Arab Media Watch

British commentary pages ignore Gaza's plight

Arab Media Watch expresses concern at the lack of critical commentary in the British press on Israel’s recent decision to intensify its siege of the Gaza Strip by withholding vital fuel supplies and increasing military attacks. Israel’s actions have resulted in civilian deaths, a worsening humanitarian crisis, the breach of Gaza’s border with Egypt, and bleaker prospects for the resumption of peace talks. Nonetheless, there has been no comment whatsoever in The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Daily Star and Evening Standard

Concern over BBC documentary 'Will Israel Bomb Iran?'

Arab Media Watch is concerned by the ‘This World’ programme ‘Will Israel Bomb Iran?’, broadcast on BBC2 on 10 October 2006. Its severe lack of balance manifested itself in the number and range of sources used, the airtime given them, and the numerous unchallenged claims made about the Arab world. A statistical analysis of ‘Will Israel Bomb Iran?’ yields these figures: Israeli sources, of which there were 15, appeared 55 times for a total of 15 minutes and 58 seconds - 51% of talk time, 41.4% of the programme, 71.4% of sources and 45% of source appearances. In stark contrast, the Iranian sources, of which there were just two, appeared three times for a total of 52 seconds. 

Associated Press refuses to explain its low Lebanese death toll

After a two-month investigation, Arab Media Watch expresses its grave concern at the persistent failure and refusal of the Associated Press to explain how it came up with its curiously low Lebanese death toll from this summer’s Israeli invasion. AP’s figure of 850 is around 30% less than most other sources - including the Lebanese authorities, the UN, human rights groups such as Amnesty International and the International Medical Centre, and much of the media and other newswire services such as Reuters and Agence France Presse - which oscillate around 1,200. This discrepancy of around 350 lives is more than double the total Israeli deaths from the war. 

Israel, Hezbollah, and the use and abuse of self-defence in international law

Self-defence is specifically mentioned in Article 51 of the UN Charter, and is effectively a derogation from the prohibition on the use of force contained in Article 2 (4). Whether or not Israel is acting in self-defence in Lebanon according to the Charter is a crucial question, as the implications of its actions could have negative ramifications beyond the Arab-Israeli conflict and spill over into other problem areas. I consider Israel’s self-defence argument an abuse of terminology that is not applicable to the facts at hand and has no justification in international law. 

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.” 

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.