A snow storm struck Israel and its neighbors this past week and it covered Temple Mount with a thick and fluffy white power. The Middle East is not Michigan or Canada; it is not geared to handle snow storm and so life was disrupted.
Nature has no borders. Gaza Strip was plagued by floods during the storm and the storm caused major damage there. At least 4,000 families had to be rescued from flooded buildings.
In Gaza, the infrastructure is substandard. Because building materials are used to build tunnels for terrorists to smuggle weapons and crawl in them to attack and hijack Israelis, rather than improve life for the residents of the Strip.
Hamas, that rules Gaza is Israel’s sworn enemy and its charter calls for the annihilation of the Jewish state. Despite, Israel is a merciful country. And so, Israel sent gas for heating and water pumps to deal with the rampant flooding in the Gaza Strip and stressed that it would do everything necessary to help the Gaza Strip populations, with an emphasis on transferring electricity to the power plants in the Gaza Strip. The thanks Israel got for her help: Hamas blames Israel for the outcome of the floods, despite of receiving emergency aid from the Jewish state. This type of news hardly makes the headlines of the major media. However, when Israel defends herself from rockets flying from Gaza toward Israeli civilian population the headlines offer nonstop coverage of the incident.
Today another blood libel and other horrific lies surfaced in a video, accusations made by no other than Richard Falk, UN human rights rapporteur, a UN appointee on the Arab-Palestinians “territories.” Falk uses his imprimatur as a UN official to make the grievously false accusation that Israel is acting with “genocidal intent” and perpetrating a “Holocaust” ignoring the fact that since 1967 the Arab-Palestinian population has increased by approximately 250% from approximately 1 million in 1967 to approximately 2.5 million today, 2013.
If we do not debunk these LIES with context to back and prove that the genocide charge is a blood libel it will never go away! No one listens to the facts about Israel because Israel has been silent for way too long! That the land belongs to the Jews, that Israel does not occupy any landת that Israel is not an apartheid state and that the Arabs living in Israel are the least disenfranchised by comparison to Arabs living in Arab countries where they have been locked in “refugee camps” AND, that it is not Israel’s fault that the people living in Gaza have an unbearable life. It is Hamas, for whom they have voted into power that has made their life so miserable.
A remedy is required and the sooner the better.
And that brings me to the topic of honest reporting and fair media coverage.
Zohreh Mizrahi, a member of the Iranian American Jewish Federation in Los Angeles, the voice of the Iranian Jewish community, got tired of the lies about Israel, the skew media coverage Israel so often receives and the deception used when reporting about Israel. She decided that she needed to help change the tide. She joined the Honest Reporting mission to Israel where she learned the first steps in defending Israel in the media and fighting back the lies with honesty, integrity and truth. In Israel Zohreh met Joe Hyams, a Britain born Jew who has lived in Israel since 2005. Joe is the CEO of Honest Reporting, a USA not for profit organization since 2001 and in Israel since 2005. (http://honestreporting.com/).
Upon returning to the United States, what Zohreh learned in Israel did not leave her mind. That brought her to invite Joe Hyams to arrive first time to Southern California and give an educational lecture to people who want to learn how to be a media soldier for Israel.
This past week, at a breakfast event, at the Iranian American Jewish Federation hall, in Los Angeles, the hospitable Mizrahi sisters – Zohreh and Neptune – and Shahla Zargarian Javdan the Federation president and their friends hosted Joe Hyams who taught the audience – lacking young adults representation – the first steps in media warfare. How to defend Israel from media bias and turn a lie the media propagates into a positive outcome.
For many years I have been saying that words can kill. A word can be potent – for good or bad- and words can certainly do much harm as well as much good.
Today’s media is full with bad journalism. It wears a halo that needs to be tackled. People need to question them. Tweeter and Facebook can be lethal; journalists Peter Beinart and Thomas Friedman pen is lethal as far as Israel is concerned and so is Ha’aretz newspaper in Israel and the truth is hiding behind them.
Israel is stuck in a cerebral pain of the conflict with the Arabs while the world is feeling it. Many people are scared to speak up for Israel; that has to change, Hyams says, and his organization is doing just that, fighting back.
Honest Reporting believes that when it comes to Israel the war is in the media more than on the battlefields; it is more lethal than nuclear. Sadly, Israel has let years pass while keeping silent. Israel’s enemies could not win the conventional war so they waged a political diplomatic and media war and they are winning it thus far. They use the media to get into the minds of their kids and poison them against Israel and all of a sudden a young generation of terrorists is facing Israel leading the chart against Israel.
From their offices on the roof of the Great synagogue in Jerusalem, Honest Reporting 14 personnel track, day and night, the bias and bad information about Israel and take on the task to make the wrong go away or correct it and turn it into positive and good. They are putting fires all year round. The organization’s motto is, as a united community, using the media, we can call and shame or praise. Even the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) needs to defend itself from media bias and Honest Reporting acts as the Iron Dome to defend Jews and Israel.
There is the truthfulness side to every story but one cannot present the truth without context.
If one does, the truth is lost, says Hyams. If we leave a story in the hands of the diplomats we get a slap in the face. Best, that we, as a community, make our voice heard loud and clear. We need to see ourselves as a transformer, converting power – information – from 110 volt to 220 and back while making sure that no explosion occurs when the transforming of information takes place.
Propaganda is a chief weapon. Admitting that certain propaganda was a mistake and sending an apology after the fact is useless. The arsenal was used, the minds were poisoned and the damage was done.
We have all heard that Israel’s public diplomacy-Hasbara is inadequate. The question is why are they complacent? Is it because the IDF is there to defend? In fact Israel is four decades behind its enemy and its detractors in regards to its PR and public diplomacy. In fact, Israel has been sleeping for tomorrow’s media defense needs.
Honest Reporting believes in being nice; it achieves its goals and is putting out fires in a smart and cunning way. Most journalists are naive, underpaid and under pressure and all they need is to be guided and properly informed. It does not matter if we win, or lose, as long as we win, Hyams states.
The American Jewish community lives in a bubble of apathy and much disinterest in what is going on in Israel and what she faces on a daily basis. This goes well with the saying: Out of sight out of mind.
The American Jewry have not taught its new generation the meaning of and the reason for defending Israel. But not all is lost. To prove the point, Chen Avrahami, a UC Irvine student told the audience that she spent two years in Israel as a lone soldier serving in the Israeli air force. Those two years have made her understand the full meaning of Israel, which she now shares with other Jewish and non-Jewish students. Chen claims that the army gave her more than she gave the army so she is now helping to build broken bridges. Maybe other Jewish youths will follow in her footsteps and serve to defend the Jewish nation’s future.
In Israel 11th graders travel to Poland to visit the remnants of Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp in which over one million Jews were murdered. No person remains the same after visiting Auschwitz.
Many people who visit Israel claim that the visit was a life changer for them.
The team work of people, the willingness and the actions taken make things happen and Honest Reporting is the proof.
If we follow the three components, a visit to Auschwitz, a visit to Israel and a lesson we took from Honest Reporting, we can become a huge army in defense of Israel.
So how about we start today?