London conference focuses on Israel's portrayal in media

MK Nachman Shai (Kadima), Nahum Barnea and Ehud Ya’ari among 150 participants.

foreign press 248 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
foreign press 248
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
LONDON – A host of eminent journalists, media commentators, scholars and parliamentarians from Israel and the UK discussed issues and concerns pertaining to media coverage of Israel at a special conference in London on Tuesday.
Over 150 people participated in the Anglo-Israel Association’s Second Ambassadors Roundtable conference at the Foreign Office in central London.
The one-day conference looked at media bias and objectivity and issues relating to media coverage of Israel, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and wider Middle East.
One of the morning sessions included an in-depth look at media bias, the threshold between what pro- Israel observers see as media bias against Israel and critics of Israel see at biased in favor of Israel.
During the afternoon, there was an insightful and frank discussion on the fine line between the legitimate criticism of Israeli policy and what is considered the delegitimization of Israel.
Among the British participants were John Lloyd, contributing editor of the Financial Times; Jon Williams, BBC’s world news editor and Ian Black, Middle East Editor of the Guardian.
Israeli participants included the veteran Middle East commentator Ehud Ya’ari; MK Nachman Shai (Kadima); Aluf Benn, editor-at-large of Haaretz; Nahum Barnea, political columnist for Yediot Aharonot; Ben-Dror Yemini, opinion editor at Ma’ariv, Dana Weiss from Channel 2 news and Eran Shayshon from the Tel Aviv-based think-tank Reut.
“This year’s Ambassadors’ Roundtable brought together some distinguished and deeply experienced journalists and media commentators from both countries to look at ways of overcoming the stereotyping of both Israel and the Arab-Israel dispute,” said Sir Andrew Burns, chair of the Anglo-Israel Association, adding that the purpose of the AIA is to generate a wider, more positive and informed understanding of Israel.
Speaking about the stereotypes in the media, Burns said: “This was seen to be leading to a demonization and threatening delegitimization of Israel in intellectual and cultural circles in the UK and in the minds of many young and politically active parts of the British population.
“We were particularly worried about developing attitudes in student and academic life, and within the voluntary and NGO sectors, where knowledge of the issues can be rather thin and lacking in an historical perspective. In a very candid and lively discussion a wide range of concerns were addressed and a much deeper understanding reached of how the practice of objective impartial journalism is affected by the twin pressures of finance and global competition in the age of the Internet,” he added.
“The conference was very important and focused on a very critical issue, how the media deals with the Israeli- Palestinian conflict and the way Israel is portrayed by the liberal press in Britain,” said Shai.
“We have a lot of questions on how the British media treats Israel and why Israel is treated differently. The conference delved into these issues and provided an excellent insight into these concerns.”
Founded in 1949, the Anglo-Israel Association is a London-based charity supported by people from different faiths across the political spectrum. It aims to support educational programs and exchanges to enable the people of both countries to deepen their links and understanding of each other