Coverage Trends

Down the Memory Hole

In the wake of the most serious outbreak of Israeli/Arab violence in years, three leading U.S. papers—the Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times—have each strongly editorialized that Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon were solely responsible for sparking violence, and that the Israeli military response was predictable and unavoidable. These editorials ignored recent events that indicate a much more complicated situation. As we recently noted, the portrayal of Israel as the innocent victim in the Gaza conflict is hard to square with the death toll in the months leading up to the current crisis. 

Dovetailing violence

As Israel destroys Lebanon, the words of right-wing pundits, however indicting, crude or inhumane, do not necessarily warrant the most concern. They hail from a realm intellectual poverty, hatred and from the most unimaginative strain of racism. What is more concerning are those who purport to represent a liberal pacifist left, but who exploit catastrophes to advance subtle agendas; those who recoil at the words of Likud party hawks, then meet them for lunch an hour later. If the name Yossi Beilin comes to mind, then read no further. 

"Because This Is the Middle East"

The media assumption is that in withdrawing from Gaza in September 2005, Israel ended its conflict with at least that portion of Palestine and gave up, as Schieffer put it, “what the Palestinians supposedly wanted.” In reality, however, since the pullout and before the recent escalation of violence, at least 144 Palestinians in Gaza had been killed by Israeli forces, often by helicopter gunships, according to a list compiled by the Israeli human rights group B’tselem. Only 31 percent of the people killed were engaged in hostile actions at the time of their deaths, and 25 percent of all those killed were minors. 

Disproportionate number of British journalists in Israel versus Lebanon

The Daily Mail’s Richard Pendlebury reported on 15 July: “Visiting the towns in northern Israel I could understand the sense of vulnerability they feel.” He added that “all I can report is what I have seen on the Israeli side of this seemingly intractable, ongoing conflict …” However, the Guardian’s Middle East editor Brian Whitaker wrote on 17 July: “Viewed from Lebanon, the TV coverage of destruction in Israel, in terms of the amount and the tone, seems wildly out of proportion compared with what is happening across the border.” 

Israelis are dying: it must be an escalation

Here we go again — another “serious escalation” has begun in the Middle East, or so BBC World was telling audiences throughout Sunday. So what prompted the BBC’s judgment that the crisis was escalating once more? You can be sure it had nothing to do with the more than 130 Lebanese dead after five days of savage aerial bombardment from at least 2,000 sorties by Israeli war planes that are making the country’s south a disaster zone and turning Beirut into a crumbling ghost town. Those dead, most civilians and many of them women and children, hardly get a mention, their lives apparently empty of meaning or significance in this confrontation. 

NY Times: Arab leaders to blame, fair game for assassination

In an editorial this Saturday, The New York Times clearly crossed the line from its already biased reporting in support of Israel, to cheerleading for Israel, and even advocating that Israel conduct illegal, extrajudicial executions of Arab political leaders. Positions taken by the Times matter because it is the US’ most influential newspaper. The Times both reflects and helps to shape US policy and public opinion. The previous two days, the editorial and news departments at the Times had stated clear support for Israel’s assaults on Gaza and Lebanon. 

Are Israeli lives worth more than Palestinian?

Arab Media Watch expresses its concern at the amount of coverage given to Israel’s killing yesterday of almost two dozen Palestinians, including civilians, compared with the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier on 25 June, as well as the continued portrayal of the current crisis as being triggered by the kidnapping. The Mail devoted 4 times as many words to the kidnapping (661, compared with 167), the Sun devoted just 79 words to the killings (105 for the kidnapping), and the Guardian devoted more than twice as many words to the kidnapping. Furthermore, the media is continuing to portray the current crisis as being triggered by the kidnapping, which is not the case. 

Crisis in US Media Coverage of Gaza

One element fueling the current crisis in Gaza is the ongoing failure of US corporate media coverage of Israel/Palestine. US policy, public opinion and mainstream media coverage of Israel/Palestine are all dangerously biased towards Israel. Media coverage both reflects and influences policy and public opinion. Media coverage of events in Gaza again illustrates how the US mainstream media privileges the Israeli narrative, and frequently ignores both Palestinian experiences and international law, providing the US public and policymakers with only part of the story. 

Looking for Shalit

It would be too simple to sum up Israel’s recent military incursions in Gaza as a humanitarian disaster. But beneath the immediate surface, we find those who task themselves with generating meaning where actions are inexplicable. Among them are the mainstream U.S. media, who squeeze water from stones, invoking the pretense of Qassam rockets - the latest fetish symbol of Arab confusion and savagery since suicide bombs - and now the youthful face of kidnapped Corporal Gilad Shalit, whose picture has become an exploitative reminder on nearly every Internet news story related to Gaza, whether it mentions him or not. 

'Escalation', 'retaliation' and BBC double standards in Gaza

The killing by Palestinian militants of two Israeli soldiers and the capture of a third from an army post close to the Gaza Strip set the scene for Israeli “reprisals” and “retaliation”, according to the reports of BBC correspondents in Israel and Gaza at the weekend. We can ignore the weeks of shelling by the Israeli army of Gaza, the firing of hundreds of missiles into the crowded Strip that have destroyed Palestinian lives and property, while spreading terror among the civilian population.