Useful Information to Help you be Heard
Visit the Keep Yourself Informed page to find great resources for keeping yourself informed. You might subscribe to one of several email services to receive regular news updates, articles, analyses and even slide shows about what’s happening in Israel today.
The Media is the most powerful vehicle for presenting the news with influence on public opinion and government policy.
The Media is the most powerful vehicle for presenting the news. Unfortunately, the media has been plagued with bias towards the Palestinian cause. While Australian newspapers and the news on the television are the most convenient ways to receive the news, they are not always the most accurate. Make sure you know and understand ALL the facts by visiting at least some of the websites presented on this site. They are a great way to ensure you are correctly informed about everything that is going on in the current crisis. The Internet is a great resource for getting an accurate picture of what is really happening in the conflict. Don’t just rely on the TV stations and newspapers to present the news from all points of view.
The media also has a powerful influence on public opinion and government policy.
• Join the Israel Advocacy Network – Click here to register
• Whenever you discover bias , immediately contact the news agency and complain. Keep your remarks respectful and stick to the facts.
• Build a list of e-mail addresses of friends and colleagues, so when you discover bias, you can alert others to also file a complaint. There is power in the number of responses even if your specific letter is not printed.
• Call the radio or television program in question and speak directly to the producers of programs. Whether it is a matter of calmly and intelligently suggesting alternative ways to present stories in a more balanced way or complimenting the program on a positive coverage, direct feedback can be a powerful tool.
Remember – give positive feedback to media agencies when favourable pieces appear. Let them know that this is what their readership wants to hear.
Write your own letters to the Editor and “opinion” pieces for publication.
Ring the talkback radio stations and put Israel ‘s position forward.
Reasons For Writing To The Press
To Correct or Complain about Articles
Unfortunately there are a great many examples of media bias about Israel , and factual errors in reports on Israel . Editors are influenced by reader feedback, and will sometimes adjust their coverage to reflect what they perceive as what readers want. When readers complain about specific cases of factual errors in reporting, editors will usually publish corrections.
To Set the Agenda
Not every letter Israel activists write to the press needs to be responsive. It is important to attempt to set the agenda – by pointing out things readers might not have known, or by mentioning upcoming events. Often agenda setting is done through press letter pages, but it is also possible to get newspapers, especially the local press and student papers, to publish opinion pieces.
The best letters to the press are short and to the point. Don’t waffle. A short paragraph making a sharp point is more likely to be included than a long letter. Letter editors could do without the work of shortening letters, and are grateful for short pieces that can fill up small bits of available space.
Type Your Letter
Many newspapers will just discard handwritten letters. Type all correspondence, then use snail mail or fax, or use e-mail.
Include Your Details
It is essential to include your personal details with any letter to the press. Usually, newspapers won’t include a letter if it isn’t accompanied by the sender’s details, including address, which must be verifiable. This is usually the case for email submissions too. Check the newspaper’s policy, and stick to it. Letter writers can usually request that their details not be published, but these still need to be included.
Declare Your Own Credentials
We live in what eminent sociologist Randall Collins has called a ‘credential society’. Credentials count – educational credentials, job titles, and the little letters people include after their names count for more than ability or expertise, which after all we don’t have time to prove in a letter. When writing letters to the press, it is essential to present some kind of credential – ‘as somebody who has travelled extensively in the Middle East’, ‘as a student of International Relations at Harvard University’, or ‘President, Israel Society, University of Amsterdam’. This increases chances of publication, and lends weight to content.
Mention facts that will be interesting to a newspaper’s audience, instead of re-treading old ground. It is far better to say something like – ‘You mentioned Arafat’s speech in Ramallah but neglected to mention that in this very speech he called for jihad, or holy way, eight times’ than to say ‘You mentioned Arafat’s speech in Ramallah, but didn’t mention that he was a terrorist who has killed Jews’. Don’t assume that readers will be knowledgeable – set out background where necessary, so say ‘Chairman of the Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat’, and not just ‘Arafat’.
Don’t be apologetic when putting a pro-Israel case forward. Instead be assertive and positive in explaining Israel ‘s positions. So, for example, say that ‘ Israel is a progressive country committed to equality and justice for all her citizens’ instead of ‘it’s not really fair to say that Israel is an Apartheid state’.
Hysterical or excessively angry language will alienate readers. Write clearly and rationally. It can be difficult to remain rational and maintain a calm tone when media coverage has been terribly biased against Israel and done something like praising terrorist actions; however calm and rational language succeeds in getting readers to take note. So, for example, say ‘I was disappointed with your apologetics for Hamas terrorists – there can be no justification for the deliberate targeting of young children’, and don’t say ‘your support of disgusting terrorists shows that you and your paper are nothing but Arab lovers, who don’t understand that Hamas, Arafat, and their ilk are just murderers’.
Use Inclusive Language
Try to use language that allows your audience to identify with the pro-Israel cause. For example, instead of saying ‘Palestinian terrorism is a danger to stability in the Middle East’ use the more inclusive ‘we all understand what a danger to Middle East stability Palestinian terrorism is�’
When Complaining, Ask for Something to be Done
Letters should always ask for something to be done in response. If complaining about a particular error in coverage of Israel , ask for either a correction or clarification, and do so explicitly. ‘I would be grateful if you would issue a correction of this factual error as soon as possible’. If you are complaining about perceived bias, ask for future coverage to address the points that you have made.
Politicians consider each letter they receive to be representative of 100s of voters’ feelings on a subject. If a politician receives a handful of letters in support of Israel , they are likely to believe that their voters support Israel . Grassroots pressure won’t get a politician to radically alter their views, but it might well give them the confidence to act on their pro-Israel feelings. Thanking a politician after they do something to help Israel will encourage them to continue in the same vein. Conversely, grassroots pressure on politicians who are generally hostile to Israel might persuade them that they will be punished by the electorate if they don’t moderate their actions.
Identify as a Concerned Citizen
Politicians are quick to discount letters that they see as part of organised campaigns conducted by pressure groups. For this reason, letter writers should identify themselves as concerned citizens, and not as members of organisations.
Write a Personal Letter
Use neat handwriting, or type your letter but then write in the top (salutation) and bottom (signature) by hand. If adapting a letter from a template, be certain to make enough changes to the letter to make it ‘personal’.
Focus Clearly on One Topic
Many politicians receive a large number of letters. State your position clearly in the first sentence of your letter – ‘as a concerned supporter of Israel I believe it is important that we act against terrorism in the Middle East ‘. Then, in the rest of your letter, limit discussion to only one topic. Better just to talk about terrorism than to talk about Jerusalem , the United Nations, Antisemitism, and terrorism all in the same letter.
Ask for Specific Action
Politicians want to keep their electors happy, but they need to know what is expected of them. Include details of specific action that politicians should take with each letter. For example, ask a politician to vote in favour of a piece of legislation, or to relay complaints to the foreign ministry.
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