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Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Poll: Israeli media biased against settlers, for disengagement. After disengagement: 43%terror will increase, 25% will decline

20 July 2005
Index of Public Confidence in the News Media
A survey conducted by the
Chaim Herzog Institute for Media, Society, and Politics
Tel Aviv University

A majority of the public believe that the settlements should not have been
established in Gaza and that they aggravate the security situation.
75% think that the disengagement will be implemented.

However, a majority also think that news coverage of the disengagement
significantly intensifies the tension in Israeli society.

A majority of the public (57%) think that "upon retrospection" Israel should
not have established any settlements in Gaza, while only 37% agree that it
was necessary to do so. A majority (52%) also claim that settlements in the
Gaza Strip did not ease, but rather aggravated the security situation. On
the other hand, a decisive majority (65%) do believe that settlement in the
Gaza Strip was undertaken by settlers who had Zionist motives.

These findings are part of a comprehensive study of the disengagement and
its news coverage being undertaken at the present time by the Tel Aviv
University Herzog Institute for Media, Society, and Politics, as part of the
ongoing series of studies of the Index of Public Confidence in News Media.

The study found that the degree of support for the disengagement plan is
significantly greater than opposition to it and even opponents think that
there is a broad acceptance of the plan among the Israeli public.
Interestingly, support for the plan would increase from 48% (versus 39% who
oppose) to 52% if disengagement did not include settlements in northern
Samaria; that is, had the plan included the Gaza Strip only. And, the rate
of support for the plan would rise to 63% if the pull out would have take
place as part of an agreement with the Palestinians, and not as a unilateral
action.

Disengagement - for Lack of Other Options

What will happen after the disengagement? 57% surmise that there will be an
improvement in Israel's status in the world (compared with 12% who think
Israel's status would worsen), but 52% expect that tensions within Israeli
society will intensify as a result of the plan's implementation. 43%
responded that terror will increase, as opposed to 25% who think that there
will be a decline in terror. 47% of the respondents agreed that given the
present situation in the region, Israel was had no choice but proposing the
plan to pull out of Gaza.

The researchers who are engaged in this study, Dr. Yariv Tsfati and Dr.
Yoram Peri of the Herzog Institute for Media, Society, and Politics, claim
that the survey provides evidence that a majority of the public have a
guarded view regarding the disengagement. On the one hand, the public thinks
that it will not bring peace and may not even result in a decrease in
terror. Yet, there is a tendency to support the plan since there is an
absence of other options.

Though clearly there is support of the government's policies for different
aspects of the disengagement, a majority of the public (46%) is dissatisfied
with news coverage of it, with only 32% of the respondents expressing
satisfaction with it. There is a strong tendency among the public to
perceive of the news coverage of the pull out as "unfair", leaning in favor
of the Prime Minister Sharon and supporters of the plan, and against
opponents of the disengagement.

Three of every four respondents think that coverage of the disengagement
plan in the media increases tensions within Israeli society, and only a
minority (less than 30%) think that the information presented by the media
about the pull out was sufficiently complete and in-depth to develop an
informed view of the plan. In general, the greater the support for the
disengagement, the greater the satisfaction with news coverage and feeling
that it is in-depth, complete, and fair.

Details about the Survey

Low satisfaction with news coverage of the disengagement: Coverage assists
Sharon

The most wide spread view among the public is that "the settlements in the
Gaza Strip exist at the expense of the well-being of the public that also
lives within the Green Line" (such is the view of 47% of those interviewed).
A majority of the public, 52%, also believe that "the settlements in the
Gaza Strip intensify the security situation". A significant majority of the
public (62%) think that "the settlements in the Gaza Strip harms Israel's
image in the world". But, the public distinguishes between the settlements
in the Gaza region and the settlers there, as two thirds of those surveyed
agree with the claim that "a majority of the settlers in Gaza came there for
Zionist motives". 49% responded that "there is no moral problem in
settlement of the Gaza Strip", and only 36% of those who participated in the
survey think that the Gaza settlements exist at the expense of the
Palestinians who live in the region.

Only 32% of the respondents expressed satisfaction with news coverage of the
disengagement plan by Israeli media. 46% do not agree with the statement -
"in general, I am satisfied with news coverage of the disengagement plan".
A majority of the respondents (56%) do not agree with the statement that
"the settlement in the Gaza Strip is presented fairly in the media" (only
23% agree with this statement). And, a majority (55%) also feel that the
media present the settlers in the Gaza Strip as being more extreme than they
are in reality. Respondents also tended to agree that "the media present
the security situation in the Gaza Strip in an exaggerated manner" and that
"the media exaggerates when presenting the costs of settlement and security
of the Gaza Strip" (43% agree with the first sentence in comparison with 37%
who do not agree; and 42% who agree versus 34% who do not agree with the
second sentence).

Consistent with the view of unfair coverage of the disengagement, slightly
less than half of the respondents perceive that the manner in which the
media cover the disengagement assists the Prime Minister and the plan's
supporters with its implementation (only about a quarter of the respondents
did not agree with this sentence) in comparison with 37% who think that the
manner in which the news media cover the disengagement assists those groups
who are trying to prevent the evacuation.

In response to the question "to what degree is the disengagement plan
presented fairly by the media?", 42% of the interviewees replied that
coverage is unfair and only 26% feel that the media coverage is fair. 43%
think that the media coverage of the plan is fair towards PM Sharon and his
supporters while only 28% think that the coverage of those who oppose the
plan is fair.

An overwhelming majority of the public, more than three out of every four
respondents, think that "media coverage of the disengagement plan
intensifies the tension within Israeli society" (only 14% of the respondents
did not agree with this sentence). A majority of the public (51%) also
think that "media coverage of the debate about the plan leads to more
extreme forms of protest against it" (only 22% did not disagree with this
sentence). Only 30% of the respondents agreed that "the information
presented by the media regarding the disengagement was sufficiently complete
and in-depth for them to develop an informed view". 43% did not agree with
this sentence and an additional 16% rated themselves in a middle position.

Satisfaction with media coverage rises along with support for the
disengagement and with the perception that the coverage of the plan in the
media is fair. The greater the support for the plan, the greater the
tendency to perceive of the coverage as being complete and in-depth.
Supporters of the disengagement tended to perceive the coverage as assisting
the settlers and opponents of the plan tended to perceive the coverage as
assisting the Prime Minister and his supporters in implementation of the
evacuation plan. Opponents of the plan also tended to perceive the coverage
as leading to more extreme forms of protest and intensification of the
tension in Israeli society.

The survey was undertaken at the beginning of the week by the Chaim Herzog
Institute of Media, Society, and Politics. The field study was conducted by
the B.I. and Lucille Cohen Institute for Public Opinion Research of the
University of Tel Aviv. The 519 persons who participated in the survey are
a representative sample of the Israeli adult population (Jewish and Arab).
Therefore the interviews took place in Arabic and Russian as well as in
Hebrew. Sampling error is estimated to be 2.2%.

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