I was one of a handful of folks the fabulous editor of Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal, Clare Kinberg, emailed to get feedback, thoughts and more when the Ms. Magazine hoopla was in all it’s glory, creating what the media loves…controversy, controversy, controversy. So, I was happy to see that she got this much needed letter to the editor into The Forward. I’m pasting the full letter below because I think of all the voices that were put forward, Kinberg offers the most sound, cutting through all the haze with actual research.

Before Attacking Ms., Read the Back Issues

I am writing in regard to the American Jewish Congress-Ms. Magazine ad controversy (“Pro-Israel Ad Rejected by Feminist Magazine,” January 18).

Among Jewish feminists, there is concern about both bias against Israel in the media and efforts to silence discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There is also growing distress about the toll taken on the lives of women and children, Jewish and Palestinian, by the lack of resolution to the conflict. On the Israeli feminist e-mail list to which I subscribe, many women, while acknowledging they didn’t fully understand the American context of the ad controversy, were supportive of Ms. Magazine’s rejection because the ad’s content does not fully reflect the reality of Israeli women’s political situation or their living conditions.

While some have called this controversy between two iconic organizations of the feminist and Jewish communities a tempest in a teapot, it is the teapot from which I drink. Therefore, I took a trip to my local library to look through several years of Ms. for myself. Now I can safely say that if Ms. had published the AJCongress’s “This is Israel” ad, it would have been completely out of character with every ad in the magazine.

The ads I viewed were for either feminist conferences, books, performers or non-profit foundations. There were zero corporate ads and zero ads from countries.

As for the articles, there were none that praised any country; all were critical of the conditions for women. In the issues I looked at, there was one article specifically on Israel, “Feminism: Israeli Style,” by the noted Israeli feminist Alice Shalvi, and it included information about the women’s peace movement as well as other feminist organizations. There were several about the oppression of women in Muslim-majority countries.

After looking through years of issues of Ms., I came away really furious, not with Ms., but with the American Jewish Congress for their scurrilous attack on the magazine. Ms. is not guilty of antisemitism or of having an anti-Israel bias. In fact, its rather wide berth around the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is more noteworthy than anything.

It is reprehensible that AJCongress has targeted Ms. Magazine, playing on fears of antisemitism. This is more of a witch-hunt, McCarthyism style, than it is an action in Israel’s or women’s interests.

Clare Kinberg
Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal
Ann Arbor, Mich.