Among the unfamiliar faces that arrived at the West Bank settlement of Itamar following the massacre of the Fogel family
were members of a group of American and Canadian bloggers who arrive in the Holy Land upon an invitation from the Foreign Ministry, and sought to cover the Israel beat from an angle that is different from that of the foreign media.
On Sunday night, Minister of Information and Diaspora Yuli Edelstein released the graphic photographs
of the bodies of the three Fogel children, who were murdered Saturday.
Former Minister Isaac Herzog disagreed with Edelstein's decision, saying it "weakens" Israel. "The decision to publish the photos broadcasts panic and leads to disrespect for the grief," he said. The fact that the photos are being published right after Israel announced the approval of more construction in the West Bank "creates confusion", he added.
The visit to Itamar was not on the itinerary originally planned by for the six bloggers, who met with representatives of the Israel Defense Forces and with Noam Shalit, the father of the captive soldier Gilad Shalit
in recent days.
Upon arriving at the Fogel family home they took pictures and interviewed troops from the Givati Brigade, which secured the region. In a conversation with Ynet, they explained that despite their tight schedule, they specifically asked to see the scene of the crime up close.
Tim Mak interviewing IDF soldiers. (Photo: Ido Erez)
Chuck DeVore of California noted that the international media prioritized coverage of the Tsunami
in Japan and the unrest in Libya over the terrorist attack on Itamar.
DeVore explained that Israel is depicted around the world as Goliath, while the Palestinians are presented as the underdog. He cited a Los Angeles Times article, which reported that the attack on the Fogel family came as revenge for the uprooting of olive trees and the burning of Palestinian cars by settlers.
"The LA Times implied in their article that the Jews instigated their own killing," Devore later wrote in a Twitter message.
He said that while the world does take notice of what goes on in Israel, he came to the country in order to report on the situation in a way that is different from that of the Western media.
Claire Berlinski, an American Jew who lives in Istanbul, Turkey called on the Israeli government to take a more aggressive approach towards the publicizing the attack. She said that releasing powerful material, such as the photographs of the attack victims' bodies, to the international media will help change the attitude that prevails in the international community towards Jews.
Tim Mak, a Canadian residing in Washington, D.C., on the other hand, claimed that Israel invests too much in English-language press. Instead, he suggested, the state should also work in conjunction with the Arab media. He noted, however, that Israel has its hands full with worrying about survival – which is more important than worrying about its image.
The bloggers' host in Judea and Samaria, David Ha'ivry, stated that he would have preferred to receive the group during "normal days," in order to show them Samaria's thriving development, education and agriculture fields. "It's good that they saw that the settlers are not Satan, as the foreign media presents them, and sometimes as the Israeli media presents them, as well," he added.
Ha'ivry, who directs the Samaria Liaison Office, said he contemplated releasing the pictures of the slain children, and finally decided to do so after the pictures were approved for publication. "If the heads of the state acted responsibly, we would not have needed such abject means of justifying ourselves to the world."