I have always found shocking the discrepancy between the bravery and creativity of the Jewish people in Israel and the disfunctionality of their political class. You could expect better politicians from a country, which is under the constant threat of annihilation by a powerful fanatical enemy that dominates the whole Middle East.
A prime example of that situation is the indifference of the Israeli government to the vile Arab and leftist propaganda that over the last three decades has damaged the image of Israel. Now we have reached the point, where every Israeli self-defence move in response of an Arab attack is seen by the world as an act of aggression.
It took again a grassroots initiative to try to correct that injustice. A young Israeli, Amotz Eyal, came up on his own with the idea to create a news agency, named Tazpit, without government help. Earlier this week Amotz came to Toronto to present his company.
Another grassroots organization – Friends of Tazpit in Canada – sponsored his tour in Canada. At the lecture I attended, he was introduced by Vivienne Grace Ziner from that organization. She recalled how over 30 years ago the rich oil Arab countries decided to take control over the way the Western media portrays Israel. At the time Israel ignored the threat and now we see the results – Israel is routinely blackmailed and anything positive about the country is dismissed.
David Nitkin shared a few interesting facts from Amotz’s early life. He got very involved in campaigns for the truth since he was a child. For example, when he was 12, he was played in a joint Israeli-Arab soccer league. The games were usually scheduled for Saturday, which prevented many Jewish kids from playing and most of the parents from attending. Amotz petitioned the Supreme Court of Israel to get the league to play on other day than the Sabbath.
Amotz Eyal started his presentation by bluntly stating that the main problem is that Israel is presented in the media in a biased way. How can we solve it? We need to think out of the box. Tazpit is a news agency, which is the only Israeli agency operating in Israel. It is very important, because if the media want to be effective, they should present the news first. This has always been the weak point of Israel.
A glaring example of Israel ignoring the media communication with bad consequences was the Gaza flotilla and particularly the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara. When the confrontation occurred, as the Israeli border authorities tried to stop the ship, it took 3 days for the Israeli government to tell what exactly happened. Until then, all the information about the incident came from the leftists and the Arabs, who organized the flotilla – all the headlines were about the “brutality” of the soldiers, who boarded the ship. The Israeli information about how the soldiers were attacked with knives and other weapons while boarding the ship, came too late, it wasn’t news anymore. The unpleasant truth is that people don’t care about yesterday’s headlines; they move to something else.
This approach defines Tazpit’s goal – they want to have people infield, who can break the story right away. The agency has 160 volunteers, most of them with cameras. They watch what really happens. An example of what those volunteers can do was when one of them spotted an Arab cutting olive trees. He took pictures. A few hours later, an online news site published a report from the area accusing the Jewish settlers of cutting the trees. Since their photographer had the pictures, Tazpit could immediately debunk the fraud by contacting the website, which corrected the story and exposed the Arab fraud. Being able to get quickly first-hand information is a game changer.
Tazpit sends its information to many major media in the West – this is new in Israel, they started doing it about two years ago. Right now Tazpit is the only Israeli news agency. In contrast, the Arabs have only in Judea and Samaria 9 agencies, which are well-funded by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain (and that’s why the Pallywood film fraud industry flourishes). There are also foreign agencies operating in Israel, like Reuters, but 90% of their staff is Arab, because Arabs can go to Arab and Jewish areas, but Jews can’t go to Arab areas. So most of the materials about Israel come from Arab sources and in most cases are distorted.
Another problem is the work with Western journalists, who are already in Israel. They receive all kinds of assistance from the Arabs, who call them immediately upon arrival and provide drivers, translators, photographers and access to areas and personalities, which inevitably influences their reporting. That means the Palestinian Authority provides full escort, while Israel provides nothing. Tazpit is changing that by working with Western journalists.
The third problem is the necessity to create a next generation of journalists by sponsoring students to come to Israel and train them. Tazpit’s purpose is to get involved with 25 students yearly, who have good writing ability, and let them get the news by traveling the country. The goal is to provide authentic stories from Israel.
Amotz answered a few questions, which covered more details of his agency’s activities. He emphasized again how important it is to act quickly in covering the news. Another example was the big Nazi flag with swastika, flown over an Arab building in Hebron. One of his photographers spotted it and within hours, the picture was picked up all over the world – from Europe to South America to South Africa. The Arabs tried to come up with the usual excuses, but it was too late – the damage they did to themselves was impossible to repair.
I am sure that the Israeli government has a thing or two to learn from Tazpit to make their work in protecting Israel more efficient.
Here is the video with highlights from Amotz’s presentation:
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