Flag of Israel, courtesy of Wiki­media Commons

Clips of the rubbled remains of Gazan suburbs roll next to cor­re­spon­dents from the Middle East coming forward with stories of intim­i­dation and admis­sions of self-cen­sorship in “Eyeless in Gaza,” pro­ducer Robert Magid’s newest doc­u­mentary.

The Philos Project, which has funded mul­tiple Hillsdale College trips to Israel, teamed up with Hon­estRe­porting, a media watchdog for anti-Semitic jour­nalism, to co-host screenings of this doc­u­mentary, most notably one at King’s College, a New York-based jour­nalism school. Both Philos and Hon­estRe­porting have similar goals: out­reach toward non-Jews about Israel and Jewish issues.

“We wanted to reach out to stu­dents who are not auto­mat­i­cally Jewish,” Hon­estRe­porting spokes­woman Julie Hazan said. “This doc­u­mentary is a typical example of how Israel is poorly por­trayed in the media because nobody is talking about intim­i­dation. It was the first time jour­nalists in the Gaza strip were able to say ‘That’s true, there’s a problem, and we weren’t able to do our jobs.’”

According to Hazan, this doc­u­mentary keeps in line with HonestReporting’s platform because it too seeks to expose aspiring jour­nalists to the reality of one-sided media cov­erage.

During a panel that fol­lowed the King’s College screening, CNN Middle East cor­re­spondent Linda Scherzer, film critic and jour­nalist Alison Bailes, pro­ducer and Jewish com­munity leader Morris S. Levy, and Pro­fessor Paul Glader, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and head of the jour­nalism program at The King’s College.

“The con­ver­sation about media cov­erage is some­thing I have been having with the American Jewish com­munity for the last twenty years,” Scherzer said. “I mean it when I say that I usually direct audi­ences to Hon­estRe­porting when they want to channel their frus­tra­tions into activism.”

Magid includes with jour­nalists who had reported in Gaza during the 2014 con­flict to unearth instances of cen­sorship and nar­rative control that Hamas had employed. Selected for two Jewish film fes­tivals, the doc­u­mentary reveals the struggle reporters face to maintain objec­tivity in a war-torn region under Hamas’ strict control.

The pro­ducer said his intention in filming this doc­u­mentary was to show how the ‘cogs and wheels’ operate in cir­cum­stances of war.

“The media is not immune to what takes place in front of them and while seeing objec­tivity as a standard they invariably get sucked in and become par­tic­i­pants rather than reporters,” Magid said in a press release.

Pres­ident of Stu­dents of Hillsdale Advo­cating, Learning, and Observing the Middle East (SHALOM) and senior Hannah Brewer said she plans on hosting a small viewing for around 15 stu­dents. While renting the film for a day costs $3.04, and pur­chasing the film costs $7.60, to host an official screening for 30 or more viewers, the club would need to submit an appli­cation and pay for the producer’s travel costs to the college.  

For Hazan, this doc­u­mentary is timely in today’s media climate, plagued with inac­cu­racies in social media and amid accu­sa­tions of “fake news.”

“We wanted to inform jour­nalists in the making about this doc­u­mentary,” Hazan said. “Because we are in this era of fake news, this doc­u­mentary is great because jour­nalism is not dead like everyone is thinking. We still have a chance to do good jour­nalism.”