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How to Write About Israel


Palestinian stone-thrower taking a breather

Photo Credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90

Visit with politicians. Israeli Prime Ministers will invariably be unpleasant obstructionist types, if they make jokes, describe it as a transparent effort to curry favor with you. Generals are even worse. Press them about the separation wall, checkpoints, misery and deprivation in the territories. Then get your NGO friends to introduce you to friendly left-wing pols who will commiserate with you about the state of the peace process and the leap of faith that needs to be taken to make peace. Get a quote from them about the next generation and describe them as saddened by their government’s unwilling to make peace.

Palestinian politicians are always willing to make peace, even when they aren’t. Work at it and you will get a hypothetical quote about their willingness to one day live in peace with the Jews. Turn that quote into the centerpiece of your article. Contrast it with Israeli leaders who still refuse to come to the table. Never ask them any tough questions about the budget, their support for terrorists or why they refuse to negotiate. Instead feed them softball questions, take their talking points and plug them into the template for the same article that your predecessors have been writing since the seventies.

If an Israeli tells you that there is no such thing as Palestinians, that they’re gangs of Muslim militias who have no interest in running their own country, or that Jordan is the actual Palestinian State, ignore him. Details like that don’t matter and you’re not here to litigate history, you’re here to tell a story. The same story that has been told for generations about villainous Israelis and the heroic resistance fighters battling against them.

Don’t dig into the relationships between Arab clans, the depth of nepotism within the Palestinian Authority or the lack of elections. Don’t discuss Israeli poverty except when your NGO friends ask you to write about their work. Don’t mention the epidemic of car thefts or land seizures. Don’t try to understand what all the different religious subgroups are really all about. You were sent here to tell a simple story and your job is to tell that story.

Write about the hills and the blood-red sunsets, mention all the armies that probably passed over them in a history you never bothered to learn. Talk about your mixed feelings as a Jew or part-Jew or someone who has Jewish friends, at the sight of Jews oppressing another people. Describe the black soulful eyes of a Palestinian leader or terrorist or terrorist leader. Write up the settler children who are taught to hate. Write about how all the guns make you uncomfortable. Close with an old man who expresses hope that one day peace will come to this troubled land.

Then go home.

About the Author: Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli born blogger and columnist, and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His work covers American, European and Israeli politics as well as the War on Terror. His writing can be found at http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press.


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