Media Coverage

Whether you have traveled to the Holy Land, or not, you have heard 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 Palestinian areas from Israeli areas, 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 live under. You know that some areas are occupied and that Palestinians in Israel experience conditions similiar to those called "Jim Crow" in the United States.  

If 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 information in media and other sources. There are stories in the media about  what is happening in the Christian Holy Land which may be true or may be biased toward Israel.  Either way you know a lot more than most Americans and the true stories need to be told.  So, what can you do about the news that appears in the newspspers or on television?  First, you must read, listen and watch very carefully.  Do the stories reflect the same thing that you experienced?  Are they the same stories that you receive from alternative sources? 

Below are two newspaper front pages from the same day.  Note the different ways the incident is told.


To find bias, you need to 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 events which tell the outcome or ongoing actions  but not the original cause or history; reports 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 named 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 Palestinian or Arabic title.
  5. Stories that document the actions of only only one side and not the other.  Stories that quote persons on only one side.
  6. Pictures that perport to be typical (or seem typical) but are actually unusual.
  7. Confusing statistics - sometimes failing to cite the year the statistics were gathered.
  8. Emotionally laden words that make events seem different than they actually are.
  9. The use of "Anti-Semitic" to describe actions when "Anti-Israel" or "Anti-Israeli" actions are more appropriate titles.
  10. Are the facts that are cited in opinion articles true facts?
  11. Were the incidents that you experinced while you were there reported in the USA?

Write a letter to the editor imageWhen you pick up your newspaper or 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. Then you must write or email a letter to the paper or TV station, 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 a person or department that will pay attention. Look for addresses  in advance for sources you regularly use.  This is sometimes hard to find but hecessry.  Emails  and telephone calls should be used when speed counts.   

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 these sources so you can make a comparison before you contact tne media.

If the offensive articles continue to appear you, and possibly your friends who have shared your experience, need to take the next step, which is a letter or phone call directly to the publisher of the publication or the sponsor of the television show.  The letter may suggest an additional source of information.  If the media is local, you and your friends may want to ask for a visit with the producer or sponsor to urge more careful reporting and a broader point of view.

Watch for tories that should be covered and contact the media with a "tip" if you think it won't be covered.  Some newspapers have a special "tip" email address.  If a story you know about isn't covered by the media, write and ask why.  If there is good coverage, write and thank the media.  They need to know when they are doing a reliable job because there are groups in the United States that actually feed distorted news to the media.  Be sure to include your address and phone number so they know you are a genuine person.  You may also include the fact that you have traveled in the area. 

It takes some courage to stand up to the media because there are powerful people pushing in the other direction. It also requires careful research, writing and persistence. You are, however, in good company and may want to even quote some of the people you met on your trip or the Middle East staff of your denomination as well as other alternative sources of information you have come across.

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 Christians is to share the facts of today in the Holy Land. We are to share the truth as Good News.