Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lebanese peace journalists face dilemma 
If you’re a peace journalist, how do you report about a hated, sworn enemy?

Vanessa Bassil on Skype, speaking to the Park PJ class
This is a challenge facing peace journalists in, among other places, Lebanon. This quandary was a chief topic of discussion today as Vanessa Bassil, founder/director of the Media Association for Peace in Lebanon, met via Skype with the peace journalism class at Park University today.

Bassil said that on one hand, she is a patriotic, and does not want to see war raged against her country. She said she understands why Lebanese media use the term “the enemy” instead of the more neutral label “Israel.”  Bassil told the class that she understands that using “the enemy” is not peace journalism, but also that, at this time, the use of a more neutral term is just not possible in today’s Lebanon.

When asked about this dilemma, she was honest in saying that this is an issue that she is still wrestling with. How can she promote peace journalism, and objectivity, in an environment where there is nothing but animosity against Israel?

The discussion left me asking, as I did last summer when I visited Lebanon, how even a modest peace proposal could ever get off the ground in a society so weighed down by animosity against “the enemy.” (For more on my 2013 PJ trip to Lebanon, click here.)

University for Peace 
During her Skype visit, Bassil also discussed the University for Peace, in Costa Rica, where she is studying a master’s degree in Media, Peace, and Conflict Studies.

UPeace’s mission is "to provide humanity with an international institution of higher education for peace and with the aim of promoting among all human beings the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, to stimulate cooperation among peoples and to help lessen obstacles and threats to world peace and progress, in keeping with the noble aspirations proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations."

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