What happens when journalists really see Israel

Monday, September 20, 2010 |  Ryan Jones

Jerusalem has a higher concentration of foreign journalists than any city in the world outside of Washington, DC. And yet, most of them regularly write and file stories without traveling the very short distances it would require them to find out the truth.

Earlier this month, Time magazine published a cover story entitled “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace.” The author, Time Jerusalem bureau chief Karl Vick, wrote that Israelis just want to enjoy their nation’s economic success, and care very little for the purported suffering they impose on the Palestinians.

Correctly guessing that Vick had not actually visited the areas where Jews and Arabs, Israeli and Palestinians, live in closest proximity, the Council of Judea and Samaria (Yesha Council) invited the journalist for a VIP tour.

Israel National News reports that Vick joined Yesha Council Executive Director Naftali Bennet for a full-day tour of various Jewish settlements in Samaria.

Naftali said that in the hilltop village of Beruchin overlooking the coastal plain, Vick understood the danger of surrendering those strategic highlands; in Ariel, he marveled at the advanced research taking place at the Ariel University Center; and at the Barkan Industrial Park, Vick was surprised to talk to some of the 5,000 Palestinians who work there and learn that they appreciate the jobs and economic opportunities that the Jewish presence in the area provides.

Vick was also shown the large spaces that exist between all towns in Judea and Samaria, and that Jewish towns there are clearly not encroaching on Palestinian towns or agricultural lands.

“I wasn’t aware of all this,” Vick reportedly commented at the end of the tour, before promising to consider a follow-up story that presented the Israeli side in a more truthful light.

And therein lies the problem of trusting mainstream media coverage to teach the public what is happening in the Middle East. Most journalists are either too busy, too lazy or too afraid (of falling out of favor with the Palestinian Authority) to actually dig and investigate on their own. Instead, they swallow every spoonful of propaganda fed to them by the Palestinian leaders and spokesmen and then report it as news.

The regional council of Samaria is doing its part to reverse that trend by setting up regular VIP tours for international and Israeli journalist and politicians. (The left-wing, Tel Aviv-based Israeli media is just as disconnected from the rest of the country as the foreign press).

According to council officials, numerous such tours have already taken place, including one attended by an Obama Administration official who asked to remain anonymous.

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