Last week, Time magazine ran a cover story about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under the headline “Only the Strong Survive.” It was the fourth time Netanyahu appeared on the magazine’s cover.
For many years I had a subscription to Time. Many of its writers weren’t fans of the Jewish state and slandered it. A feature article expressing support and even empathy for Israel is without question an accomplishment. Describing the country as resembling its prime minister—“prosperous, powerful and resilient, yet insecure”—is accurate and flattering to both Netanyahu and Israel. Also accurate were the descriptions of his military service and Israel’s significant contribution to the security of many across the globe today.
In the Israeli press, as expected, there was little excitement over the article. Here and there it was actively downplayed. Several political and foreign affairs pundits stressed the criticism throughout the article itself, despite the seemingly positive headline.
I read the piece, and it’s true: There’s quite a bit of criticism in the article. Most if not all of it reflects bias and unchecked figures. It’s important to respond to these things because, with all due respect to Time and its fans in Israel, criticism that isn’t based on truth-seeking isn’t sacrosanct.
The article claims that Israel’s prosperity has come at the expense of the 3 million Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, and the 2 million in Gaza.
These demographic figures are severely exaggerated. Sans any official census, these figures are only based on numbers provided by organizations that make a living off of exaggerating population numbers and perpetuating refugee status. More importantly—the suffering of Palestinians stems from the illegitimate and corrupt government ruling over the Arabs in Judea and Samaria (the Palestinian Authority) and Gaza (Hamas).
Billions of dollars funneled in by donor countries (the United States, the European Union, Japan) and Israel haven’t improved the lives of Palestinians. Upon Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, the coastal enclave’s situation began deteriorating after the Erez industrial zone was destroyed. The settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria, meanwhile, which creates cooperation and jobs, contributes to the welfare of the territory’s residents.
The article further claimed that the United States, by rejecting the two-state solution, has become an impartial mediator. The American epiphany that the two-state solution is simply a recipe for disaster for both sides opens the door for outside-the-box solutions. The Oslo Accords and withdrawal from Gaza triggered waves of terrorism, missiles and incendiary balloons launched across the Green Line. Another disengagement from Judea and Samaria could be calamitous.
And as for the argument that Netanyahu is emphasizing the Iran issue to obscure the Palestinian one, Time’s infatuation with the nuclear deal with Iran and its love for countries that supported it obscures a far more troubling reality.
Just as prior to the Second World War the world ignored Hitler, Nazism and the danger these posed to the entire world, now too there are those who prefer to turn a blind eye to the actions of the ayatollah regime. Now as then, the Jewish people are simply the appetizer. The dogged persistence of U.S. President Donald Trump and Netanyahu vis-à-vis Iran could force the countries of the free world to pull their heads out of the sand, recognize the harsh reality and fall in line with the imposition of necessary sanctions.
Time’s assertion that Israel’s Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People infringes on the civil rights of all non-Jews in Israel is baseless. The nation-state law simply stipulates that the State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people. It also recognizes the blue and white flag with the Star of David as the national flag and Hebrew as the national language (with special status for Arabic).
The law’s roots are found in the Declaration of Independence, which calls Israel a “Jewish state” six times, and in the Law of Return. The law does not violate the basic rights of any of the country’s citizens.
Time‘s criticism recycles the same mundane claims employed by Netanyahu’s rivals. On the eve of another general election, however, which as usual are critical for the fate of the people of Israel in their homeland, we should instead focus on the headline of the article. Strength is not a divine gift; it is built with the wisdom, effort and perseverance of leaders over time. When we go vote, we’ll remember that “only the strong survive.“
Even Time said so.
Talia Einhorn is a law professor at Ariel University’s Department of Economics and Business Management and Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Tel Aviv University Faculty of Management.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.