Jewish Group Flies Latino Journos to Israel

Journal-isms: The Anti-Defamation League is alarmed by anti-Semitism among immigrants to the U.S.

Antwan Lewis, reporter for New York's WNYW-TV(New York Daily News)
Antwan Lewis, reporter for New York's WNYW-TV(New York Daily News)

Seventeen Latino journalists from the United States and Latin America returned this week from an eight-day, all-expenses-paid trip to Israel sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, which is concerned about what it considers an unacceptable level of anti-Semitism among Latinos, particularly new arrivals.

Fernando DiazAmong the participants were Rick Sanchez, former CNN anchor; Henrik Rehbinder, opinion editor of Los Angeles-based La Opinión, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the United States; Fernando Diaz, managing editor of Hoy Chicago and vice president/online of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists; and Nuria Net, deputy editor of Univision News, Univision’s online English language platform. Others included journalists from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Los Angeles.

Although the ADL has sponsored other such trips for Latinos, this was its first exclusively for journalists. “It’s expensive,” Michael A. Salberg, the ADL’s associate national director and director of international affairs, said of the journalists’ trip on Friday. “But we think the investment is well worth it. It’s a first-in-a-lifetime experience to visit Israel. It generally has a transforming impact on most people.

“Because of the high profile of the conflict, we feel it’s important to have opinion makers — and certainly journalists who are reporting it — understand it firsthand. . . . The most gratifying comments we got were, ‘we were expecting a lot of propaganda, and we got none.’ “

Sanchez agreed. “It was amazing,” he told Journal-isms by email.

“It was beyond worth it,” added Diaz, also by email.

“We went as journalists to try to understand a complicated conflict,” Rehbinder said by telephone. “We heard very diverse points of view. Nobody agrees on what is the definition of a state, or self-determination. I came away with the idea that this is something that has to be solved by negotiation but there has to have a better understanding of the people.

“The most radical approach to peace is to sit in a room with one Israeli and one Palestinian. In some ways, they are very much the same. They eat the same food, they breathe the same air.”

The trip followed the Nov. 3 release of the ADL’s “2011 Survey of American Attitudes Toward Jews in America,” a national telephone survey of 1,754 adults.