Everyone knows. There are two sides to every story.
Doesn’t matter how passionately you believe in your side. No matter how utterly convinced you are of the facts. There is someone on the other side–probably a whole slew of people–who see it very differently.
In a world where people demonize and ostracize anyone who does not agree with their personal beliefs, it is more and more important that we learn to listen to each other and respectfully disagree as a matter of civil discourse. If everyone continues the mass social retreat into their respective echo chambers, it truly will spell the end of intercultural dialogue and any progress society has made toward tolerance and acceptance.
As a vehement Zionist, I have to be honest that I am profoundly attached to the Israeli narrative and see it as 100% true to what I believe in. However, I can still accept that those who identify as Palestinians subscribe to a different view of history. I may not agree with them, but perspective is personal.
But here’s where I have a real problem: there is the Israeli side of history, there is the Arab side of history, and then there is the biggest, most ignominious, and pervasive side. The media. Where anti-Israel bias, propaganda and outright lies are repeated often enough that they actually become accepted as fact. You can have a strategic debate all day about facts. But how can you possibly fight the good kosher fight when you are up against fiction?
Thanks to the major news agencies (think the Press Association, Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France Presse…), anti-Israel half-truths (at best) and lies (at worst) have become the norm. International reporting on Israel has devolved into a farcical circus of spin.
While Gazans invite the Press Corps to line up at the ready as violent revolutionaries instigate the IDF, the news wires feast on any Israeli retaliation, often blowing it up into epic proportions and rarely (if ever) providing any sort of context. A photo of an Arab rioter “under attack” without any allusion to the grenade he just threw or the Jihadi sniper standing next to him. A story of a baby killed in the Strip without acknowledging that the fire actually came from Islamic Jihad on her own side of the border. Yet another report of a hapless Arab-Israeli teen murdered by the IDF without first explaining that he had just stabbed three Jewish civilians minutes before.
Context is key.
TPS (Tazpit Press Service) is the Israeli news wire dedicated to telling the whole story of Israel, in context, and based in irrefutable fact. If international news outlets like CNN, the BBC, and NPR received their information about Israel from Israel, they could actually offer the unbiased, accurate reporting of the truth that they already claim to produce. And this, in turn, would make an enormous impact on combating the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment that is dominating the current world stage.
But TPS has been fighting an uphill battle. Its honest reporting doesn’t feed well into the David-and-Goliath narrative of the mass media. The public doesn’t want to know that Big Bad Israel is actually fighting the Good Fight. That would unravel the story that they have been telling so sympathetically for so long.
When TPS applied to become a member of AMAN (Alliance of Mediterranean News Agencies), they were rejected outright. According to Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA), AMAN “expressed its complete rejection of the admission of any Israeli agency to it.”
Now, Arabs rejecting Israel is hardly news. But this is: this week in Sofia, Bulgaria, TPS is taking part for the first time in the News Agencies World Congress (NAWC) and two TPS photos were selected to be featured in the NAWC’s downtown exhibition, to boot.
Among the most prominent topics on the Congress’s agenda: Fake News. The very reason for TPS’s existence.
Does this mean the tides are turning? Maybe. Maybe just a little. Maybe a lot. But when Israel finally gets a seat at the table with the heavy media hitters from over 100 nations, perhaps there’s a chance that the truth will at last be heard.