When Time magazine published its September cover story, “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace,” we were stunned by the bias of the article and its fundamental misrepresentation of Israeli attitudes. We wondered whether that article was a one-time failure of objectivity or if it represented a prevalent bias in Time’s reporting on Israel. So we reviewed Time’s reporting on Israel over the entire year – 73 articles, photo galleries, and quotes of the day.
We found that while the cover story may have generated the most outrage from those who care about Israel, it was entirely consistent with the way Time interprets and reports on the conflict. Time’s dismissive attitude towards Israel’s peace efforts was just one example of an editorial bias that runs deep. The magazine takes the same attitude in its coverage of diplomacy, implying repeatedly that Israel is creating obstacles for peace through its failure to make reasonable compromises.
The impression readers would get from reading Time is that the Israeli public and its leaders have no interest to making reasonable compromises that would satisfy the moderates in the region. The refusal of Israel to give in on demands for a complete settlement freeze and acceptance of a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital at a minimum demonstrates (to Time at least) that Israeli peace overtures are not at all serious.
Palestinian officials such as Mahmoud Abbas are presented as peace-seeking moderates. A photo gallery shows Abbas traveling the world to shake hands with international diplomats in his quest for peace. Quotes of the day are attributed to the likes of Saeb Erekat who use the forum to place all the blame upon Israel for a failure to achieve peace. Meanwhile, extreme Palestinian demands and the continued daily incitement against Israel by official Palestinian Authority sources are ignored.
Any information that would counter Time’s perspective is either omitted or misrepresented. Hence Jewish claims to parts of Jerusalem such as the Old City stem from the 1967 War. Archeological sites that prove thousands of years of Jewish history in the city are labeled “ideological” and summarily dismissed. Space is given to those who level charges at Israel while often Israeli responses are simply left out of articles.
As a result, Time’s reporting on Israel leaves readers with a distorted picture that was only amplified by the September 13th cover story. While that article was enough for us to award Time with out 2010 Dishonest Reporter Award, it was entirely consistent with the anti-Israel bias we found.