Recently I was looking at reports of outrageously unfair media treatment of Israel, such as HonestReporting on the UK Independent’s Mark Steel, or Camera on Christiane Amanpour’s CNN documentary. And another blow will almost certainly fall soon, with the upcoming release of “Jimmy Carter Man From Plains“, a documentary about Carter’s recent book tour.
HR, Camera, and others do a good job of exposing the bias and, often, the outright lies. But the damage is done, and the people who read Mark Steel, for example, are not likely to check HR’s website.
There is a veritable industry producing anti-Israel material, films, TV programs, articles, books, websites, etc. It’s impossible to counteract this only by responding to them. It’s necessary to tell the true story pro-actively, and it must be done in the most effective — that is, emotionally powerful — way.
Probably the best way to do this is by the visual media, film and TV. Nothing else has the emotional impact or the reach.
Israel has a well-developed film industry, but most of its products are aimed at the domestic market, and many of them present a dark vision of Israel or have a definite left-wing slant.
I am not suggesting that Israeli studios should start cranking out propaganda films. What I would like to see are films aimed at the foreign market which will simply tell the truth, from an Israeli — OK, a Zionist — point of view.
I would like to see feature films, documentaries, TV programs, etc. The media are hungry for content, why can’t we give them some?
What needs to happen is that the conventional wisdom — the everyday assumptions about the Israeli-Arab conflict that most people make when they read or hear about events — needs to change. The tendentious nonsense written by Mark Steel about how Israel does not recognize the Palestinians’ right to exist came from somewhere, and I don’t think Hamas paid him to write it.
Steel won’t read my blog, and if he did he’d dismiss it as just more Israeli propaganda rubbish. Having watched TV in the UK, I know what he and others are seeing on a day-in day-out basis, and I’m not surprised at the assumptions that underlie his writing.
Turning things upside down will not be easy. It will be expensive, which means that the Government of Israel and the Diaspora Jewish community will have to bear some of the burden, at least at first; and they will have to do so with sensitivity and the understanding that the creative people will have to be allowed enough freedom to do what they want.
But after all, the Arabs and their friends managed to change perceptions worldwide starting in 1967. Isn’t it time for the pendulum to swing back in our direction?