The idea behind "Take a Pen" is: Let's influence what happens in the Middle East, by writing personal letters
In case you have no experience in letter writing to editors, to the media or to politicians, here are some first ideas how to get started. It is easier than you thought!
In order to write an effective letter you do not have to be a professional; your common sense is worth more than the tons of information a journalist has if he hasn't the moral clarity needed. If you want further information on your subject, you are invited to use the sources in Take-A-Pen's Mini-Encyclopedia, background articles and links.
If you find a clearly distorted report, focus on the main item and formulate a short letter, pointing out their distortions against your facts. The following letter writing tips may help you:
- Write Now! If you want to respond or have an idea, act now, while you are still motivated. Don't worry first about the quality of writing; correct it, improve it later before you send your letter to be published. Even if not published, your letter has an impact on the editors.
One message Only! This means that when you see an article with dozens of statements you disagree with, you have to pick only the most important issue and respond to that. If you have several important messages, write several letters to different media or give your ideas to your friends for their letters.
Keep it Calm. Be polite and stick to the point. Don't stress your own political or religious background, but emphasize universal values such as the right to live in peace, self defense and the condemnation of all kinds of terrorist acts.
- Be Short. Most editors won't read long letters and your message might get lost in a cloud of words. Formulate your message in clear sentences. Your letter should preferably be 100 to 200 words long, not longer than half a page.
- Decide about the best way of sending your letter: email, postal letter or fax. E-mail is compulsory nowadays, but you may use all of them. We would appreciate to receive a blind (BCC) copy of your letter!
The addresses: you'll probably find in this site the name and address you want . We'll be happy to assist personally too and we can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is a sample text that has the ingredients of a good letter:
To the editor of . . .
In your article "Destruction and massacre..." (May 21), there are unfortunately some basic inaccuracies. You still quote Saeb Erekat speaking of 500 civilian victims, but all reliable sources (including human rights organizations and a US State Department committee, the total death toll from the battle in Jenin was 52. The Palestinian hospital in Jenin itself claims 54 dead only. Of these, at least 38 were armed, further 9 were young males, probably combatants themselves, and 5 or 7 non-combatants only. This hardly warrants the use of the word "massacre."
Comparitavely, Israel lost 24 soldiers in the fighting in Jenin, largely because the battle was waged in a manner to minimize the loss of civilian casualties. The proof is the resulted low number of civilian deaths and the high toll of Israeli dead. Soldiers repeatedly conducted house-to-house searches, rather than use explosives and airpower.
There was no massacre, and the "massive destruction of the city" was restricted to a very small area that was booby-trapped by Palestinian gunmen before Israeli troops entered.
No physical evidence, no bodies, no graves found to match your claims - there was NO massacre in Jenin. I suggest that you either print the proofs that no one else has found, or retract your accusations with full publicity.
Name and Address
So go ahead and START to write NOW your first letter. We are sure you will succeed!