Middle East studies in the News
Gay Rights Offends Time Magazine's Image of Israel [incl. Joseph Massad]
by Simon Plosker
Sometimes the story choice itself conveys the prejudice of the writer and a media outlet that commissioned it for publication. How then to explain Time Magazine's latest feature with the loaded headline: Is Israel Using Gay Rights to Excuse Its Policy on Palestine?
Israel's progressive and liberal policies towards its gay community are a natural outgrowth of its liberal democratic value system. Why shouldn't Israel include this as part of its efforts to present itself to the world which tends to view the country solely through the lens of the Middle East conflict?
But as the headline and story choice imply, Israeli policies and their promotion to the outside world, particularly to gay communities outside of Israel, are merely a nefarious way to distract attention from Israeli policies relating to the Palestinians. According to Time:
The accusations stem from efforts over the past half-decade by the Israeli government to weave the country's gay-friendly policies — including national hate-crime laws, employment protection for LGBT workers and openly gay military service — into its larger national-rebranding strategy, in the hopes of redirecting its global image away from politics, terrorism and the occupied territories. "The Israeli government and its propaganda organs … insist on advertising and exaggerating its recent record on LGBT rights … to fend off international condemnation of its violations of the rights of the Palestinian people," says Joseph Massad, associate professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University in New York City.
Time's choice of Joseph Massad for comment on this is particularly bizarre given that Massad has been accused of homophobia by some gay organizations. Ernesto Pagano writes on interviewing Massad:
Homosexuals in the Arab world? They have been "invented" by the West. In his book Desiring Arabs, Joseph Massad, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin and an associate professor at Columbia University, attempts to follow the process through which the gay movement, born in the USA, has resulted in and tried to impose a homosexual identity on those Arabs who entertain relations with people of their own sex. A process that according to Massad, follows the tracks of western imperialism.
Massad also has a track record of promoting extremist viewpointsconcerning Israel. Perhaps this fits entirely with Time's agenda and apparent need to find radically anti-Israel quotes.
Apparently, an Israel that promotes progressive policies, in this case, gay-friendly ones, does not fit with the image of Israel that Time would prefer to you believe. And if such a positive image is the reality then better to attribute them to something far more sinister such as covering up for Israeli "crimes".
Perhaps the journalist David Kaufman may have seen a very different side of things had he bothered to investigate the treatment of gays in the Palestinian territories and neighboring Middle East countries.
Time Magazine's latest article follows a disturbing trend of anti-Israel bias that earned it the 2010 Dishonest Reporter Award for an article that questioned whether Israelis were interested in peace. In that case, the article's content, imagery and nuances attempted to present an Israel that seems to exist in the minds of Time's journalists and editors.
This is just the latest example of Time's disdain for Israel as outlined in our In-Depth Analysis: No Time For Israel.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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