We must all be reporters to end the British media’s bias against Israel

Palestinian women chant slogans as protesters burn tires near the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, in the Gaza Strip, Monday, May 14, 2018. 
 (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinian women chant slogans as protesters burn tires near the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, east of Khan Younis, in the Gaza Strip, Monday, May 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Almost 7,500 acres of fields, crops and livelihoods burned. That’s about 5,600 football pitches, or in a very Jewish-centric comparison, that’s just over 306 times the size of the entire JFS site.

Almost 200 rockets fired from Gaza at Israel over a period of 48 hours. A kindergarten, a synagogue and residential areas hit by rockets. Babies having to be plucked from their beds at night by fear ridden parents with just 15 seconds to get to safety.

There were no headlines. There was no news story. There were no articles. No radio call-in, parliamentary debate or call for Hamas to control the terrorism and attacks from within its own territory.

Not until Israel reacted. Targeting a Hamas military HQ, weapons store and training facility. It was then the headlines and condemnations started rolling in. The calls for “calm on both sides” became the story of the hour, of the day.

So why is it that the media focus entirely and disproportionately on Israel, with little to no attention paid to the Palestinian leadership, the recognised terrorist organisation Hamas, and the consistent human rights abuses of their own people, misusing aid, diverting building materials and ensuring that the population of Gaza are kept in a downward spiral of poverty and despair.

It is exactly this – the lack of fair and decent coverage of Israel, the terror raining down on it from its borders, but also the amazing and incredible contributions Israel is making to the world – it is this that the Zionist Federation is seeking to change.

The ZF are determined to make a real impact on the way the media treats Israel. We are focusing our efforts on engagement and lines of communication, whilst ensuring that the core of the ZF, our activists and supporters, have the tools and information with which to speak up for Israel publicly and openly. Without impacting the discourse of the British public, we will not be able to impact the reporting of the British media.

We in the Jewish and Zionist communities cannot allow this unfair and unjust media bias to continue unchecked. But we also must stop expecting others to sort this problem for us.

We must ensure that the British media is held to account, but also that we have the tools with which to hold them to account.

The way the world gets its information has changed.

We are no longer reliant on newspapers and the 10 o’clock news to get the latest headlines.

Each one of us is able to be a reporter, each one of us a news presenter, and each one of us an influencer.

By simply posting a tweet, a picture on Instagram or a post on Facebook every one of us can make a difference to the way Israel is portrayed to the Great British public.

Lord Michael Grade, who was chairman of the BBC from 2004 to 2006, lamented that much of the media today feeds false narratives about the Jewish state. He says “When Israel acts in self-defence, the narrative is distorted to fit their narrative of Zionist aggression.”

Grade then cited a particularly egregious example of media bias against Israel – an example he found from the BBC in 2017.

“Recently, two Palestinians, unprovoked, attacked Israeli police officers in Jerusalem with guns and knives, while the third stabbed to death Border Police staff sergeant Hadas Malka, age 23.”

“The BBC headline on their news website was: Three Palestinians killed after deadly stabbing in Jerusalem.”

In 2015, Grade blasted the British media outlet for “inexcusable” bias, and accused it having “directly misled” viewers regarding terror attacks on Israel and Israel’s security measures against the terror wave.

The ZF are acutely aware that anti-Semites are able to disguise their hatred of Jews as criticism of the Jewish state. The Media must become as acutely aware of this.  They must change their narrative immediately. Currently the mainstream media are part of the anti-Semitism problem.  They should be the bastion of liberalism, freedom and equality for all by reporting the news accurately, objectively and without agenda.

About the Author
Paul Charney is chairman of the ZF (the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland). The ZF is the UK’s grass roots activist organisation for Israel. Each year the ZF initiates events, ranging from lobbies of Parliament to events on campuses to empower Jewish students to stand up for Israel in hostile environments. As Israel is constantly subjected to campaigns in the press to delegitimize its existence, the Zionist Federation continues to stand at the forefront to ensure the dynamic future of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
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