This post will introduce organizations like Just Vision, Zochrot, and Just World News that are sharing new perspectives on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict; and, it will look at Israeli newspaper articles that do the same.
Compassionate and courageous people worldwide voice concern about the plight of the Palestinians. They are willing to speak out, but their voices are often drowned out by the mainstream media. So, let me introduce you to some alternative sources,. There are places where you can get, in the words of Paul Harvey, “the rest of the story”; or, as I would say, a new perspective on the people involved or affected by the conflict.
First, one way to inform Americans about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is through entertainment in the form of documentaries or movies. An Israeli/Palestinian/North American/Brazilian production team made up of women created Encounter Point, a powerful documentary showing both sides of the conflict as they come together to resolve their issues through dialogue versus conflict (Avni, 2007). This diverse group of women formed a company called Just Vision and will be launching an online outreach program called Portraits. This venue will feature stories from courageous Israelis and Palestinians who are seeking peace and being ignored by the mainstream media (Just Vision, 2009). See below a 7-minute synopsis of Encounter Point, I believe you will be inspired to see the documentary in full after this tease:
Second, a controversial Israeli group of citizens who have tried to raise awareness of the Nakba–the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948 that included the destruction of hundreds of villages that produced approximately half a million Palestinian refugees. Their group has called themselves Zochrot which means “remembering” and their goal is to “commemorate, witness, acknowledge, and repair” the devastation inflicted on the Palestinians. Zochrot calls for equal rights for all the people of the land including the right for Palestinians to return to their homes. Here is a short four-minute video about the movement:
Third, blogger and veteran journalist, Helena Cobban, started a website called Just World News. Since 9/11/01, Cobban has traveled to eighteen countries and is regarded as an esteemed researcher. She has published seven books, the latest titled, Re-Engage! America and the World after Bush . In Cobban’s words her book , “shows how all U.S. citizens, not just those with advanced degrees in international relations, can start thinking about– and acting upon– the new kinds of challenge that face our country and the rest of the world today.” Check out the link above for the Engage! website and read more about her book and her fresh perspective based on interviews with people from around the world. Or, listen to one of her speeches at the Palestine Center in Washington, DC via the YouTube video below or visit their YouTube site.
Fourth, Ha’Aretz or “The Jerusalem Post”, both Israeli newspapers, are a good source for news. Some people consider Ha’Aretz to be more balanced and fair than newspapers in the United States. Ha’Aretz is known for not moderating their message boards allowing people the freedom to respond without interference. I am not privy to any studies that substantiate my fair and balanced claim, but that is a vein to probe for researchers who are concerned about the lack of balance offered in the U.S.
Back to the newspaper articles, Dalia Karpel wrote a compelling article for Ha’Aretz titled, “Do the Right Thing“ on 17 October 2008 about an Israeli soldier who defied his commander’s order to shoot innocent civilians back in 1956. Another illuminating article in “The Jerusalem Post” by Elana Maryles Sztokman titled, “Racism in the Name of Religion” discussed the prevalence of racism especially in religious schools in Israel. And lastly, an article in Ha’Aretz by Gideon Levy titled, “The Ebb, the Tide, the Sighs” highlighting how Israeli forces continued to attack Gaza’s fishermen even in the “safe zone” … the six-mile area the Israeli government has supposedly allowed them to fish in. Levy describes the incredible ordeal that Muhammad Masalah, a 19 year-old victim who was shot in the “safe zone” has had to face. The Palestinian Authority refused to pay for an Israeli hospital visit, so he had to endure a tenuous three-week cycle of obtaining permission to leave Gaza for treatment. Finally, Masalah and his mother were granted permission by the Interior Ministry of the State of Israel to leave Gaza for one day from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. By the time they cleared the Erez checkpoint and arrived at the hospital it was 4 pm. These are the stories that people need to hear in order to understand what is going on in the occupied territories.
In sum, for Americans and people worldwide to have a better understanding of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, we must search for more than one source of news. Supplements are a necessity, like Jewish Voice for Peace. I am sure that if someone reads this post and looks at the various views I have provided, they will walk away with a different perspective, if not several. And, I would hope that they would be curious enough to start doing some research on their own. That is what we call practicing media literacy. In order to have a more just and open world, we need to do a lot of practicing!