FROM THE EDITOR

MY family and I have just returned to Jerusalem from three weeks in the United States our first visit to that vast and beautiful land. We went to update fellow Christians on the increasingly critical situation facing Israel, and to challenge them to support a strong and defensible Jewish state.

To me, one of the most disturbing discoveries in the US was the fact such a tiny amount of day-to-day news from the Middle East makes the bulletins. CNN's domestic service and the three major US networks all appear obsessed with internal matters, to the almost total exclusion of what's happening out in the world.

And then, after weeks of such scant coverage, television cameras will suddenly focus on an event, like Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to the White House, which is underway as we go to press. The media is hyping the meeting between the Israeli leader and President Clinton as potentially their most important get-together to date, and stressing the rocky nature of the relationship between the two men.

Topping the meeting's agenda are the talks between Israel and Syria, which broke down nearly a year ago. Clinton has undertaken to try and "kick-start" this track of the peace process, and it appears it will be Israel, rather than Syria, which will take the brunt of some of that kicking. Like its predecessor, the Clinton administration's approach has consistently been to whitewash and sweet-talk the Syrians, while repeatedly encouraging Israel to "take risks for peace".

One wonders how the average American with such limited exposure to the events that have led up to this meeting will view and comprehend what will take place in the nation's capital tonight.

Without the story being placed in historical context, many media consumers will accept the words of the commentators on their televisions screens at face value. News in a vacuum is the most dangerous kind.

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