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Students on a Misson

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) sent 23 students from across the United States and Canada on its annual Advocacy and Leadership Training Mission to Israel in the middle of June.  The free study mission helps North American college students better recognize and counter news media errors and biases regarding Israel.  The trip is open to students with a background in the Arab-Israel conflict, who are strong writers and want an in-depth look at the issues.

Students tour key sites relevant to Arab-Israeli news coverage.  They also have time to explore the diversity of Israel.

“In our trip to Israel, ‘Behind The Headlines: Understanding Media Coverage of the Arab-Israeli Conflict,’ students will visit top Israeli institutions and meet public relations experts to learn how to effectively communicate a message,” said Aviva Slomich, CAMERA’s Campus Director.  “We will also take part in training sessions about media coverage and how to help promote sound reporting. In addition, the study tour includes meetings with journalists, policy makers, world-renowned academics, and government leaders.”

Slomich said the students get a chance to visit strategic areas of the Golan Heights, a tour of the ancient Hezekiah’s Tunnel in Jerusalem, a stop at a clandestine arms factory built under the nose of the occupying British forces in the 1940’s and an excursion to Israeli wineries.

This year the group had private meetings with researchers from the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, as well as the deputy spokesperson of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with Mark Regev, spokesperson for the prime minister.

Students will also meet with Khaled Abu Toameh, The Jerusalem Post’s Palestinian affairs reporter and analyst, and tour the often-rocketed town of Sderot near the Gaza Strip with Noam Bedein, director of the Sderot Media Center.

According to Gilead Ini, another trip leader and a senior researcher at CAMERA, “Our program is designed to help students learn about Israel’s existential struggle and the influential role played by news coverage of events in Israel, while gaining first-hand knowledge of the factors influencing that coverage.  Our geopolitical tour with Israel Kimhi, a Jerusalem city planner and meetings with experts such as Gil Troy of McGill University, reflect this.”

Slomich said she is particularly excited about the students having an opportunity to visit Ishmael Khaledi’s childhood village of Khawaled with him. Khaledi is currently Israel’s highest ranking Muslim diplomat, now stationed in the United Kingdom, and has spoken on college campuses across North America in the past on behalf of CAMERA.

Students who complete all their requirements as CAMERA Fellows or have been Israel activists on their campus are rewarded with the opportunity to participate in the study mission so that they can gain further knowledge for even more effective advocacy on behalf of Israel and close U.S.-Israel ties.

CAMERA is the non-partisan, 65,000-member, Boston-based monitor of news and other media coverage and analysis of Arab-Israeli issues in particular, the Middle East in general.  It has members in 13 countries and Web sites in Hebrew and Spanish as well as English.  CAMERA holds news and other communications media to journalistic standards of objectivity, accuracy, balance, context and comprehensiveness.  It takes no political position on potential negotiated solutions to Arab-Israeli conflicts.

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