Media Coverage

Barbed Wire Fencing
Barbed Wire Fencing

Whether you cannot go on a trip to the Holy Land, or if you have actually gone on a trip, you know about tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. You’ve seen pictures of or experienced yourself the indignities of the ugly wall that slices through the Holy Land, separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem, farmers from their fields, sons and daughters from their parents, and Christians and Muslims from their sacred places. You know about the limits and conditions that Palestinian Christians in the West Bank all live under. You also know the limits to opportunities for Palestinians living in Israel. You know that some areas are occupied by the Israel Defense Force. 

Since you have returned and told others about what you have experienced when you visited, your story not only included ancient places but also modern people who face modern issues. If you haven’t gone, you have read and seen in the media and other sources, stories of what is happening in the Christian Holy Land. Either way you know a lot more than most Americans and these storied need to be told.

TV and newspapers around the world tell stories and social media passes on this information. So, what do you do about the news that appears in the newspapers and on television? First, you must read, listen and watch very carefully. Do the stories the reporters tell reflect the same thing you experienced? Are the stories the same as you receive from alternative sources? 

Look for:

  1. Uneven treatment of human beings with life details for one group which make them more real than the other human beings who are just counted.
  2. Stories of protests which tell the outcome but not the original cause; reporta that begin with the reaction and not the provocation.  
  3. Hidden history.  The words "Palestine" and "Palestinians" was used for the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River since the Romans samed it in 183 C.E. (A.D.) See old maps.  Is it  used in the news or is another name substituted?
  4. The use of only the Israeli title for places and not the Arabic title.
  5. Stories that document the actions of only only one side and not the othher; quoting persons on only one side.
  6. Pictures that report to be typical but actually unusual.

When you pick up your newspaper and watch TV and read or hear reports that lack the perspective you’ve gained, or exaggerate one point of view, you may first feel frustrated. The best answer is actually to write or email a letter to the editor, sharing your perspective. Don't just write "To the Editor:" because the person who sorts those letters does not have the power to change content. Try to find out a person or department that will pay attention. Letters can be brief and to the point but they are definitely worth the time. Even if your letter is not published, you’ve signaled to the newspaper or TV channel that there is another perspective that needs to be included and that there is someone paying attention.

If the offensive articles continue to appear in your paper, you, and possibly your friends who have shared your experiences, will feel it important to take the next step: a letter directly to the publisher of the publication or to the sponsor of the television show. Such letters are to challenge the bias or exclusive point of view of a correspondent or writer, or to suggest an additional source of information. If the newspaper (or radio or TV station) is local, you and your friends may want to ask to visit the publisher to urge more careful reporting from a broader perspective.

You can suggest some sources for a broader perspective such as: Christians for Middle East Peace (info@CMEP); If Americans Knew (contact@ifamericansknew); Foundation for Middle East Peace (info@ FMEP; and Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding (contact@EMEU). Al Jazerra is a TV channel publishing news about the Middle East. You might also want to get information from the same sources so you can make a comparison before you contact tne media.

There are, unfortunately, some organizations in the United States that feed distorted news to our media or make efforts to change the language used by the media. I call it "not-so-fake-news". We know "fake news" as lies but sometimes the real news is presented with a slant or without important information. Sometimes only part of the story is printed and words with a different connotation are used. See the section on words in Advocacy.

It takes some courage to stand up to the media because there are powerful people pushing in the other direction. It also requires careful writing and persistence. You are, however, in good company and may desire to broaden your sources of information to include some of the people you met on your trip or the Middle East staff of your denomination as well as alternative sources of information you have come across. In addition, you can also take the iniative and tell the media about an upcoming event or story they should cover. Give the detailed information and your source and note if it reflectes your own experience.

From the earliest days of the New Testament, the gospels were called the Good News and one task of those of us who call ourselves Christian is to share the facts of Jesus’ ministries today in the Holy Land. We are to share the truth as Good News.
 

 

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