The Israeli Knesset held a special conference about Israel's portrayal by the international media. Many Israeli politicians believe that Israel is not treated fairly by the press, and Israel all too often appears to be an oppressor of the passive Palestinian people. However it's a very controversial topic, and many argue that Israel's own policies are responsible for the negative coverage. Israel's Minister of Information invited local and international correspondents -- including JN1 -- to discuss the problem.
American radio journalist Lars Larson was featured prominently at the conference. His nationally syndicated radio talk show promotes Israel in the United States, and as he says, he's an unabashed supporter of the country. His appearance is a sign of a PR strategy which focuses on high-profile -- and increasingly non-Jewish -- personalities to help give Israel a better image abroad.
MK Danny Danon had this to say, "We want honest, fair reporting. We don't want positive reporting on Israel. But I think we should know that it’s a battleground and that we are going to have to fight hard to win this fight."
Channel 1's political reporter, Yaakov Achime'er, blamed the current government for tarnishing Israel's image with so many contradictory political messages. For example, Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman says peace talks are not possible while officials meet the Palestinians in Amman, Jordan. Where, he asked, does Israel's policy really stand? And Achime'er criticised Prime Minister Netanyahu for refusing to write an op-ed in the New York Times.
Almost no one talked about how the Israeli government could improve its communication with the international media. There have long been complaints of curt, ineffective responses and delays in delivering materials. And not one member of a major foreign press outlet based in Israel spoke at the meeting – no one from AP, BBC, or an American network.