Philanthropists must address urgent needs in Israel – and one of those is supporting journalism
Amid the unfolding horrors of the Israel-Hamas war, philanthropists are stepping up to offer their support. Reports from Reuters reveal a massive outpouring of assistance from across the United States, spanning from the smallest neighborhood synagogues to the most affluent corners of the Jewish community and all points in between. Communities are harnessing word-of-mouth networks and social media to connect with organizers who are delivering vital supplies.
At the same time, journalists are converging on Israel en masse. As of last week, there were about 1,500 foreign journalists in the country – five times more than before Oct. 7. Regardless of their familiarity with the region, this cohort will be the world’s primary source of information during the Israel-Hamas war.
It appears that the smallest amount of attention and funding is being directed towards supporting the network of journalists who serve as our primary source of information during these turbulent times. These journalists play a pivotal role in reporting on events for the rest of the world and have the arduous task of untangling truth from falsehoods.
I recently spoke with Uri Dromi and Talia Dekel from the Jerusalem Press Club (JPC). They assist reporters who come in from all over the world, addressing issues that range from language barriers to mental health concerns and physical safety threats. The intensity of what journalists experience, as I wrote in JTA recently, can blur the lines between observer and participant, making fairness a constant battle.
“So many of these foreign journalists know very little about the region, about Israel or about the history,” Uri explained. “And they are totally unprepared mentally, physically or digitally to be in a country at war.”
That’s why the work of the JPC and other organizations like them are so important. They offer translators, “fixers” and other resources to help journalists maneuver daily life in Israel and gain critically important context for the war’s day-to-day events.
Having spent nearly two decades as a spokesperson for Jewish community organizations, I’ve often wondered why the Jewish community does not prioritize investment in news organizations despite the pivotal role they play in keeping communities informed and engaged. The question takes on even greater importance today, with the Jewish homeland at war and a disturbing rise of antisemitism.
And that’s not all. According to NBC News, Facebook, X, TikTok and YouTube all are coping with a flood of unsubstantiated rumors and falsehoods about the Israel-Hamas war, which make it impossible for people to distinguish fact from fiction. Journalists play a critical role in countering misinformation and disinformation.
Donors and philanthropists have a crucial role to play in supporting Israel’s urgent needs, including critical provisions like medical supplies and mental health services. However, it’s equally vital to prioritize funding for journalism.
Here are some excellent organizations engaged in this work, in Israel, right now:
- The Jerusalem Press Club – A vital resource for foreign press based in Israel and visiting journalists.
- Union for Journalists in Israel – Advocates for Israeli journalists, striving to secure decent working conditions and protect their professional interests.
- Sderot Media Center – Located in the southernmost Israeli town, this hub provides a platform for journalists from around the world to conduct interviews with officials and diplomats, shedding light on important stories.
- Shavvim – Providing news to people with disabilities and their families and increasing their employment in media organizations.
- Fuente Latina – A woman-led, nonpartisan media organization that works with Spanish-speaking journalists covering stories about Israel and the Middle East.
- Israel-Asia Center – Building a shared future between Israel and Asia through information and engagement.
Supporting news organizations addressing information gaps and needs has never never been more important. Collectively we can ensure that it’s the truth that rises above the noise.
Rebecca Dinar is director of communications at Knight Foundation. She served as spokesperson for AIPAC from 2001 to 2006 and associate vice president of strategic marketing and communications for the Jewish Federations of North America from 2014 to 2021.