view of the west bank.
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Despite criticisms by pro- Palestinian bloggers and tweeps, new media
journalists from the UK welcomed the opportunity to visit Israel this week as
part of a four-day tour organized by the Britain Israel Communications and
Research Center (BICOM).
“The trip exposed us to a wide variety of views,
including from within the establishment and those who are anti-establishment, as
well as meetings in the West Bank,” commented Jonathan Isaby, political director
of the Taxpayers Alliance and co-editor of the website
“Overall the trip was very well rounded and I now
have a much more informed view of the politics of this country,” he
Isaby was among six new media pundits brought by the British
organization in order to gain a better understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict and the nuances within Israeli society.
Among those that met
with the group were the prime minister’s spokesman Mark Regev, British
Ambassador Matthew Gould and MK Isaac Herzog, as well as some of the activists
behind the J-14 social justice movement. The group also spent a day in Ramallah
meeting with Palestinian Authority officials and others.
really brought to life some of the people and places that we only hear about in
the news in Britain and issues that are often discussed in the House of Commons
[British Parliament],” said Isaby, adding that he now realizes “there is no such
thing as a typical Israeli.”
BICOM’s chief executive, Dermot Kehoe,
explained that this is the first time the organization arranged a trip to Israel
for new media professionals and bloggers, even though in the past it has brought
mainstream journalists here.
“Social media is becoming much more
influential in the UK,” he explained, pointing out that all those who came on
the trip are highly influential politically in the British online
Perhaps due to their high profiles, the trip was attacked last
week by pro-Palestinian activists who criticized the bloggers for falling prey
to Israeli or Jewish hasbara, public relations.
Blogger Richard Angell,
from Progressonline.org.uk, dismissed the criticisms however, saying “one of the
great things about new media is that we are not trying to hide anything and we
see all angles as part of the online conversation.”
He said that the
highlight of the four-day trip was gaining a sense of the wide variety of
different views in Israel, especially in terms of the country’s international
relations and how the Jewish state sees the recent upheaval in the Arab
“The Arab spring has changed the map in the region but Israel’s
reaction to it is very different to how we have understood in Britain,” observed
Angell, adding that from the outside Israel seems like a “homogeneous group” but
in reality there is real diversity.