Role of the Media

New York Plays the Arab Card

The “terrorist” charges against Shahawar Matin Siraj and James El Shafay of New York are nothing short of illegal entrapment. Regardless of what happens from this point on, their futures are ruined. Ironic that Siraj, a 21-year-old Pakistani immigrant who works longer hours than President Bush, in addition to attending night school, came to America for freedom and opportunity. His crime, as spelled out clearly in the complaint filed against him last weekend, was his “hatred of America.” In the coming days, the tabloid press will demonize Siraj and El Shafay, , while the moderate New York Times will dance around the digestible semantics of “Other” and the “anti-Americanist” template of Other’s mindset. 

Documentary film review: "News from the Holy Land"

News from the Holy Land: Options and Consequences is a film that shows how journalists can improve their coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict. It is geared towards aspiring journalists (although veteran journalists could learn a thing or two from it), introducing creative ways of covering the conflict. The film stresses that it is the lack of context in mainstream reporting of the conflict that leads to a process of polarization. This is partly because the media are only interested in violence and not the underlying processes which lead to the violence. 

New Book: Bad News from Israel

The study suggests that television news on the Israel/Palestinian conflict confuses viewers and substantially features Israeli government views. Israelis are quoted and speak in interviews over twice as much as Palestinians and there are major differences in the language used to describe the two sides. This operates in favours of the Israelis and influences how viewers understand the conflict. The study focused on BBC One and ITV News from the start of the current Palestinian intifada, the Glasgow researchers examined around 200 news programmes and interviewed and questioned over 800 people. The study is unique in that for the first time it brought senior broadcasters together with ordinary viewers to work in research groups, analysing how the news informs people and how it could be improved. 

The story TV news won't tell

Since the Palestinians began their armed uprising against Israel’s military occupation three years and eight months ago, British television and radio’s reporting of it has been, in the main, dishonest - in concept, approach and execution. In my judgment as a journalist and Middle East specialist, the broadcasters’ language favours the occupying soldiers over the occupied Arabs, depicting the latter, essentially, as alien tribes threatening the survival of Israel, rather than vice versa. The struggle between Israel and the Palestinians is shown, most especially on mainstream bulletins, as a battle between two ‘forces’, possessed equally of right and wrong and responsibility. It is the tyranny of spurious equivalence. That 37 years of military occupation, the violation of the Palestinians’ human, political and civil rights and the continuing theft of their land might have triggered this crisis is a concept either lost or underplayed. 

"Concrete Action" urged at International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East

Concrete action on the situation in the Middle East was urged here today by participants at the two-day International Media Seminar on peace in the region, organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) — the twelfth of its kind since 1991, in response to General Assembly resolution 58/57. While everything was said to be “on the table” — Security Council resolutions, the Road Map, the Geneva Initiative — what was said by many speakers to be needed now was “action on the ground”. “Let’s do it in the Middle East; let’s do it, and let’s do it now”, became the theme during a wide-ranging debate on the conflict. 

UN to co-host media seminar on peace in the Middle East

The role of civil society in promoting a just and lasting peace in the Middle East will be the subject of an international media seminar organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information, in cooperation with the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing, on 16 and 17 June. The two-day meeting will bring together present and former policy makers from Israel and the Palestinian National Authority, civil society representatives, senior United Nations officials, international experts and representatives of the media. This seminar, the twelfth in a series, will provide a forum for seminar participants to discuss ways and means of promoting a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. 

The New Yorker’s Israel: Where Objectivity Fails

Where objectivity fails, investigative and feature-oriented journalism plays a potent role. On May 31, the New Yorker published Jeffrey Goldberg’s 21-page “Among the Settlers.” Unfortunately, his essay is not more than an attempt to legitimize Zionism, an ethnically exclusive colonial project, as a liberal idea. Moreover, by eliminating the legitimate and empirical arguments against Zionism, Goldberg leaves his readers with few moral conclusions. The direction he intends those conclusions to take is partly revealed in his omission of the most convincing anti-Zionist argument: the right of return. 

New documentary takes Israeli-Palestinian conflict coverage to task

I’m sure newspaper editors everywhere fantasize the day when they don’t receive a single letter charging their publication with “bias.” This notion of bias is quite vague — it can mean that a publication presents a story as too sympathetic with one side of an issue (be it abortion, affirmative action, or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) or that a news source doesn’t present one side of the story at all. And because the word bias is thrown around so often, like the word “terrorism,” the meaning of the term has been pretty much diluted due to over/misuse. Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land, a new documentary from the Media Education Foundation, goes beyond charging the media with bias, and takes a close look at how news coverage is shaped. 

Why the BBC Ducks the Palestinian Story

Watching a peculiarly crass, inaccurate and condescending programme about the endangered historical sites of “Israel” - that is to say, the Israeli-occupied Palestinian Territories - on BBC2 in early June 2003,(1) I determined to try to work out, as a former BBC Middle East correspondent, why the Corporation has in the past two and a half years been failing to report fairly the most central and lasting reason for the troubles of the region: the Palestinians’ struggle for freedom. In this excerpt from a new book from Pluto Press, Tim Llewellyn looks at the BBC’s coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

The media, nuclear power, and failed peace: An interview with David Hirst

David Hirst worked as The Guardian’s Middle East correspondent from 1967 to 2001, and authored the classic book The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East, which was published in its third edition in 2003 with a new 120 page foreword. From Beirut, Hirst spoke with EI on the bias of the American media towards Israel in its coverage of the conflict, the implications of Israel’s nuclear aresenal, and how Israel is more of a strategic liability than asset for the U.S. Listen to the interview or read the interview on EI