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‘Settlements’ Number One Enemy is Ignorance’

Activists explain why getting people to simply visit Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria is key to ensuring fairer coverage.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 11/14/2013, 1:50 PM

Touring the hills of Samaria (Shomron)
Touring the hills of Samaria (Shomron)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Hundreds of journalists, television and radio hosts, along with other media personalities converged on Eilat this week for the annual Eilat Journalism Conference. Among those present were activists from Samaria (Shomron), who had one simple goal – to encourage those working in the media to come see the places they report about.

This is the fifth year that the Samaria Regional Council has sent its people to the conference to promote its tours. Many conference attendees had already been on tours, and came up to the Samaria activists to thank them.

Those who went on past tours encouraged their colleagues to take advantage of the invitation.

Deputy head of the Samaria Regional Council Yossi Dagan was among those who took part in inviting journalists to the region. “It’s amazing to see hundreds of people in the media who have never been in an Israeli community in Judea and Samaria in their lives, who have never had a personal conversation with a ‘settler,’” he said.

“The biggest enemy of the settlement enterprise is ignorance,” he warned. The regional council will continue its efforts to get media personalities, decision-makers, “and all the people of Israel” to come visit, he said.

The council has previously hosted European Union parliamentarians and other lawmakers from around the world.

Danny Zaken, a presenter on Kol Yisrael (Voice of Israel) radio, explained the importance of the tours. “There’s tremendous ignorance,” he told Arutz Sheva. “It’s amazing how much ignorance there is among people who are so influential.”

“That’s why it’s so important to just bring these influential people to the area,” he continued. “To see the hilltops, to speak to the people, to familiarize themselves with what’s happening in Samaria.”

“The reporters in each region know the area, but the editors and producers do not,” he explained. “It’s very important.”

Zaken noted that when he headed the journalists’ association in Jerusalem, he sent a bus of reporters to visit Samaria. “Some came back enchanted, some were still against it, but they all saw something and learned something… It’s very important to media coverage of Samaria,” he concluded.

Alex Katz, editor of the Ice website, explained why he registered for a tour. “It’s impossible to talk about the phenomenon or the way of life, or to come to a decision, without seeing it,” he said.

“I’ve actually seen Samaria as an IDF reservist, but the important issue is the civilian settlement, so I’d be happy to go and see,” he added.