Judging a magazine by its cover?

Judging a magazine by its cover?

The Sept. 13 Time Magazine cover features a Star of David made of flowers encircling the headline “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace.”
No matter your political or religious standpoint, it’s a jarring image. The cover uses the symbol representing all of Judaism — not just the Israeli branch — implying that peace just doesn’t matter anymore to Jews. We’ll be the next in a seemingly endless line of criticizers to say the obvious: That cover was in poor taste, whether or not the story inside backed up the statement.
The four-page article that follows, written by Karl Vick, paints a picture of Israel as a place where life is lived in the moment. He writes of Israelis spending time relaxing on the beaches of Tel Aviv, sitting in posh cafes. He writes of excited real estate agents boasting that business is good, that the economy is booming. Vick writes, “When it reaches the eastern Mediterranean, the sun strikes molecules at an angle that erases the possibility that anything can matter except this sky, that sea and the land between.” Sounds pretty nice, right?
But here lies Vick’s point — with such positivity and beauty in front of their faces, Israelis are no longer concerned with what lies over the security barrier across borders. They no longer care about the peace process; citing a 2010 poll, Vick writes that only 8 percent of Israeli Jews believe conflict with the Palestinians is the country’s most urgent problem.
And this, according to Vick, is itself the problem. If Israelis don’t care about the peace process, then how could we even begin to hope that the most recent direct talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will be successful? Shouldn’t we just throw up our hands, say “We tried! Israel just doesn’t care anymore!” and call it a day?
Of course not. The major fault (and there are many, as well as many legitimate points) of Vick’s story is to paint the life-embracing nature of Israelis as an indicator that they don’t care about peace. Actual peace and the peace process are two wholly different things. The idea of a peace process is frustrating and has, time and time again, failed. Peace, on the other hand, is a basic ideal of humanity, one that only genuinely cruel people would not desire.
Israelis do want peace — how could they not? — but they realize that the peace process is one that may be unlikely to succeed, due to the faults of both Palestinian and Israeli leadership and governmental structure. And instead of dwelling on this fact, allowing it to grind their lives into a miserable hell, Israelis have largely chosen to live, as Vick quotes one ecstatic real estate agent, “in the day.” When life is so good, it should be lived to the fullest. Certainly this doesn’t mean the peace process should be abandoned, nor does it mean that Israelis enjoy war. But it does mean that for your average Israeli walking down a Tel Aviv street, war and peace is not a pressing issue.
Though this seems to point to Israelis’ insensitivity toward the reportedly awful conditions of their Palestinian neighbors, Israelis seem too burned out from years of terrorist attacks to pay too much attention.
Vick fails to see the parallels between Israel and the United States. For nearly a decade now, Americans have been embroiled in military engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq. Were we to follow Vick’s advice — one and all focusing on the terrorist-centric war at hand — we’d be a nation even more paranoid and scared than we already are. To what end must war and violence outweigh happiness and human fulfillment?
Vick’s story is not anti-Semitic, as many have vehemently suggested; it’s just misguided. He paints a lively, bright picture of Israel and drapes a shroud of negativity over it. But lift that shroud and you have the truth.