Friday, November 16, 2012

Israeli and Palestinian media inflame Gaza conflict

Israeli and Palestinian media are practicing irresponsible journalism that is inflaming passions and exacerbating the current Gaza conflict.

An examination of about a dozen Israeli and Palestinian sources on 15 November reveals a shared tendency of media in the region to practice traditional inflammatory war journalism and to “rally around the flag” during this conflict.

What this admittedly cursory examination does not include, notably, is an examination of journalism produced in Hebrew and Arabic during the current crisis. If the stories produced in English, and thus meant for international dissemination, are inflammatory, biased, and provocative, one can logically speculate that the journalism produced in the local languages is even worse.

Several examples below demonstrate clearly that much of the media in the region are again eschewing objectivity. Instead, they seem committed to little more than spreading government propaganda that supports and justifies the conflict. Notice the language that’s used, the jingoistic tone, and the blatant glorifying of violence in these snippets copied without changes from online sources.

Palestinian/Arab media (Palestine Telegraph, Palestine Times, The Jordan Times, The Daily Star-Lebanon):

--Israel’s shameful bombing yesterday, which killed 15, mainly civilians, including 3 children, is the continuation of ongoing violence against the Palestinians in Gaza.

--The Israeli occupying forces…

--The Israeli military has even imposed a policy to keep Palestinians in Gaza just above the threshold off mass starvation by counting their calories.

--The Israeli military has even imposed a policy to keep Palestinians in Gaza just above the threshold off mass starvation by counting their calories.

– An Israeli full-scale war was launched yesterday against Palestinian civilians in Gaza. The war was announced by Israel to be as a military operation that took a biblical name “Pillar of the Clouds”. So far, 15 Palestinians killed whom of which 8 civilians including 5 children, three women and an old man.

--Immediate calls for revenge were broadcast over Hamas radio.

--The assassination of Al-Jabari and eleven other Palestinian civilians since yesterday afternoon has raised a state of anger amongst the Palestinian people …

Mourners in Gaza--From Daily Star (Lebanon)
--Medical sources told the PIC reporter that 15 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli raids since Wednesday including chief commander of the Hamas’s armed wing the Qassam Brigades, Ahmed Al-Ja’bari, an 11-month-old infant, a three-year-old baby girl, a young woman, and a 65-year-old man.

--The operation prompted widespread condemnation, with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi recalling Cairo’s envoy to Israel and summoning the Israeli ambassador for consultations, his spokesperson said

--Instead, the only crowds are those gathered in mosques mourning the dead, or queuing outside bakeries to stock up on bread. "I circled around for two hours, looking for a place with the shortest line," said Momen Ahmed, 24, standing outside the Abu Dayya bakery with his friends. First is a man in a blue tracksuit, lying crumpled and barefoot on a stretcher as he screams and weeps.

Israeli Media-(Hareetz, Arutz Sheva, Debka, Jerusalem Post):

-- Sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and residents were told to head for shelter Thursday evening. An explosion was reportedly heard. Magen David Adom said that there were no casualties.

 -- At about 13:00 around 30 to 40 Arab students assembled on one of the lawns of the University of Haifa and stood for a moment of silence in memory of Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari, who was assassinated yesterday by an Israeli air strike. As the Arabs stood silent some Jewish students, who were obviously offended by the assembly, began singing "Hatikva," the Israeli national anthem. Some university staff members then arrived to calm the situation, but the Arabs dispersed quickly, shouting, "He's dead, he's dead."

--As the rockets kept coming through Wednesday night – and the first three fatalities Thursday morning, Nov. 15 - the cautious lift in Israeli spirits generated by the death of Ahmed Jabari, who fashioned Hamas into a paramilitary machine of terror.

-- But Operation Pillar of Cloud’s first part showed a favorable balance: Palestinian missile fire was as erratic as ever, although intense; Iron Dome filtered out the rockets aimed at Israel’s major towns; Israeli casualties were relatively low though painful; and the enemy in Gaza was decapitated – for now.

-- The Palestinians and their allies in Tehran and Hizballah suddenly discovered that the old IDF had come roaring back.

-- The tough part of the Israeli operation to eliminate the terrorist war peril hovering over southern Israel from the Gaza Strip is still to come. For now, Hamas is at a loss for a strategic answer to the IDF offensive.

 -- Seemingly addressing an international audience, the prime minister said "there is no moral symmetry equivalent between Israel and Hamas and the terrorist groups in Gaza." President Shimon Peres on Thursday also expressed support for the ongoing military operation in Gaza, saying "it was the right thing to do and it is being done correctly," Israel Radio reported.

-- Mofaz said that Israel must pursue terrorists in Gaza in order to make them feel persecuted, according to Israel Radio.

-- National Union MK Aryeh Eldad also weighed in, calling on the government to cut off its supply of electricity and water to Gaza, saying that "until Israel goes into Gaza and cuts off its supply lines, Israelis will continue to suffer."

-- MDA paramedics treated five wounded people at the site of the Kiryat Malachi attack, in which a rocket hit a four-story building. Three people were pronounced dead on the scene and two others were suffering moderate injuries, including a baby.

-- The IDF "believes the rocket fire will intensify." Tank fire also was directed at terror targets, he said.

--… The spokesman concluded by describing the Hamas-ruled Strip as "a forward Iranian base," and urged the populace to remain steadfast, as "home front resilience is vital for the continuing operation."

It’s clear from the published articles, as well as photojournalism from the conflict, that the media outlets seem either ignorant about or disinterested in practicing peace journalism. These articles violate the important principle peace journalism that reporters should avoid using inflammatory language. Examples from these articles include terms like terror and terrorism, suffering, decapitated, assassination, revenge, and mass starvation. As peace journalism teaches, such language adds nothing to the reader’s understanding of the story, but instead brings only emotion to the story, thus entrenching and enhancing acrimony and making peaceful soultions even less likely.

These Israeli and Palestinian articles violate other PJ principles as well, including sensationalizing casualties (particularly of women and children), concentrating on suffering only on “their” side, completely ignoring peacemakers and any solutions other than violent or military ones, blaming the “other side” for starting the conflict, and demonizing the “enemy”.

This is a familiar pattern for Middle Eastern journalists. The same irresponsible pro-government reporting also occurred in 2009, during the last Israeli-Gaza conflict. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post (Jan. 21, 2009), ‘Both Israeli and Arab media rallied around the flag during the Gaza operation, panelists told the audience during an Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) event on Wednesday. Keshev Executive Director Yizhar Be'er presented an analysis of the Israeli press over the three-week conflict. Keshev and its Palestinian partner analyze the Israeli and Palestinian media. ‘In times of crisis or war, the immediate reflex of the Israeli media is to rally around the flag. They provided full justification for the military operation and full support for decision-makers,’ Be'er said.“

Both the Palestinian and Israeli people are ill-served by their flag-waving media. Citizens in both lands deserve a sober, objective, balanced analysis of the conflict. Citizens need to know about the suffering and wrong-doing on all sides. Most of all, they need to at least hear a discussion about peaceful alternatives and non-violent (or less violent) solutions to the conflict.

For a terrific view of propaganda about the Gaza conflict, see:
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1 comment:

  1. this is an important communication for us peace journalists in Uganda.

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