Jewish groups establish media monitor

Jewish groups have criticised the Swiss government and media for an anti-Israel "bias" over the conflict in the Middle East

The Federation of Swiss-Israeli Communities has established a new task force to monitor Swiss media coverage of the Middle East conflict.

This content was published on May 26, 2002 - 18:42

The new "Israel Media Forum" established on Sunday, aims to better convey Israel's view of events unfolding in the violence-stricken region, according to a report in the Swiss Sunday newspaper "NZZ am Sonntag".

No propaganda

"The new forum will monitor news reports appearing in the Swiss media about Israel. It will criticise any mistakes or bias and, if necessary, provide factual information," said Thomas Lyssy, vice president of the Federation of Swiss-Israeli Communities.

He stressed that the forum would not be a propaganda platform for the Israeli government, but said that "it is in our interest to present Israel's position clearly".

Furthermore, Lyssy underlined that the forum would not be dependent on the Israeli government for information, nor would it financially support the forum.

Swiss Jews

The forum will focus on representing the interests of Jews in Switzerland while emphasising their independence from Israel, Lyssy said.

Since the start of the second Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, Jewish organisations in Switzerland have complained that the interests of Swiss Jews and Israel have been confused.

"Swiss Jews are constantly being tied to Israeli policies and sometimes even made responsible for them," Lyssy said.

Swiss "one-sided"

Earlier this month, the president of the Federation of Swiss-Israeli Communities, Alfred Donath, attacked the Swiss government and the media for their handling of the Middle East conflict.

"In Switzerland, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is being portrayed in a one-sided manner," Donath told a Federation meeting in Montreux.

In a blunt speech, Donath also said the Government's stance was encouraging anti-Semitism and making Swiss Jews fearful for their safety.

Most concerning, he said, was that Switzerland has only paid "lip service" to the bloody terror attacks by Palestinians, yet issued a series of reproaches against Israel.

The forum now joins an international network of lobby groups called "Media Watch", working to ensure that Israel is represented fairly in the media.

It is set to begin work this summer under the leadership of Basel theologian, Professor Ekkhard Stegemann.

Bosonnet case

Meanwhile, a Swiss lawyer is searching for Palestinian witnesses to testify against Israeli action in the occupied territories. Marcel Bosonnet is collecting a body of evidence to try Israeli leaders for violations of the Geneva Convention and war crimes in Swiss courts.

He told the "NZZ am Sonntag" that he is expecting around 50 Palestinians to grant him the authority to represent them, some of whom are in Switzerland.

However the question remains as to whether the Swiss justice system will be able to handle this case, according to chief auditor, Dieter Weber. "Swiss law stipulates that the accused are in the country," he said.

swissinfo with agencies

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