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Julia Bacha

Senior Producer & Media Director , Just Vision

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How can we encourage mainstream media coverage of Israeli and Palestinian nonviolence leaders?

I would love to hear concrete suggestions for how we can encourage mainstream media coverage of Israeli and Palestinians who are working nonviolently to resolve the conflict and end the occupation. I am also happy to answer questions from the TED community.

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Closing Statement from Julia Bacha

Thanks everybody for an amazing Q&A. You had some really great ideas and we'd love to continue hearing from you. Please join our Just Vision facebook page and follow us on twitter @justvisionmedia

It's really important for us to continue this conversation, since Israel and Palestinian nonviolent activists are particularly vulnerable at this sensitive time, while the world's attention is focused on the UN vote and the larger political picture.

We've actually seen several troubling cases of violence and intimidation used against these activists over the past few days and weeks, and they're facing an escalating crackdown from Israeli and Palestinian security forces. That's why its more important than ever to pay attention to what these grassroots leaders are doing, both to ensure that their message reaches as broad an audience as possible at this crucial time, and to guarantee that no extremist or militant elements are able to silence their voices.

Social media came up on many of the posts today as a powerful tool for spreading the message. We would love you to join us tomorrow, Wednesday, 21st September, for a FREE online broadcast of BUDRUS on mubi.com/films/budrus

Please share the broadcast link with all your friends and let's do this together.

And see you all at the premiere of Budrus at the TED Playhouse :) :)

Julia

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    Sep 20 2011: Wow Julia, I almost forgot you would be here and I think what you are doing is so important! I have been talking about your TED talk in TED conversations and on my blog. I recently asked a question about investigative journalism here wondering where it went- and then I saw your talk and realized that in many ways film makers are taking over that role.

    I think it can be done in two ways. We either shame them into covering things by demanding it of them on their comment blogs of their stations, by talking about the absence of the stories everywhere we can and forwarding all the information we can to them,

    The second way is the way that I think will really work. I really believe that we need a TED Playhouse for films. We need to provide the film watchers of the world with access to the film makers who are telling the stories we need to hear. I would be willing to pay a fee to subscribe especially if I knew that the proceeds would not go to a middle man but rather to those who did the investigative journalism and made the films directly. People are devouring TED talks, We love them. We love being able to side step the ivory towers and learn. We are not getting what the world needs from main stream media. They do not wish to or cannot play ball with 'we the people'. Thus we need some of 'our own' to tell the stories of our world.
    WE WILL LISTEN!
    • Sep 20 2011: the TED Playhouse idea is great. Julia it would be great to have those really close so people could watch. Thanks for the links though.
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        Sep 20 2011: I love the TED Playhouse idea ! Distribution for independent films is one of the biggest challenges we face today. What do you say TED?
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      Sep 20 2011: Hi Debra - thanks for spreading the message on your blog. I like both of your ideas and I think we should probably work on both of them simultaneously. What are innovative ideas about how to "shame" mainstream media outlets into covering nonviolent leaders?

      Maybe Budrus can be the opening night of the TED Playhouse :)
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        Sep 20 2011: I nominate Budrus for the opening night for being such a leader in information sharing within the TED community. I conceive of the TED playhouse as an on-line feature just like TED talks providing an outlet for front line film makers and investigative reporters. There could be categories by length and also fiction and documentary formats. Yes, distribution is a huge cost and a huge hurdle for film makers to overcome and a TED playhouse would enrich the world by bringing us the perspectives and talents of real people and help launch the film careers of talented film makers. It is a win win just was TED talks are a win win between academia and the world. TED will confer instant presence and credibility because they are such a prosocial force.

        As to your question, lets use some of my marketing training to figure that out. Are you sending email notifications to news outlets at every level to let them know what you have? They can't air or print what they do not know exists. Do you have a mailing list for interested persons who would help you get the information out on blogs and on comment boards. These people will ask questions of the media if what they know is there is not published.
        Every cause needs a champion or a figure with which the people can identify. Can you put forward a personality or a character that the mainstream media can build a story around. The Irish peace movement became a story when women said no more and average housewives banded together to protest. These are the unlikely heroes that make stories come alive for average people (and thus sell stories for advertisers revenue.etc.)
        You are doing something SO VERY important. I hope that these practical examples do not feel like they dimiinish your work. You just have to make it easy for the media to say yes or we have to make it too hard for them to say NO!
        I am really cheering you on in everything you do. Moms like me want peace.
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          Sep 20 2011: Debra -

          Thanks so much for your support and for all the great suggestions. We have a fantastic dedicated team at Just Vision which is constantly conducting outreach to media and partner organizations working on these issues, and we're constantly expanding the circle of people we reach.

          We also have a large mailing list, which you're welcome to join at www.justvision.org, to which we send frequent updates about nonviolent efforts being carried out by Palestinians and Israelis on the ground.

          And thanks for the nomination!!!
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          Sep 20 2011: I would be willing to help spread the message though I'm just a student :-) My father is from palestine, actually hes an ambassador of Palestine, and I have spend most of my life (I'm 24) witnessing the violence in the area in the most extreme way. This has to stop, there has to be a strong Peace movement and I applaud all the efforts you are doing. Like I said I will do my best to spread the message that peace and non-violence is the way forward.
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    Sep 20 2011: The best way is through the use of social media sites and the use of Internet in general. These are things that can never be censored plus and we can send a much more powerful message through sites like that than mainstream media. The way people follow news is changing and a shift towards sites like facebook, twitter etc is obvious so thats where the focus should be. Word of mouth was, is and will be the best tool to promote a cause.
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      Sep 20 2011: I wouldn't say that they can never be censored but your ideas are excellent.
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        Sep 20 2011: You are right some can be censored but overall the internet is massive and the general sense of the web is that you have the freedom to be who you are and express the opinions you want. The key is to promote more of the positive peaceful opinions because violent/negative ones will always exist, its a matter of overshadowing them with the peaceful ones.
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    Sep 20 2011: During mainstream "coverage" of such topics, maybe we can have a "live feed" of related stories/individuals in/from Israel and Palestine running along the bottom of the screen. Along with a URL, so viewers can look further on their own. A few minute "story" doesn't cut it and minimizes the truth.... which is distortion.

    But, this would rely upon mainstream news to be willing to give more to the people, allowing them to dig deeper. I'd love to be able to tap into the actual people living in these areas. Grassroots reporters or sorts. Don't see mainstream media giving up control and risking the masses seeing much outside of their agenda or on their coverage menu.

    Ideally, I'd love it if we could click/pick&choose more of what news I'd like to see via TV. Rate the stories. Rate the coverage. Much like we do with individuals posts via Facebook (like), Google+ (+), Tumblr (notes), etc. This would at least show what people are interested in, and what they're not.

    Perhaps one day we'll be able to access & rate news stories/coverage via TV, much like we do online.
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      Sep 20 2011: Hi Justin - I love the " live feed" idea and being able to pick & choose which news you'd like to see via TV. Do you think that audiences would vote more for pieces about nonviolence than violence? That is to say, do you think audiences are ready to demand more media coverage of nonviolent actions? I think they are...
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        Sep 20 2011: I think they are, too. From the young people I know who just graduated from university level Arabic Studies here and want to go on the pursue post grad work and careers in areas such as conflict resolution and international relations, and having watched what they post on their facebook pages on the recent revolutions, I'd have to say I'm encouraged, and think that there is a definite trend to seek out more positive news, at least in their age group.
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        Sep 20 2011: I think they're ready. No doubt. The regular folks I talk to on the day to day don't like to watch news. And for one simple reason: it's depressing, discouraging, and has no focus on the positive (non-violent) actions being taken by individuals/groups. No communication of great things happening in these "violence stricken" areas.

        There would be a transition... or rather... decompression for audiences to go through, to break free from such a violent focused expectation on the news. But... word would travel fast, especially if we were to strategically publicize/market the change thru appropriate (social) networks. At the people level.
  • Sep 20 2011: Ironic that this question is being posed 72 hours before UN statehood debate begins, when settlers and others opposed to Palestinian statehood, intent on grabbing media attention, may use violence to do so, possibly touching off violent reactions within Palestine. More important than ever to keep the non-violent alternative in the public consciousness. Agree with others that alternative media offer more possibilities than mainstream media in such a setting.
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      Sep 20 2011: Hi Clem-
      You bring up a good point, that Palestinian and Israeli nonviolence activists are particularly vulnerable at this sensitive time, while the world's attention is focused on the UN vote and the larger political picture. We've actually seen several troubling cases of violence and intimidation used against these activists over the past few days and weeks, and they're facing an escalating crackdown from Israeli and Palestinian security forces. That's why its more important than ever to pay attention to what these grassroots leaders are doing, both to ensure that their message reaches as broad an audience as possible at this crucial time, and to guarantee that no extremist or militant elements are able to silence their voices.
  • Sep 20 2011: The day that I stand in an airport lounge and watch Budrus instead of Anderson Cooper will be a wonderful day. But it ain’t gonna happen because television news today is a closed system almost impervious to change. But that’s OK, because social media, including YouTube, and other alternative media such as JustMedia, will eventually capture significant audiences. The answer is down the road, but we’re getting there.
  • Sep 20 2011: If we can create new and successfull media channels for nonviolent leaders then mainstream media will have to take notice and change the way they report?

    - setup YouTube channel and present short documentaries, interviews, stories and positive news about Israel-Palestian problem. Setup Facebook/Google+ page to promote that channel.

    - get help from growing world-wide influence of Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera is increasingly being watched by audience in North America and elsewhere and they could help to establish such coverage.

    - as someone suggested, ask TED to create a new platform to promote peace and social progress with a first task to help nonviolence leaders to promote their ideas and work

    cheers
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      Sep 20 2011: hi Zdneek - great ideas. we have a you tube channel and would love if the TED community helped spread the word about it - youtube.com/justvisionmedia

      We would love people to write to Al Jazeera demanding coverage of nonviolent resistance in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. We have succeeded in getting interviews to nonviolence leaders (and ourselves) on several Al Jazeera programs but like most Western channels, Al Jazeera Arabic is also overwhelmingly focused on the coverage of violence in the region.

      Let's keep working on the TED playhouse :)
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    Sep 20 2011: Share links to such stories through social media, blogs etc. Most news agencies probably use analytic tools to evaluate which stories that get attention, for example by counting the number of times a certain article is delivered to a webbrowser. Emediate user feedback is much easier today than ever, and if news agencies not are using extensive analytics on their articles already, I bet they will within a few years. By linking to such news and help bring the numbers up for articles that covers the situation in that light, the news agencies will realize that it is a kind of article that sells and thus more of it will be created.
  • Sep 20 2011: I have been a regular reader of Nick Kristof since my undergraduate days and find him one of the few opinion columnists without an "agenda". What you pose is certainly a daunting task and wish you all the success in the world. I know that I will post your videos and any blogs wherever I can so that I can help move the message "one voice at a time". Social media has taken over our culture and like someone here already mentioned may just be a powerful outlet.
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    Sep 20 2011: I have to be honest, I'm so programmed towards viewing violence that I honestly don't know how long a nonviolent media coverage would hold my attention (I'm 24). Personally, I love to see creative, innovative, and even simple ways that people are making an impact or change in their community.

    To encourage coverage, I would suggest fielding blog posts and articles of these protests (or getting smaller, local coverage going first), to larger media entities. This could help to eliminate any excuses they might have for not covering the story (i.e. not enough information or resources to cover the story). Social media is definitely a powerful way to get mainstream media coverage using hashtags for nonviolent events. If you can get one hashtag to trend, you'll definitely capture the media's attention.

    I also believe that it's important not to just give people the tools, or the coverage in this case, but to help them become aware of how to use these tools to prolong the impact and create sustainable change.

    The people on the ground are creating the digital trends that the news is covering on a daily basis. We have the power and the network, but a lot of folks are unaware of the potential and possibilities they hold in their hands (and gadgets). They assume they are randomly stumbling upon these opportunities, when really they've been apart of the creation process the entire time.
  • Sep 20 2011: Hello, Julia, congratulations for your work.

    The UN recognition of a Palestinian State would be THE major non-violent international political statement.

    Unfortunately, without the American support, it's unlikely that this important step will be taken soon.

    Would you like to share your opinion about that?

    Thank you.
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      Sep 20 2011: Hi Julia.
      Amazing and courageous work you're doing. It seems to me we are at a moment in history in which a concentrated and strategic movement regarding non-violence would take hold if coached along, as you're doing. Conflict is at a peak, not only in the countries you work in, but also within governments and populace's such as the US. I think the population is hitting bottom when it comes to conflict in general, and would embrace an organized movement in non-violence - even if only as an idea to hold on to. Not unlike the sit-ins of the sixties in this country.

      I think it's an idea whose time has come...again. It's an issue with global appeal on so many levels, and they would cover it - it just needs strength and strategy behind it to grab their attention. Obviously, this must come from grass roots and social media, as others are suggesting. I think the global audience is longing for peaceful solutions - if they're ready, global media will be too. I'm willing to do what I can, from that end, to help. Your work is such a powerful contribution to our world right now. Thank you.
  • Sep 20 2011: Julia: I assigned my reporting students to "cover" your TED talk and have also invited them to join this forum and respond to your question. Don't know if they will as it's last-minute, but we'll see. Recognize the problem of grabbing the media's attention for something that's not bang-bang or conflict. Compelling human stories don't always make it through the media filter. But compelling, honest stories are a start.
  • Sep 20 2011: Can Non-violent leaders survive let alone be successful against violent and aggressive oppositions ? Especially in Israeli and Palestine conflict.
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      Sep 20 2011: Hi Mohsin - There's no question that individuals adopting nonviolent strategies are likely to face strong, often violent, opposition. We've seen that take place in the civil rights movement in the US, Gandhi's struggle for independence in India, and more recently the Arab Spring. Despite brutal repression, the leaders of these three movements managed to garner world attention and sympathy in large measure thanks to their terrific strategies. Today, the US, India and gradually many countries in the Arab World are very different places thanks to nonviolence.

      Gene Sharp, an expert on nonviolence who inspired the leaders of the movement in Tahrir Square, has written about how taking on violent regimes with nonviolence is more effective because it confronts the regime with tools that its not comfortable/ready to deal with. According to Sharp, using violence against a well-armed army is putting yourself on weaker ground in a game whose rules someone else controls. Nonviolence transfers the strength and initiative over to you.

      In Israel and Palestine, we have several examples where nonviolent strategies yielded concrete results, most recently in the villages of Budrus and Biliin, where sustained nonviolent resistance to the route of Israel's separation barrier pressured the Israeli government to move the barrier off the Palestinian villages' lands.
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    Sep 20 2011: good question . alas we can't . Israeli government is alive with violence ........ sorry times up .
  • Sep 20 2011: Perhaps to find out in the mainstream media and where the coverage needed why there's no enough coverage yet is the first step.
  • Sep 20 2011: The picture I get and want to share is that NO ONE should be killing a fellow HUMAN BEING because thats what we all are. My only suggestion is that whenever possible get pictures of whenever any HUMAN BEING is doing wrong detructive things to another HUMAN BEING with any picture taking device. ITS 20011 so our GENERATION can do this and SHOULD. With that said and Cloud Computing (which simply means we have the Power to do comunication like we never did before) We ALL NEED TO STOP VIOLENCE WHEN WE KNOW ABOUT IT WHATEVER FAITH WE HAVE CHOOSEN.
  • Sep 20 2011: Julia, I totally support non-violence as a means of resistance. The problem is that as all moral bearing terms, this one can also be easily distorted. Here's a quote of a "non-violent" leader from the Just Vision website: "I totally reject normalization, and am not prepared to sit down with an Israeli just to make him look good in front of the world. I am prepared to meet with Israelis who sympathize with me and believe in ending the Occupation... " (NUR EL DEEN SHEHADA).
    Now let's try and reverse it by putting "Israel" instead of "Palestine" and vice versa.
    I find it hard to believe that such views will be considered "non-violent" when they come from the Israeli side.
    Yet, you have no problem praising them when they come from the Palestinian side.
    I don't believe Israel should withdraw to the 1967 lines but am definitely willing to sit with every Palestinian who is willing to TALK and try to sort out the disputes. What some of your "non-violent" leaders are unwilling to do.
    Kind of an absurd, don't you think?
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      Sep 20 2011: Hi Shaul - I'm glad you had the opportunity to look through some of the interviews. As I'm sure you will notice the more of them you read, we have a very wide range of perspectives and approaches highlighted, from people-to-people dialogue as exemplified by members of the Parents Circle (which seems to be the kind of conflict resolution work you are most interested in) to direct action, as exemplified by Nur el Shehada, and Ayed Morrar from our film, Budrus. None of the people we highlight advocate for the other side to be harmed or killed. Direct action is a nonviolent strategy that has been used in numerous conflicts historically, from the civil rights movement in the United States to the recent Arab Spring. Many Palestinian and Israeli activists believe that given the asymmetry in power in the region (Israelis have a country while Palestinians live under military occupation), the most important strategy today is direct action and not dialogue. We highlight both approaches in our website.
  • Sep 20 2011: Is it too expensive to spread nonviolent leaders?
    One or two phone calls, reading what's written elsewhere and writing the article is all that is required for breaking news stories. Contrastingly, broadcasting of non-violent stories requires a journalist to spend a prolonged time on the ground learning about the situation and then developing their own opinion and writing a story over time.
    Quick money is always preferred. But news firms need to realize newsreaders will read whatever article they are shown as newsreaders only require the article to be "well-written" to attract attention.
    Journalists also need to realize the biggest stories are long-term stories. Global Warming can be continuosly written about for years, and recently Warren Buffett wrote an article "Stop Coddling the Super Rich" which was repeatedly trending on twitter for 2 weeks.
    I believe journalists need to realize the potential of writing about long-term issues and that if they find the right issue it will help them have a stable successful career for years to come.
  • Sep 20 2011: Julia,

    I think that one powerful way to encourage mainstream media coverage of Israeli and Palestinian nonviolence leaders is to actually create a broad-ranging progressive coalition or new political party that focuses on gaining main stream media attention for non-violence and peaceful endeavors in general. What I mean is that this could be a key element in the party's platform and strategy. When you are organized, you can make manifest great effects. I'm currently working with some top politicians and activists to bring about this new coalition. Very exciting meetings happening. I would love to speak with you about it in detail.

    Mack
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      Sep 20 2011: Hi Mackenzie - interesting ideas. on a somewhat different note, Ayed Morrar, the protagonist of the documentary film, BUDRUS, - budrusthemovie.com - has recently launched a new initiative called the "Olive Revolution" that he's hoping will bring together the different groups working nonviolently on the ground.
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    Sep 20 2011: Though it contains some strong language I think this is a good link. By the way I am sure there's people like these kids on the other side of the wall.

    http://www.intifada-palestine.com/2011/01/gazas-youth-manifesto-for-change/
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    Sep 20 2011: Hi everyone. At Julia's request we've extended this conversation for another hour. It will now close at 3pm Eastern Time.
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    Sep 20 2011: Thanks for those links - enjoyed Budrus when it was shown at Findhorn last winter. Will think of more ideas to your question!
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    Sep 20 2011: This conflict is more than 100 years old. So far no politician was able to come up with ideas that would solve the issues. There are many reasons for this which can be argued here or elsewhere. The point is that times are changing in the Arab world as well. It is the time the people start to talk not just the rulers. The people might have different opinions and better ideas than rulers.
    So, my suggestion is to open the stage to ideas from the people. Facebook is a good tool for this. We can develop a platform in which people can outline ideas, directions, suggestions, etc. that people can discuss. When clarified people may be able to vote for or against each idea. Facebook has a great ability to spread the word. Hopefully some new ways will be suggested on which people from both sides would vote for. This will catch the eye of the media and leaders. It is certainly a none violent direction.
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      Sep 20 2011: Hi Uzi - I agree that times are changing. At Just Vision we've been documenting the work of Israeli and Palestinian nonviolent activists for the over 8 years and we are about to release our latest production - "HOME FRONT, Portraits from Sheikh Jarrah" - a series of short documentary films highlighting the stories of Israelis and Palestinians who are struggling nonviolently to prevent the eviction of hundreds of Palestinians from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Slated to release in October. Please sign up to our mailing list on www.justvision.org to be among the first to receive the link to the pieces when they go live! We would love the help of the TED community to make them go viral - we completely agree social media is a huge part of this equation.
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        Sep 20 2011: I have briefly visited your site. This is not what I have in mind. I would like a stage where people can interact and come with new ideas.
  • Sep 20 2011: Continue to publish/communicate non-violent films and even smaller media, nonviolent initiatives as TEDXHolyland http://www.tedxholyland.com/?page_id=228
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      Sep 20 2011: Hi Claudia - Thanks for sharing. I love TEDx events and had the opportunity of speaking at TEDx Ramallah, an amazing event that attracted 800 young people from all over the region and was simulcast to thousands more all over the Arab world.
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    Sep 20 2011: How dair u comparing palastininians "violence" to what Israel did and have done to the palastinians! Nothing could compare to what Israel did except what Natzis have done to Jews. Those psychopathics, war criminals someday are going to face a real world justice system. Untill then, keep playing on words. Before u say anything u have to state all historical facts so people could have a clear insight of the problem. Israel is here by force only. And palastin doesn't excst !Israel will never make peace as long as they are stronger.
    • Sep 20 2011: This way of thinking validates the need for this conversation in my eyes.

      Thank you, Ms. Bacha. You are doing honorable work.
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    Sep 20 2011: Just my feeling as people from street, for quite sometime general people lost confidence on Main Stream Media being controlled by power centres, influenced directly by money or indirectly through PR Agency. So it's effectivity is really a big question mark. I would be happy if my feeling is proven wrong.

    Do you have any robust research which tells acceptability of Main Stream Media ?
    Does that study has a comparison of acceptability of the same TODAY Vs Say 1960s?

    Rather social media can be more powerful in this era of connectivity , with a condition if it is not being influenced again with those as mentioned because POWER CENTERS & PR Agencies also know even better than the general people like me that social media is an emerging communication tool which can be more powerful even.
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    Sep 20 2011: Is this going to help people of Palestine in long run.. how can the world benefit from this?
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      Sep 20 2011: Shouldn't it help the people of Israel as well?
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        Sep 20 2011: Hi Rahim and James - You bring up a very good question: who is to benefit from a massive, nonviolent movement in the region? I hope you will both agree that as the situation stands right now, neither side has achieved the level of security, freedom and dignity that they are searching. After almost two decades of failed negotiations and tragic bloodshed, many Israelis and Palestinians have come to the realization that the only thing that can significantly alter the situation on the ground is a grassroots nonviolent resistance campaign to end the occupation and the conflict. When Palestinian and Israeli activists work together, they build long lasting relationships of trust that are the cornerstone for long term peace in the region. Also, when change takes place through nonviolence, the societies that emerge are often more democratic, inclusive and pluralistic than when change happens through violence. Consequently, I believe Israel, Palestine and the world at large will reap huge benefits from nonviolence. It's a win-win for everyone.
  • Sep 20 2011: Being an International relations analyst and living with my Israeli friends and significant other, the topic of Israel/Palestinian is a very frequent topic of conversation. I am currently working on a piece about the continuing isolation of Israel, one reason being because of this conflict and the sort of alliances and adversaries it creates. How I believe we can encourage mainstream of non-violence is by presenting that the majority are for peace and a solution. Whether you look at either side, when there is protesting, it seems that each side has very harsh and violent WORDS that emphasize their feelings towards the other party. I think that it needs to be shown that if we move away from the notion "I'm right, and you're wrong", to a more comprehensive solution, "we want to find a way to peace", hopefully the mainstream will follow. I would like to encourage those who are pro-either side and have them discuss peaceful solution instead of revenge or punishment.