Monday, December 25, 2006

Ellen Horowitz's Review of the Jew Blogging Conference

Slightly abridged:-

On the Brink of Opportunity

Ellen W. Horowitz

A media milestone of sorts took place last week, with nary a mention by the press.
A conference entitled: The Media as a Theater of War, the Blogosphere and the Global Battle for Civil Society, opened up opportunities and possibilities as big as its ambitious title suggests.

...I was inspired by the charged atmosphere and appropriate sense of urgency, and moved by the sense of sincere reflection and remorse that I saw among several of the conference participants. The conditions for real cooperation and correction on the Israel hasbara front were palpable.

A general theme throughout the conference was that although the State of Israel is facing and enormous crisis, it's only under these pressing conditions that the paradigm is capable of shifting. That our long held ideas, institutions, organizations and endeavors are in danger of failure and collapse is indeed cause for alarm, but this also presents us with an immense opportunity for positive change.

Government and military spokesperson met blogger, and academic met layperson. It was a place where heads (with and without kippot) met hearts in what appeared to be a reawakening of the Zionist spirit.

It took a blogging history professor to bring this eclectic bunch together. Richard Landes is a medievalist crusading on behalf of civil society. He's the kind of white knight with a refreshing type of thinking that may help us get through some very dark ages.

...There were some piognant and stunning moments. All the attendees were humbly hushed as French Jew Philippe Karsenty relayed how he had presented a flawless defense, with impeccable witnesses, in the libel suit brought against him by France 2 Television for claiming that the Mohammed Al Dura shooting was staged. He lost the case on the grounds that if the Israeli government or military had not issued a formal complaint against Charles Enderlin's news coverage of the incident, then Karsenty's claims and evidence have no validity.

At this point, Dr. Raanin Gissin, former media advisor to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stood up and offered a spontaneous, heartfelt apology, claiming he felt "ashamed" and "humiliated" for Israel¹s indifference to Karsenty. He lamented a lost opportunity and then called to task government officials who were not at the conference to hear of Karsenty's independent efforts, trials, and appeal on behalf of Israel to correct a gross injustice.

...The IDC Media Conference presented a unique opportunity for Israeli government officials, and academics to get off their high horses and climb down from their ivory towers in order to see the accomplished grassroots and individual efforts which have been launched on behalf of Israel by a lot of concerned, determined, and talented people.

It's a shame that more Israeli press wasn't there to cover the forum, and it's this indifference on the part of our own media sources that may be indicative of the problems we now face on the hasbara front.

The writer is the author of The Oslo Years: A Mother's Journal (Gefen Publishing).

No comments: