HR Mission Roundup

This morning two Israeli civilians were killed (including a 4-year-old boy), and at least 11 others injured, in a Hamas rocket attack upon the southern Israeli town of Sderot. Though Sderot residents have been injured by hundreds of Qassam rockets fired from Gaza in the past, this was the first lethal Qassam strike.

As HonestReporting has documented, the media consistently downplayed the threat of terrorist rocket-fire on Sderot, suggesting that IDF strikes against Hamas’ Qassam launching pads in Gaza were unnecessarily harsh. HonestReporting is monitoring coverage to see if the media’s take on these ‘homemade’ and ‘inaccurate’ missiles will now more accurately describe their deadly potential.


The first-ever HonestReporting Leadership Mission to Israel ended yesterday. It was a fantastic and inspiring week of interactive learning, with participants spanning the globe from Australia to Brazil and throughout the U.S. Some highlights:

At the opening dinner in a scenic courtyard in the Old City of Jerusalem, former cabinet minister Avigdor Lieberman gave a briefing to mission participants. Lieberman brought a newsworthy perspective, having been dismissed from his cabinet post just two weeks earlier for opposing the Gaza disengagement plan.

At the new and impressive building of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the HR Mission had a unique opportunity to query a panel of three top journalists Greg Myre of the NY Times, David Gilbert of CBS News, and Jamil Hamad of Time magazine regarding their coverage of the Mideast conflict.

Regarding the (non-)use of the term ‘terrorist’, Myre said that in principle the Times is open to using the term, but with no official policy, there are alot of ‘grey areas’ that crop up.

Gilbert emphasized the distinction between journalism and the news business: ‘I would like to be practicing more pure journalism, but we’re in the news business, and that means advertisers come into play.’ Gilbert indicated that his reports must be compelling to keep viewers tuned in, and that this necessarily affects coverage of the Mideast conflict.

  Caroline Glick, columnist and Deputy Managing Editor of the Jerusalem Post, and the only Israeli reporter embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq (pictured at left), delivered a powerful talk on Israel and the West’s confrontation with radical Islam.

‘We have to make it clear,’ said Glick, ‘through HonestReporting and continual letter-writing, who the enemy is and what is really happening with the Islamist threat against Israel, the U.S. and the West. Just as they used jetliners to destroy the twin towers, they will use the media to destroy our will. We cannot let that happen.’

The HR Mission chartered a small plane and enjoyed a breathtaking aerial view of Israel’s sights? Tel Aviv, the security fence, and the Sea of Gallilee. In northern Israel, the group visited an army base and toured the Syrian border.  IDF officer Elliot Chodoff brought the group to key sites of the 1967 and 1973 wars, and illustrated Israel’s diligent intelligence atop the Golan Heights: ‘When the Syrian army so much as sneezes in Damascus, the IDF goes on alert.’

  The HR Mission visited Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, and met with Sherri Mandel (right), whose 13-year-old son Kobi was murdered by Palestinian terrorists in 2001. While in Gush Etzion, the group delivered cakes to over 150 hungry and appreciative IDF soldiers!

In a riveting expose to the HR Mission, one Arab journalist (who requested anonymity) explained how Palestinian ‘fixers’ typically accompany foreign journalists to the West Bank and Gaza, but since the ‘fixers’ are themselves loyal to the anti-Israel cause, the information they convey is badly skewed. He gave the example of a foreign journalist interviewing an Arab source in Ramallah: When the source was critical of Israel, the Palestinian ‘fixer’ translated word-for-word for the benefit of the journalist, but when the source was critical of the PA, the Palestinian ‘fixer’ said, ‘Oh, he’s now talking about the weather.’

  Israeli Cabinet Minister Natan Sharansky (left) addressed the growing problem of antisemitism in western democracies, which is often disguised as anti-Israel opinion in media sources. Daniel Pipes (right), who accompanied The HR Mission throughout the week, explained that while Israel is scapegoated for terror, the radical Islamic groups that actually perpetrate the attacks grow in numbers and influence? without appropriate media attention.

In all, the HR Mission was a fantastic success, combining first-class accomodations with brainstorming sessions on how to increase the impact of HonestReporting worldwide. Mission participants undertook to launch local and regional activism projects, and as one Los Angeles resident said, ‘With all this first-hand information about what’s happening in Israel, I now have the confidence to combat the disinformation so prevalent in my community.’

We’ve already begun planning next years’ HonestReporting Leadership Mission if you’d like to receive updates as that date approaches, just drop us an email.