World news? Not in Israel

Can someone please explain to me why the Israeli press covers very few stories coming from outside the Middle East or the US unless it is about the Jews or dilpomacy? Do not events like the earthquake in Italy or the celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee have the right to be published in this country as well?

Okay, we already have enough problems here, why should we care about others? Honestly, I doubt that readers would reject articles about what is going on elsewhere and please, enough with security and politics, there are many other interesting themes to talk about. What about culture, arts, but also simple interesting foreign news?

The press bombs the Israelis with alarming news about the ‘dangerous immigrants,’ the cost of the electricity that is rising, the constant fear of an imminent war etc. You cannot face your day in a relaxed mood when you are charged with such demanding thoughts! We can see the results in everyday life…

I am pretty sure that the Israelis would like to hear about something else too: something to make them take their mind off things. I do not believe that the Israeli public is not curious about what happens outside this area. It is simply ridiculous that the main news website – except one or two exceptions – do not even have a ‘World News’ section and those that have it report only on international Jewish news. Why should we visit foreign websites to get what we are interested in? I see that many of my Israeli friends share articles from international news website so there must be an interest.

Furthermore, this lack of knowledge about the outside world worsens a situation that should actually be corrected in schools. I interviewed several Israeli teenagers and they told me that in Israeli high schools, students do not study the history of the world but only events related to the history of the Jews, focusing on the WW2 and the history of the State of Israel. Geography is optional (oh, this is why they make that shocked face when I tell them that Italy is only 3 hours fly away!). Unless you go study political sciences or history at university, you risk staying ignorant about so much, about so many important events that shaped the whole story of humanity! And this is absurd.

I do not agree with what President Peres stated at the Graduation Ceremony of the IDC students last month: that studying the past is useless because the current era is something completely new, that we cannot learn from past events. I agree with this vision, but how can we, the People of Israel, say that we do not have to remember! Important lessons can always be learnt from the past and from the outside, from other cultures and experiences.

But above all, how can we demand the world to get to know the reality about Israel when we refuse to learn what happens outside this region?

About the Author
Alessia Levi is a graduate student at the MA program in Government at IDC Herzlyiah and an intern at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs where she is researching anti-Semitism and anti-israelism in the Italian media and society.