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Ms. Magazine rejects ad from the AJC

Apparently, Ms. Magazine has rejected a pro-Israel add by the American Jewish Congress Commission for Women’s Empowerment. The ad featured prominent Israeli women. Ms. Magazine said that it violated their ad policy. Having two women both from the same political party was the problem. In the same issue Ms. is running an article about Livni!

Perhaps this was AJC’s attempt also to use the pages of the venerable, feminist magazine, founded by Jews to undo some of the sexism unleashed by the Maxim – Israeli Women Soldiers in bikini feature. So why would the Ms. have a problem with that? There must be more to it than that.

More likely Ms. rejected it because being pro-Israel doesn’t mesh, jive, fit-in with the feminist agenda today. Bitterly ironic, because only in Israel do women have a modicum of rights in the middle east!

I hope that Ms. Magazine does an about-face when their predominantly Jewish readership gets wind of this story and the kugel hits the fan.

JTA reports:

The ad highlights successful women in Israel. It shows photographs of three prominent Israelis — Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni and the president of the Supreme Court, Dorit Beinish — above the words “This is Israel.”

Harriet Kurlander, the director of the AJCongress Commission for Women’s Empowerment, said in a news release that she was told when she tried to place the ad that it “would set off a firestorm” and that “there are very strong opinions” on the subject, which she believed to mean Israel.

“What other conclusion can we reach except that the publishers — and if the publishers are right, a significant number of Ms. magazine readers — are so hostile to Israel that they do not even want to see an ad that says something positive about Israel?” AJCongress President Richard Gordon asked.

Ms. magazine’s executive editor, Kathy Spillar, disputes that version, telling JTA the ad showed political support for one of Israel’s parties and thus violated magazine standards.

“We only take mission-driven ads,” Spillar said. “Because two of the women in this ad were from the same political party,” that showed favoritism, and the magazine’s policy is not to get involved in the domestic politics of another country.

Gordon noted that the magazine in its Fall 2003 issue ran a cover story on Jordan’s Queen Noor, and the Winter 2004 issue contained an article on the Ramallah Film Festival called “Images of Palestine.”

Spillar responded that “ironically” this month’s issue, just coming to newsstands now, has a two-page spread profiling Livni.

17 Comments

  1. Chutzpah

    1/11/2008 at 9:52 am

    Nothing ironic about turning down an ad in the publishing business. If there was already a two page article, an additional page can give the overall issue an unbalanced feeling.

    The print magazine industry is too competitive today to offer an issue that might discourage readers from buying the next issue;or,canceling or not renewing a subscription.

    Nothing wrong with running two issues in a row containing one article each on a topic.

    Palestinian readers are just as important as Israeli readers of either political party to the magazine’s bottom line,afterall it is not “Jewish Living Today”. Editorial choices need to be made with profits in mind.

    One magazine can’t “undo” the sexism of the contents found in another…that is a non-business-driven assumption.

  2. Rabbi Yonah

    1/11/2008 at 10:31 am

    I was being sarcastic, apparently unsuccessfully.

    In IS ironic that Ms. readership apparently might be offended by pro-Israel ads when in fact Israel is the only place in the middle east to be a feminist.

    As far the biz of the publishing industry – i leave all that to you chutzpah

  3. froylein

    1/11/2008 at 11:23 am

    I agree with Chutzpah; mags thrive on ads though, the magazine’s price alone doesn’t usually even cover the expenses of the print. Still, ads can be seriously misplaced to the extent that it makes one wonder what the editor in charge might have been thinking, e.g. a leading political magazine over here once issued a special edition on active euthanasia (which is forbidden in Germany) and introduced several terminally ill people and their views on assisted dying. The first three pages of that magazine though were a glossy ad for brandname designer clothing displaying healthy young models in all their beauty. It did make me wonder whether the magazine’s editors did care for those people they portrayed at all.

  4. Chutzpah

    1/11/2008 at 1:03 pm

    “Israel is th only place in the middle east to be a feminist”…Yo Rabbi, apparently you’ve never been to Har Nof.

  5. Chutzpah

    1/11/2008 at 1:15 pm

    Froylein,
    It seems the Editor of Ms. wisely erred on the side of caution to prevent any of her readers saying “hey, when did this magazine become so Jew-focused”. I’m sure she turned down plenty of money for that ad.

    Also, another advertiser may have offered her more money at the last minute than the AJC for that space. Advertising space is often sold by commissioned sales reps. If I were closing a deal near the end of the month for AJC for $15,000 for a Full page, 4 color and Hezbollah Central offered me $20,000 I might consider running to my Editor to ask for permission to drop AJC. The final decision is up to the Editor-in-Chief , the Publisher and the particular conscience (or lack thereof) of the Advertising Sales Rep.

  6. themiddle

    1/11/2008 at 1:40 pm

    An ad at this mag is a little cheaper, Chutzpah. Plus the AJC probably qualifies for the non-profit discount. The mag’s circulation appears to be around 200,000.

    I’m finding it a little hard to see what the big deal is about this ad rejection. Take another photo where you have Beinisch and two female politicians from two different parties and resubmit. If they reject again, then I would worry.

    Ms. Magazine is profiling Livni in the issue, so anti-Israel bias doesn’t seem to be the issue.

    On the other hand, I’m curious about the AJC’s objectives. Is this an important constituency to reach?

  7. froylein

    1/11/2008 at 3:24 pm

    Certainly, Chutzpah, I meant to point out that an editor would not likely forego the chance of placing a decently earning ad without any reason(ing).

  8. Gila

    1/12/2008 at 9:50 am

    I cannot speak for Har Nof, but for a while there was some pretty happening haredi-feminist stuff happening in Bayit-Vegan (the Nishmat seminary). They moved to Talpiot though….

    Perhaps Har Nof has its feminist corners as well?

    Gila

  9. Chutzpah

    1/12/2008 at 10:06 am

    Very rarely would a print buyer, either in-house or with an ad agency have the time or authority to change the graphics of an ad.

    “If they reject again, then I would worry”
    No, even feminazis are allowed to have privately run print publications with editorial control in this country. Would you expect Playboy to run an ad for a non-profit Pro-abstinence group? No.

    I suspect the whole thing was very benign. Most likely the ad sales rep was just trying to make a living and said “Oh, we are doing an issue on Israel…I’ll call every Jewish group I can think of to push the sale a large ad” (15% of $5,500 is better than a kick in the ass). Then the AJC’s print ad buyer drove her crazy about price and placement until she finally said “Fuck it, I don’t need this account, it’s taking up too much of my time, tell the AJC to go take a shit in the Dead Sea.”

    Then the higher ups at the AJC took this little “ad rejection incident” and used it to create more exposure, free buzz and sympathy than the original ad would have done.

    Jews can be pretty saavy with PR, some say we control the media.

  10. Chutzpah

    1/12/2008 at 11:12 am

    Gila,

    I’m sure there are many, many intelligent haredi young ladies asking probing questions about the role of women in Orthodox Judaism in Har Nof, Bayit Vegan and Talpiot, but eventually someone will say to each one of those women “Hey, if you don’t knock it off with the Feminist stuff you will never get a Shidduch” and that will be end of that young woman’s questioning.

    As for the ones that keep on questioning, well…they will never get a shidduch.

  11. Ben-David

    1/12/2008 at 2:44 pm

    Uhhhh – have any of you sudden converts to libertarianism actually READ the editorial staff’s lame statements – both to the AJC in rejecting the ad, and afterwards?

    If is were a simple case of imbalance in one issue, standard operating procedure is to:
    1) say that when rejecting the ad, and
    2) offer to run the ad the following month.

    That’s not what happened. The implication was that an ad that said something positive about Israel was too controversial – that is would “set off a firestorm”.

    There is nothing incendiary about that ad.

    Certainly Ms. can accept or reject any ad it wishes. And now – thanks to the internet – its motives and prejudices can be laid out and discussed.

  12. Chutzpah

    1/12/2008 at 2:54 pm

    What’s your problem with Libertarianism?

    Listen Ben-David… I don’t think you should buy any more copies of Ms. magazine … it’s inciting you too much. Also, I’d hide my copy of Maxim if I were you…between two gemarahs…your wife will never look for them there.

  13. Gila

    1/12/2008 at 3:09 pm

    Actually, the place I am referring to, Nishmat, is full of women who do ask questions…and who get answers, though I suspect that they are probably more har”dal (haredi daati leumi–think of it as super machmir modern orthodox) as opposed to Haredim.

    And most of the women there do get married. And Rabbanit Henkin absolutely rocks.

    I could look into the whole matter for you, if you would like more info. I suspect that, while the position of women in general is probably not one that you or I would be particularly comfortable with, the situation is probably far more complex than it would appear to one on the outside. I just keep on thinking of my haredi friends from Maalot Dafna, and the wives of my former bosses (Har Nof and Bayit Vegan)–none of them are retiring shrinking violets. All are married.

    Of course, I ask lots of questions, and am self-reliant, self-supporting, etc. And also not married. So maybe the HarNof’ers are right? 🙂

  14. Chutzpah

    1/12/2008 at 9:55 pm

    Gila…just to bring you up to speed on my back story…. been there, done that. I am a lapsed balas tshuva and a 43 year old divorced mother of 3. Let’s put it this way, an intuitive Rebbitzen in the Old City once told me not to marry an Ohr Somayach boy and I didn’t listen because I said “labels don’t matter”. The viewpoints I express are the result of my life experiences and my current situation in a shtetl I call ______ N.J., a supposed “modern pro-Israel” community in 1996 that can now only be described as “STARK”.
    I’m looking forward to reading your blog and thanks for sharing.

  15. Ben-David

    1/13/2008 at 11:02 am

    Chutzpah: I’ve got nothing against libertarianism, if it’s a consistently applied political philosophy – not a pose selectively struck by PC wrigglers.

    And now that I know your back story – I’ll know not to give your angry bitc…. , um *ripostes* about the Ortho community more weight than they’re due.

  16. Pingback: JVoices » Blog Archive » In Case You Missed This Follow Up on the Ms. Ad Controversy

  17. Chutzpah

    1/25/2008 at 1:34 am

    I agree with Ms. Kinberg…that AJC used this to create buzz for themselves. That’s what I was trying to say in comment 9.

    AJC should probably spend more money trying to provide constructive ways to inspire the next generation of Jews than attacking the progress of women fighting for equality.

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