Constructing Reality: The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

Constructing Reality: The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict 

A Comparative Analysis of the BBC, CNN & Al Jazeera

 

Abstract

 

The aim of this study is to examine the mainstream media’s[1] representation of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict and to test if the media sources under investigation are subjected to the filters of the Propaganda Model developed by Chomsky and Herman. In order to do this an analysis of Al Jazeera, BBC and CNN was carried out on articles published on their respective news websites for a period of two months [21st January – 21st March], a total of 137 articles were analysed. The main findings of this study were that each of the news sources, although similar in story coverage, differed significantly in content, specifically relating to humanitarian issues. The overall content of the articles was a clear indication of the ideological constraints of each of the news sources.

SECTION ONE: INTRODUCTION

In a speech before the National Endowment for Democracy in 2003, President Bush pledged that the United States would embark on a decades-long commitment to bringing democracy to the Middle East.

“Our commitment to democracy is also tested in the Middle East, which is my focus today, and must be a focus of American policy for decades to come. In many nations of the Middle East — countries of great strategic importance — democracy has not yet taken root. And the questions arise: Are the peoples of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are millions of men and women and children condemned by history or culture to live in despotism? Are they alone never to know freedom, and never even to have a choice in the matter? I, for one, do not believe it. I believe every person has the ability and the right to be free … For the Palestinian people, the only path to independence and dignity and progress is the path of democracy”.[2]

In line with the Bush doctrine of democracy in the Middle East, the Palestinian elections in January 2006 were seen to be a step towards this ‘democratisation of a new Middle East’. According to this vision, the democratic elections would be a stimulus for international talks to progress, potentially allowing for the forging of new alliances. Between the newly democratically elected Palestinian government, the Israeli government and any other governments that play a key role in the conflict. This then leading to a viable peace agreement.[3] The elections would be providing the Palestinian people with an opportunity to elect a government of their choosing that would be free from corruption and would build them a strong economic infrastructure and provide them with security and peace.[4]

The results of the elections, however, took a radically different direction to what was projected by the Bush doctrine in the mainstream media. The Palestinian people overwhelmingly voted for a government led by Hamas, seen to be an ‘Islamic militant terrorist organisation’ by the US, the EU and Israel. Such an outcome landed the advocates of democracy in a difficult situation. One to which they responded with the quick displacement of the importance of ‘democracy’ with the requirement of the ‘recognition of Israel’. It would seem that their advocacy of democracy was conditioned upon the achievement of their strategic agenda. In light of their lack of support for the democratically elected party,  it could be argued that they did not entirely respect the democratic process, which was their ostensible objective for the Middle East. It is on the basis of this that their ultimate motives could and should be questioned.[5]  

Hamas, who had held a ceasefire for nearly a year, was democratically elected by the Palestinian people. However Israel, the US and the EU refused to recognise Hamas and withdrew funds to the Palestinian Authority. Their rationale for this was the contention that Hamas had previously carried out numerous ‘terrorist’ attacks against Israel and that their charter calls for Israel’s destruction. Hamas firmly refused to recognise the state of  Israel and stressed the necessity of Israel’s withdrawal from Palestinian territories to the borders outlined in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. “Not accepting them [Israel] does not mean that we can not deal with their realities… Let Israel end their occupation or this struggle will continue.”[6]

The Palestine-Israel struggle is one of the longest, most enduring conflicts in modern history and has generated the largest number of United Nations resolutions,[7] over four hundred of which call for justice in Palestine.[8] Few of these have been adhered to by either party.

International laws state that Israel is illegally occupying Palestinian territories. However due to the fact that Israel’s biggest ally is the US,[9] the world’s only ‘superpower’, the UN and any international laws attached to this conflict are in effect powerless. In this light, the actuality, irrespective of any judgment of legality, is this: The state of Israel exists and will continue to exist. It is unlikely however that it will be able to continue to exist in its current form. In opposition to international laws and the basic foundation of the  ‘disengagement’ plan, Israel is not retreating but is in fact expanding its settlements on occupied Palestinian territories.[10]

Edward Said highlights the fact that people all over the world, including Arabs, have the tendency to forget that a great deal of what is going on in this conflict is illegal. Israel is illegally occupying Palestine, or at the very least, they are illegally occupying what are now called Palestinian territories. So why is it that people have forgotten, or rather are unaware of what is really happening?

The Palestinian Israeli conflict has had a consistent presence in the mainstream media, especially over the last two decades,[11] since the start of the first Intifada (uprising) in 1987. There have been other events that have dominated the news temporarily, such as the ‘fall of Communism’ or the Clinton sex scandal. However this conflict’s presence, whether in the foreground or the background, has remained. For a long time the image that came to mind was that of “heavily armed Israeli soldiers facing young Palestinian children hurling stones with sling shots.”[12] This image was for a long time synonymous with the Palestinian-Israeli struggle. However, this image appears to have changed. The image of a stone throwing Palestinian has changed to that of a militant Palestinian that resorts to, or at least does not oppose extreme violent measures, such as suicide bombings, which became a regular feature of this conflict during the second Intifada in 2000.

The final shove for the Palestinians into this new image occurred in the wake of the events of 9/11,[13] conceived as a seminal event, which could be interpreted as a subsequent utilisation for a pretext for preconceived agendas, for example ‘The Project for the New American Century.’[14] Although  similar attacks had been taking place around the world, such as the bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and a vast number of suicide bombings in Israel during the second Intifada. These attacks had not directly affected the ‘West’ and therefore did not have the same impact. However the unprecedented events of 9/11 and President Bush’s subsequent declaration of a legally undefined ‘war on terror’ made militant attacks personal and in this way they became a key feature in the media. The events of 9/11 brought to light the already changing face of the Palestinians, who for some time had come to the realisation that the only means for their survival was pro-active resistance.[15]

The way in which the 9/11 attacks were interpreted by dominant Western media[16] and the emphases given to them made the situation in Israel-Palestine even more problematic. The constant images of Arabs and/or Muslims being linked with suicide bombings (and not any other possible image which could be shown, but is not) seems to justify the actions of Israel against the Palestinians (the Arabs/Muslims) and gives Israel the right to continue with their occupation.[17]  In this way, it unites the fighters of terrorism and Israel in a bond of understanding, with their affinity in their ‘fight against terror’ and their fight towards ‘democratising’ the Middle East. The ‘war on terror’ and ‘democracy’ have become, through excessive repetition, normative ideologies[18] in the mainstream media.

There is a great deal of obscurity and confusion in the reporting of the Palestinian Israeli conflict.  And, it seems that there is some calculation in the generation of this confusion.  Or, in other words, it seems to be in the interest of the ‘media’ and of its interested constituencies to ensure that there remains a distorted understanding of the conflict. It is amidst this media generated confusion that the dominant sources organise the portrayal of the events through an editorial code and lexicon which serves to construct these ‘versions of reality’ which would benefit the political machinations of their constituencies. To this end, it would seem to be essential that the images penetrating us regarding this conflict remain ‘always changing’ and ‘always unclear’, making their resemblance to the ‘reality’ of the situation even more incomprehensible. This confusion and uncertainty is a symptom of the fact that there is an intrinsic difference that exists between the ‘image’ of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the ‘reality’ of it. As Stephanie Gutmann[19] points out, there is a need to make a distinction between the ‘reality’ of an event or situation as apposed to just ‘versions of the reality’. Even though it may never be possible to reach this ‘reality’ completely.

Rationale

It is the aim of this study to identify the portrayed reality that each of the news sources under investigation presents to their public on the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories. To this end, an examination of three of the most popular news sources available worldwide will be carried out, which will allow us to analyse each of their portrayed realities singularly and then in relation to one another. Through a comparison the differences, if present, between these three major news sources, originating from the Middle East, UK and US, we will be able to have a clearer understanding of their representations of the conflict, taking into consideration their role in their country of origin and therefore their overall stance towards the conflict.

The analysis will enable us to answer certain questions about these different media sources. The main questions of interest in this study are:

  • 1. What is the ‘reality’ presented by each of the news sources on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
  • 2. Are similarities and differences found between them?
  • 3. And, if differences are found, to what may attribute these differences?

In the process of answering these questions, we will be able to come closer to understanding the impact that each of their realities may be having on their audiences. Leading us to ask the inevitable question of why they want their readers to see the conflict in that light?

In order to tackle these questions we will first review some of the most prominent arguments surrounding the media’s role as an ‘objective source of information’. This will include issues such as media control, media objectivity, media influence and inevitably it will lead us to discuss the controversial Propaganda Model proposed by Herman and Chomsky. Essentially this research will enable us to examine the current media, using the five filters of the propaganda model as a framework from which to develop an up-to-date model that will reflect the present structures and influences in the media and the political arena, in light of the changes that will have inevitably occurred within them. This will enable us to test the applicability of the model at the present time, as well as its pertinence to media sources across the globe.[20]

Next, we will look at current research on the media coverage of the Palestinian Israeli conflict. This will explore the ‘watchers’ of the media and their views on media bias. It is from this section that a significant part of the discussion will stem from throughout this study.

Laying out a brief background on Al Jazeera, BBC and CNN will illuminate the relevance of them globally and therefore of their selection as the sources of analysis. It is only once all this background is delineated that we will be able to move on to the actual analysis of each of the media sources. By Examining these articles, along with the findings of a number of other studies carried out over the last decade, we will be able to identify the problems created due to the variety of realities that are available to us, globally. It will also inevitably lead us to ask a number of ethical questions regarding the national and international policies of this conflict, and of the world’s current ‘superpower’s’, the US’s, role in global politics. We can only hope that this will provide us with a clearer understanding of the underlying issues that are allowing this conflict to continue, which one would hope could possibly illuminate the steps that need to be taken in order to really achieve an acceptable, ethical peace agreement.

Before that however it is important to outline some of the methodological considerations associated with this study.

Methodological Considerations

As was mentioned previously, this study incorporates the analyses of the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera news websites. To use the internet as the source of information was deemed the most appropriate for the nature of this study for a number of reasons. In a study by Internet Usage Stats,[21] as of December 2006 approximately 1.1 billion people use the internet world-wide, a 202% increase since the year 2000.

Another reason that internet based news sources were chosen was because of the internets’ ease of access and its unparalleled ability to disseminate up-to-date information. Due to the nature of the internet, analysing it enables us to access the archives of previous publications, which are not as easy to obtain with other news media sources, such as the broadcast media.

Also, due to the archival nature of their websites, articles that may have previously been missed were attainable. Although, there were a number of articles that had been removed soon after publication, the reason for this is unknown.  Therefore these articles were not included in the analysis. This should not however have a significant effect on the findings.

The analyses was carried out on the majority of articles published regarding Israel or Palestine for a two month period, from the 21st of January to the 21st of March. The dates chosen seemed appropriate as they corresponded with the run up to the Palestinian elections, the election of Hamas and the reactions and responses that followed.

Due to the nature of this research, it was only possible to analyse a limited amount of articles, leaving the possibility of the question being asked as to whether in fact this reconstructed portrayal of their reality of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, is the same over time, during different situations. This analysis was carried out during a very specific event, a ‘real democratic election’, that all the world was watching. Would the findings of this research differ had it not been carried out during such a key event? Or is it possible that such a key event could have served to reveal the differences even more clearly? The way in which this study will attempt to ensure the validity of its findings is through the comparison of the findings of this study with the findings of other key studies in this area.

SECTION TWO: MEDIA ANALYSIS

Media Overview

It is through the use of a number of mechanisms that an assortment of realities are able to penetrate our societies. These mechanisms use powerful propaganda strategies and techniques to promote their ‘reality’. It is one of these mechanisms that will be the main focus of this study, the media.

It is important to first identify what precisely we are referring to when we discuss the ‘media’. Due to the number of branches the media possesses, we will be specifically referring to News Media, the section of the media that deals with providing current news to the public. News media in itself is a vast category, including print media such as newspapers and magazines, broadcast media such as television and radio, and increasingly the internet with web-based media.[22]

Media, being the plural of medium, defined as the means of carrying or communicating information, would insinuate that it simply acted as a vehicle that would be disinterested in the information it was conveying.[23] It is this that so many news media sources would have us believe we are getting. Unbiased, objective information. Yet there is a significant amount of analysis and research that would disagree strongly with this claim.

One of the most influential pieces of work dedicated to this topic is Noam Chomsky’s and Edward S. Herman’s Manufacturing Consent, where they developed the idea of the ‘Propaganda Model’.[24] The model is to be viewed as a framework for analysing and understanding how the mainstream US media works and why it works as it does. They developed this model using the “structural factors as the only possible root of the systematic patterns of behaviour and performance”.[25] Five filters were derived from these structural factors, which include:

  • 1. The size, ownership and profit orientation of the mass media
  • 2. The advertising license to do business
  • 3. Sourcing mass media news
  • 4. Flak and the enforcers
  • 5. Anticommunism as a control mechanism

These filters in reference to the structural factors are indications of the operative workings of the media. We will be looking at each filter in more depth throughout this section and in section four.

William Howard Russell is known to be one of the first war correspondents. It was his reporting of the Crimean war in 1854 that appears to have initiated the desire for journalists to be physically present during a war, in order to be able to experience the events first hand and report them as objectively as possible.[26] Not surprisingly, this brought with it accusations from the government that the media and their journalists were unpatriotic and were indirectly having an effect on the outcome of the war.[27]  For up until this time, it had been military officials who generated and controlled the information from the battlefield. This notion of a civilian observer filing independent critical reports was an alien concept and suggested the possibility of disloyalty to their respective nations.

It appears logical to trace the emergence of our contemporary discourse on censorship to the exposes by Russell of the reality and atrocities of war. Over the last one hundred years, however, the techniques and methods of eliminating facts and manipulating images, of essentially creating these ‘realities’, have significantly developed and strengthened. WWI and WWII are famous for the propaganda used by all sides to try to ensure the consent of the populace. It was after the Vietnam War, and the government’s accusation that the ‘media lost the war’, that censorship and propaganda appears so much more prevalent now. Unfortunately, it appears to be that much more affective as well.

So who or what is responsible for the distorted realities that penetrate our minds and influence our views?

The role of the journalist is a major discussion point when it comes to dealing with the issue of objectivity. News reporting is intended to represent an event with all its facts, disallowing any of the journalists’ interpretations or biases to come through in the news report. However, as Drew Middleton[28] points out “No one can be completely objective… but objectivity is the goal.” Is it possible then for any news report to be completely objective? Is a journalist ever able to separate his/her opinions from the facts? This is a dilemma that every journalist claims to face. Should they be patriotic or have professional detachment? Should they partake in propaganda or objective reportage? Although these are completely logical questions, Edwards[29] states that regardless of whether reporters include their personal opinions or not, there are some opinions and views that they can not exclude[30], that of the owners of their company, for instance. Jeff Schmidt also points out how; many journalists “can come to promote the agenda of the powerful with almost no awareness of the role they are playing.[31]  It is made to appear that journalists have the freedom to theorise and criticise, but it has to be done within a tight ideological box, created to satisfy certain interests of the ‘powerful’ elite, the agenda setters.

It is with these ‘powerful’ that the first filter deals, The size, ownership and profit orientation of the mass media. The dominant media establishments are profit orientated establishments that are owned by either very wealthy individuals or very wealthy mega-corporations. Now, of course, that implies that the media will adhere to what their owners want them to do and what information they want them to spread.[32] Although there are a large number of media entities,[33] a significant number of them are just small local companies that are either dependent on the large national companies or are subject to subsidiary ownership. When it comes to dealing with international news, there are even fewer top conglomerates that have even more control.

Following on closely from this point, is the second filter in the propaganda model, The advertising license to do business. Media corporations’ dependence on advertising is essential to their success and therefore they have to ensure that they continue to serve the interests of their advertisers, in order to safeguard their investment. Consequently, as Curran and Seaton highlight, “advertisers thus acquired a de facto licensing authority since, without their support, newspapers ceased to be economically viable.”[34] This has proven to put working class or more liberal media sources that are heavily reliant on sales revenue at a significant disadvantage, marginalizing them or driving them out of existence all together. The power of the advertisers stems from the fact that they provide the financing for the programming of a media outlet.  This power consists specifically in their ability to curtail any program which not only adversely effects their financial and ideological interests, but also, one that may have a negative effect on their brand image.  

It is these very few powerful corporations, along with the government, that are the agenda setters of the news. They set the basic framework to which the smaller media units must adapt, since it is from them that they receive the information that they will report. And it is these agenda setters and their framework that determines what news the public receives. One may rightly ask, why it is that these powerful elite would feel the need to distort the reality of an event, what possible purpose would it have?  In Deterring Democracy, Chomsky writes: “The goal is to eliminate public meddling in policy formation”. For according to Walter Lippmann,[35] there is a basic necessity to control the public mind. Its necessity springs from the fact that, as he put it, “the common interests elude public opinion entirely, and can only be understood and managed by a specialised class of responsible men who are smart enough to figure things out.”[36] Therefore “The [media’s] current mission is to ensure that any thought of controlling their destiny must be driven from the minds of the rascal multitude.”[37]

This then leads us to the media’s suggestion that they provide their viewers with the facts. As we will see in the following section, previous research carried out on the media indicates that any given media source’s ‘facts’ are slightly and sometimes significantly different for the actual facts and figures. One of the most effective methods of propaganda is based upon the notion that propaganda does not have to be wholly untrue to be classified as propaganda. In fact, in more recent times the message is often not blatantly untrue, but rather, it fails to portray a complete and balanced picture due to the bias it is likely to include. Therefore by ensuring the message contains at least an element of fact the public is much less likely to question the information they are receiving.

Robert Fisk[38] takes the issue of ‘biased facts’ a step further by adding that it is not simply an issue of providing current facts, but also the reportage of the underlying ideologies and root causes of a conflict, that are so rarely mentioned. For example, reports are constantly made about anti-American Muslim terrorists, however there is never any mention as to why these sentiments are present. Reporting of this kind appears at first to be the reporting of facts, but instead it is discretely attempting to manipulate and construct the opinions of their viewers, ensuring perpetual support in order to allow these powers to achieve their objectives.

The sources of information[39] from which the media generates a large amount of its news is a central feature in their creation of their ‘reality’ and is also the third filter in the propaganda model, sourcing mass media news. “The mass media are drawn into a symbiotic relationship with powerful sources of information by economic necessity and reciprocity of interests.”[40] The media have to be able to adhere to the daily news demands and therefore they have to be able to have constant, accessible and convenient sources of information. That is why they are likely to be where news often occurs, such as the White House and the Pentagon. There are other significant reasons for the heavy dependence on official sources of information that claim objectivity, which have been discussed by Chomsky and others such as Gaye Tuchman. Firstly, journalists need to appear objective but at the same time protect themselves from possible criticisms of bias or possible more serious action. Also, using these official sources reduces costs as well as time. Journalists need not go to other sources to verify their story because more commonly than not they are seen as presumptively accurate and reliable.

Another strategic move in the construction of a ‘reality’, is the requirement of, what Chomsky and Hermann refer to as ‘flak’, the fourth filter, Flak and the enforcers. Flak refers to complaints or negative responses to a media statement, program or the media source itself. There have been a number of organisations that have been thought to have developed over the last few decades for the sole purpose of producing official flak, such as Freedom House, The American Legal Foundation and Accuracy in Media (AIM). Although they are seen to be attacking the media, these organisations are treated respectfully and “their propagandistic role and links to large corporate program are rarely mentioned or analysed.”[41] A lot of their work is published and their members are taken seriously, with regular appearances as experts on television. The presence and open discussion of an opposing view is used to strengthen the authenticity of the media and maintain the bewilderment of the bewildered herd.

One of the most effective ways to ensure the unquestioning support of the public, is to create mass hysteria. Once the fervor is aroused, the populace is manageable and unlikelier to criticise the actions of their government. When Chomsky and Hermann published their work on media control in 1988, the mass hysteria that was created was surrounding the anti-communistic regime in power at the time. It was for that reason that they identified the fifth filter as Anticommunism as a control mechanism. Today, however, the ‘threat’ has changed to ‘terrorism’, although this is a global phenomena, it also has particular relevance to the Palestinian Israeli conflict. The conflict has another unique characteristic, due to the effects of WWII and the holocaust there is a significant amount of support for the state of Israel and its right to exist. Therefore, anyone found to oppose Israel will almost spontaneously be accused of  ‘anti-Semitism’, sustaining the inequality present in the conflict, which is discussed in the study carried out by Dunsky (2001), referred to in the introduction.

Although the enemy has changed since the 1980’s the world superpower’s need for an ‘Evil’ to fight their ‘Good’ is just as important today. This type of control mechanism reaches through the system to exercise a profound influence on the mass media. In normal times, but especially during a state of war, issues tend to be framed in terms of a dichotomised world of ‘US’ vs. ‘Them’, of being ‘With Us’ or ‘Against Us’.  In light of this change in ‘enemy’, the fifth filter will have to be extended in order to incorporate two new control mechanisms, ‘War against Terror’ and ‘Support for Israel’.

The necessity to ‘manufacture consent’ has lead to the creation of one of the largest industries in the world, the Public Relations Industry.[42] It is seen by the ‘elite’ as a vital element of a democratic society, and “those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”[43] The Public Relations industry[44] has grown to such an extent since its introduction in the early 1900’s that it has infringed upon a great deal of journalists’ real work, becoming as Tom Baistow predicted, the ‘fifth estate’.[45] In fact, in 1996, it was reported that fifty per cent of a broadsheet newspaper apart from the sport section is PR generated information.[46] The figures are higher in the local, mid market and tabloid press within the US.

The propaganda model has proven to be controversial and has been resisted and all but excluded by those with interests that lie in the mainstream media, highlighting the anti-democratic operations within the media. The following section includes an examination of a number of current studies that have been carried out on the mainstream media.

Research on the Media Representation of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

There are a number of studies that have looked at the media’s representation of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, some claiming the media is clearly pro-Palestinian, while others argue that it is extremely pro-Israeli. One of the most influential pieces of research in this area is that carried out by the Glasgow University Media Unit (GUMU) in 2004, presented in the book ‘Bad News from Israel’. Their research was an analysis of TV coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and of how this coverage might have influenced the construction of the audience’s beliefs, attitudes and understanding of the conflict. The sample population examined consisted of over 800 people and the analysis of the media consisted of BBC One and ITV news reports over a two year period, starting at the start of the second Intifada. This included approximately 200 news reports.

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 favour of the Israelis and influences how viewers understand the conflict.”[47]

Some of the other key findings of this study were that there were significant ‘gaps’ in people’s knowledge, especially relating to the history of the conflict. These gaps correlated very closely to the gaps that they found in the coverage of the conflict, with almost no historical accounts of key events. A significant percentage of the people were unsure of who the ‘occupiers’ were, some thinking that the Palestinians were the instigators of the conflict and that Israel was simply ‘reacting’. 

Another study, carried out by Dunsky[48] (2001) entitled ‘What constitutes full and fair media coverage of Israeli-Palestinian issues?’ focuses on what is reported in a number of English language Israeli newspapers and some of the main American newspapers. There were a number of key aspects that were found to be missing in the coverage of both countries news sources. Firstly, details of Palestinian daily lives were non existent, which is likely to leave the public with an incomplete picture of the reasons for and effects of the conflict. Secondly, there was no discussion of the international laws that exist and that are being violated, particularly by the Israeli party. Thirdly, the media sources neglect to inform the public about the investment and funding that Israel receives from the US. And, finally, Dunsky claims that the media sources examined, failed to show that the two parties involved are not equal, politically, economically or militarily.

A report made by the Palestine Media Watch[49]  focused more on specific figures of reported deaths in the Palestinian Israeli conflict. They analysed transcripts from CNN’s NewsNight between November 1st 2002 to January 31st 2003. They found that NewsNight failed to provide accurate figures of either side; however they did significantly favour the Israelis. As with the study carried out by GUMU, they also observed that little was mentioned about the history of the conflict. A very similar study carried out by If Americans Knew,[50] examined the reporting of Israeli and Palestinian deaths in ABC, CBS and NBC, from September 2000 to September 2001 and then again from January 2004 to December 2004. Their findings were essentially the same, Israeli deaths were reported significantly more than that of Palestinian deaths regardless of the fact that many more Palestinians were killed during that time, as well as throughout the whole conflict.

David Demers, executive director and communications professor at the Centre for Global Media Studies at Washington State University says it is hard to find impartial media studies, especially those analysing American media sources. However, past content analyses by scholars tends to find that media coverage generally covers Israel more positively.  The reasons for this he points out is “not a conspiracy by any means, but what it boils down to is they depend on government officials. And those government officials represent the administration, which tends to be pro-Israel.”[51]

There are of course a number of studies that have been carried out that have found significantly different findings. An article by Manfred Gerstenfeld and Ben Green in 2004, entitled ‘Watching the Pro-Israeli Media Watchers’ claims that there is significant anti-Israeli or pro-Palestinian news coverage. Their argument consists of a number of quotes from journalists and key media figures admitting to the bias, saying they have to be softer on the Palestinians in order to get any information from them. They also point out that it may not only be the fault of the journalists, but may be attributed to the mentality of the Arabs, with the citation of a quote by a Dutch correspondent on the Middle East, Joris Luyendijk. “The Arab countries are often dictatorships that exist thanks to lack of transparency. Everything is based on appearances. Both parties, but in particular the Arabs, lie the whole day. You really have to check their statements there on the spot. Also, reliable figures are not available; the authorities lie flagrantly in all fields. All figures are adapted to what is politically desirable.”[52]

Gerstenfeld & Green also discuss an apparent systematic bias in the BBC’s reporting of this conflict. They use a study by Trevor Asserson (2004), a leading British litigation lawyer, to reiterate their point. The study consists of an analysis of BBC broadcasts on the Middle East over three periods of several weeks, the first of which was in late 2001 and the last one in July 2004. He accuses the BBC of being in breach of most of the obligations in their charter, claiming that they show partiality in its choice of language, made evident through their reluctance in labeling Hamas ‘terrorists’. [53] However one would have to ask as to whether in fact this could be interpreted as the BBC attempting to keep to their code of conduct more closely, by using more impartial, open to interpretation terminology.  The findings are also surprising, in light of the findings of the studies previously mentioned, which identified the constant use of the term ‘terrorists’ to describe the Palestinian fighters, in both U.S. and U.K. media sources. 

Asserson also found that the BBC frequently refers to what should be called ‘disputed areas’ as ‘occupied Palestinian land’ or ‘occupied Palestinian territories’, instead. In his most recent study he blames the BBC for ‘broadcasting a documentary critical of Israel every 2-3 months… 88% of documentaries on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict paint either a negative impression of Israel or (in 2 cases) a positive image of Palestinians.”[54] He concludes that “The BBC is running a campaign to vilify Israel”. Another conclusion that could have been reached however is that the BBC is attempting to show certain issues that have arisen as a consequence of the conflict and are simply representing an element of that situation. The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA),[55] ran a full page advertisement in the New York Times saying that the National Public Radio’s coverage of the Israeli Palestinian conflict was ‘false’ and ‘skewed’ against Israel, suggesting that any financial backing for the radio station should be withdrawn.

There are an overwhelming number of organisations, which Gerstenfeld & Green refer to as ‘Media Watches’ which carry out studies or publish articles relating to the belief that the media is largely pro-Palestinian. These include HonestReporting, CAMERA, Palestinian Media Watch (not to be mistaken for Palestine Media Watch), Anti-Defamation League, Honestly Concerned, Take-a-Pen, EyeOnThePost.org and Israel Media Watch. Between them, they cover most of the media sources in America, the UK, Israel and the Middle East, specifically that of Palestine. There are a few others such as Proche-Orient.info and Crif that examine the media of France, Italy, Spain and Brazil. A number of these organisations are key information sources for the dominant media sources and are members of the critical public relations industry. These organisations are therefore intensive players in the manufacture of the dominant coverage of the conflict.

In comparing these studies[56], it appears that the type of issues that were under investigation were of a slightly different nature. The research that found a significantly pro-Israeli media, focused more on terminology used and on facts, such as death toll and the lack of history and background. They examined the opinions and knowledge of the public in relation to the ‘gaps’ in information. One could say that they generally investigated measurable criteria. On the contrary, the opposing media watch groups based their judgments more on impressionistic and anecdotal evidence, rather than systematic scientific analysis. Although there is some discussion on the terminology used in the media, the criteria for their analysis is rather unclear. A great deal of their conclusions are simply personal opinions, and their complaints of the media are for its divulgence of certain realities of the conflict, such as documentaries that exposed the suffering of the Palestinian people. Similar conclusions have been reached by Demers, who finds that most of the allegations that are made about the media being pro-Palestinian are based on the number of photos that are featured on Palestinian children, which would presumably paint the Israelis in a negative light, and would ensure the sympathy was with the Palestinian victims. 

The findings of these organisations and researchers illuminates the difficulty and contraversiality that surrounds the reporting of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. As Mike Clark[57] points out, “As a hard news subject, [Middle East coverage] is probably the No. 1 issue that’s consistently coming up across the country [America].”  It is common for some media sources to receive complaints from both sides regarding the same article or coverage. “The prevailing view among newspaper editors and ombudsmen around the country [America] seems to be that their coverage, on the whole, is fair.”  Demers, in defense of the media sources,  points out that in a situation which is increasingly volatile, charges of unfair coverage is likely to intensify. “The two sides in a conflict will always see the mainstream media as biased on the other side… When the conflict flares up, and especially when violence increases, both sides become more vociferous in their criticism of the mass media.”[58]

Background of the Media Sources

The reason for choosing the BBC, Al Jazeera and CNN is due to their popularity in each of their native countries, as well as their popularity among international audiences, as we will see through the discussion of their backgrounds.

Al Jazeera

Al Jazeera has become one of the most influential and controversial news channels in the world. It originated as an Arabic language news channel but has progressed significantly, with the launch of their English language channel in November, 2006. It currently also has both an English and Arabic website.[59]

Al Jazeera proclaims to be the first and the only politically independent television station in the Middle East.[60] Its first broadcast in 1996 sent shockwaves through the Arab world, for its willingness to discuss issues that were seen as controversial or taboo. Its penetration into the international market began in 2001 when it broadcast video statements of Osama Bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders, following 9/11.  It was also the only news channel that had 24hour coverage of the war in Afghanistan and was sourced by numerous Western media corporations.[61]

Their method of news reporting on extremely controversial issues have caught the attention of the general populace and their governments, making it one of the most watched news channels[62] and one of the most popular news websites.[63] Al Jazeera claims to be providing the Arab population with ‘unprecedented’ free flow of information, giving a ‘refreshing’ new perspective on global events, which are significantly different from the common censored, controlled Arab news channels that had previously been available to them. And, it claims to have offered its Arab audiences with a much needed freedom of thought and the ability for open debate.

The Qatar based news channel began with the financial support of the Emir of Qatar, but now also heavily relies on other significant sources of income. These include broadcasting deals, advertising, which accounted for 40% of the stations revenue, and its sale of footage. It was reported that Al Jazeera received $20,000 per minute of Bin Ladin’s speech. Al Jazeera has had the luxury of gaining exclusive interviews with key figures in the Middle East, who would otherwise not deal with the media. This has enabled them to make deals with Western media corporations such as the BBC and CNN, so that they are able to share information and news footage[64], this would then mean that they were all subject to the same sources of information, consistent with the second filter in the propaganda model.

A significant number of the staff initially hired for the Arabic news channel were brought over from the less successful BBC attempt at an Arabic speaking news channel, which was forced to dissolve just after the launch of Al Jazeera in 1996, because of censorship disagreements between the BBC and Saudi Arabia.[65] Their new English language news station which started broadcasting in November 2006, has assembled a professional team of news experts from renowned media corporations such as the BBC, ITV, CNN and CNBC. Its aim is to bring the people and continents together by reporting the news of the world with accuracy and objectivity.[66]

Al Jazeera’s relationship with Western governments, their media and people have not been very positive. The United States government accused it of participating in terrorist propaganda after the airing of the Bin Ladin tapes.[67] However a number of other Western news channels also aired the tapes soon after. CNN however did not, cutting its ties with Al Jazeera for several months. After the bombing of their bureau in Kabul and Baghdad, there were reports that President Bush had also wanted to bomb their headquarters in Qatar, but was advised against it.[68]

There has also been a significant amount of hostility towards them from numerous Arab governments, their media and people. It has been under scrutiny by some of its Muslim viewers for being pro-Israeli, who say they are simply giving air time to Israeli officials.[69] There is even debate about whether Al Jazeera is simply a front for Western intelligence agencies and a tool to manipulate the Arab world. There have also been attempts to disable and ban the activities of Al Jazeera correspondents from a number of Arab countries.[70]

Al Jazeera has won numerous awards, including winning the ‘Freedom of Expression’ award for its general news coverage from Index on Censorship, an international group which campaigns against censorship in 2003 and 2005[71],  being ranked one of the top five best news website by the Webby Awards in 2004[72], and also in the same year being voted the fifth most influential global brand behind Apple Computer, Google, Ikea and Starbucks and winning the Ibn Rushd Award for media and journalism of the year in 1999[73]. Al Jazeera, especially now with their new English broadcast is considered a fairly mainstream media network, although it is considered to be more controversial than most.

BBC

The British Broadcasting Corporation celebrated 50 years of Television News on July 5th 2004. The BBC News network’s aim is to “collect news and information in any part of the world and in any manner that may be thought fit”.[74] BBC News has developed television news broadcasts on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three and BBC Four and the specific news networks BBC News 24 digital, BBC World and BBC Parliament. According to Peter Horrocks, the Head of Television News, BBC’s six o’clock news was the most popular daily news programme and BBC News 24 was the most popular 24 hour news channel in Britain in 2005.[75] Although there are direct competitors for the BBC such as Sky News and ITN, it is BBC that is turned to for the major news stories, especially that occurring in the Middle East, for example an ICM poll found that nearly 93% of the UK population followed the first two weeks of the Iraq war on the BBC.[76]

It has also developed BBC News Online which is one of the most popular news websites in the UK[77] and has also been voted the top news website in 2004 and 2006 by the Webby Awards.[78] BBC Radio News is another significant development for the BBC, which functions under the BBC World Service that broadcasts in 40 different languages to approximately 150 million listeners across the globe. The BBC News network claims to be the largest news broadcast network in the world. By 2008, the BBC plans to create the largest live newsroom in the world, by moving all BBC News, national radio and BBC World Service to one location in London.[79]

The BBC is established under the Royal Charter and is run by the state. It is financed largely by a tax on the ownership of televisions, the television license fee. This allows the stations to be free of commercials and therefore apparently free of bias towards commercial sponsors[80]. Suggesting then that the BBC would cease to be subject to the second filter of the propaganda model, however as we will see later on, the BBC does have other similar constraints put upon it. Other major revenue sources  for the BBC are BBC Commercial Businesses, grants from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and from the worldwide sales of programmes, such as documentaries and dramas.

In general the attitudes towards and opinions of the BBC News network, both in the UK and globally, are of a relatively positive nature. The BBC has won critical acclaim and is praised for its unbiased and balanced reporting and are known for providing alternative views on a number of issues. The BBC has however had its own share of criticism within the UK as well as globally. In the UK they have been accused by some of their competitors of being left-wing and reporting more favourably towards the Labour Party while being more hostile in its reports on the Conservative right-wing.[81] Additionally, they have been centrally involved in one of the biggest political controversies, the Hutton Enquiry in January 2003[82]. This brought doubt about the accuracy, authenticity and professionalism of the BBC and its reporters. At the end of the enquiry, the BBC was criticised for its lack of management and verification of its stories. The enquiry ended in the resignation of the key figures involved as well as a devastating knock to the BBC corporation’s reputation. However, a few months later, an ICM poll found that the UK public had not lost faith in its trustworthiness of news reporting.[83]

CNN

The Cable News Network (CNN) was founded in 1980 by Ted Turner and Resse Schonfeld. It was the CNN that first introduced the concept of 24hour television news coverage and CNN International was developed in 1985. CNN celebrated its 25th anniversary in June 2005. CNN is believed to be America’s number one cable news network and it consists of a number of cable and satellite stations, 12 websites, 2 radio stations, and two private place-based networks, a total of 800 affiliates worldwide.  All together, the branded networks and services that are under the CNN are available to over 76million domestic viewers and 100million international viewers in over 210 countries.[84]

It has also launched 37 regional and foreign networks globally.[85] CNN broadcasts primarily from its headquarters at the CNN Center in Atlanta, and from studios in New York City and Washington, DC. The fact that the CNN uses American reporters in most of its national and international  news centres has created an element of controversy, with a number of accusations of the CNN being too US centric. This has forced them to provide regional based editions of its news service.

The enhancement of the CNN’s reputation globally was a result of the 1991 Gulf war, where it worked closely with the US government. The CNN’s 24hour real time news coverage of the Gulf war, the Battle of Mogadishu and other conflicts that took place around the same time[86], led to the coining of the term ‘CNN Effect’ which is “usually thought of as the effect that continuous and instantaneous television may have on foreign policy, in the making of foreign policy and the conduct of war.”[87] The CNN were also the first to break the news of 9/11.

CNN’s main competitor in America is Fox News channel[88] and its biggest rival when it comes to international news coverage is the BBC.[89] Al Jazeera is not likely to be far behind with the launch of their English language network.  

                                                                                                

There have of course been a number of controversies and complaints that have been made surrounding CNN which have reached an international audience, such as the complaints by international audiences regarding the amount of coverage devoted to the O.J. Simpson case.[90] One of the most recent events that brought CNN into the spotlight was a complaint made by the Iranian government in January 2006 regarding the mistranslation of a live broadcast by the Iranian President Ahmedinejad. CNN apologised for their error and the ban was lifted the next day.[91]

SECTION THREE: FINDINGS

In order for us to be able to give an adequate analysis of the operations of the media within the Middle Eastern conflict, it is necessary to describe the specific character of this conflict as a ‘state of war’. It is in light of this indication that we will be able to unfold the various aspects of this conflict in order to comprehend the workings of the media in its context. In such a state of war there are certain categories which indicate various aspects of the situation, which can be ‘read off’ the situation, as it where.

These include:

  • § The Historicity of the Conflict
  • § The Rationale and Stakes of the Conflict
  • § Conflict Players
  • § Governance of the Conflict
  • § The Effects of the Conflict: Economic & Humanitarian

This is an approach that is attempting to allow the phenomena to express itself as the difficult ideal which is the ‘reality’ which we seek beyond and before the variant ‘versions of reality’.  Although these categories are individually significant aspects of a state of war, they are also to a great extent interlinked. They exist in a system of internal relations which describe the totality of a situation.  One may be able to understand this better by examining the following diagram.

Rationale

and Stakes

 

Governance

Effects

Conflict Players

Historicity

STATE OF WAR

Figure A: Totality of the Palestinian Israeli Conflict

Every situation which may be characterised as a state of war, will be the result of the interaction of these categories. The historicity of a conflict will include every event that has occurred throughout the conflict. From the historical preconditions of it, to the ongoing events that have lead to its current state in history. The conflict will have reached that state also due to certain motivations the parties involved may have. And, there will always be things that may be gained or lost in a war. It is based upon the rationale and the stakes of the conflict, that the players determine how they will govern it, directly or indirectly. It is these actions which create the effects of the war, the humanitarian catastrophes and the economic struggles that people have to face. It is here, due to the effects of the war that people within these societies start to rebel, where new movements begin, rising up against their own or other countries governments. Today these sorts of movements are commonly labeled terrorists, which brings us back to another contemporary state of war, the ‘war on terror’. Palestine being a major player in this terrorism being fought.

It is from these categories that the analysis was carried out. Information was collected from all the articles and was put into the one or more category that it would fall into. From this collection of information on each of the media sources, it would then be possible to attempt to reconstruct the portrayed reality that the media source presented on the Palestinian Israeli conflict.[92]

In order to report the findings in the most comprehensible way we will look at each media source individually, separately examining the information in their coverage that fall into each of the categories discussed. Enabling us then to analyse each of the  realities formulated and answer one of the main questions of this study, are the realities portrayed on the Palestinian Israeli conflict, by Al Jazeera, BBC and CNN, different?

Al Jazeera Reality[93]

Ideology & Stakes of the Conflict

The overwhelming ideology that is discussed in the reporting of Al Jazeera, is that of the fact that Israel would not deal with Hamas. The conditions set by Israel and the US for Hamas: i) their disarmament ii) their recognition of Israel iii) and their acceptance of previous peace agreements, are mentioned in nearly all articles. “If Hamas want to be considered a partner in peace… it has to renounce terrorism, disarm, accept Israel’s right to exist and support political solutions” [A29/01/06Hii, A19/03/06Hi].

However, unlike the other two sources we will look at, this issue is discussed in a subtly different light. It is commonly followed by Hamas providing alternatives and appearing open to some form of compromise, apart from their recognition of Israel. For instance, Khaled Meshaal’s proposal to form a unified Palestinian army, which would replace the militant wing of Hamas [A29/01/06Hi, A29/01/06Hii, A13/02/06H, A20/02/06H]. They also show Israel’s condemnation of such a suggestion and their reiteration of the demand for Hamas to renounce violence.

On a number of occasions Olmert is directly quoted regarding his stance on Israel’s ideas of permanent borders. “To get Israel’s borders whereby we will completely separate from the majority of the Palestinian people and preserve a large and stable Jewish majority Israel” [A09/03/06i, A14/03/06].

Hamas however, is quoted more often regarding their ideas of permanent borders, which could lead to a real possibility of peace. This namely being Israel withdrawing to the pre1967 borders. “If Israel recognises our rights and pledges to withdraw from all occupied lands, Hamas and the Palestinian people together with it, will decide to halt armed resistance” [A13/02/06H, A12/03/06H]. When it comes to the issue of recognising Israel, Hamas is shown to be leaving this decision to the Palestinian people, saying it is not a single government that can make that decision. [A12/03/06H, A20/02/06H].

The relationship between Israel the US and occasionally Europe is subtly outlined in a number of articles, specifically when it comes to the discussion of the illegal expansion on Israeli borders [A27/01/06H, A14/03/06]. Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry is quoted as saying that Israel would start building sooner or later in order to create “Jewish demographic contiguity between Jerusalem and Maali Adomin… This is consistent with the pledges President Bush gave to Prime Minister Sharon a few years ago.”  This is said to have lead to Israel’s interpretation of this ‘pledge’ to mean that they are being given the carte blanch for unrestricted expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank [A14/03/06].

The Palestinian view on Israel’s expanding occupation is frequently shown, “They are stealing our land in broad daylight. They are killing any remaining possibility for the creation of a viable Palestinian state. And they are doing it as America and Europe are watching passively.” Khalid Al Qawasmi, Palestinian Authority minister of local governance [A13/02/06H].

Historicity of the Conflict

In order to present the information collected from the articles, regarding the historicity of the conflict, I feel it is more affective to present the information with direct extracts from the particular article, put together in a logical sequence. This will then make it more suitable for examining.

Israel and the Palestinians have a host of agreements dealing with everything from administration to security co-operation [A29/01/06Hi].

Negotiations aimed at a peace treaty and a permanent border between Israel and the West Bank have been frozen for years. Palestinians claim the whole territory but Israel says the border is defined only by cease-fire lines and is negotiable [A07/02/06].

Under the roadmap, Israel is obliged to freeze all settlement expansion and demolish all outposts established since March 2001 as part of the disengagement plan [07/02/06, A23/02/06].

Israel ended its 38-year military rule of the Gaza Strip last year, but retains control of all access points for bringing goods in and out of the territory [A09/03/06, A08/02/06A].

Maale Adumin is the largest Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, built about 12km outside east Jerusalem and home to 28,000 residents. The sprawling Gush Etzion bloc lies to the south and houses 15,000 settlers [A07/02/06].

A report published by settlement watchdog Peace Now in February 2006, said around 10,000 Israelis moved into settlements across the occupied West Bank over the course of 2005, while around 9,000 settlers were removed from 21 settlements in Gaza and four small enclaves in the West Bank, leaving an increased overall number of Israelis living in settlements on Palestinian land despite the pullout from the Gaza Strip last year [07/02/06].

Approximately 245,000 Jews live among 2.4 million Palestinians in the West Bank. [A23/02/06].

In 2004, the international Court of Justice issued a non-binding ruling that parts of the 650km barrier which criss-crosses the West Bank were illegal and should be torn down [07/02/06].

Using curfews and military checkpoints, Israel has often imposed ad hoc restrictions on Palestinians since fighting erupted in 2000.  Palestinian and settler vehicles have different number plates, which eases the enforcement of Israeli bans. In the Gaza Strip, settlers had at least one major road for their exclusive use, which circumvented a Palestinian highway [A23/02/06].

Every month Israel transfers an average of $54million, collected at ports and border crossings. In the past Israel has held up the transfers during times of tension. [A29/01/06Hi, A01/03/06]. In addition to these revenues, the PA’s other major sources of funding include domestic income and foreign aid from the international community, which is estimated at $34million a month. [A01/03/06].

Apart from Hamas’s victory, the withdrawal of aid and the boycotting of the Hamas-led government which will be discussed in detail in subsequent sections, below are some of the other current main events that were discussed in the analysed news articles.

The Israeli government has begun to develop facilities for what eventually could be the largest settlement project in the West bank since 1967 [A14/03/06]. Malle Adumin and Gush Etzion are to remain part of the state of Israel regardless of the future developments. [A07/02/06, A23/02/06, A09/03/06, A14/03/06]. And, The Ariel block will be an inseparable part of the State of Israel under any situation. Ariel was built in the heartland of the West Bank south of West of Nablus, and is the second largest settlement in the West Bank. [A14/03/06].

An Israeli security official has said that Israel plans to pave new roads in the West Bank that will be for the exclusive use of the Palestinians. This is being called an apartheid system by top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erikat. [A23/02/06]

Conflict Players

Hamas

Hamas being the key issue at the time of analysis, with their victory in the elections, meant that the amount of coverage devoted to them was substantial in all three news sources. In Al Jazeera articles, Hamas was mentioned in 33 of the 43 articles analysed.

In the articles that mentioned Hamas, a number of different terms were used to describe them, these included: “An Islamist movement” [A27/01/06H, A28/01/06H], “Radical Hamas” [A27/01/06H, A28/01/06H], “Hamas Fighters” [A29/01/06Hii], “Islamist Hamas” [A07/02/06H, A01/03/06H], and “Palestinian Group” [11/03/06H. If they were referred to as a ‘terrorist organisation’, it was done in reference to other parties deeming them as such. [A27/01/06H, A29/01/06Hi, A29/01/06Hii, A07/02/06H, A18/02/06H, A20/02/06H, A06/03/06Hi, A12/03/06H, A19/03/06Hi]

The cease fire held by Hamas since their entry into the political arena is mentioned in a number of articles [A29/01/06Hi, A29/01/06Hii, A21/02/06H, A07/03/06H].

Hamas’s ideology is provided in significant detail in the majority of articles in which the group is mentioned,  “Hamas has said that it would never recognise Israel”  [A07/02/06H], since it was not the place of any one single faction to decide such a thing, but was in fact the decision of the people,  “The recognition of Israel is up to the Palestinian people.” [A13/02/06H, A12/03/06H]. Truce would only become possible if Israel withdrew from all occupied Palestinian land. [A07/02/06H, A13/02/06H].  “As long as we are under occupation then resistance is our right”. [A29/01/06Hi,  A29/01/06Hii].

In light of the reactions by the international community, Hamas has been shown to have attempted paths to unite and legitimise the Palestinian fight. Firstly with their offer to share power with President Mahmoud Abbas, the head of Fatah.  [A27/01/06H, A28/01/06H]. Then with the suggestion  that the Islamic group could create a Palestinian army that would include its militant wing, which was received with criticism from Israel and rejected by Fatah [A29/01/06Hi, A29/01/06Hii, A07/02/06H].  And finally, with the suggestion of forming a government of technocrats which could potentially include members of all Palestinians factions, which was also rejected by Fatah and all other factions  [A07/02/06H, A20/02/06H, A06/03/06Hi, A17/03/06H, A19/03/06H].

Fatah

There is little that is said about Fatah as a political party. Apart from the fact that “Hamas’s win brought an end to four decades of rule by the Fatah party founded by Yasser Arafat.” [A27/01/06H, A20/02/06H, A17/03/06H], and that Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, is the armed wing of the Palestinian Fatah faction, one of several groups spearheading a more than five year old Palestinian uprising. [A08/02/06A].

President Mahmoud Abbas, the head of Fatah, has definitely played the key role in the aftermath of Hamas’s victory. Although his stance has not been very consistent. Initially he is stated as saying that “he may go around the new government to talk peace with Israel” [A27/01/06H], but then meets with Hamas with no demands for them to recognise Israel or previous Palestinian-Israeli accords agreeing that Hamas would take control of the Palestinian security forces after it assumed power.[A04/02/06H]. However he is then quoted as saying that the new government must respect interim peace deals made by the PA with Israel, while also coming down hard on Israel.    [A07/02/06H, A18/02/06H, A20/02/06H, A19/03/06Hii]. Suggesting that he might have to take over diplomatic avenues, if those exist, to continue progressing. [A13/02/06H]

Israel

In response to Hamas’s election win, Israel is shown to be firm in their stance on refusing to negotiate with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas. [A27/01/06H, A29/01/06Hi, A29/01/06Hii, A13/02/06H,  A09/03/06]. Israel’s restriction on the movements of Hamas members was outlined, along with its similarity to restrictions once put on Fatah members [A28/01/06H]. A whole article is dedicated to Israel’s Defense Minister warning Hamas leaders of possible targeted killings, if the group resumes attacks [A07/03/06H].

The issue of the withholding of the Israeli transfer of taxes collected from the Palestinian people ($50million a month), is covered in nearly half the articles analysed.  [A28/01/06H. A09/03/06H, A12/03/06H A13/02/06H, A19/03/06Hii]

Due to Israeli elections that were to take place in March, Israel’s acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was a key feature in a number of articles analysed [A07/02/06H, A07/03/06H, A09/03/06H, A19/03/06Hi], where his promises  to establish permanent borders, “We will completely separate from the majority of the Palestinian population and preserve a large and stable Jewish majority in Israel” [A09/03/06H].  While in the next four years he will also go ahead with the planned construction of 3500 housing units on the edge of Maale Adumin as part of plans to connect the settlement to annexed east Jerusalem.

“With peace talks stalled since 2000, Israel has hinted that it might make unilateral moves to set a border with the Palestinians if there are no more negotiations.” [A27/01/06H]. 

Outside Mediators

As mentioned previously, there is a certain relationship that is clear in Al Jazeera articles between the US and Israel, with the US in constant support of Israel. The US refused to deal with a Hamas-led Palestinian government unless it backed peace with Israel. “I have made it very clear, however, that a political party that articulates the destruction of Israel as part of the platform is a party with which we will not deal” President Bush said at a White House conference [A27/01/06H, A18/02/06H, A12/03/06H]. The role of the EU is only really discussed in relation to economic issues, their issuing of emergency aid and their labeling of Hamas as a terrorist organisation [A27/01/06H, A07/02/06H, A20/02/06H, A12/03/06H, A13/03/06, A14/03/06]

Russia was a key player for a period of time in the aftermath of the Hamas electoral victory. “Russia is the first of the countries in the Middle East Quartet that respected the choice made by the Palestinian people and made it clear once again that it does not consider Hamas an extremist and terrorist movement” [A13/02/06H, A06/03/06Hii]. The French President Jacques Chirac endorsed Hamas’s view that sanctions would only serve to hurt ordinary Palestinian people [A06/03/06Hi]. And, Egypt and Saudi Arabia[94] have rejected US attempts to persuade them to isolate Hamas [A06/03/06Hi, A11/0306H], saying that it would only encourage terrorism [A13/03/06].

The UN’s role is of little significance when it comes to solving the  conflict, and it appears this way in the articles analysed. The UN and other such organisations are mentioned on a regular basis, however their mention is usually in reference to humanitarian emergencies and effects of the conflict, such as water shortage, border crossings being closed, Israeli settlement expansion and the separation wall [A06/02/06, A01/03/06, A08/03/06, A20/03/06, A20/03/96A, A21/03/06].

Governance of the Conflict

Israel’s governance of this conflict introduces a number of key topics that are  under discussion in Al Jazeera’s articles. It is made clear that Israel is obliged by international law to freeze all settlement expansion and demolish all outposts established since March 2001 as part of their ‘disengagement’ plan, however it is also made clear that Israel is ceasing to abide by this international law [A07/02/06, A23/02/06]. The World Court’s branding of “all Israel’s settlements on occupied land illegal”, along with Israel’s dispute of it was highlighted [A23/02/06].

Ehud Olmert is quoted on a number of occasions regarding his stance on Israeli withdrawal. “We will disengage from most of the Palestinian population that lives in Judea and Samaria (biblical names for the West Bank)… that will obligate us to leave territories under Israeli control today”. However the article then goes on to discuss the retaining of two of the largest settlement blocks on occupied land [A06/02/06, A07/02/06, A23/02/06]. On the 14th of March, an article was published regarding the development of a new settlement, which could eventually be the largest settlement project in the West Bank since 1967 [A14/03/06].

The Israeli-built separation wall was featured in length in 4 of the articles analysed [A07/02/06. A23/02/06, A08/03/06, A20/03/06]. In all of them the UN is a key source of information, stating that the wall was a violation of international laws. “The wall between Israel and Palestinian territories – described by Israel as a security measure – had gone ahead despite a 2004 ruling by the International court of justice” [A08/03/06]. The economic and humanitarian consequences of the separation wall is also mentioned in the articles. “The route of the wall matches that of water resources, the latter being conveniently located on the Israeli side” Elisabeth Sime, a director of aid organisation CARE International in Gaza Strip and the West Bank [A20/03/06].

The restrictions set by Israel post-election are shown vividly in a number of articles, outlining a number of different issues. Firstly, the restrictions on Hamas officials movements to and from the Gaza Strip and West Bank [A28/01/06H]. Secondly, the freezing of the transfer of tax money collected for the Palestinians [A20/02/06H, A01/03/06H]. And thirdly, the closing of key commercial crossings, restricting the entering of food resources. “Israel closed Karni for 21 days between 15 January and 5 February. It was closed again on 21 February after an explosion in the area and has remained shut because of ‘continued security alerts’, the army had said” [A01/03/06, A09/03/06ii, A21/03/06]. These restrictions obviously are not limited to Israel, the US, EU and many other governments also withdrew their usual financial aid [A01/03/06H], either out of choice or by force due to the block on banks transferring money to the PA.  

Effects of the Conflict

The economic and humanitarian effects of the conflict were discussed in varying depths in nearly all the articles analysed from the Al Jazeera news website. The following two sub-categories are an attempt to re-portray the reality presented by Al Jazeera on these issues.

Economic Effects

Due to the election of Hamas, Israel froze the transfer of funds (approximately $52million a month) to the Palestinian Authority. Israel claimed this as a required step to protect themselves from potential terrorists. [A30/01/06, A18/02/06H, A20/02/06H]. “Raanan Gissin, an Israeli official, rebuffed charges that Israel was breaking the interim peace accords that mandates handing over of funds.” This has prevented the PA from being able to pay civil servants their salaries [A01/03/06] and has therefore resulted in municipal workers and taxi drivers going on strike because they have not been paid and because of the rising prices of fuel [A20/03/06A].

Western nations threatened to halt hundred of millions of dollars of foreign aid when Haniya takes office [A07/02/06H, A18/02/06H, A20/02/06H]. The US demanded that the PA return $50million in foreign aid, to which they adhered [A07/02/06H, A20/03/06A]. The closure of the Al Mintar or Kirni crossing resulted in a loss of some $10.5million, with over 500 tons of produce grown in Gaza greenhouses having to be destroyed [A09/03/06ii].

Humanitarian Effects

Due to the withdrawal of taxes and funds by Israel and the US and the threat of withdrawal from other nations, the humanitarian consequences were obviously going to be substantial. The humanitarian consequences are shown by Al Jazeera to be seen by the Palestinian Authority and certain other organisations and governments as a personal attack on the Palestinian people. “The Israelis are trying to starve innocent people by taking money from our taxes, and we are going to fight this by all legal means” [A20/02/06H].

The UN and certain governments have been quoted as issuing warnings of potential humanitarian crisis if donor funds and tax revenues were cut off to the Palestinian Authority [A01/03/06, 13/03/06]. With tightened Israeli control in the last few months, specifically that of the recurrent closure of key commercial crossings, the possibility of crisis is likely to occur very quickly. Israel has said that these restrictions were necessary for its security [A08/03/06, A09/0306ii, A20/03/06A].

John Dugard, a UN official has said that the separation wall being built through Palestinian neighbourhoods is aimed at reducing the number of Palestinians in the city, and it is also cutting off the Palestinian territories from water sources [A08/03/06, A20/03/06]. “Without water, there is no life. Israeli policy has always been to push Palestinians into the desert” Hind Khury, a former Palestinian cabinet minister [A20/03/06].

The overall number of Israelis living in settlements on Palestinian land increased last year despite the pull out from the Gaza Strip [A06/02/06]. The Israeli government is reported to have begun to develop facilities for what eventually could be the largest settlement project in the West Bank since 1967. It is said to include 3550 settler units, road networks, six hotels and a park. This will not be available for Palestinians to live in or buy [A14/03/06].

The Israeli army is said to have increased the number of roadblocks and barriers in the West Bank by 25% since last summer (2005) [A08/03/06]. Israel is also paving new roads exclusively for Palestinians. What the Palestinians are calling apartheid, as Jews will be banned from using these Palestinian only roads [A23/02/06].

BBC Reality[95]

Ideology & Stakes of the Conflict

The election of Hamas added further complications to the already conflicting ideologies of this conflict. Now the new government was to be rejected and excluded from any talks, unless demands from other players were met. “Israeli interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ruled out any talks with ‘an armed terror organisation that calls for Israel’s destruction'”. “The Middle East Quartet issued a statement… calling on Hamas to renounce violence and accept Israel’s right to exist”. “US President George W Bush said Washington would not deal with Hamas unless it rejected its call to destroy Israel” [B27/01/07Hi, B27/01/06Hii, B28/01/06Hi, B28/01/06, B30/01/06H, B06/02/06Hi, B06/02/06Hii, B20/02/06i, B20/02/06ii, B20/02/06H, B27/02/06]

Hamas’ reaction to these demands have been presented in a number of BBC articles. “We are not playing terrorism or violence. We are under occupation” [B27/01/06Hi, B27/01/06Hii]. Their conditions for fulfilling the demands of the international community have somewhat been discussed (discussed in 17 of 51 articles). “Hamas could agree to a long term ‘hudna’ (truce) if Israel accepts a Palestinian state based on the internationally recognised borders of 1967… the release of Palestinian prisoners, an end to the Israeli aggression against Palestinians and a geographic link between the West Bank and Gaza Strip” [B30/01/06]. However the overwhelming majority of the articles appears to put more weight on the terms of the US, Israel and the Quartet (discussed in 29 of the 51 articles). In fact most of what is mentioned about the terms of the Palestinian Authority is based on the journalists opinion rarely backed by official Palestinian sources. While, in all of the 29 articles mentioning Israeli, the US demands are backed by statements by official information sources.

A Hamas leader said that it could potentially create a new Palestinian army that would include its militant wing which would be able to ‘defend our people against aggression’. Following this, Israel is reported to have said that Hamas leaders would not be immune from targeted killings if the group maintained aggression and continued to refuse to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist [B28/01/06Hiii].

The idea of a two state solution and its possible borders is discussed in one article. While on the one side the “Palestinians hope that the whole of the West Bank and East Jerusalem will be returned to them as part of any peace deal creating a viable independent state which would also include the Gaza Strip”, “Ehud Olmert, recently stated that the Jordan Valley would not be handed back to the Palestinians and instead would form part of Israel’s eastern border with the Arab world”, which the Israelis view as vital for the defense of their country. “Apart from the Jordan Valley, the Israeli government also recently announced that it wanted to keep all major settlement blocks in the West Bank… which according to the human rights organisation B’Tselelm, would mean in total around 40% of the West Bank would remain in Israeli hands” [B14/03/06].

Historicity of the Conflict

Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab Israeli war and has since settled about 400,000 Jews in the territories [B28/01/06, B14/03/06]. Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1981 and sees it as its exclusive domain. Under international law the area is considered to be occupied territory. East Jerusalem is often called Arab East Jerusalem because the majority of its residents are Palestinian, and Palestinians hope to establish their future capital there [B08/02/06Hi].

Palestinians often fire rockets into Israel from Gaza, which they say are in retaliation for Israeli raids in Gaza and the West Bank. Correspondents say attacks using homemade rockets rarely cause casualties, but Israel often retaliates for those that do [B03/02/06A].

Three times more Palestinians have died than Israelis in the recent years of the violence [B06/02/06Hii].

Two years ago, Israel killed two top Hamas leaders, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and Abdelaziz al Rantissi, in air strikes [B07/03/06H].

Israel removed Jewish settlers and the troops who protected them from Gaza in a unilateral measure in 2005. It has kept sole control of the territory’s airspace, and coastline and its border with Israel [B21/03/06].

Israel has declared areas close to the border fence in the northern part of the costal territory of the Gaza Strip as a no go area for Palestinians and has used artillery and helicopter gunships to enforce this. Palestinians have condemned the buffer zone as a re-occupation of land evacuated by Israel last year [B21/01/06A].

Gaza is home to about 1.5m Palestinians [B21/03/06]. Kibbutz Karamiah is about 9km north of the Gaza Strip border. [B03/02/06A].

The territories’ administration has been constantly short of funds. The PA has always been heavily reliant on international cash, mainly from the US, EU, Japan and Arab states. Israel transfers approximately $50m a month in tax revenue and customs, which pays approximately 135,000 civil servants salaries [B27/01/06, B28/01/06, B28/01/06Hi].

Apart from the information on the current events of the Hamas election and the issues that have arisen as a result of it, below are a few other issues discussed in BBC articles at the time of analysis.

On the 4th of Feb Israel’s first air strike on the Gaza Strip since Hamas’ sweeping victory, killing three. [B05/02/06Ai].

The Karni border crossing is the main transit point for goods between Israel and the Gaza Strip. It has been closed for more than four months, but was re-opened on Sunday [B08/02/06A].

Looking back over the history of the Israel-Arab conflict, there are some examples of collusion between the British and the Israelis and the Americans and Israelis [B14/03/06A].

Conflict Players

Hamas

Again, due to the events surrounding the time of the articles analysed, Hamas was a key feature in most of the BBC’s articles, 38 of the 51 analysed. The terms used to describe Hamas were various, these included: “terrorist group/organisation” [B28/01/06Hi, B28/01/06, B06/02/06Hi, B06/02/06Hii, B20/02/06H, B20/02/06Hii, B27/02/06H], “Branded a terrorist organisation” [B26/01/06H], “militant Islamic movement” [B28/01/06Hii, B20/02/06Hii], “Islamic militant group” [B22/01/06A, B28/01/06], “Palestinian militant Islamist organisation” [B26/01/06H,], “militant group” [B28/01/06Hiii, B21/02/06H, B27/02/06, B13/03/06H, B14/03/06H], “A regime that continues and/or is dedicated to violence towards Israel” [B27/01/06, B28/01/06, B06/02/06Hi, B20/02/06H, B21/02/06H].

“Hamas has launched dozens of suicide bombings that have killed hundreds of Israelis”, however on occasions this is followed by the fact that Hamas has held an informal cease fire for nearly a year [B28/01/06, B08/02/06Hi, B20/02/06, B21/02/06H, B07/03/06H].

The BBC on a number of occasions discusses the reasons for the Palestinians’ election of Hamas, “The people voted for Hamas because they saw them as the best bet for competent honest government capable of lifting them from poverty” [B27/01/06, B06/02/06Hii].

There is a relatively detailed discussion of Hamas’s charter and ideology in the BBC’s coverage of this conflict at the time of analysis. There are two articles [B26/01/06H, B07/02/06H], which focus specifically on Hamas’ charter, Hamas’s background and the possibility of it ever recognising Israel. There are a number of other articles that also discuss these issues, although it may not be the  main focus of the article. “Hamas’ charter is much more hostile to Israel and to Jews than that of the PLO” [B27/01/06Hii]. “Hamas charter seeks the destruction of Israel, however there was no mention of this aim in the organisation’s election manifesto… Leaders of Hamas have consistently refused to recognise Israel or negotiate with the Jewish state” [B28/01/06ii, B07/02/06H]. They also show Hamas as being open to the “possibility of what it calls a long term cease fire in return for a complete withdrawal from all the territory that Israel occupied in 1967. A Palestinian state would be established in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem” [B06/02/06Hii, B08/02/06Hi, B14/03/06A].

There is also some discussion about the proposal put forward by Hamas of a neutral government of technocrats and to focus on social and economic issues. [B28/01/06Hi,  B28/01/06Hi, B28/01/06Hiii]. As well as the possibility of a new Palestinian army that would include its militant wing and would “defend our people against aggression”. [B28/01/06Hiii, B20/01/06, B20/02/06H, B13/03/06H, B16/03/06H]. 

Hamas has been asked by Mahmoud Abbas to form the new government, to which they have officially presented Ismail Haniya for PM [B20/02/06H, B21/01/06H, B26/02/06HB, 16/03/06H]. Ismail Haniya, who headed Hamas’ election list, said they would not give in to ‘blackmail’ by foreign donors. [B28/01/06Hi, B06/02/06Hii]

Fatah

There is no information on the background of the Fatah party in the BBC articles analysed. They are discussed with regard to their displeasure with the outcome of the election, “Fatah members also turned on their own leadership, demanding the resignation of Fatah heads”[B28/01/06Hi] and their refusal to join Hamas in the proposed unity government as it might jeopardise its relationship with Washington [B20/02/06H, B27/01/06H, B13/03/06H, B16/03/06H].

As with Al Jazeera the role of Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority appeared to be key at the time. After the election of Hamas, it was Abbas’s role to discuss with Hamas “the formation of a new government and the appointment of a PM” [B27/01/06H]. Abbas said that Hamas would be forming the next government but urged Hamas to recognise Israel and to keep to the previous commitments, such as the Oslo Accords [B27/01/06H, B21/02/06H, B26/01/06H]. 

Israel

The BBC’s mention of Israel covers a number of different issues. The most amount of coverage was on Israel’s stance on the election of Hamas, given the situation at the time of the publication of the articles. “Israel has cast doubt on its willingness to continue to transfer customs and tax revenue, worth $50m” [B28/01/06Hi]. “Israel regards Hamas as a terrorist group committed to the destruction of Israel and initially suspended payments unconditionally following the Hamas victory” [B06/02/06Hi]. “Acting Israeli PM Ehud Olmert said Israel’s co-operation with Mr. Abbas was dependant on the Palestinian government not being led by Hamas” [B06/02/06Hi]. Ehud Olmert ruled out talks with ‘an armed terror organisation that calls for Israel’s destruction’ while the Israeli Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni called on the EU, the biggest financial donors to the PA, to oppose the creation of a ‘terrorist government’ [B27/02/06H].

Israel was also stated as saying that “Hamas leaders would not be immune from targeted killings if the group maintained aggression and continued to refuse to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist”[B28/01/06Hiii, B07/03/06H].

There is no prospect of a complete withdrawal form the Palestinian territories. In fact, Israel is consolidating its hold on East Jerusalem and tracts of the West Bank. [B06/02/06Hii]. “Ehud Olmert, recently stated that the Jordan Valley would not be handed back to the Palestinians and instead would form part of Israel’s eastern border with the Arab world”, which the Israelis view as vital for the defense of their country. “Apart from the Jordan Valley, the Israeli government also recently announced that it wanted to keep all major settlement blocks in the West Bank [B14/03/06].

“Israel’s campaign for polls on 28th march has begun. With the Kadima party tipped to win” [B07/03/06H].

Outside Mediators

The role of the US in this conflict does not appear to be so prominent in the BBC’s coverage. They receive a very similar amount of coverage as the EU, the Middle East Quartet and the UN. The US is generally referred to in discussion with threats of aid withdrawal and their demand for the return of $50million [B27/01/06H, B28/01/06Hi, B06/02/06Hii, B20/02/06ii, B21/02/06, B21/03/06]. They are also referred to as ‘Israel’s ally’ on a number of occasions, “Israel and the US, the two allies have already taken steps to withhold funds from a government lead by the militant Islamist group, which they brand a terror organisation” [B20/02/06ii] and “Israel and it’s main ally, the US, have taken steps to isolate Hamas, which they brand a terrorist organisation” [B21/02/06H].

The Quartet is mentioned in relation to their demands on Hamas to renounce violence and accept Israel’s right to exist in order for peace talks to be possible and so they will not have to face cuts in global aid[B27/01/06H, B28/01/06Hi, B31/01/06H]. The EU although initially insisting on Hamas’ renouncement of violence and their acceptance of Israel’s right to exist, later gave 64million Euros in aid to help the poorest Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, on the condition that no more would be given until conditions were met [B28/01/06Hi, B06/02/06Hii, B21/02/06, B27/02/06, B20/03/06].

The UN is featured significantly in the BBC articles. In relation to their concerns over the Israeli targeted killings [B08/02/06A], their objections to Israel’s move to withhold tax and custom duties which are paid monthly to the cash strapped PA [B20/02/06H], their worry that the region is gradually being cut off by restrictions imposed on the Palestinian population by the Israeli security forces [B14/03/06] and UN reports regarding the humanitarian and economic situation of the Palestinians [B09/03/06i, B09/03/06ii].

“Saudi Arabia, the Palestinians biggest donor has critisised the reaction of the international community, saying if they wanted democracy they should be able to deal with the people’s choice” [B31/01/06H]. International pressure including Egypt have put pressure on Hamas to recognise Israel [B06/02/06Hii]. While Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Iran have called for an international fund raising campaign and pan-Islamic support [B20/02/06H].

Governance of the Conflict

The BBC presents an Israeli infrastructure that is dependant on the Palestinians since their water and electricity networks are intertwined. And, a Palestinian Authority who’s economic fate lies in the hands of Israel, because a substantial amount of Palestinian businesses are in Israel, enabling them to  exert economic pressure almost instantly by closing or restricting traffic across the borders. [B27/01/06, B09/03/06i, B14/03/06, B21/03/06]. “The World Bank has identified Israel’s ‘closure’ system as a leading cause for the Palestinians economic difficulties and Palestinians have complained that the roadblocks are an excessive collective punishment” [B27/01/06].

“Israeli officials say the crisis [after the closing of the Karni crossing] has been created by Palestinian officials who declined an offer to use a second crossing near the Egyptian border rather than Karni. The Palestinians say they fear such a precedent would lead to Israel redirecting all future traffic to the smaller Kerem Shalom crossing which is not suitable to cater for Gaza’s long term needs” [B21/03/06].

“Israel removed Jewish settlers and the troops who protected them from Gaza in a unilateral measure in 2005. It has kept sole control of the territory’s airspace, and coastline and the border with Israel” [B21/01/06]. A report by John Dugard, a UN human rights envoy, is referred to, in discussion with the idea that Gaza is still effectively occupied despite Israel’s pull out from settlements last summer. “Much more needs to be done by Israel” [B09/03/06ii].

B’Tselem an Israeli human rights organisation, accused the Israeli government of effectively annexing the Jordan Valley – a large strip of land which makes up at least a quarter of the occupied West Bank. [B14/03/06].

Hamas’ room for maneuver on the economy is restricted on certain fronts, with threats of aid withdrawal from the US, EU and other international bodies of funding and the withholding of taxes from Israel [B27/01/06, B28/01/06, B20/02/06i, B20/02/06ii, B27/02/06, B20/03/06]. Hamas legislators do not have free access between Gaza and the legislature in Ramallah in the West Bank, making governing of the divided territories more difficult [B28/01/06Hi, B28/01/06, B06/02/06Hi].

Effects of the Conflict

Economic Effects

The election victory of Hamas, an apparent terrorist organisation, lead to international threats of aid withdrawal [B27/01/06H, B27/01/06Hii, B28/01/06Hi, B28/01/06, B31/01/06H, B06/02/06Hi, B06/02/06Hii, B20/02/06ii, B20/02/06, B27/02/06]. “Israeli Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni called on the EU, the biggest financial donors to the PA, to oppose the creation of a terrorist government” [B27/01/06H]. “President Bush warned US aid worth $400million could be cut following Hamas’ surprise poll win” [B28/01/06Hi].

Mr. Olmert has said that Israel would continue transferring monthly tax payments to the PA as long as Hamas was not in control [B06/02/06Hi]. “Israel and the US, the two allies have already taken steps to withhold funds from a government led by the militant Islamist group, which they brand a terror organisation” [B20/02/06ii].

Hamas however have said that they would not give into ‘black mail’ by foreign donors and dismiss the effect of Israeli financial restrictions [B28/01/06Hi, B20/02/06].

The Palestinian Authority has always been heavily reliant on international cash, mainly US, EU, Japan and Arab states [B28/01/06], with the EU being the PA’s largest donor with $606million a year. [B28/01/06Hi, B31/01/06H].

Palestinian Attorney General announced that $700million worth of aid had gone missing under previous leadership, which is being investigated further [B06/02/06Hi].

Israel has partially reopened the main goods crossing into the Gaza Strip after closing it for more than two weeks because of ‘security alerts’. The closure of the Karni crossing meant basic food commodities, including wheat flour, were no longer available, a UN report published on Wednesday said. The crossing had been closed since 21st Feb and has not been pen for more than 12 days since the start of 2006 [B09/03/06, B14/03/06]. And, The World Bank has identified Israel’s ‘closure’ system as a leading cause for the Palestinians economic difficulties and Palestinians have complained that the roadblocks are an excessive collective punishment [B09/03/06i, B09/03/06ii, B14/03/06, B21/03/06].

Humanitarian Effects

It appears that the BBC coverage of this conflict attempts to portray both sides of the suffering.

‘This is our destiny.. As Palestinians we are the weak side. As long as we are the weak side we will suffer’. Mr. Sharwa, a man who lives in an area that has suffered numerous Israeli raids and has badly damaged his home four times in four years [B08/02/06Aii].

Almost everyday, two or three or more missiles are launched off from Gaza. But they rarely cause death or serious damage. But they are a continuous menace to thousands of Israelis. Israel says there is no nation that would tolerate such random bombardment of its civilian areas [B08/02/06Aii].

The halting of taxes from Israel has put tremendous strain on the Palestinian people as the money should go towards paying the salaries of some 135,000 civil servants. The return of $50million to the US and the threat of further international aid withdrawal spurred on the suggestion from Ismail Haniya to the “US administration and European countries [that they] should put pressure on the occupier and not the occupied and displaced Palestinian people” [B28/01/06, B20/02/06ii].

UN officials are quoted on a few occasions regarding the humanitarian situation in Palestine and Israel. “Secretary General of the UN expressed concern over the Israeli targeted killings… called on both Israel and the Palestinians ‘to respect international humanitarian law, and to refrain from actions that could lead to an escalation of violence” [B08/02/06Ai]. “The closure of the Karni crossing meant basic food commodities, including wheat flour, were no longer available, a UN report published on Wednesday said” [09/03/06].

One article [B09/03/06ii] focuses on a report by John Dugard[96] a UN human rights envoy, who has said that “strict border restrictions, repeated sonic booms and targeted militant assassinations ‘serve as a constant reminder to the people of Gaza that they remain occupied. 15,000 people have already been displaced by Israel’s West Bank barrier and that it was creating a new category of Palestinian refugees’. To him the barrier is a means to seize land beyond Israel’s pre 1967 border and not just to keep out suicide bombers. He also charges that Jewish settlers in the West Bank are able to ‘terrorise’ Palestinians with impunity, intimidating school children and destroying trees and crops”.

This is then followed by Israel’s response, claiming that the “report disregarded its enormous efforts to fight terrorism, while maintaining humanitarian law” and Israel’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Itzhak Levanon, said the new report bore “little reaction to either the facts or existing principles.”

“The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Israel had increased the number of roadblocks and barriers in the West Bank by 25% since last summer”, making people unable to get to work, hospitals and their families [B09/02/06ii, B14/03/06]. And, Law and Order in the Palestinian territories are “almost non existent” with a police force that is laughable [B21/02/06].

CNN REALITY[97]

Ideology & Stakes of the Conflict

It appears that the most common reference to any ideological issue is that of the necessity of the Palestinian Government’s recognition of the right for the State of Israel to exist. This is proving to be the pivotal point that is crippling the prospect of peace, as the recognition of the state of Israel has become one of the three main conditions for peace. The others include the disarmament of Hamas and the acceptance of previous peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. “Israeli and US Leaders indicated that little progress was possible unless Hamas denounces violence and disarms” [C27/01/06H].

Hamas also have their own terms for peace, although the mention of them in the articles of CNN are significantly fewer than of Israel. With the Hamas conditions being mentioned in only 6 out of the 43 articles, and nearly all of the 43 articles mentioning the terms of the US and Israel. “Europe and the United States must ask Israel to withdraw from Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem according to international legitimacy before they ask Hamas to disarm” Moussa Abu Mazrouk, deputy chief if the Hamas political bureau [C29/01/06Hi].

Another key aspect with respect to the terms of possible talks between Israel and Hamas, is the proposition put forward by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal of a united Palestinian army. “If you do not like our militancy, we are ready to unify the Palestinian arms… and create an army, just like any other country” [C28/01/06H]. However this is commonly followed with an Israeli or US response reiterating their stand on not negotiating with what they consider to be a terrorist organisation. “We are interested to see the quality of life improving in Gaza and the West Bank, and we are very serious about it. We shall have to wait until the other side will be ready to come to terms. It is either negotiations or shooting. We are prepared for the two” Shimon Peres, former Israeli Foreign Minister [C28/01/06H].

One thing that becomes clear from the analysis of the CNN’s portrayal of this conflict is that the only issue that the Israelis and the Palestinians are in agreement over is the need for a two state solution. Although, it is rare that both sides are discussed in the same article. “The only solution now is two states – one Jewish, one Palestinian” Ehud Olmert [C24/01/06]. And, Mahmoud Al Zahar, the top Hamas official in Gaza, laid out a series of conditions Sunday that he said could lead to years of co-existence alongside Israel. The conditions included Israel’s retreating to its pre-1967 borders [C29/01/06Hi].

However, regardless of their agreement on this issue, there are significant disagreements on the actual permanent borders of the two states, specifically relating to Jerusalem.  Jerusalem is key to the ideology that the CNN presents on this conflict. “We are going toward a separation from the Palestinians… We will keep Jerusalem unified”  Ehud Olmert [C07/02/06]. And, “There is no Jewish state without Jerusalem as a capital in its center” Ehud Olmert [C24/01/06].

The mention of the necessity for Jerusalem to be a part of the Palestinian state is presented, however it is done so in far less regularity. “The acting Prime Minister’s reference to a unified Jerusalem is important because Israelis consider the city their capital, and Hamas has said it envisions the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital” [C07/02/06].

Historicity of the Conflict

As with the previous two media sources, the information provided regarding the history and current situation in CNN articles will be presented as direct extracts from the particular article, outlined in a chronological order, making it more appropriate for analysis.

2000 Peace talks collapse leading to the second Intifada. [C26/02/06Hiii].

“In September 2005, for the first time since occupying the territory in 1967, Israel withdrew its troops and Jewish settlements from Gaza”, this is said to have included the withdrawal of almost 9,000 Jewish settlers and the Israeli troops who guarded them [C22/01/06A, C05/02/06A, C01/03/06A].

Following this withdrawal, “Ariel Sharon said that the withdrawal… would put the onus on the Palestinians to seek peace”, the article then goes on to discuss reports of “random kidnappings and exchanges of gunfire in Gaza between police and armed militia (in January 2006) that led to concerns about whether the ruling Palestinian Authority could maintain control in the territory” [C22/01/06A].

“The Amona outpost was established during the 1990’s on a hill about 1km east of the Jewish settlement of Ofra, it was demolished on the 1st February 2006″ [C05/02/06A].

“Olmert a close friend of Ariel Sharon, who remains in a coma, will face the voters on March 28th  as the leader of the Kadoka Party that Sharon recently founded” [C07/02/06].

“Ariel Sharon remains in a coma since suffering a huge stroke in January” [C01/03/06].

Conflict Players

Hamas

Hamas was mentioned in 38 of the 43 articles analysed. In all of the articles in which they are mentioned, they are either referred to as:

“Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist group that calls for Israel’s destruction”  [C22/01/06A] “A terrorist group” [C24/01/06H] “Militant Islamic group”  [C24/01/06H, C25/01/06Hiii], “Islamist movement” [C25/01/06Hi] “A terrorist organisation that is committed to the destruction of Israel” [C25/01/06Hi, C25/01/06Hiii, C26/01/06Hi], “A group with a decade long campaign of suicide bombs” [C25/01/06Hi]. In a number of the articles Hamas is deemed these things more than once.

Prior to the election of Hamas, who boycotted the last election in 1996, a number of articles focus on Ehud Olmert’s call to the Palestinian people asking them not to vote for Hamas, who were thought to be likely to win at least one-third of the 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. “Do not choose extremists who have led them from tragedy to tragedy and to misery” [C24/01/06H, C25/01/06Hiii]. Skepticism, both Israeli and American, on the potential election of Hamas was a key focus in the CNN articles just before the results of the elections.

“I think that Israel is very concerned that Hamas, once in power, begins to feed itself up and form a basis for a militant Islamic threat against Israel that we have never known before” Dore Gold, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs [C24/01/06H].

“It’s only logical that in order to move forward on a process where the Palestinians realize a state, that you have to have a negotiating partner that is committed to negotiating in an atmosphere free from violence and that renounces the idea that it wants to eliminate the existence of the party sitting across the table”  [C24/01/06H].

None of the articles provide any information on Hamas’s charter, in the political arena, except regarding the fact that Hamas has declared they will ‘never’ recognise Israel [C25/01/06Hiii].

There is one article that mentions that Hamas is known to Palestinians for providing a network of social services [C24/01/06H] and that they have capitalised on widespread dissatisfaction with what is seen as corruption within the Palestinian Authority and Fatah, and a perceived inability by the authority to manage the affairs of the Palestinians [C24/01/06H, 25/01/06Hiii]. The fact that Hamas had kept a truce for the last year was mentioned in one article [C26/01/06Hiii].

Fatah

As with Al Jazeera and BBC the coverage given to Fatah and its members was based around their defeat against Hamas in the January 2006 elections. This defeat is outlined as a consequence of “widespread  dissatisfaction with what is seen as corruption within the PA and Fatah, and a perceived inability by the authority to manage the affairs of the Palestinians” [C24/01/06H, C25/01/06Hiii, C26/01/06Hiii, C05/02/06A].

“Mostly, they (Palestinian People) were voting for opposition and voting against Fatah – against corruption, against nepotism, against failure of the peace process, and against the lack of leadership.” Mustafa Barghouti of the Palestinian National Initiative, a democratic opposition movement [C25/01/06Hiii].

In relation to the background of Fatah, they are shown as the “uncontested leader of Palestinian politics since 1996, when Hamas boycotted the election” [C25/01/06Hiii]. It is not entirely clear what they mean by this, as Fatah has been in power for the last 40 years, which they state in other articles, “Fatah was formed in 1965 by long time Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who died in November 2004” [C22/01/06A, C27/01/06, C18/02/06]. Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is the armed wing of the Fatah party, that have carried out attacks against military and civilian targets in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and therefore are considered a terrorist organisation by the US and Israel [C07/02/06A, C23/02/06A, C01/03/06A].

Mahmoud Abbas, the President of Palestine and the head of the Fatah party has played a key role in the months following the election, due to numerous countries boycotting the Hamas led government, making him the only possible route for talks. He is quoted as urging “Hamas to keep peace negotiations moving forward” since it will be the party that won most votes that will be asked to form the next government [C27/01/06H, ]. Mahmoud Abbas has also been given the responsibility to disarm Hamas before it gains control of the Palestinian government [C10/02/06H]. Protests against Abbas were carried out calling for his resignation [C28/01/06H].

Israel

Israel’s stance and terms of the conflict and their reaction to Hamas’s victory appears to be a key feature in CNN’s coverage, most of this has already been discussed in detail in the Ideology and Stakes section and the Historicity section. Such as Israel’s firm refusal to accept a situation in which Hamas, committed to the destruction of Israel, was part of the Palestinian Authority. And that the only way that progress was possible was if Hamas denounced violence and disarmed [C26/01/06Hi, C26/01/06Hiii, C27/01/06H, C28/01/06H, C30/01/06H, C07/02/06, C08/02/06H, C18/02/06, C19/02/06, C22/02/06H, C23/02/06, C23/02/06A, C27/01/06, C05/03/06H]. They also highlight the Israeli people’s “grave concern” over the election of Hamas [C26/01/06Hiii].

Also previously mentioned was the issue of Ehud Olmert’s plan for Israel’s future with regard to major settlement blocs and Israel’s retention of Jerusalem as a whole [C24/01/06, C07/02/06, C08/02/06H]. This was a key issue due to the upcoming Israeli elections where Ehud Olmert, “a close friend of Ariel Sharon, who remains in a coma, will face the voters on March 28th  as the leader of the Kadoka Party that Sharon recently founded”. And although he is likely to win the election, they also point out that he “does not have the credentials of ex-general Ariel Sharon, as someone willing to use harsh measures against the uprising” [C26/01/06Hiii, C07/02/06, C01/03/06].

Outside Mediators

The role of the US in the conflict is of extreme significance, and this is clearly portrayed in the CNN’s coverage. In 39 of the 43 articles analysed the US’s stance on the conflict and its players are presented. In all of those articles the US government agrees with Israel’s stance and their actions, but they are presented in a very rational and logical way, stating things that few could argue against. “Its only logical that in order to move forward on a process where the Palestinians realize a state, that you have to have a negotiating partner that is committed to negotiating in an atmosphere free from violence and that renounces the idea that it wants to eliminate the existence of the party sitting across the table” US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack [C24/01/06H]. There is however no explanation as to why Hamas will not recognise Israel. And although the CNN does on a few occasions mention that Hamas has held a ceasefire, the US officials are never found to be taking that into consideration when firmly rejecting any type of talks with the newly democratically elected Hamas [C24/01/06H, C25/01/06Hiii, C26/01/06Hi, C27/01/06H, C26/01/06Hii, C26/01/06Hiii].The role of the US in the direct aftermath of the Hamas victory was the demand for the return of $50million from the PA and the suggestion that other countries should follow suit [C17/02/06H, C18/02/06, C19/02/06, C22/02/06H, C27/02/06, C03/03/06Hi].

The role is the EU is much less significant, they are mentioned in less than half of the articles analysed and are either mentioned with regard to financial issues [C30/01/06H, C27/02/06, C03/03/06Hi] or as part of the group that recognise Hamas as a terrorist organisation [C30/01/06H, C05/02/06A, C07/02/06, C08/02/06H, C10/02/06H, C18/02/06, C22/02/06H, C23/02/06A, C27/02/06, C05/03/06H].

The Quartet’s role is in line with Israel and the US, saying that no peace talks can take place and that crucial aid will not be sent, unless Hamas meets their three preconditions, which include their renouncement of violence, their recognition of Israel and their abiding of previous peace agreements, again nothing is mentioned about what these peace agreements include. [C30/01/06H, C08/02/06H, C10/02/06H, C14/02/06H]

In the article [C29/01/06Hi] Ehud Olmert said that he had spoken with the Egyptian President, the Jordanian King, the British Prime Minister, the French President and the Head of the UN and that they all supported Israel’s position, as well as receiving support from the German Chancellor on her trip to Jerusalem. Russia on the other hand met with Hamas, but has said that they insist on the need for Hamas to recognise Israel and renounce violence, while at the same time not wanting Hamas to be politically isolated [C03/03/06Hi, C03/03/06Hii]. Ehud Olmert was quick to criticise Russia for meeting with Hamas before they complied with international demands, which would only encourage the organisation to stand firm [C05/03/06H].

Following Condoleezza Rice’s Middle Eastern tour which was aimed at persuading the Arab states to put more pressure on Hamas to meet the Quartet conditions, by possibly withholding financial aid brought about some disagreement [C21/02/06Hii, C22/02/06H, C23/02/06]. Egyptian Foreign Minister was stated as suggesting that Hamas should be given time as he believed that Hamas could evolve into a peaceful organisation if other nations would be more patient [C21/02/06Hii]. And the Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister said that they would continue to fund the Palestinian Authority because they did not want to punish the ordinary Palestinian people [C22/02/06H].

Governance of the Conflict

Unlike the coverage of Al Jazeera and to a lesser extent the BBC, the mention of Israel’s illegal settlement blocs on Palestinian land only occurs in one article [C05/02/06A]. The article was concerning settler protests that took place against the evacuation of an illegal settlement in the West Bank. However, it reports that the settlement was deemed illegal by the Israeli Supreme Court, nothing was said about the international laws that such settlements break, or that there are many other settlements like this one that exist, all of which are breaking international law.

The disengagement plan is briefly discussed, “Ariel Sharon said that the withdrawal… would put the onus on the Palestinians to seek peace”, the article then goes on to discuss reports of “random kidnappings and exchanges of gunfire in Gaza between police and armed militia (in January 2006) that led to concerns about whether the ruling Palestinian Authority could maintain control in the territory” [C22/01/06A].

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s ideas for Israel’s West Bank withdrawal and for the future permanent borders of Israel are focused on in two of the CNN articles. “Without negotiating with Palestinians, Israel plans to withdraw from the West Bank, but it will retain all major Jewish settlements and Jerusalem will remain intact” [C24/01/06, C07/02/06]. Here again, international laws relating to these issues are absent in CNN’s coverage.

In response to the election of Hamas, the Israeli government was looking at ways to sanction the new Palestinian parliament, the possibilities consisting of the barring of thousands of Palestinian workers, sealing off Gaza and halting any Gaza development projects involving Israel [C18/02/06]. The next day the Israeli Cabinet said that they would stop the payment of about $50million a month in tax money collected on behalf of the Palestinians, “prompting Hamas leaders to appeal for international financial support” [C19/02/06, C27/02/06, C03/03/06Hi]. However, the reasons for this appeal and the consequences of the withholding of these taxes are not discussed.

Effects of the Conflict

Economic Effects

As a result of the election victory of Hamas, the Palestinian Authority was faced with aid withdrawal threats from its usual donors. The US requested that the PA return $50million in aid “that Washington fears could be used by the Hamas led government” [C17/02/06H, C18/02/06, C22/02/06H, C27/02/06]. Although they have  said that they will transfer some funds through humanitarian organisations, such as the UN [C17/02/06H, C22/02/06H].

“The [Israeli] Cabinet stopped the payment of about $50million a month in tax money collected on behalf of Palestinians, instead of waiting until the Hamas government is in place. Cabinet Minister Ronnie Bar On said the Cabinet would urge the international community to follow suit, but he stressed that the recommendation would not affect the transfer of funds to humanitarian organizations.” [C19/02/06, C27/02/06, C03/03/06Hi].

All the rest of the economic information regarding the conflict, was with respect to how much funding is ‘doled’ out to the Palestinian Authority each year. In every single article that mentioned economic matters, varying figures were presented concerning the amount of money the Palestinian Authority received from different countries. “The Palestinians have received more than $1.5billion in US aid through the US Agency for International Development” [C27/01/06H, C30/01/06H, C17/02/06H, C18/02/06, C27/02/06]. “Last year the EU gave more than $600million” [C30/01/06H, C27/02/06]. “The Palestinians have been receiving about 1.9billion a year in foreign aid” [C19/02/06, C22/02/06H]. “The EU said it will give the PA $143 in emergency aid before the newly elected Hamas leadership forms a Palestinian government” [C27/02/06, C03/03/06Hi].

Humanitarian Effects

The economic restrictions put on the Palestinian Authority after the election of Hamas by the US, Israel and a number of other countries led to a number of humanitarian consequences, however the amount of coverage devoted to them was minimal. Only 4 of the 43 articles mentioned the Palestinian people’s suffering. “McCormack (State Department spokesman) acknowledged the Palestinians are poor and in dire need of humanitarian aid, but insisted that aid must be delivered according to U.S. Policy” [C27/01/06H].

“Palestinian leaders say funds are quickly running dry, and soon government employees could lose their jobs – adding further chaos to the disarray already gripping Gaza and much of the West Bank” [C30/01/06H]. However in a later article, after Israel declared that they would withhold taxes that usually go to the PA, they go on to say that they “have no intention of harming the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population” Ehud Olmert [C19/02/06, C27/02/06]. On the contrary, over fifty per cent of the articles mention in one way or another, the suicide attacks committed by Palestinian groups on Israeli citizens [C24/01/06H, C25/01/06Hi, C26/01/06Hi, C26/01/06Hiii, C27/01/06H, C29/01/06Hii, C01/02/06H, C05/02/06A, C08/02/06H, C22/02/06H, C01/03/06A, C03/03/06Hi, C03/03/06Hii].

SECTION FOUR: Analysis & discussion

Analysis & Discussion of findings

In this section, a comparison will be made between each of the three news sources and between the findings of this study and the findings of the studies discussed in section two. At the same time, we will be able to examine how these findings correlate to the filters of the propaganda model, or an adaptation of them.

The news articles in all three news sources are similar on the basis that they are likely to cover the same stories. Each clearly outlines the election of Hamas and the firm rejection of them as a government in power, by the international community. And all of them attempt to express Hamas’ point of view and that of Israel and the rest of the international community. It is however in the detail of the information, the placement of the information and the sources of information that each of the news sources differ. As similarly pointed out by Robert Fisk on the notion of ‘biased facts’ which provides audiences with incomplete and confusing information on the background and current situation of a conflict.

There is a significant difference between each news source in the amount of coverage they dedicate to the background and history of the conflict. Al Jazeera’s historical focus is on the failed peace processes, the illegalities of Israel’s actions on both Palestine’s land and people as well as a number of issues that are rarely mentioned in the BBC and are never mentioned in CNN. Such as the expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, checkpoints and roadblocks, new ‘apartheid’ roads and the general control of Palestinian lives by the Israeli Army. The BBC provides a little more background information on events such as the 1967 Arab Israeli war and the consequent migration of 400,000 Jews to the area [B28/01/06, B14/03/06]. And as mentioned previously, the BBC attempts to portray the conflict from both the Palestinian and Israeli side, sometimes highlighting the lack of commitment from both sides [B03/02/06A, B08/02/06Hi, B07/03/06H, B21/01/06A].

The CNN’s discussion of the history of the conflict is minimal, with the focus mainly on more recent events such as the second Intifada and Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in September 2005, with specific figures of the number of Jewish settlers being moved. However unlike in Al Jazeera, the CNN and the BBC do not make note of the fact that the number of Israelis living in settlements on Palestinian land had increased last year despite the pull out from the Gaza Strip [A06/02/06]. The BBC does however quote UN officials who say that the Gazan people remain occupied [B09/03/06ii].

Many of the articles covering this conflict, mentioned in one way or another the alleged ‘peace process’, but none of them go into any detail regarding the peace agreements and what they involve. International laws surrounding this conflict, and Israel’s violation of them are reported at length in Al Jazeera, are occasionally mentioned through UN or other humanitarian officials’ statements in the BBC [B08/02/06Hi] and are not mentioned at all in any of the CNN articles.

As with all the studies discussed that found a generally pro Israeli media, the lack of background was definitely one of the most significant findings against the objectivity of media sources. In all three news sources there was a significant gap in information regarding the ideologies and background of the conflict. The CNN in particular gave almost no historical account for the cause of the current situation. This ‘gap’ in information leaves it almost impossible for people to take a informed stance towards the conflict and invariably results in seeing the conflict in the light in which the ‘powerful elite’ want them to see it, which corresponds closely with the size, ownership and profit orientation of the mass media, the first filter of the propaganda model. By neglecting to talk about significant issues of this conflict, such as the restrictions on the Palestinians’ everyday life and Israel’s breaking of international law, results in the dehumanisation of the Palestinians and sympathy towards Israel. Which more than likely is going to ensure the public’s support of their government’s role in the conflict.

There is then the second filter of the propaganda model, the advertising license to do business. As delineated in the background of the media sources section, unlike Al Jazeera and the CNN, who are subjugated by this filter, the BBC is not subject to precisely the same constraints as a private corporation. However “the absence of such constraints on their own should not lead us to perceive it as being ‘free’[98] For as Doherty points out, there are other issues that the BBC have to deal with instead, such as the license fee that is up for renewal every ten years “at the government’s own discretion, giving the government a powerful means to bring the corporation under control… “  and with the fact that “the BBC is regulated by a board of governors, the twelve members of which are appointed by the Queen on the ‘advice’ of government ministers”.

Both the CNN and the BBC dedicate a greater amount of space to Israel and its demands, while Al Jazeera focuses more on the Palestinians, with the largest divide being in the CNN.  It would also appear that the BBC and to a greater extent the CNN tend to nullify the demands of Hamas by following on from them with contrary information from Israeli officials or information on the prior ‘terrorist’ activity of Hamas […]. The BBC and CNN also rarely quote Palestinian official sources, instead they rely more on personal opinion, anecdote and rhetoric […] while Al Jazeera puts slightly more weight on Palestinian and humanitarian organisations’ officials […]. This finding is clearly consistent with the findings of the Glasgow University Media Unit (2004) and Demers (2001). It is also in line with the third filter of the propaganda model, sourcing mass media news, which postulates that the sources of information used by a media source will be a reflection of the reality they wish to portray.

Another finding of this study ascertains the applicability of the fourth filter of the propaganda model, flak and the enforcers. In each of the news sources a number of articles were published that could be considered ‘flak’, which essentially aims to give the impression that they are open to criticism and debate about the role of the media [A19/12/06F, B17/02/06F, B28/06/06F, C07/03/06F].

The terminology used to describe Hamas is significantly different between the news sources. In Al Jazeera more often than not they appear to come across as a Palestinian Islamic movement with ‘fighters’ rather than ‘terrorists’, with the term only being used in relation to them being labeled as such by outside parties […]. The BBC uses the term ‘militant’ more regularly than the term ‘terrorist’, consistent with the findings of Asserson (2004),  although as has been highlighted previously, a great deal of Asserson’s findings could be interpreted as a BBC that is more committed to objective factual reporting, rather than a BBC that is bent on ‘villifying’ Israel.. The CNN on the other hand describes Hamas in every article in light of their terrorist activity and their committal to the destruction of Israel […].  And while in Al Jazeera and the BBC there is mention of Hamas’ ceasefire, the CNN barely brings it to light.

The way in which Israel is represented is relatively similar between each media source. Each discusses Israel’s refusal to deal with Hamas, the economic restrictions they put on Hamas and the plans of Ehud Olmert for the permanent borders of Israel. Again the details about each of these issues differed between each source. Al Jazeera and the BBC provide a greater amount of detail regarding the economic restrictions and the effects they will have on the Palestinian people. The CNN does not discuss in any of their articles the consequences that the Palestinians face as a result of the withholding of funds. Al Jazeera alone points out the fact that Fatah once faced similar restrictions by Israel and the International community [A28/01/06H].

The BBC covers Olmert’s plan for permanent borders the least, however the way in which Al Jazeera and the CNN cover this issue could not be more different. In the articles published by CNN the focus of Olmert’s plans are regarding Israel’s right to a safe and secure state with Jerusalem as its capital. Al Jazeera on the other hand focuses on the fact that Israel, regardless of their ‘disengagement plan’ are expanding settlements and are essentially cutting off Palestinians from each other, vital water and energy sources and key roads and border crossings.

The amount of coverage devoted to the humanitarian issues of this conflict are discussed extensively in both Al Jazeera and the BBC. CNN however, devotes a surprisingly low amount of coverage to the humanitarian consequences that face the Palestinian people, while mentioning terrorist attacks on Israel in nearly all their articles, seemingly playing well into the War on Terror as a control mechanism, an adaptation of the fifth filter of the propaganda model.

It would appear from the findings that each of the three news sources although similar in a number of respects, all appear to report their news from a slightly different ideological basis. The overall impression that each news source portrays to their audiences are distinct, sometimes more subtlety and sometimes they could not be more blatant. And, it is from the examination of the news sources over the two month period that one can exhume the narratives and ideological constraints from which they work.

Although Al Jazeera could be criticised by some such as Gerstenfeld and Green (2004), for being ‘soft’ on the Palestinians, it could also be argued that Al Jazeera is merely attempting to present the issues arising for the Palestinian people, as many media sources do with Palestinian ‘terrorist’ activity. Nevertheless, it is likely that Al Jazeera’s strong focus on humanitarian issues is part of their mechanism to promote their own agendas, regardless of the fact that the issues may indeed true.

On the surface the BBC appears more balanced in their reporting than the other two news sources, that clearly take sides in the reporting of this conflict. The BBC’s coverage tends to appear more moderate, with information provided on nearly all the issues surrounding this conflict. However, the important details of these issues are lacking, such as international laws surrounding the conflict and the expansion of settlements. On the whole there seems to be a lack of depth in the BBC’s coverage of this conflict.[99]

The CNN in particular provided the least amount of background information, and discussed little about humanitarian issues. Excluding this kind of information, as has been said previously, dehumanises the Palestinians and provides little insight into the issues that many audiences could relate to which could potentially generate objections. Instead, the CNN dwells on terrorist attacks and the lack of democracy, which apart from disabling audiences from relating to the Palestinian people, reinforces their underlying ideologies of the ‘war on terror’ and the ‘democratisation’ of the Middle East.  The general way in which the CNN reports is quite distinct from the other two. Its articles tend to have an air of ‘matter of factness’ about them that one would find difficult to argue against. They also have a positive feel to them, never quite expressing the extremity of the conflict, unlike that of Al Jazeera and the BBC that successfully portray the utter desperation of the conflict. Things are discussed with regards to possibilities, in the direction of Israel’s future safe and secure state with Jerusalem at its heart.

And Democracy?

The findings of this study necessitates the asking of certain questions, primarily the reasons for the news sources or rather their constituencies to portray the information as they do. These significant gaps that are present in the information that we are provided with by the mainstream media simply highlights the fact that we are not being shown the truth by the sources that pride themselves on their objective reputation. But just as it was during the beginning of the 20th century the same is happening today. Governments’ actions and motivations are disguised and are justified under false pretences. Pretences that are more likely to gain the support of the populace, for as Prime Minister David Llyod George said to the Editor of the Manchester Guardian C. P. Scott about the First World War, which is just as applicable today, “If people knew [the truth] the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don’t know and can’t know.”[100]

One only has to examine the events that have lead us to the situation we are in today on a global scale, to comprehend the reasons why such governments would feel the need to conceal their actions and motivations. In viewing the events one would be inclined to question the authenticity of the US’s and the international community’s commitment to democracy and international law. The quest for global democracy can be completely falsified, on a number of levels. Namely, on the basis of the visible double standards of the foreign policies towards different nations.

In the first instance it is the quintessential foundational basis for the creation of Israel, which demands us to question the state of its democracy. Both the McMahon Agreement and the Balfour Declaration show evidence of racial/religious distinctions[101], insinuating that the state of Israel was founded under extremely undemocratic pretenses. And as we will see next, a major part of the current Israeli government is run by radicals that support Zionism over democracy.[102] So how is it that regardless of Israel’s lack of commitment to democracy, its major supporter and provider is the US, the ‘bringer of democracy’? And, why is it that the international community does not handle Israel as it does so much of the rest of the world?

Taking the Palestinian Israeli conflict as a key contemporary example, one has to only look at the duplicity with which the international community dealt with ‘extremists’ gaining power in their respective government. In the case of the Palestinian elections the majority of the international community rejects Hamas, seen as a terrorist group and withholds key aid to the Palestinian Authority.  No questions are asked about the lack of fulfillment of the democratic process or none of them are taken seriously anyway. Then in the same year (2006) Ehud Olmert brings the Yisrael Beitenu party into his coalition government, Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the party is to become vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Threats. “Yisrael Beitenu is a dangerous extremist party with fascist tendencies that has openly advocated the ‘transfer’ of Palestinians, including the transfer of Arab towns within Israel to a Bantustan-like future Palestinian entity. It has made clear that a Jewish supremacist state is more important than a democratic one.”[103] And when an EU official was asked about whether they would impose sanctions on Israel if such a radical group joined the Israeli government they responded with You will understand that we cannot interfere with the setting up of a foreign government. This is a matter for which the concerned State alone is responsible.”[104]                                                                                                      

Then there is the issue of Iran and its nuclear power. The United Nations Security Council has voted to impose sanctions on Iran following President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment programme on the basis that “The Iranian nation will not succumb to bullying, invasion and the violation of its rights.”[105] In contrast, Ehud Olmert recently ‘accidentally’ let slip that Israel is among the nuclear powers of the world, although it was later denied by Israeli officials. “Iran openly, explicitly and publicly threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Can you say that this is the same level, when they are aspiring to have nuclear weapons, as France, America, Russia and Israel?”[106] Nevertheless no action was taken against Israel, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the UN demanded no such sanctions be put on Israel. And, the mainstream media all refer to Israel as a nuclear power quite causally, discussing the slip rather than the implications of what was said.

Iraq is another major issue when it comes to the US’s inconsistencies in their dealings with the Middle East. The rationale for the war began and continues under changing pretences, from weapons of mass destructions, the toppling of a tyrant, democracy for Iraq to the fight against terror. With every failing of Iraq a timely newsworthy event occurs, which appears to be aimed at obscuring the importance of the real issues with powerful propagandistic events and images. A significant example of this is the execution of Saddam Hussein. The arrangement for his execution on the first day of Eid Al Adha with the graphic content of its coverage by the mainstream media would certainly take the focus away from a number of other key issues.  For instance, the death of the 3,000th US soldier, the average daily death toll in Iraq[107] which is on average the number of people (148) that Saddam Hussein was found guilty of murdering in 1982 and of course there is the suspension of a trial that had just begun against Saddam Hussein. This would have potentially revealed previous US involvement with and support of Saddam Hussein and his crimes against humanity.[108]

The situation in the world today has reached an unacceptable standard. The amount of power that America and its allies have is beginning and must continue to be radically moderated. The power that the International community and the UN were once thought to have, has diminished almost completely. And, as a result of this and as Kofi Annan said “The world is not safer than it was five years ago.”[109] We can no longer accept the unilateral world in which we live, the only hope for a safer and more humane world is through multilateralism.

Conclusion

This piece of research focused on the differences and similarities between the realities portrayed by each of the media sources, the reasons behind these differences and the motivations for the specific portrayed reality. However in light of the findings, there is another important issue that needs to be raised. What are the differences between each reality and the actual reality of the situation? To be able to answer this question one would have to experience the reality in its totality, that is to say they would have to be able to experience the conflict from both sides, impartially.

However, it is almost impossible for this to be the case. Firstly there is the issue of personal opinions, people’s preconceptions of certain situations and therefore their interpretations of certain events. Then there are the information sources, the tools for the construction of these personal opinions and preconceptions. Any expression of an event or situation that we receive through the mainstream media will inevitably consist of at least an element of the narrative of the elite powerful, since they maintain a hegemonic position within the dissemination of information. It is also likely however, that other sources of information, not considered to be part of the mainstream media, will also include bias and will also use information which is likely to further their own interests. There is this inescapable fact that any information we receive is never likely to allow us to get to the reality in itself. For is it ever possible to go above the ‘filter’?

The advantage that we have in the 21st century is the ease with which so much information is available to us all over the world, if only we had the time and care to look. There are numerous reliable alternative sources of information, such as the UN News Centre, that can provide us with the information that is missing from the mainstream media. And, although many of the alternatives will also have their own biases, at least there is variation in opinion and analysis that allows us to make up our own minds about what is happening to our world instead of simply voyeuristically perceiving the events around us. For it is no longer a question of whether or not we are receiving objective reporting, but rather it is a question of our ethical concern over the events that are unfolding in our ‘globalised’ world and what we are willing and able to do about it.

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Abunimah, A. (October 2006). World Silent as Fascists join Israeli Government. ZNet.

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=107&ItemID=11262

Burress, C. (2002) U.S Newspapers catching flak for Mideast war coverage – Media caught in the cross fire as both sides complain of bias. SFGate.com

http://www.sfgate.com/cgibin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2002/04/14/MN89015.DTL&type=printable

Campagna, J. (October 2001).  Between Two Worlds. CPJ.

http://www.cpj.org/Briefings/2001/aljazeera_oct01/aljazeera_oct01.html

Deen, T. (October, 2004) Arab Nationalism tunes into Al Jazeera. Asia Times.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/FJ14Ak01.html

Doherty, A. (2005). Propaganda and the BBC. ZNet.

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=21&ItemID=7189

Dunsky, M. (2001) What constitutes full and fair media coverage of Israeli-Palestinian issues?

http://www.wacc.org.uk/wacc/publications/media_development/archive/2002_3/what_constitutes_full_and_fair_media_coverage_of_israeli_palestinian_issues

Edwards, D. (2005).  Thought Control and Professional Journalism.

http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Nov05/MediaLens1104.htm

Fisk, R. (November 2006). This Was a Guilty Verdict on America as Well. Global Policy Forum.

http://www.globalpolicy.org/intljustice/tribunals/iraq/2006/1106usguilty.htm

Gerstenfeld, M. & Green, B. (2004). Watching the Pro-Israeli Media Watchers. Jewish Political Studies Review. 16:3-4.

http://www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-gerstenfeld-f04.htm

Hedges, C. (2003). The Nation. 

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20030421/hedges

Herman, E.S. (2003). The Propaganda Model: A Retrospective. 

http://www.chomsky.info/onchomsky/20031209.htm

Hess, S. (2002). The ‘CNN Effect’: How 24hour News Coverage Affects Government Decisions and Public Opinion. The Brookings/Harvard Forum: Press Coverage and the War on Terrorism.

http://www.brook.edu/comm/transcripts/20020123.htm

Horrocks, P. (2005) Television News.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/newswatch/ukfs/hi/newsid_4000000/newsid_4001900/4001991.stm

Hufschmid, E. Painful Deceptions

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1336167662031629480

John, R. (1985-86) Behind the Balfour Declaration: Britain’s Great War Pledge to Lord Rothschild. Journal of Historical Review.

http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v06/v06p389_John.html

Maguire, K. & Lines, A. (November 2005). Exclusive: Bush Plot to Bomb his Arab Ally. Mirror.co.uk

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/tm_objectid=16397937&method=full&siteid=94762&headline=exclusive–bush-plot-to-bomb-his-arab-ally-name_page.html

Miles, H. (2005). Al Jazeera: How Arab TV News Challenged the World.

http://www.richardsonmedia.co.uk/BBC%20&%20Al%20Jazeera.pdf

Miller, D. (April 2003). Taking Sides. The Guardian Online.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/analysis/story/0,3604,940770,00.html

Philo, G & Berry, M. (2004) Bad News from Israel. Pluto Press, UK.

http://www.gla.ac.uk/departments/sociology/units/media/israel.htm

A Brief History of Broadcast Journalism.

http://www.westminsterjournalism.co.uk/Broadcast06/24%20hour%20news/24%20hour%20news%20timeline.html

Al Jazeera’s Code of Ethics.

http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/4B3ABFB8-9082-4B05-B399%207BF68D4A39D6.htm

Al Jazeera Website among most popular news source for net surfers. (April, 2003) The Stanford Daily.

http://daily.stanford.edu/article/2003/4/2/aljazeeraWebSiteAmongMostPopularNewsSourceForNetSurfers

BBC vs CNN’.  Trendsnap.com

http://www.trendsnap.com/funniest-trends/145

BBC ‘Middle East Crisis’. BBC Online.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/middle_east/2001/israel_and_the_palestinians/default.stm

CNN Facts. CNN Online.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/thenetwork/tour/cnnfacts

Cable TV Audience 2006 Annual Report. Journalism.org

http://www.journalism.org/node/501

Copy of Royal Charter for the Continuance of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Department of National Heritage Broadcasting.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/info/policies/charter/pdf/charter_text.shtml

Hamas Campaign Threatens Palestinian Elections. CNN.com. 25th January 2006.  http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/01/24/palestinian.election/index.htm

Interview with Asserson, T. by Gerstenfeld, M. (2004)

http://www.jcpa.org/jl/vp511.htm

Iraq Civilian Death Toll Continues to Rise. (January 2007). BBC Online.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/6224047.stm

Iran’s path to sanctions. (December 24th  2006). BBC Online.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4031603.stm

Olmert’s nuclear slip sparks outrage in Israel. (December 12th 2006). Times Online.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,251-2500541,00.html

President Bush Discusses Freedom in Iraq and Middle East. (November 2003). 20th Anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy, United States Chamber of Commerce, Washington, D.C.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/11/20031106-2.html

Q&A: Palestinian Elections. BBC News Online. 5th January 2006.

 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4549650.stm

Rating the Media’s Performance: The OJ Verdict. Frontline.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/oj/themes/media.html

Report: Iranian President asks end to CNN ban. CNN.com

http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/01/16/iran.cnn

The Crimean War. P&P Online Catalog.

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pp/ftncnwhtml/ftncnwback.html

UN Report: Israel Extends WB Settlements. (September 2005). The Alternative Information Centre.

http://www.alternativenews.org/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=271&Itemid=104

Unrest Continues over Hamas ‘revolution’: Hamas Leader Pledges Reform, says Palestinian Army Possible. CNN.com. 30th January 2006.

http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/01/28/palestinians/index.html

Organisation Websites

B’TSelem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories. http://www.btselem.org/index.asp

Centre for Media and Democracy. PR Watch.

http://www.prwatch.org/cmd/prwatch.html

Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=24

Freedom of Information.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/foi/docs/organisation_and_management/property/Mailbox.htm

If Americans Knew

http://www.ifamericansknew.org/

Information Clearing House.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article1665.htm

Internet World Statistics.

http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

Jewish Virtual Library.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/UN/usvetoes.html

Palestine Media Watch

http://www.pmwatch.org/pmw/index.asp

The Hutton Enquiry.

http://www.the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk/content/report/chapter02.htm

UN New Centre.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocusRel.asp?infocusID=70&Body=Palestin&Body

Webby Awards. 

http://www.webbyawards.com/webbys/winners-2004.php?y=2004


[1] For the purpose of this study when we use the termmainstream  media we will be referring to the key players in the News Media, such as the CNN and the BBC. A more in depth discussion about the media can be found in Section Two.[2] President Bush Discusses Freedom in Iraq and Middle East. 20th Anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy, United States Chamber of Commerce, Washington, D.C. November 2003.http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/11/20031106-2.html[3] Q&A: Palestinian Elections. BBC News Online. 5th January 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4549650.stm[4]  Hamas Campaign Threatens Palestinian Elections. CNN.com. 25th January 2006.  http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/01/24/palestinian.election/index.html

[5] An indepth discussion of this will be given in Section Four.

[6] A statement made by Khaled Meshaal cited in Unrest Continues over Hamas ‘revolution’: Hamas Leader Pledges Reform, says Palestinian Army Possible. CNN.com. 30th January 2006. http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/01/28/palestinians/index.html

[7] To see a list of all the resolutions relating to this conflict, refer to the UN New Centre. http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocusRel.asp?infocusID=70&Body=Palestin&Body1=

[8] Pilger, J. (2003). New Rulers of the World. Verso, UK, USA. p. 11 & 143.

[9] Edward Said in his book Blaming the Victims, pg. 2, states ‘military occupation and the continued domination of a subjugated non Jewish population could not go on for two decades without considerable outside support… As a whole, US support for Israel is necessary for the Jewish state’s functioning, which has become almost totally dependant on the US.’ It is also important to take into consideration the number of U.S. Vetoes of UN Resolutions Critical of Israel between 1972 and the present day, which exceeds forty. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/UN/usvetoes.html

[10] UN Report: Israel Extends WB Settlements. (September 2005). The Alternative Information Centre. http://www.alternativenews.org/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=271&Itemid=104

[11] It is important to note that during the 1970’s the Palestinian Liberation Organisation  and its offshoots were a regular feature in the news, with the Munich Olympics massacre in 1972 and a number of hijackings of civilian airliners, among other things. However, at this time there was an apparent distinction between the portrayed image of the Palestinian organisations and the portrayed image of the Palestinian people. It was after the involvement of the Palestinian people in the first Intifada that  allowed for today’s categorical overlap in image of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian fighters, more often than not, as one in the same. It is likely at least in part that it is from this breakdown of the distinction between  civilian and fighter, that Israel so easily escapes questioning for their ‘total war’ strategy against the Palestinians, even when in total violation of the Geneva Convention, UN Resolutions and international law.

[12] Cohn-Sherbok, D. & El-Alami, D. (2003). A Beginner’s Guide: The Palestine-Israeli Conflict. Oneworld, Oxford. pg. xi.

[13] Fisk passionately states that 9/11 did not change the world, although the idea that it did has, has become a generally accepted belief. The points he makes towards this claim are valid ones, however it is more likely that a greater number of people will more readily critisise the Palestinians now, as they are regularly labeled, along with Al Qaeda, the apparent perpetrators of 9/11 as terrorists, implicating them in the ‘war on terror’.

[14] The Project for the New American Century or PNAC is a Washington-based think tank created in 1997. It desires and demands one thing: The establishment of a global American empire to bend the will of all nations. Former and present key members of this project include prominent members of the Republican Party and the Bush Administration.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article1665.htm

[15] As can be seen from the first Intifada and continuing with the second Intifada.

[16] It is important to consider that there has been a great deal of debate regarding the authorship of the events of 9/11. For more information refer to Eric Hufschmid’s Painful Questions: An Analysis of the September 11th Attacks or watch his documentary Painful Deceptions at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1336167662031629480

[17] Said, E. Israel Sharpens its Axe. Counterpunch, 13th July 2001.

[18] In light of the difficulty of finding an all encompassing term to describe the underlying functioning of a media entity, which is constrained by a number of ‘filters’ which will be discussed in Section Two, I have chose to use the term ideology to represent this.

[19] Gutmann, S. (2005). The Other War. Encounter Books, San Francisco.

[20]As the media analysis carried out by Chomsky and Hermann focuses specifically on the US Media and takes into consideration the hierarchy present only among US media corporations.

[21] Internet World Statistics. http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

[22] In light of the vastness of the Internet, although other sources are discussed in depth, the analyses of the media in this study has been carried out on the news websites of Al Jazeera, BBC, and CNN.

[23] Edwards, D. & Cromwell, D. (2005) Guardians of Power: The Myth of the Liberal Media. Pluto Press pg. 1

[24] Herman, E.S. & Chomsky, N. (1988). Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. Pantheon Books.

[25] Herman, E.S. (2003). The Propaganda Model: A Retrospective.  http://www.chomsky.info/onchomsky/20031209.htm

[26] Hedges, C. (2003). The Nation.  http://www.thenation.com/doc/20030421/hedges

[27] The Crimean War. P&P Online Catalog. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pp/ftncnwhtml/ftncnwback.html

[28] Drew Middleton was a New York Time Journalist in the 1970’s.

[29] Edwards, D. (2005).  Thought Control and Professional Journalism. http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Nov05/MediaLens1104.htm

[30] Is objectivity ever possible in such a situation?

[31] cited in Edwards, D. & Cromwell, D. (2005) Guardians of Power: The Myth of the Liberal Media. Pluto Press. pg. 178.

[32] Although there are a large number of media entities, a significant number of them are just small local companies that are either dependant on the large national companies or are subject to common ownership. In fact, twenty nine of the largest companies accounted for over 50 per cent of the output of newspapers and even more for magazines, broadcasting and movies.

Bagdikian, B. (1987). The Media Monopoly. 2nd Ed. Beacon Press, Boston.

[33] 25,000 reported in 1986. in Herman, E.S. & Chomsky, N. (1994). Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. Pantheon Press. pg. 4.

[34] Curran, J. & Seaton, J. (2003). Power without Responsibility: The Press and Broadcasting in Britain. Routledge.

[35] Walter Lippmann is one of the most influential writers, journalists and political commentators. In his opinion, our society is divided into classes of citizens. On the one hand, there is an elite, specialised class, a small percentage of the population, that have an active role in running general affairs in the political, economic and ideological spheres. The rest of the population on the other hand, is what Lippmann refers to as the ‘bewildered herd’ and the elite ‘specialised class’ needs to be protected from the “trampling and roar of a bewildered herd”. And the way to do this, he argued, is by the calculated ‘manufacture of consent’. The channel that is used most effectively to ensure this, is the mass media.  According to Lippmann, the ‘manufacture of consent’ by an elite class had already become ‘a self-conscious art and a regular organ of popular government by the 1920s’.

[36] Lippmann, W. (1921). Public Opinion. The Free Press New York.

[37] Chomsky, N. (1993) Year 501: The Conquest Continues. Verso.

[38] Robert Fisk is a journalist for the Independent and is one of the longest serving Western journalists.

[39] This also includes certain prominent media watch groups.

[40] Herman, E.S. & Chomsky, N. (1994). Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. Pantheon Press. pg. 18.

[41] Ibid . p. 28.  This is also the case with other so called ‘think tanks’ such as the Heritage Foundation, the Rand Corporation, and the American Enterprise Institute to name but a few.

[42] Originating in the early 1900’s and growing significantly after WWI. Some of the most prominent figures in this field were Edward Bernays, Carl Byoir and Ivy Lee. The term Public Relations was chosen because the original term propaganda came to have such negative connotations.

[43] Centre for Media and Democracy. PR Watch. http://www.prwatch.org/cmd/prwatch.html

[44] It is interesting and ironic that in the US, the Public Relations industry is not subject to taxation since it argues that this would be an infringement on the First Amendment Rights of Freedom of Speech.

[45] Baistow, T. (1985) Fourth Rate Estate. Comedia, London.

[46] Pilger, J. (1999). Hidden Agendas. Vintage, UK. pg. 540.

[47] Philo, G & Berry, M. (2004) Bad News from Israel. Pluto Press, UK. http://www.gla.ac.uk/departments/sociology/units/media/israel.htm

[48] Dunsky, M. (2001) What constitutes full and fair media coverage of Israeli-Palestinian issues?

http://www.wacc.org.uk/wacc/publications/media_development/archive/2002_3/what_constitutes_full_and_fair_media_coverage_of_israeli_palestinian_issues

[49] Palestine Media Watch was established in October of 2000 to promote fair and accurate coverage of the Israeli occupation of Palestine in the US mainstream media. Their mission is 1) identify, report on, and protest clear journalistic failures by the US media in covering the conflict. 2) help media outlets with access to pro-Palestinian points of view and voices for interviews, op-eds, or background discussions, in the United States, Israel, or the Occupied Territories.

http://www.pmwatch.org/pmw/index.asp

[50] If American Knew was originally founded by an American freelance journalist, Alison Weir, who traveled independently throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip in February and March of 2001. It is a research and information-dissemination institute, with particular focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, U.S. foreign policy regarding the Middle East, and media coverage of this issue. Specifically, the organisation’s objective is to provide information that is to a large degree missing from American press coverage of this critical region.  http://www.ifamericansknew.org/

[51] Cited in Burress, C. (2002) U.S Newspapers catching flak for Mideast war coverage – Media caught in the cross fire as both sides complain of bias. SFGate.com

[52]  Gerstenfeld, M. & Green, B. (2004). Watching the Pro-Israeli Media Watchers. Jewish Political Studies Review. 16:3-4. http://www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-gerstenfeld-f04.htm

[53]Burress, C. (2002) U.S Newspapers catching flak for Mideast war coverage – Media caught in the cross fire as both sides complain of bias. SFGate.com

[54] Interview with Asserson, T. by Gerstenfeld, M. (2004) http://www.jcpa.org/jl/vp511.htm

[55] CAMERA, founded in 1982, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America is a media-monitoring, research and membership organisation devoted to promoting accurate and balanced coverage of Israel and the Middle East. CAMERA is said to “foster rigorous reporting, while educating news consumers about Middle East issues and the role of the media”.

http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=24

[56] It is important to take into consideration the legitimacy of these ‘Media Watchers’, on either side. For example GUMU is likely to be considered a credible, legitimate source, as it is part of a recognised institution. While for example, Israel Media Watch, a right-wing organisation, the sole purpose of which is to identify all possible left wing bias in the media, is likely by some to be considered less credible and legitimate. In fact, most of the pro-israeli organisations’ aim is not to identify bias in the media, but to identify what it considers anti-Israeli or anti-semitic bias.

[57] Mike Clark is the reader advocate for the Florida Times-Union and is the Web editor for the Organization of News Ombudsmen.

[58] Cited in Burress, C. (2002) U.S Newspapers catching flak for Mideast war coverage – Media caught in the cross fire as both sides complain of bias. SFGate.com

[59] It has to be noted that the English and Arabic versions are editorially distinct from one another, with slight deviations in news stories covered. http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/55ABE840-AC30-41D2-BDC9-06BBE2A36665.htm

[60] In 2003 another International Arabic language news channel was created in retaliation to Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, funded by Saudi investors. They do not, however, deal with such controversial issues. In 2004 another competing Arabic-language satellite TV station Al Hurra was launched, funded by the U.S. government.

[61] Campagna, J. (October 2001).  Between Two Worlds. CPJ.

 http://www.cpj.org/Briefings/2001/aljazeera_oct01/aljazeera_oct01.html

[62] Deen, T. (October, 2004) Arab Nationalism tunes into Al Jazeera. Asia Times.

 http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/FJ14Ak01.html

[63] Al Jazeera Website among most popular news source for net surfers. (April, 2003) The Stanford Daily. http://daily.stanford.edu/article/2003/4/2/aljazeeraWebSiteAmongMostPopularNewsSourceForNetSurfers

[64] Seib, P. (2005). Hegemonic No More: The Western Media, the Rise of Al Jazeera and the influence of diverse voices. International Studies Review, 7, 601-615.

[65] Miles, H. (2005). Al Jazeera: How Arab TV News Challenged the World. http://www.richardsonmedia.co.uk/BBC%20&%20Al%20Jazeera.pdf

[66] Al Jazeera’s Code of Ethics. http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/4B3ABFB8-9082-4B05-B399-7BF68D4A39D6.htm

[67] Campagna, J. (October 2001).  Between Two Worlds. CPJ. http://www.cpj.org/Briefings/2001/aljazeera_oct01/aljazeera_oct01.html

[68] Maguire, K. & Lines, A. (November 2005). Exclusive: Bush Plot to Bomb his Arab Ally. Mirror.co.uk http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/tm_objectid=16397937&method=full&siteid=94762&headline=exclusive–bush-plot-to-bomb-his-arab-ally-name_page.html

[69] Amayreh, K. (September 2006) Pro-Israeli Editors Seek to Influence Al Jazeera International English Sattalite TV. Electronic Intifada. http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article5735.shtml

[70] Miles, H. (July/August 2006) Think Again Al Jazeera. Foreign Policy. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3497

[71] Kafala, T. (March 2003). Al Jazeera: News Channel in the News. BBC Online. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/2893689.stm

[72] Webby Awards.  http://www.webbyawards.com/webbys/winners-2004.php?y=2004

[73] Ibn Rushd: Fund for Freedom of Thought. http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9912&L=arabic-info&P=566

[74] Copy of Royal Charter for the Continuance of the British Broadcasting Corporation. Department of National Heritage Broadcasting. http://www.bbc.co.uk/info/policies/charter/pdf/charter_text.shtml

[75] Horrocks, P. (2005) Television News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/newswatch/ukfs/hi/newsid_4000000/newsid_4001900/4001991.stm

[76] Doherty, A. (2005). Propaganda and the BBC. http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=21&ItemID=7189

[77] Estimated 15 million visitors every month.

[78] Webby Awards.  http://www.webbyawards.com/webbys/winners-2004.php?y=2004

[79] Freedom of Information. http://www.bbc.co.uk/foi/docs/organisation_and_management/property/Mailbox.htm

[80] Doherty, A. (2005). Propaganda and the BBC.

[81] Miller, D. (April 2003). Taking Sides. The Guardian Online. http://www.guardian.co.uk/analysis/story/0,3604,940770,00.html

[82] The Hutton Enquiry. http://www.the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk/content/report/chapter02.htm

[83] Doherty, A. (2005). Propaganda and the BBC.

[84] CNN Facts. CNN Online. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/thenetwork/tour/cnnfacts

[85] Ibid.

[86] A Brief History of Broadcast Journalism. http://www.westminsterjournalism.co.uk/Broadcast06/24%20hour%20news/24%20hour%20news%20timeline.html

[87] Hess, S. (2002). The ‘CNN Effect’: How 24hour News Coverage Affects Government Decisions and Public Opinion. The Brookings/Harvard Forum: Press Coverage and the War on Terrorism. http://www.brook.edu/comm/transcripts/20020123.htm

[88] Cable TV Audience 2006 Annual Report. Journalism.org http://www.journalism.org/node/501

[89] ‘BBC vs CNN’.  Trendsnap.com http://www.trendsnap.com/funniest-trends/145

[90] Rating the Media’s Performance: The OJ Verdict. Frontline. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/oj/themes/media.html

[91] Report: Iranian President asks end to CNN ban. CNN.com http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/01/16/iran.cnn

[92] To see the template of that was used to collect the information from which the analysis was carried out see Appendix F.

[93] For a list of the news articles for each of the news sources see Appendix C.

[94] Saudi Arabia is largely seen as the biggest financial backer of the Palestinian Authority.

[95] For a list of the News Articles used in this analysis on BBC see Appendix D.

[96] It is worth noting that John Dugard has been criticised previously for being too critical of Israel and its policies

[97] For a list of the CNN articles analysed see Appendix E.

[98] Doherty, A. (2005). Propaganda and the BBC. ZNet. .http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=7189

[99] Although it must be noted that the BBC has a separate section on their website that is devoted to the ‘Middle East Crisis’. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/middle_east/2001/israel_and_the_palestinians/default.stm

[100] Knightley, P. (2003). The First Casualty. Andre Deutch, UK. p. 116-117.

[101] John, R. (1985-86) Behind the Balfour Declaration: Britain’s Great War Pledge to Lord Rothschild. Journal of Historical Review. http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v06/v06p389_John.html

[102] Abunimah, A. (October 2006). World Silent as Fascists join Israeli Government. ZNet. http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=107&ItemID=11262

[103] Ibid. 

[104] Cristina Gallach, the official spokesperson for Javier Solana, the EU High Representative for foreign policy. Cited in ibid.

[105] Iran’s path to sanctions. (December 24th  2006). BBC Online. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4031603.stm

[106] Olmert’s nuclear slip sparks outrage in Israel. (December 12th 2006). Times Online. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,251-2500541,00.html

[107] Iraq Civilian Death Toll Continues to Rise. (January 2007). BBC Online. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/6224047.stm

[108] Fisk, R. (November 2006). This Was a Guilty Verdict on America as Well. Global Policy Forum. http://www.globalpolicy.org/intljustice/tribunals/iraq/2006/1106usguilty.htm

[109] Interview with Kofi Annan on Al Jazeera English, aired December 31st 2006.


3 Responses to “Constructing Reality: The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict”

  1. Tamara,
    Living in Bush country Texas, what you say is so true. Although a lot of my co-workers believe blindly what they are spoon fed through the media. They do not even think to look elsewhere for an alternative view point.

    Marion

  2. An excellent analysis, thank you. It seems once one realizes the extent to which mass media function as propaganda organs, the power of the media to manufacture consent is greatly reduced. In the Soviet Union, for example, the gap between official propaganda and daily reality was so obvious no one took propaganda at face value. The United States has some way to go before that realization becomes general, but the process is underway.

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