accept an advertisement that highlighted the leadership of Israeli women in public service. The full page advertisement sponsored by the American Jewish Congress featured three high profile Israeli women with the statement, “This is Israel,” in large, bold letters. The female political figures featured were Tzipi Livni, vice prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, Dorit Beinisch, president of the Supreme Court of Israel, and Dalia Itzik, speaker of the Knesset.
|Tzipi Livni||Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs|
|(No photo available)||Dorit Beinisch||President of the Supreme Court|
|Dalia Itzik||Speaker of the Knesset|
Magazine representative Susie Gilligan reportedly told the American Jewish Congress, “[We] would love to have an ad from you on women's empowerment, or reproductive freedom, but not on this.”
Ms. Magazine's executive editor, Katherine Spillar, further explained the rejection, saying: “Because two of the women were from the same political party, we understood it as political. [The magazine] does not get involved in the domestic politics [of foreign nations].”
(Both Vice Prime Minister Livni and Knesset Speaker Itzik hail from the Kadima Party.)
American Jewish Congress president, Richard Gordon, fumed, “The only conclusion that one can reach from this behavior is that Ms. Magazine feels that an ad highlighting the accomplishments of three incredibly talented and dedicated women would offend their readership. Since there is nothing about the ad itself that is offensive, it is obviously the nationality of the women pictured that the management of Ms. fears their readership would find objectionable. For a publication that holds itself out to be in the forefront of the Women's Movement, this is nothing short of disgusting and despicable,”
Bloggers Speak Out–
Observing the Israeli and Jewish blogosphere's reactions to the scandal, Women's Lens blogger Aimee Kligman remarks:
“I suppose we don't need Ms. Magazine at this point, because this ad is alive and well on the blogosphere.”
The author of the Hashmonean blog features a copy of the advertisement, commenting:
“Here’s the ad that has been refused by the Magazine because from my understanding it is too controversial. It features three prominent Israeli Women in positions of power to illustrate our free, equal society where Women are generally very well liked and considered quite competent (they also get to carry machine guns, you’d think this was a Feminist Mecca here [in] the holy land no!?) Apparently not.”
Note that in the tradition of leaders in the public sphere coming from elite military backgrounds, Dorit Beinisch was a first lieutenant in the Israel Defense Forces and Tzipi Livni was an IDF officer and served in the Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency.
Avi Green of Tel-Chai Nation believes that there is a:
“…double-standard being displayed by Ms. Magazine, which wouldn't run an ad featuring three left-wing – I repeat, LEFT-WING – women who have high positions in Israeli politics and government: Tzipi Livni, Dorit Beinish [sic], and Dalia Itzik. It's very bad, because it shows that Ms. is hostile to Israel even when it's leftists who are the focus.”
Solomon of Solomonia reacts to Ms.’ explanation for their rejection of the advertisement, saying:
“Lame excuse. Tzipi Livni isn't exceptional because she's a prominent female Israeli figure, Israel is exceptional in her region because females are prominent (and in Israel, their gender is unexceptional).”
Women Leading the Way–
Livni, Beinisch, and Itzik aren't Israel's only prominent women. Galia Maor is the CEO of Bank Leumi, the national bank of Israel, Ester Levanon is president of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, and Dalia Narkiss leads Manpower, the largest employment agency in Israel. Additionally, Golda Meir served as Israel's fourth prime minister and first women in that position, from 1969 to 1974 (pictured left). And that's not all, Israel's first Olympic gold medal was earned by Yael Arad in judo in 1992.
What's Your Opinion?–
So what do you think? Should the magazine have offered the American Jewish Congress an opportunity to submit the advertisement with alternative figures? Is the issue being overblown? Is Ms. Magazine truly anti-Israel as the bloggers claim? What could have been done to avoid this international snafu?
Let's hear what you have to say.