For years, Jews living in Judea and Samaria have been branded as “violent settlers” in media reports abroad and at home, despite the fact that they are far more likely to be the victims of violent attack than the perpetrators. Now, the Samaria Residents' Council is helping them share their side of the story.
The council recently sponsored a photography course for 25 residents. The course included lessons in how to get video footage out quickly.
“Sending footage quickly and correctly is crucial in shaping awareness,” explained instructor Gur Dotan. “The media is thirsty for good footage, supplied quickly, and whoever gives it to them wins the battle for the public consciousness.”
Anarchist and leftist groups come equipped with photographic equipment and send out reports immediately when there are incidents, often provoked by them for good camera images.
While activists have also sponsored workshops on effective media skills, this course focused on the power of images over words. “A good, powerful photo that tells the whole story can shape the way Israelis think about the settlers,” said Esther Karish. She, like Dotan, stressed the importance of speed.
Use of video cameras has already proved beneficial. Last year Jews living in Bat Ayin caught Palestinian Authority Arabs and far-left foreign activists on film as they set fire to nearby land; the evidence helped police to nab five arsonists in a similar attack the next week.
Judea and Samaria Jews made an increased effort this year to counter “olive harvest” libel in the foreign media. Their efforts had mixed results – while Israelis were able to get footage proving that Arabs, not Jews, had been responsible for damage to olive trees, the international media was uninterested in the findings.
Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, recently joined the growing trend toward media awareness with a YouTube video titled “The Truth about the West Bank.”
The trend to counter left-wing media bias is not without its detractors – among them the United Nations. A top UN official recently asked media to “contribute to building peace on the ground” by promoting the Israel-PA “peace process” in its reports.