December 28, 2005

Telling It Like It Isn't

Robert Fisk wrote a great op-ed for the Los Angeles Times on the abuse of terminology by American (and Western) journalists when reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This disturbing trend is noticeable in almost every article or news report on the main stream media. I’ve even noticed it on NPR (a good report on this preceived balance) and the BBC, two media sources which many of us hold in higher regard than the average mainstream media outlet. In this FAIR report, the author writes:

"During the six-month period studied, NPR reported the deaths of 62 Israelis and 51 Palestinians. While on the surface that may not appear to be hugely lopsided, during the same time period 77 Israelis and 148 Palestinians were killed in the conflict. That means there was an 81 percent likelihood that an Israeli death would be reported on NPR, but only a 34 percent likelihood that a Palestinian death would be."

Back to Fisk, who writes that the intent of these misnomers is to continuously obscure the truth of the conflict, especially with regards to the Palestinian side, and to make the actions of Palestinians appear barbaric, irrational, and without justification.

Illegal Jewish settlements for Jews and Jews only on Arab land are clearly "colonies," and we used to call them that …Similarly, "occupied" Palestinian land was softened in many American media reports into "disputed" Palestinian land …For Palestinians to object violently to any of these phenomena thus marks them as a generically vicious people. By our use of language, we condemn them.”

If Americans Knew has a few excellent studies of US and European media and their reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The findings are disturbing, to say the least. They conducted a study of the major news networks ABC, NBC, and CBS and another on the New York Times, among others.

This problem these days is lack of reporting at all on the current situation, except when an issue like Hamas' participation in the January elections attracts the attention of some journalists. However, the day to day struggles of Palestinians going through Israeli checkpoints, being caged into enclaves as a result of the contruction of the wall, curfews, economic suppression, and settler violence are easily overlooked, until a suicide bomber blows himself up in an Israeli town...


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