The past few weeks saw the error in foreign news coverage of the Middle East come to life as an international group promoting peace journeyed throughout the region. The Breaking the Ice peace mission began their journey overland in Tel Aviv early March and has just recently ended the trek by planting an olive tree on Mount Sinai: a perfect place to end the peace mission. All three major monotheistic faiths have roots at Sinai, so it was fitting that the group of two Israelis, a Palestinian, an Iraqi, Afghani, two Americans, Ukrainian and Iranian, planted the tree in Sinai.
While it sounds so peaceful and harmonizing, the facts of the past two weeks speak for themselves. First, the group was denied entrance into Libya because there were three Israelis traveling in the group. Western media was quick to pick that story up, with almost every major news publication racing to show the shortcomings of Gaddafi’s regime.
With the world seemingly struggling to catch their breath between diatribe after diatribe where the west attacks Islam and Islam attacks the west, it is apparent that not much else good can come from the battle that is currently playing out. However, the BTI journey offered an opportunity for the world to come together and show their unity. The media across the globe missed out on a chance to show there is hope.
The group turned around and headed back through Egypt after the Libyan ordeal, stopping first at Siwa. The plan was to head back to Israel for the final festivities before the participants headed home. However, on March 30, the group was notified that the Israeli government denied re-entry visas to the Iraqi and Palestinian in the group. The next two days and no media coverage showed up across the globe to condemn the Israeli action.
It must be stated that it is despicable what the Libyan government did, but almost equally despicable what the Israeli government has done. These people were in Israel only a month ago and to deny them entrance should have been met with stories documenting this. Instead, the media was too preoccupied by the elections that this story was not even reported.
Where is the justice? American media claims to be non-partisan when it comes to foreign coverage, but this is evidence that it just isn’t so. The press was right in condemning and pasting story after story in newspaper pages on the error of Libya’s ways, but where is the blasting of Israel?
Sure, Israel had elections and is worried about security. At least that is what the Palestinian and Iraqi said following denial; but this is a peace mission! There should have been an outcry against Israel’s actions in regards to this. It would have been understandable had they denied entrance to supposed ‘terrorists’ or someone in league with Hamas. At least the reasoning would have been acceptable; but this is simply wrong.
The point is that if Western media wants to be seen in the Middle East as a real source of un-ambiguous coverage, they must cover both sides of the coin the same way. Granted, Israel didn’t say outright they were denying entrance to the two Arabs simply because they were Arab, but it is pretty obvious that this is the case. Western media should have been all over this. But they remained silent, watching as Israel abused its power yet again.
It is even more frustrating as an editor at Egypt’s only independent daily English language newspaper to watch as story after story was reported concerning Libya’s terrible attitude toward the participants. It is equally as frustrating that Israel got off the hook for doing the same thing to two more participants.
Both Israel and Libya should be shunned for the way they treated the participants of a peace mission. A peace mission! Yet, only Libya seems to have gotten the ear of foreign press for their actions. We the press should take a hard look at how the world is portrayed. If we want people to believe in the ‘truth’ we are supposedly bringing to them, it is time we start acting like we are doing our jobs.
If western media wants to regain the trust of Arabs and Muslims across the globe they must stand up and point out the injustices, like they rightfully did with Libya, in all instances. Israel cannot be left alone if this region is ever going to get away from the current hate they have for the west.