05 October 2007

Playboy magazine slammed for criticizing Israel

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) has condemned the Playboy magazine for publishing an article criticizing Israel. For CAMERA any opinion that is not totally biased in favor of Israel is distorted. For them, the editors who publish these opinions don't know a zit’s ass about the conflict in the ME and are not equipped to edit. And for them, the people who read popular magazines and professional journals don’t have the mind to know what is good for them. CAMERA puts it like this:

distorted articles about the Arab-Israeli conflict have increasingly turned up in popular magazines and professional journals that don't ordinarily cover world affairs (eg: Vogue, Architectural Review, Oprah and Lancet). Editors of such publications are generally unequipped to spot inaccuracies, distortions and lack of context on Middle East issues. Because these publications usually provide information on non-controversial or human interest stories, when they promote fringe, false and inflammatory points of view the mainstream public is likely to accept these views as credible.
But what did Playboy do? It published an article by Jonathan Tasini titled “Israel Shouldn’t Get a Free Pass: Real Debate Is Not Anti-Semetic”.
became worried because the article agrees with Jimmy Carter's description, in his book "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid", of the control over Palestinians' movements as similar to South Africa's apartheid system.
CAMERA finds it most disturbing that the Playboy,
the racy but popular men's magazine, has published in its October 2007 issue an article comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa.
And what, in Tasini's article, made him and Playboy earn this condemnation?
Here are the introductory paragraphs, the entire article is at Sabbah's:
Why can’t American Jews, particularly liberal Jews, think straight about Israel? American Jews can easily condemn the war in and occupation of Iraq, as well as the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians and the violations of civil rights there. Yet the same passion for peace, justice and human rights is muted when it comes to talking about unpleasant activities in the Israeli government. American Jews and many politicians who pander for Jewish votes are hurting Israel and the cause of peace by refusing to have an honest debate about our country’s historically one-sided position vis-a-vis Israel and the Middle East conflict. An honest debate is underway within Israel itself, but in the US it’s impossible to be critical of Israel without being labeled anti-Semitic or worse.

Before I dive further into this, I should establish my bona fides for making this argument, which itself says alot about the terrain. I am a Jew. My father was born in what was then Palestine and fought in Israel’s war of independence. My father’s cousin was killed in that war. I lived in Israel for seven years, including the period of the 1973 Yom Kippur war. A cousin of mine was killed in that war, leaving behind a widow and two children. My step-grandfather, an ikd nab wgi was no threat to anyone was killed by a Palestinian who took an axe to his head while he was sitting quietly on a park bench. His murder was revenge for the massacre of dozens of peaceful Muslims the day before, slaughtered by an ultra-nationalist Israeli soldier as they knelt in prayer.

I care about Israel as I care about our country, but I wish to speak the truth about it. In 2006, when I ran in the New York Democratic primary for Senator because of incumbent Hillary Clinton’s support for the Iraq war, my campaign coincided with Israel’s bombing of Lebanon, a move triggered by the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers. While campaigning I said that Israel had committed acts that violated the Geneva Conventions and international standards. Within an hour reporters from all four New York daily papers called me, alerted to my comments by my opponent’s operatives. Betraying their bias, the reporters had no idea my position would not be considered novel or radical in Israel where the country’s conduct in the war was a topic of hot debate. >>>the rest...

Image by: Carlos Latuff


Mustapha said...

I read that article after Haitham pointed out to it.

What's amazing is that people still put up with this form of "shame-based" censorship.

I'll put that as a badge of honor on Playboy's chest..

Anonymous said...

Strange. I read the entire CAMERA piece (did you?) and I did not see any accusation of anti-Semitism leveled against the author of the Playboy article. CAMERA disputes some of the points made in the article, but where is this alleged accusation of anti-Semitism?

M Bashir said...


You raise a valid point (and yes I read the article). I will be as brief as possible in explaining why I claimed that CAMERA accuses Playboy of anti-Semitism along with the other publications mentioned in the article. Anti-Semitism, anti-Israel and anti-Zionism usually mean the same thing for outlets defending Israel. Take for instance the Jewish Virtual Library, see how it categorizes anti-Israel statements which it does not consider fair criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic:

Many of these anti-Israel statements were more than mere criticism of Israeli policy, which would, of course, be legitimate; they were anti-Semitic because they questioned Israel's right to exist, singled out the Jewish state for harsh criticism while ignoring anti-Israel terrorism, condoned international Zionist conspiracies or reflected other double standards.

Now see how CAMERA categorized Playboy as anti-Israel:
In other words, this is the kind of distorted, one-sided article that one might expect to find on an anti-Israel propaganda site, but not in Playboy.

And CAMERA accuses Tasini of publishing falsehoods and propaganda about Israel, which can not be classified as mere criticism of Israeli policies, hence they are anti-Semitic according to the definition above. This applies to Playboy too.
If Tasini wants to publish such propaganda and falsehoods, he should be forced to publish in discredited fringe publications that have little regard for fairness or fact. And if Playboy continues to run such shoddy articles, it will eventually be regarded as one of those publications.

Although the word anti-Semitic is not mentioned in the article, it is strongly insinuated. Read the other articles about the other publications mentioned as well as the "anti-..." articles at JVL. CAMERA places all of them in one category: unjustified and bias falsehoods against Israel.

By the way, if the title of the post was "...tagged as anti-Israel" instead of "...anti-Semitic" would it then be ok with you.

Anonymous said...

M. Bashir -- don't you think that's a bit of a stretch? CAMERA is calling a piece in Playboy propogandistic, and you're claiming CAMERA is calling Playboy anti-Semitic because some other website has its own vague definition of anti-Semitic. That would be like someone accusing you of calling CAMERA "Hitler-like" because some other blog somewhere compares Zionists to Hitler. But in reality, you said no such thing.

It's especially a stretch because on the main CAMERA page, the intro to that article explicity says "Tasini's comments on Israel are not anti-Semitic. They're just wrong." We need not agree that they're wrong, but it certainly seems reasonable for someone else to feel that they are.

So okay, you don't like Israel. CAMERA didn't like the Playboy article. But when everyone starts to put words in everyone else's mouths, there's no point in having words anymore.

(written by a different Anonymous than the previous. Yes, I'm Jewish -- but even Jews can have a point sometimes, right?)

M Bashir said...

different Anonymous:

...but even Jews can have a point sometimes, right?
I'm glad you brought that up. You see, I don't look at people in the light of what religion they belong to. I believe that people are people, regardless of what religious views they have. I do NOT hold the conviction that Jews should be thrown into the sea or whatever that was. I believe that countries or nations should and most of the times do consist of diversity of religious, political and philosophical beliefs. I do not believe that nations can survive or do really exist that consist of a pure race or one religious group. I do not see religions as nations. That said, my answer to your question is: ofcourse you are right. People everywhere and whoever they are not Infallible.

Two more points before I start boring you and myself:
-CAMERA did not just call Playboy and the other media outlets propagandists, that would be over-simplifying.
-I do not usually answer anonymous comments, so you guys/gals just leave an alias or something.

Jackie said...

Hi Moussa -

It's a pity that anonymous2 ended his comment by noting that he is Jewish, "but even Jews can have a point sometimes." That allowed you to avoid addressing the points he makes in his comment. Instead, you limit your response to assuring him that you believe in pluralism and have nothing against Jews.

I don't think you have anything against Jews. However, I do think that you have made some demonstrably false claims in your post. You have claimed that CAMERA labeled Playboy anti-Semitic, when the fact is that the lead-in on CAMERA's homepage very specifically states that the article in question is NOT anti-Semitic.

I read the CAMERA article very carefully, and there is not even a hint that the writer is accusing Playboy of anti-Semitism. Rather, he takes issue with several of the claims in Tasini's article. All the arguments are backed up with facts. This is simply an honest debate. There is no name-calling at all. So why do you dismiss it?

I do not like CAMERA's agenda, but that does not mean that I will automatically dismiss every article published on their site. I think it is admirable that you "...don't look at people in the light of what religion they belong to." So why do you refuse to extend that open attitude to the CAMERA article? Why don't you address the *content* of the article rather than its source?

Surely that is the intellectual honesty and rigor you would expect from your students.

M Bashir said...

Hello Jackie,

I've revised and changed the title of this post.

Omar said...

anti-semitic is a word made up by western media that spread out like a virus throughout the world. saying that a arab is anti-semitic is completely contradicting itself because we are in fact, semitic.

lets not forget what Semitic actually means.

nothing but a language... thats all


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