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Statement of Katherine Spillar, executive editor
Ms. magazine concerning the AJCongress ad

Ms. magazine has been criticized for not running an ad submitted by the American Jewish Congress (AJCongress) featuring the photographs of three prominent Israeli women leaders with the statement “This is Israel.”  In its press release, AJCongress claims that Ms. therefore must be ‘hostile to Israel’.  This is untrue and unfair.

Ms. covers women leaders across the globe.  Ironically, the current issue just now hitting newsstands features a major story profiling Israel’s Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni, highlighting her career and accomplishments. Livni was one of the women pictured in the AJCongress ad.  Ms. had previously reported on Dorit Beinish, also pictured in the ad, becoming the first woman president of Israel’s Supreme Court.  Over the past four years (16 issues) Ms. has covered the Israeli feminist movement and women leaders in Israel no fewer than eleven times.  

The mission of Ms. is to report on U.S. and global struggles to combat sex discrimination and oppression and to provide feminists everywhere with the information they need to take action to win equality for women and girls.  Ms. policy is to accept only mission-driven advertisements from primarily non-profit, non-partisan organizations that promote women’s equality, social justice, sustainable environment, and non-violence. 

In Ms. magazine’s judgment, the ad submitted by AJCongress for consideration was inconsistent with this policy.  Not only could the ad be seen as favoring certain political parties within Israel over other parties, but also with its slogan “This is Israel,” the ad implied that women in Israel hold equal positions of power with men.  Israel, like every other country, has far to go to reach equality for women.  As the Israel Women’s Network notes: “Women have consistently received symbolic representation in Israeli politics, at least sufficient enough to generate the myth of an open and egalitarian system.”

Indeed Israeli writers have reported in the pages of Ms. on the continuing efforts of the Israeli feminist movement to combat discrimination and achieve a larger voice for women in the country’s political arena.

In a feature length story in the Spring 2006 issue of Ms., Israeli feminist scholar/activist Alice Shalvi catalogued the ongoing struggles to rectify such inequalities, including increasing women’s representation in elected office and at the table negotiating for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Women only comprise 14% of the Israeli Knesset, placing Israel 74th in the world for women’s representation in government. 

The AJCongress press release compared its ad with the cover story Ms. ran when Congressmember Nancy Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House.  However, when Ms. featured Speaker Pelosi on its cover with the words “This is What a Speaker Looks Like,” we did not claim that “This is what the USA looks like.”  Far from it, since women comprise only 17% of the Congress, ranking 65th in the world in women’s representation, and continue to face discrimination in every aspect of American society.