• Jodi Samuels

What CNN Does Not Tell You About Israel




I was watching TV last night and, as usual, the B-roll while interviewing politicians included a scene of a poor refuge camp, an Israeli tank and a dusty strip of road with the wall looming in the background. The media have their agenda and no-one watching CNN would ever know about the other Israel.


There is a new, beautiful shopping complex called Mamilla outside the walls of the Old City in Jerusalem. I was standing on a roof top and noticed the old Mamilla Church. When I was in Shanghai, I was so upset that the government was raising areas including those that had historic significance to accommodate economic progress and the World Expo. Israel could have demolished this Church but chose to respect the landmark.


In the same shopping center, I am always astounded by how many Arab woman with full head coverings are shopping in the mall. CNN never wants us to see this co-existence.


My friend brought her nanny to Israel from Canada. The nanny was scared to come. I asked her what surprised her the most. She said the cafes. All over Israel, you see hundreds of outdoor cafes with people sitting and enjoying life. She had never imagined such a relaxed family-oriented culture.


Kids in Israel have so much freedom. You see the six-year-old shlepping the two-year-old sibling to gan. In New York, I recently allowed my eight-year-old to go to the playroom in my building by himself. We live in a secure, doorman building with cameras in the playroom. Other moms expressed shock that I allowed that. The school bus pick-up is across the street and my kids would never go alone in New York. In Israel, they would be teased if mom walked them across the road and waived the bus off. I think it says a lot about a society when a kid can ask a stranger to help them cross a road.


Everyone in Israel cares and has an opinion. Twice, when I was shopping, the checkout lady insisted I change my brand for the one on special. The beggar near the beach gave me a mouthful that Caily was not protected from the sun.


The funniest story of someone caring happened in the emergency room. I was waiting to be seen with my broken leg on Friday. I was sobbing from pain, shock and frustration that this had happened to me. There was a religious woman who was staring at me. Yes, in Israel people stare! After about 15 minutes of watching me, she got up and started stroking my hair and giving me blessings. Next, she got a cup of water and poured it over my face and then continued consoling me. I was so taken aback by the water. For her, this was practical motherly love for a stranger.


I read yesterday on a website called Janglo that Israel has four universities in the top 100 academic institutions. Its goal is to soon reach $30,000GDP per capita a year taking over many European countries. According to Newsweek, Israel is one of the top 25 countries for standard of living. Well, it’s en route to Bibi Natanyahu’s goal of top 10 to 15 countries. Most surprising of all, according to a Forbes article, Israelis are the 8th happiest nation of over 300 countries surveyed.


Metorimmas, share your stories that counter the popular news media view of Israel. Maybe together we can paint a picture of what the country truly represents.


Originally published: August 19, 2010

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