The Image of Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the International Media
by Roland Schatz Chairman of the German Media Research Corporation - Medien
translated and edited by Prof. Eli Pollak Chairman, Israel's Media Watch
A comprehensive study of the television networks in the Western world and in
South Africa reveal an increasing tendency of editors and reporters to
'understand' the position and actions of the Palestinian Authority, at the
expense of the State of Israel. The quantitative coverage, its content and
its quality shows a continuous deterioration of Israel's standing, and this
especially in the period after the events of September 11. This tendency is
found uniformly in the United States, Britain, Germany and South Africa.
Israel is the big loser in the battle for media supremacy.
The Institute for media research- Medien Tenor, located in Bonn Germany,
provides media research services to corporations and businesses worldwide.
The Institute has developed a unique methodology for objective researching
of media tendencies. Data are collected by trained professionals according
to a standardized computer program, which serves the offices of Medien Tenor
in five different countries - Germany, Britain, the Czech Republic and the
USA. The Chairman of Israel's Media Watch is a member of the scientific
advisory board of Medien Tenor.
Lately, the Institute has taken upon itself to provide an in depth study of
the image of Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the world media.
Special emphasis was placed on a comparison of the relative images before
and after the terror acts of Sept. 11, 2001 in the United States. This
comparison sheds light in the effect Sept. 11 had on the image of the two
protagonists - Israel and the PA.
The study covered the evening news of the national TV networks in the United
States - ABC, CBS and NBC; the news programs of the German TV channels ZDF,
ARD, RTL, SAT1 and PRO 7; the 6pm and 9pm news of the BBC and ITV in
Britain; the news of SABC in English and Afrikaans and TV-E in South Africa
as well as the news in Private and Public Service in the Czech Republic. As
far as we know, this study is a first of its kind in the world. A uniform
method was used in all countries, providing for the first time a comparable
database for objective media review in different countries, supplying TV
coverage to a population of almost 500 million people. The study covers
quantitative aspects, topics covered and qualitative diagnosis.
In this article we present the main results. Quantitative measures are
presented in Section II, while the qualitative results are given in Section
III. The emerging picture is one of an increasing alienation towards Israel
and increased 'understanding' towards the Palestinian Authority and the
Palestinian people. Not only was the image of Israel already problematic
prior to Sept. 11, it deteriorated after it. Israel has not found the way to
utilize the events of Sept. 11 to create a fundamental change in the media's
coverage of the terror aimed at Israel and Israelis. Israel has also not
understood how to justify and explain its actions towards the Palestinians
in the international media.
An exhaustive study of a large number of television networks in the West and
in South Africa reveals that Israel image in the international media is
under serious and increasing attack. Israel is no longer in the center of
affairs, the Palestinian Authority is gradually replacing it. Activities and
issues within Israel are no longer of interest, there are no reports on
tourism, commerce and culture. The media are concentrating on one topic
only - terror and the fighting that come in retaliation. Israel is
considered as the Goliath and the PA as David in the media attitudes towards
Israel and the PA.
This short report provides mainly results, a description of the present
status. We have not analyzed the issues and points of view that have brought
about the present situation. This would demand an in depth study of the
various events and the correlation between them and the coverage in the
news. It is though clear, that the memory of the media is extremely short.
Thus for example, when Israel reacts strongly to a serious terror act
against it, the reaction does not receive too much understanding, rather the
camera is pointed towards the Palestinian suffering, without much
consideration for the State of Israel which is trying to defend its citizens
from acts of terror. When Israel does not allow Arafat to visit Bethlehem
around Christmas time, Israel is roundly criticized, while the reasons for
keeping Arafat locked up in Ramallah are conveniently forgotten.
Is this present state of affairs irrevocable? Not necessarily. During the
past two months there has been a slight shift in International coverage of
events in Israel, highlighted by CNN's series on Israeli victims of terror
and detailed articles in Newsweek on the Israeli point of view. The media
imbalance towards Israel was described clearly in a recent article in the
Frankfurter Allgemeine. It is though still clear, that the Middle East
Crisis does not receive the in depth coverage necessary. The
narrow-mindedness of the TV camera and those who manipulate it stand in the
way of Israel's war on terrorism.
For a zip file of the Report (in English)