Press Spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy Yiftah Curiel speaks about media bias to an audience in the South West
On Tuesday, Press Spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy Yiftah Curiel addressed a local audience on the bias against Israel in the mainstream media and his efforts to correct it.
He described the unfair treatment of Israel by the press; headlines which invert the truth are a common occurrence, for example with the current wave of stabbings being committed by Palestinians on Israelis, the headlines often shout about Israeli soldiers/police killing Palestinians without any mention of the terrorist act the Palestinian was committing or had just committed. He also mentioned the oversaturation of articles on Israel in comparison with the rest of the Middle East, most of which are negative. This is partly because Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a free press and which is safe for journalists. They can say what they like in Israel, unlike in the Arab world.
Yet despite this obvious bias, which the BBC is especially guilty of, during the 2014 war in Gaza anti-Israel protesters staged three different demonstrations outside BBC headquarters in London – as well as at their Bristol studios – complaining of bias in favor of Israel.
Yiftah works to counter this by working with people in the media, including the BBC, Sky, and ITN, and newspapers and magazines to get headlines changed to better reflect events and corrections published where needed. He works with a wide variety organizations, from international news media such as CNN, Reuters, and BBC World Service, to local free papers such as the London Evening Standard. Part of this work includes writing articles discussing media coverage of Israel and putting them in publications which regularly attack Israel; this opens up discussion on the issue by making readers aware of, and thinking about, the problem and consequently endeavoring to hold journalists to reasonable standards.
He encourages everyone to write letters to editors when they see inaccurate reporting in any form; as with writing to politicians, volume counts. We can also challenge journalists directly using social media, especially Twitter. Indeed, the rise of social media has lessened the influence of traditional media; Yiftah noted recent polls conducted in the UK showed an increasing number of people are not happy with media coverage of the Middle East, finding it to be unreliable.
Yiftah believes Britain’s relationship with Israel is the best it has ever been, with strong economic, educational, and cultural ties and the joint security challenges both our nations face and that David Cameron is a true friend of Israel. However, the battle for the truth about Israel in the media is a long way from being won.