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Miri Eisen


by Rhonda Spivak, posted October 10, 2011

[Editor's note: Miri Eisen who will be in Winnipeg on October 27 [see related  ad on this website] was last here in 2006. At that time , I reported on her talk for the Canadian Jewish News. Much o fwhat she said about foreign media correspondents probably holds true today.I am reprinting the entirety below. Note that at he bottom of the article  Eisen stated that she, who had worked for  Ehud olmert, did not believe in the corruption allegations agaisnt him. Something tells me she wouldn't make tat unequivocal statement today, after the allegations have led to his indctment and his trial continues.]


by Rhonda Spivak, 2006

Retired Colonel Miri Eisen, who has been Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s foreign media advisor since the Second Lebanon war was here to address the Women’s campaign of the Combined Jewish Appeal.

In her talk, Eisen, who has been at the forefront of presenting Israel’s case to the media world-wide, focused on why, in her view, Israel gets a disproportionate amount of media attention.
“T here are 340 international media correspondents stationed in Jerusalem. For the last 15 years, the largest contingency of foreign media personnel in the world, aside from Washington, has been in Israel,” said Eisen, who left her position three months ago in order to complete her doctoral dissertation at Haifa University in security studies.
As Eisen explained, one of the reasons that Israel has so many foreign correspondents is that “the standard of living is much higher in Israel than in neighboring countries in the Middle East”, so it is an attractive location for foreign media.” In Israel, foreign correspondents “can live in a democracy,” and “ can film anything, because it is open and democratic.” Additionally, Eisen, who served for 20 years in the Israeli intelligence community, noted that in Israel “we have the most critical press on earth.”
According to Eisen, all foreign correspondents are responsible for covering not only Israel but the Palestinian territories, and as such they necessarily have to pass check points on a regular basis. As Eisen said checkpoints are by their nature, “points of friction,” and not always the most pleasant place to be. A lot of what foreign correspondents cover are conflict areas, and so there is little emphasis on regular life in Israel.
“It is difficult for a foreign correspondent not to notice the thriving mood in Israel versus the mood in the Palestinian territories, or in Gaza. The foreign correspondent comes out affected. I can try to put things in context [for them] but it is difficult to stop the feeling they have,” she said.
  Another reason that Israel gets so much attention is that “Sunday is a slow day world –wide-wide [for news], but Israel is the only place in the world where there is a cabinet meeting every Sunday. So, this gets attention,” Eisen, who was born and raised in Northern California said.
 Additionally, there are 25 cameramen stationed in Israel and the Palestinian territories for Reuters and the Associated Press, which is a disproportionate amount, and therefore there are more images emanating from Israel than other parts of the world. 
Eisen believes that ‘As bad as Israel’s image is in the media, the image of the Palestinians is worse,. Ever since Hamas has taken over in Gaza, the world sees the Palestinians as being violent.
Eisen noted that Palestinian spokes woman Hanan Ashrawi is not in the media as much as she used to be. “Hanan Ashrawi is having difficulty with her own [Palestinian] leadership. Many moderate speakers are taking a backseat because if you look at the Palestinian people right now, they are defining their own future, and it’s not clear [what is going to emerge],” she said.
In the Second Lebanon war, Eisen explained that there were three parallel stories. The first was the story that the Israeli media was telling, which was about Israel responding in a just war in to the kidnappings of Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah. It was also the story of Israel and having to ready the home front in response to rocket attacks in the north.   “The Israeli media focused on whether the bomb shelters were ready,” said Eisen
 But four days into the war the story changed for the international media, which began focusing on foreign nationals having to leave Lebanon, and whether Israel’s response in Lebanon was proportional.   The third parallel story was “one that was shown by the Arab media”, which was that “Israel wasn’t managing to make Hezbollah disappear and look how well Hezbollah was doing. 
“There was a real disconnect between the story in the Israeli media and the foreign media”, said Eisen.
 According to Eisen, the best thing that supporters of Israel can do, “is to talk about Israel, and to ”give the regular, personal perspective” of what life is like there.
When asked about the corruption scandal that has ensnared Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Eisen responded categorically “I believe in Ehud Olmert as a person. I worked for him. I don’t believe the allegations against him.” Eisen noted that she stopped working for Olmert a short while ago, “This had nothing to do with any allegations against him. I left work so that I could see my children more. I couldn’t keep all of the long hours,” she said.
 Eisen has three young children and is married to a career officer in the I.D.F.
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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