Over 150 people participated in the Anglo-Israel Association’s Second Ambassadors Roundtable conference at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Tuesday 26th October, 2010.
The one-day conference looked at problems and issues relating to media coverage of Israel, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and wider Middle East and brought together a host of eminent journalists, media commentators, scholars and parliamentarians from Israel and the UK.
One of the morning sessions included an in-depth look at media bias, the threshold between what pro-Israel observers see as media bias against Israel and critics of Israel see at biased in favour of Israel.
During the afternoon, there was an insightful and frank discussion on the fine line between the legitimate criticism of Israeli policy and what is considered the delegitimisation of Israel.
Among the participants were John Lloyd, contributing editor of the Financial Times; Aluf Benn, editor-at-large of Haaretz; Jon Williams, BBC’s world news editor; Ian Black, Middle East Editor of the Guardian, veteran Middle East commentator Ehud Yaari; Nachman Shai MK, Kadima Party Knesset Member; Nahum Barnea, political columnist for Yedioth Achronot; Ben-Dror Yemini, opinion editor for Maariv and Mark Damazer, head of St Peter’s College, Oxford and former BBC controller.
Sir Andrew Burns>Chairman of the Anglo-Israel Association commented:,
The purpose of the AIA is to generate a wider, more positive and more informed understanding of Israel. This year’s Ambassadors’ Roundtable brought together some distinguished and deeply experienced journalists and media commentators from both countries to look at ways of overcoming the stereotyping of both Israel and the Arab-Israel dispute. This was seen to be leading to a demonisation and threatening delegitimisation of Israel in intellectual and cultural circles in the UK and in the minds of many young and politically active parts of the British population. “We were particularly worried about developing attitudes in student and academic life, and within the voluntary and NGO sectors, where knowledge of the issues can be rather thin and lacking in an historical perspective. In a very candid and lively discussion a wide range of concerns were addressed and a much deeper understanding reached of how the practice of objective impartial journalism is affected by the twin pressures of finance and global competition in the age of the internet.
Nachman Shai MK, Kadima Party Member of Knese commented:
The conference was very important and focused on a very critical issue, how the media deals with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the way Israel is portrayed by the liberal press in Britain. We have a lot of questions on how the British media treats Israel and why Israel is treated differently. The conference delved into these issues and provided an excellent insight into these concerns.