Journalists Report Back on their Mission to Israel

November 23, 2016 by Sophie Deutsch
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Senior journalists who participated in the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies’ Mission to Israel shared their experiences.

James Massola (Fairfax), Andrew Clennell (Daily Telegraph), Luke Malpass (Australian Financial Review, Amelia Brace (Channel 7), Vic Alhadeff, Vish Wishwanathan (Indian Telegraph), Suzy and Phill Wolanski. Tom Connell (Sky), Caliste Weitenberg (SBS), Eoin Blackwell (Huffington Post) and Anthony Klan (The Australian) were unable to attend. Photo: Ingrid Shakenofsky

James Massola (Fairfax), Andrew Clennell (Daily Telegraph),
Luke Malpass (Australian Financial Review, Amelia Brace (Channel 7), Vic
Alhadeff, Vish Wishwanathan (Indian Telegraph), Suzy and Phill Wolanski.
Photo:Ingrid Shakenofsky

Over 180 people attended at a forum at the Emanuel Synagogue at which Anthony Klan, Senior Journalist for The Australian, Amelia Brace from Channel Seven, James Massola, Chief Political Reporter for Fairfax, and Vish Wishwanathan from The Indian Telegraph were some of the journalists who participated in the mission.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the prospect for a two-state solution formed the predominant topic of discussion for the evening.

James Massola was pessimistic and dubious about a two-state solution in the short-term. “Peace… is an abstract notion, something that everyone would like”, says James. “The talks that are underway at the moment are really lip service and are unlikely to go anywhere in the short-term.”

However, he expressed hope for a peaceful coexistence between Jews, Muslims and Christians in the future. “I did see that there are some green shoots, some causes for optimism there”, noted James. “The vast majority of Israelis do actually sit for peace and a two-state solution”.

Causes for such optimism include a community-based initiative called Roots which attempts to sort out grievances such as safety and community issues in the West Bank. The organisation aims to shift violence and disputes towards trust, empathy and mutual support between Palestinians and Israelis.

A number of the journalists also mentioned Rawabi, a new city built by Palestinians in the West Bank, as an indication of progress towards a peaceful coexistence. “This huge development was a testament to Palestinian aspirations”, stated Caliste Weitenberg from SBS. Despite some disputes regarding whether the development truly reflects Palestinian ideals, the building complex helps to keep locals employed and engaged as an alternative to violence in the region.

Highlights of the trip included the Golan Heights, Bethlehem, the incredible cuisine and thriving Mediterranean atmosphere of Tel Aviv. The unique opportunity to witness the daily struggles of both Israelis and Palestinians, and their go-ahead, resilient attitude was particularly remarkable. “Being on the ground and understanding the very human pressures that are faced was completely invaluable. And I look on the conflict and the achievement of the Jewish State of 70 years to build itself up out of the desert very differently”, said Luke Malpass from the Australian Financial Review.

The Journalists Mission was supported by the JCA Haberman Kulawicz Wolanski Fund. Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Phil and Suzie Wolanski, nine journalists were able to attend the tour in 2016. In previous years, only four were invited to participate. This year’s mission was also supported by the JCA 10×10 campaign.

 

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