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August 06, 1993 - Image 65

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-08-06

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Media Spins Reality

In Kiryat Shmona, the media and a bus of Israeli
teen-agers teamed up to create "truth."



t was Day Five of the
; Seven Day War.
For the international
media in Israel, the main
, action had shifted, just for
the day, to Jerusalem,
where the Demjanjuk
decision was being handed
down. On this morning in
Kiryat Shmona, the
Katyusha capital of the
north, a Cable News
Network crew and a few
photographers were hang-
ing around, waiting for a
Their actions were a
microcosm of how the media
is as much a part of the
news as the events them-

selves, and how reality is
distorted by the camera.
The skies were clear — no
rockets had fallen since the
previous afternoon, and, as
it turned out, they wouldn't
fall again until the following
day. Booms were sounding
every minute or so, but they
were soft, coming from the
distance, from Israeli can-
nons on the other side of the
mountain in southern
On this side of the moun-
tain, the best story anybody
could come up with was
about a bus load of Kiryat
Shmona high school stu-
dents who were being taken

out of their bomb shelters
and away from their par-
ents for a week-long vaca-
tion tour through the coun-
Most of the youngsters
were already on the bus,
waiting to go. Two press
attaches from the city and
the Foreign Ministry were
debating with the bus driver
what to do — it was danger-
ous to keep the boys and
girls here, in the middle of
the city, exposed to the
Katyushas, but the CNN
crew had not yet arrived.
They held the bus for a
couple more minutes, and
the CNN team pulled up in
their car. But there was
another problem — bad

"I want to see
parents with kids,
kissing them

— A news photographer

Prime Minister Rabin inspects rocket - damaged
property during a visit to the northern border.

"This looks like they're
just going on some field
trip," said one of the photog-
raphers, pointing to the
teen-agers staring out the
windows of the bus. "I want
to see parents with kids,
kissing them goodbye."
The press attaches
debated among them-
selves. Yossi Ben-Dor of
the Foreign Ministry told
his counterpart from the
city, Yoram Even-Tsur,
that they had "a very
strong message to get
across here."
The message, Mr.
Ben-Dor explained to
me, was that Israel
only wanted peace,
that the South
Lebanese weren't the only
refugees suffering in this
war, and that "the popula-
tion of Israel's biggest
northern city was being
forced to evacuate, and this

is very painful for many
people." (Only about a quar-
ter of Kiryat Shmona's
23,000 residents were still
in town; the others had fled
With the CNN camera-
man and the photographers
now on the bus, the tour
began. They walked up and
down the aisle, aiming their
lenses at the teen-agers,
who began to go wild. They
sang loudly; they cracked
up; held up two fingers
above each other's heads.
"Why are they laughing?"
asked the photographer who
had wanted to see parents
kissing their children.
A stop was made at an
apartment building to pick
up some more boys and
girls. People who were still
stuck at home, staying
inside the fortified "security
rooms" of their apartments,
watched from their win-
dows. A mother taking her
daughter to the bus was
pulled aside by Mr. Even-
Tsur, who told her, "Say
"shalom' to your daughter
and give her a good hug."
The woman did exactly as
she was told. The shot was
Up ahead, the bus
stopped on the main road
leading from Kiryat
Shmona, its last stop before
heading out to the country.
This is where CNN want-
ed to get its main footage.
The press attaches told stu-
dents who could speak some
English to get off the bus
and talk on camera.-
Everybody began piling out
on the sidewalk, the teen-
agers jumping around and
making a big noise.
A group of youth coun- cy)
selors went over to the bus
stop, where a psychologist
had been waiting to advise '-
them on how to treat these =
youngsters who had just cD
spent four days and nights
locked inside, while some 20
Katyushas banged into their or
MEDIA page 66
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