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June 19, 2017 1:04 pm

Exposing the Media’s Lies About Israel

avatar by Gidon Ben-zvi

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The Western Wall and Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City. Photo: Paul Arps via Wikimedia Commons.

While today’s widespread use of the term “fake news” can be traced to US President Donald Trump claims that well-established facts are not actually facts, Israel has long had to grapple with the phenomenon of media outlets bending the truth for political gain.

Indeed, the mainstream media often blames Israel for all the problems in the Middle East, and this trend has only been exacerbated by the explosion of social media networks and alternative online outlets. Yet instead of complaining about this unfair treatment, organizations such as Israel’s Tazpit Press Service (TPS) are providing real-time, accurate and reliable news stories for international media outlets seeking coverage of Israel and the Middle East.

“Foreign agencies come to Israel with their own perspectives. No one is completely objective,” says Amotz Eyal, the CEO and founder of TPS. TPS employs “Christians, Arabs, Druze and Jewish experts who provide accurate stories about Israel,” Eyal says. “Our goal is to expose stories that other services do not cover — not just terrorist attacks, but stories about the different communities in Israel.” Since its establishment in 2012, TPS has broken stories on a wide range of topics related to economics, security, politics, technology, scientific developments, agriculture and more.

With regard to Reuters, The Associated Press and other leading wire services, the TPS CEO isn’t worried about taking on the industry’s Goliaths. “We’re not trying to compete by size, but rather by quality,” Eyal said. “We have 250 photographers all over Israel. We have more people on the ground here than any other service. As a result, we get to the stories more quickly than any other news agency.”

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Eyal recently spoke at Breaking Israel News’ inaugural “Prophecy in the News” conference, which explored the unique challenges and opportunities of reporting the news from a Biblical perspective. Ironically, while such a journalistic approach is not considered mainstream, Rabbi Tuly Weisz, the publisher of Breaking Israel News, notes that “half of the world recognizes that the Bible is both important historically — and as a way to help us interpret today’s events.”

Similar to the Christian Broadcasting Network and the Trinity Broadcasting Network, Breaking Israel News is not afraid to connect current events to the Bible. Weisz and Breaking Israel News are particularly trying to get Christian news sites to pick up their stories about Israel.

In recent months, there has been a lot of discussion about fake news, particularly how it is spread and shared online, and whether it influenced the recent US presidential election. But in today’s 24/7 reality, it’s not enough to simply combat inaccuracies in the media after they have been written, posted and distributed. Media outlets such as TPS and Breaking Israel News are part of a new movement ensuring that the truth about Israel — which is rarely pure and never simple — gets told. And they are having success. TPS distributes media material to more than 180 leading media outlets around the world, and Breaking Israel News is Israel’s fifth largest English-language website, with more than 1.5 million monthly readers.

Long before the advent of the Digital Age, Mark Twain said: “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” But today, unverified, false and prejudiced stories about Israel are increasingly being moderated, mediated and ameliorated. While today’s media elites are entitled to their own opinions, they are not entitled to their own facts.

Gidon Ben-Zvi is a Jerusalem-based freelance writer, editor, translator and contributor.

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