Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth."

Yom shlishi, 28 Shevat 5772.

What is good about Israel?

Among myriad other things, Israel is a place where a self-proclaimed "Israeli-Arab-Muslim-Palestinian" can be pro-Israel.

photo credit: The Jerusalem Post online
Khaled Abu Toameh, the Palestinian Affairs Correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, addressed the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations yesterday.  According to Yochanan Elrom of IBA News, Abu Toameh says that "the government should hold foreign journalists accountable for biased reporting."

What follows is my transcription of an excerpt of Abu Toameh's speech before the Conference, copied from the IBA News television broadcast of 20 February 2012.  Pay close attention to the little trick Abu Toameh plays on some of his foreign colleagues.  It proves an important point, especially when you are trying to understand why your friends and family members in the States want to know why Israel is oppressing the Palestinians at every possible turn.  Don't throw up your hands in exasperation.  Keep patiently teaching them.  You are fighting a very large media establishment -- but truth will out, in the end.

"If you come with this fixed idea that Israel is bad and the Palestinians are good, what can you do?  Where does it start?  I think that it starts already back [at the journalist's] home, probably at the university campuses, where these people came from, probably from their culture and society...

"There is not much that you can do, other than try to explain.  But I would say that it would be very important to chase these journalists and highlight the mistakes that they make, and try to expose the factual errors that they do -- and they do many of them.  I think that would be Israel's main job for now...  not allowing them to get away with what they are doing.

"Recently, just a few weeks ago, the families of some Palestinian university professors phoned me from Nablus, and they said, 'Can you help us?  Can you bring the international media here?'  I said, 'What happened?'  They said 'The Palestinian Authority has just arrested a number of Palestinian university professors.'  So I phoned nine of my Western colleagues to offer them that story; and out of the nine, only two agreed to do the story.

"Okay, so a few days later, I phoned the same group of journalists, with a story that I made up.  And what was that story?  That there's this Palestinian professor in Ramallah, who has applied for a permit to go and eat fish with his family in a restaurant in Jaffa; and the Israeli authorities have still not issued the permit.  Out of the same nine journalists, six asked me for that professor's number, because they wanted to contact him tonight, because that is an Israeli atrocity, and it should be covered extensively.

"This is just one example...  I think Israel's also not doing a very good job in highlighting many of the things that are happening under the Palestinian Authority and under Hamas.  And that's very important.  Many Western journalists don't know about these things...   I'm even frustrated with the Israeli media..."

We have a lot of work to do, at home and abroad.  The nice part is that each of us can help.   Arm yourself with facts -- and don't keep them to yourself.

The title is a quote from Mahatma Gandhi.
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