I was reading something in the Times (Jenni Russell) about bosses taking “sloggers” for granted. The pushy workers get all the credit, she says; she knows what she’s talking about, having served time as both slogger and boss. The hard-working, dependable ones assume that the boss is aware and suitably appreciative of all their hard work; but no. If you want to get ahead you have to shout: “See me!” As loud as you can.
I keep seeing things as an allegories for something else these days, but this simple truth resonated with me, having just read a piece by a young journalist who has been working in Israel since January 2014, Zenobia Ravji, featured on Elder of Ziyon, and here.
It’s the Israelis’ reluctance to boast, and the Palestinians’ continual manipulation of the media that has created this infuriating upside down status quo. The world sees Israel as a symbol of pure evil and the Palestinians one of righteousness and innocence.
Have you seen the video that’s allegedly “gone viral” in which an actor pretends to be a blind man asking strangers for change? He’s approaching random passers-by and seems unaware that he’s proffering a high value note in exchange. The experiment is to see if people warn him of his mistake or pocket the extra cash.
A similar experiment had been staged in Australia, when the ‘blind man” asked for $5 when the bill he was holding was for $100 or $200. Several strangers took advantage.
This time it was tried in Israel. No-one took advantage. (I assume they wouldn’t have put it on the internet if the result had been otherwise, but it wasn’t, so they did.)
It’s the kind of thing that might surprise the world, whose prejudiced, negative perceptions of Israel and Israelis have been shaped by the Palestinians relentless media manipulation and the Israelis’ reluctance to participate in that particular circus.
Zenobia Ravji’s piece is worth reading. It’s about journalists so it’s extremely relevant to this blog. I urge you to read it in full.
“While traveling, I stumbled on a really eye-opening story—“everyday life” in the West Bank. In the U.S., I was exposed to images of violence and chaos any time the West Bank was mentioned in the news. So when I accidentally ventured into the West Bank during my travels, I had no idea I was even there. I was surrounded by tranquil scenes, modern infrastructure, and economic cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis. I guess this was too boring to make any headlines.
I thought it would be interesting to show people the uneventful side of the story. This wasn’t to negate any social and political injustices of the situation. I just thought people should see the entire truth—not just soldiers, bombs, and riots, but also what’s happening when none of the drama is taking place.
And it wasn’t just the normalcy of life in the West Bank that went unreported. Many of the human rights violations by the Palestinian Authority were never mentioned, such as the lack of freedom of speech and the press, and a complete neglect of the Palestinian people by their own politicians, who continue to exploit the peace process while pocketing European and American funding for a “free Palestine.” My work, however, didn’t consist of criticizing the PA. I thought I should leave that to the “real” journalists. It was their job, after all, to report such things.”
“The Western media also flooded its coverage of the war with personal stories of Palestinians. There were significantly fewer personal stories on the Israeli side. There was a Pavlovian reaction to focus one’s reporting on the supposed “underdog,” which left Israelis voiceless. I wanted to know what Israelis were thinking. How did they feel about the war? The Western media refused to tell us.
So after the war, I took it upon myself to get the detailed stories of Israelis and their experiences during the war. I started collecting stories with the goal of compiling them into a book. I covered the entire mosaic of Israeli society: Bedouins, Israeli-Arabs, Druze, IDF soldiers, politicians, activists, and more. I wanted to know how they felt and what they went through. I found anger and resentment toward their own government and deep sadness for the suffering of innocent Palestinians and their children. It was a very different picture than what the Western media painted. Perhaps they had not bothered to dig deep enough into the story. Perhaps they didn’t want to.”
So, why does the Western media get away with such unprofessional and sometimes outright biased conduct? There are two main reasons: First, Israel is a democracy. Second, Israel fails to stand up for itself."
“I once had lunch in Jerusalem with an accomplished member of the foreign press. I asked her about her personal experiences as a journalist. She had been in the region for about a year. She told me that when she arrived, Israelis were not very friendly to her, but Palestinians were. This was a strong factor in her tendency to write articles that were anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian. In fact, during that conversation she spoke at length about Palestinian hospitality and how it was a major factor in her impression of the conflict. Arabs have a well-earned reputation for amazing hospitality.”
While it seems obvious that Israel’s failure to recognise the necessity of positive PR is hugely damaging (to itself) it should also be borne in mind that anything positive the Israelis do, like sending rescue teams to disaster zones, or treating its enemies in its state of the art hospitals is dismissed by its critics as “Washing”. I.e., trying to sanitise its image by doing good, purely to distract its enemies from its inherent malevolence.
If anything could do with a good wash, it’s western journalism.