Last week, I reported back from a lecture I attended on the bias against Israel in Swiss media. Although many of the points the speaker, Sacha Wigdorovits, made did relate specifically to Switzerland, I felt that many could be applied in the US and elsewhere.
One of the main causes Wigdorovits pinpointed was the dangers of secondhand or recycled journalism. Once a story is out there, it will be picked up by newspapers, blogs and other online sources, without any fact-checking or editing. To this we’d add that with the advent of the internet, quality of reporting has in many cases unfortunately deteriorated. Yes, there’s more information out there, but it’s a quantity versus quality question.
However Wigdorovits wasn’t all about the bad news; he also presented several action points, again, which could be applied in the US as well.
Develop a lobbying voice in government circles. This is something at which the American Jewish community excels. With AIPAC and J Street, Israel is well represented in Washington.
Confrontation. If there are people speaking publicly about Israel, and you don’t agree, confront them. Don’t rely on the lobbying groups alone, but send letters directly to those politicians, NGOs or whomever it may be.
Take advantage of social media. Many people get their information from news sources, but then discuss what’s going on using various social media channels. It doesn’t just have to be the Third Intifada Facebook page that gets attention. Use Facebook and other social media to connect with like-minded people and to further strengthen your positions on Israel.
Don’t be passive. Perhaps due to fears of anti-Semitism, the Swiss Jewish community is passive when it comes to pro-Israel activity. At the lecture some even criticized the local Jewish magazine for not supporting Israel strongly enough. Nevertheless, it’s a lesson for us all. If you feel strongly about something, find a way to act on it.
Change the conversation. This wasn’t one of Wigdorovits’ points, but something I feel can be very powerful. There’s so much else to say about Israel that’s simply underreported. There are hard issues like how to deal with the influx of African (particularly Sudanese) refugees or the integration of Israeli Arabs into the workforce. And there’s a host of soft issues, including the food revolution or the cutting edge design coming out of Tel Aviv, both of which I was exposed to and enjoyed immensely on my recent trip to Israel.
What are your suggestions? Do you have idea for how to combat this media bias? Or do you disagree that the bias exists? Post your view in a comment.