Media Coverage

Whether you cannot go on a trip to the Holy Land, or if you have prayed in the grotto of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, 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.

if you have returned and told others about what you experienced when you visited, your story not only included ancient places but also modern people — folks who love their home towns just as you do, people whose churches may have long histories but also face modern issues. If you haven’t gone, you have read and seen  stories of what is happening in the Christian Holy Land. Either way you know a lot more than most Americans.

You have probably made an effort to tell people what you know but you also have to see what the media is telling the American people and what they believe about the situation. 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 reporters tell reflect the same thing you know or experienced? Do they distort or bias the news? Do they obscure reality as you have experienced it or know about it through other soures? Do they report the same way about people on both sides or slant the news so that some people automatically appear as humans and others as statistics? Do they give the same information about various people rather than making the humanity of some disappear in numbers?  Do stories distort events by emphasizing a false reason for the actions?  Do they hide the history of what happened first?  Do they report a story which is the reaction to an event rather then the initial story.  The initial event might be more important for people to hear.

When you pick up your newspaper and read reports that lack the perspective you’ve gained, or exaggerate one point of view, you may first feel that the writer should know better. The best answer is actually to write a letter to the editor, sharing your perspective. 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. Letters can be brief and to the point, but they are definitely worth your time. Most news media these days have email addresses for such replies. 

If the offensive articles continue to appear in your paper you, and possibly with 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.  It is called "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 power of 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.

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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