Guardian

How to succeed in Israel as a Journalist, without really trying


FAQs

Q: I’m a new immigrant to Israel from an English-speaking country, with no transferable skills. What’s the best way for me to get ahead?

A: Welcome to Israel! The traditional way to make a new life in Israel is to first attend Ulpan for at least six months and learn the language. Then, as time goes by and your command of the language improves, it is possible to take the courses and exams necessary to convert foreign qualifications into those recognised in Israel, or alternatively to learn a new profession.

However, pioneers in the field have recently shown that there is actually no need to waste one’s time on such a lengthy and antiquated process: if you are capable of stringing a few words together in your native language, the world is your oyster. Unprecedented opportunities exist in the field of journalism and no previous experience is required.  Inspiring examples such as Seth Freedman, Rachel Shabi and Mya Guarneiri have proved that it’s not how well you write, but the political narrative you advance, that really matters.

Q: Don’t I need to have some sort of qualifications or experience in order to become a journalist and isn’t there a lot of competition?

A: Absolutely not. If you take care to stick to the correct subject material, the market is virtually unlimited and constantly expanding. Outlets such as the Guardian, the Huffington Post, Electronic Intifada, Mondoweiss and Richard Silverstein will be only too happy to print anything you can come up with, as long as it meets the basic condition of painting Israel in the worse possible light.

Of course if you happen to have studied creative writing at some non-exclusive academic establishment this can only help, as you will sometimes find it necessary to rely more upon fiction than the available hard facts. The key words to get into every article are ‘racist’, ‘apartheid’, ‘far-right settlers’ and ‘so-called democracy’. There is little to fear as far as a drying-up of the market is concerned; great care is being taken by a number of elements in the region, in collaboration with respected international bodies, to make sure that the present commercial climate is perpetuated for as long as possible.

Q:  I do not speak Hebrew very well and have little knowledge of the country’s history and politics. Is this a problem?

A: Not in the least. The majority of your readers know even less about Israel than you do, and seeing as your job as a radical journalist is to keep it that way, it is vital that you do not fall into the trap of challenging their accepted wisdoms by introducing them to a nuanced view of Israeli reality. Stick to what you don’t know, and you will not go far wrong. If however you do find it necessary to do some research, it is best to rely upon trusted sources – preferably those who openly oppose Israel’s very existence – such as the Alternative Information Centreor rehash articles by practitioners such as Amira Hass (or others from Ha’aretz – don’t worry; they have an English version) who can be relied upon for the politically correct interpretation of facts and events. If this seems too much like hard work, then taxi drivers (or drunk American teens) are always a credible source of information.

Q: I live in Tel Aviv and have not yet visited the more outlying regions of Israel. Should I try to broaden my horizons by visiting Kiryat Shmona or Offakim?

A: Whatever for? You would not be able to speak to the locals anyway as most of them are not as progressive as you and do not speak English, so why waste valuable writing time? Your audience is not going to be interested in the experiences or opinions of people who walked from Ethiopia to Israel or were thrown out of Arab countries at knife point, so there is no gain to be had from writing about such subjects and besides, they have the potential to distract you from your main aim of presenting Israel in simple shades of black and white. If you do feel the need to venture beyond the comfortable confines of Tel Aviv, then the only place it is worth your while to go is some sort of occupied territory.

True, the locals there may not speak very good English either, but this is not important as there are numerous organizations available who will make sure you understand how much they are suffering and ensure that you only see what is necessary. Don’t forget to include in your articles emotional descriptions (preferably with mixed metaphors) of thirsty bare-footed children, dusty unpaved roads, ancient (preferably, “uprooted”) olive trees, apartheid traffic lights and demolished homes – even those constructed without legal permission. Reminding your readers that Israeli laws are similar to European or American ones, on issues such zoning, construction or immigration, will not build you a faithful readership. On the other hand, ‘extremist settlers’, ‘well-watered lush lawns’ and ‘red roofed subsidized houses surrounded by high fences’ will invariably result in accolades.

Q: How will my new fellow countrymen react to this career choice? Is the fact that I will be dissing the country which not long ago gave me New Immigrant’s benefits liable to affect my ability to make new friends and integrate?

A: This is very rarely a problem. You have the advantage of living in a country with laws which protect your freedom of speech and tolerance towards a wide variety of opinions, so you can write whatever you like, no matter how far removed from the truth. Just make sure that you never mention this in your articles; your image will be enhanced among your target audience if you are perceived as a daring, radical, dissident freedom fighter battling the injustices of an oppressive fascist regime.

The more you cultivate this image, the less likely it is that you will be obliged to get a proper job and meet ordinary people in your new country. Your new profession is also likely to be critical in introducing you to the right sort of people and helping you make appropriate friends. Contacts and image are vital in this business and your progressive credentials may well be damaged if you are thought to have ‘gone native’ due to inadvertent displays of sympathy for victims of terror attacks and Hamas rockets, or untoward understanding of the dilemmas facing Israeli leaders. Integration into Israeli society is therefore a slippery slope to be avoided with the utmost care, but if you refrain from learning the language and mixing with the wrong people, there is every chance of being able to avoid this pitfall.

Good luck with your new enterprise! Pickings are rich and easy, so you should have no problem becoming an overnight success and going down in the annals of history, together with some of the notable pioneers mentioned above, as one who contributed to the creation of an international climate of opinion which eventually lead to the dismantling of the state to which you selflessly immigrated.

Remember to keep your dual nationality and foreign passport up to date and ignore the selfish protestations of those non-progressives around you who will be unable to find refuge in the countries from whence they came. Ensure that you do not lose sight of your main objective: your own personal career advancement and comfort – and maintaining your good standing in the universal community of fellow “progressives” – and always remember to advertise that you are doing this only to save Israelis (who are far less enlightened than you) from themselves. It’s for their (and your) own good.

24 replies »

  1. “……….your image will be enhanced among your target audience if you are perceived as a daring, radical, dissident freedom fighter battling the injustices of an oppressive fascist regime………”

    Mya, for example, publishes her material in al Jazeera and the Guardian (also the Huffington Post, but what’s the difference?), so her target audiences are the Arabs and of course, the western left, and more specifically, the European left. An anti Israel writer can just about make a career out of tapping into that audience. You can bash away at your “home” country with that kind of a support base abroad, and at the same time, cry free speech when the heat is turned up at “home” – even as you call your own country anti democratic.

    Its confusing.

  2. Perhaps a tad harsh, but well written and very amusing.

    But bear in mind that Freedman did not (to my knowledge) come to Israel with nowt to do but bag on the place.

    That said: it’s a cheek for him or the others to call themselves “journalists” (if they do). That latest one (whatever her name is) posted a pretty desperate piece.

    I’m sure most here would agree that a pair of outside eyes as such can provide productive criticism. The problem with CiF is that their olim are overwhelmingly negative about Israel.

  3. Although the satire dazzles IsraeliNurse, you are so close to Guarnieri’s truth that one step further might have made it an accounting of fact.

    As you said there is little point in the aspiring journalist gaining actual knowledge. In case of need they can refer to another one of their kind for reference and support as Guarnieri did when a discussion of Mizrahim came up
    “You seem to think that the Mizrachim have been absorbed into Israeli society.” she spluttered and referred readers to Rachel Shabi’s book in confirmation of her ignorance.

    I just wonder what she thinks a Mizrahi is.

  4. “…Of course if you happen to have studied creative writing at some non-exclusive academic establishment this can only help, as you will sometimes find it necessary to rely more upon fiction than the available hard facts…”

    Hit the nail firmly on the head, Israelinurse.

    “The problem with CiF is that their olim are overwhelmingly negative about Israel.”

    But of course, pretzel. Nuance and both sides of the story is hardly the Groan’ strong point is it? Heaven forfend that they should give a balanced view.

  5. This year’s winner of the Juvenal Prize for Trenchant Satire is … Israelinurse

    And yet, just to be serious, I do believe that the fact that the likes of Freedman and Guarnieri can walk the streets of Israel and not be (a) whipped off by torture police for a quick manicure and (b) not lynched by a furious crowd for insulting “Israeliness” (c) deported is a wonderful testament to the civilisation of a country that has never known anything but war.

  6. “…Remember to keep your dual nationality and foreign passport up to date and ignore the selfish protestations of those non-progressives around you who will be unable to find refuge in the countries from whence they came…”

    Well do I remember the idiotic Sethele’s admission that he kept his British passport as a “golden ticket” in case things went pear-shaped in Israel.

    That went down like a lead balloon at the other place, I seem to remember, and I’ll bet the silly b*gger didn’t understand why.

  7. great stuff, Israelinurse

    Sarah
    as to second passports being golden tickets, yes they are but it goes both ways

    as history has shown one may never ever predict which ones turn out to be the real golden ones
    – so lucky are those who have several of them and they should never ever make the mistake to consider one of them more valuable than any other beyond the immediate here and now.

  8. Terrific piece IN, well done.

    Geary, you are so right about these people being able to walk the streets without being lynched. Imagine if they were to try doing the same in any of the neighbouring states?

    What breathtaking hypocrisy and an outrageous lack of gratitude these people have. They are truly fifth columnists and should be treated as such.