My New York-based team and I are handling the international public relations for SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries’ historic mission to the moon, a first for Israel and the world’s inaugural privately funded lunar voyage. If successful, Israel would join only three superpowers – China, Russia and the United States – in landing a spacecraft on the moon.
Throughout this project, we’ve received intense interest and excitement from hundreds of reporters and media outlets worldwide, including from some Muslim countries. It was deeply gratifying to see how this mission, a source of Israeli pride, generated thousands of positive articles and TV segments in print, broadcast and online media globally. Among them were The New York Times, the UK Guardian, CNN and the BBC – all of which are consistently accused of being biased against Israel.
In fact, Israelis and Jews around the world often charge that international media in general display a deep-seated anti-Israel bias in their coverage. I’m not even referring to those media under the control of authoritarian regimes – that’s a separate discussion.
Through our engagement with international reporters and editors during the past months, and likewise through their highly positive coverage of Israel’s first lunar mission, we have seen nothing less than a full-throated endorsement of Israel and its achievements. This largely positive media coverage of Israel’s pioneer spacecraft – named Beresheet (meaning “In the beginning”) – offers an important case study showing that, in fact, the international media is by and large not biased against Israel.
That’s not to say there aren’t serious issues with media coverage of the Jewish state. Many international media outlets have been unfairly critical of Israel, especially regarding the Israeli government’s policy toward the Palestinian people. We all remember the one-sided reports by many international reporters during Israel’s Gaza military operations Pillar of Defense in 2012 and Protective Edge in 2014. Many claimed – and generally rightfully – that these reports were misleading, biased and evidence of a double standard by reporters – that these same reporters largely ignored the years of missile attacks that igniting those Israeli military operations or ignored how Hamas terrorists used others as human shields.
But we should also keep in mind that when it comes to how the international media covers the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, some reporters – just like some world leaders and like many Israelis themselves who live in Israel and serve in the Israeli army – believe the current situation with the Palestinians is wrong and that it’s incumbent upon Israel to help change it. Can the media sometimes fail to convey the full story while fulfilling their journalistic duties? Of course. Does it necessarily mean they are inherently biased? Not at all.
Based on the recent coverage of Israel’s moon mission, the answer is that there is no inherent media bias against Israel. On the contrary, the media fully admires and respects this tiny state, its people and their remarkable achievements. Yes, when it comes to Israeli government policy, international reporting is oftentimes highly critical. But this should not give us the right to label media outlets as anti-Israel.
The Start-Up Nation proves again and again that it is bigger than any political policy. It stands on the cutting edge of the world’s top innovations, creativity, research and entrepreneurship in the sciences, hi-tech and culture. Whenever we tell that story to the world, we can be confident that the international media will be there to report it wholeheartedly.
The author is the president and founder of Puder PR – a public relations and marketing firm in New York, specializing in Jewish world and Israel affairs.