Bias In The Media: Palestine vs. Israel

Identifying the subtle strategies of a corrupt influence on the coverage of the infamously controversial political conflict.

in the media
Photo by hosny_salah on Pixabay

A journalist documents happenings in Palestine.

“The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” is a phrase that when entered into the Google search bar, it produces roughly 61 million results; the latest having been posted a mere hour ago. The coverage of this global controversy is understatedly massive. Its recent resurgence in the mainstream news media has left it on the minds of almost everyone with a television, phone, radio, or computer.

The topic, controversial simply in its history, is sensitive and complicated to even those most familiar with it. The dispute, however, is largely intensified by the rampant bias and misinformed opinions that constitute its coverage in the news. The influence of this inserted narrative often goes undetected, wherein lies the unhinged power of the media’s content.

The Government and It’s Alleged Surveillant

Government control over the news media is not a newly established political tactic. Overtly exampled in the anti-German political propaganda from World War II or the anti-Communist rhetoric spoon fed to every American during the Cold War during the mid-20th century, the government has had a direct influence on the coverage of political happenings as long as there has been a platform that covers them. With the progression of the political landscape in more modern times, however, the government is no longer able to so visibly sway the media in its desired direction and must instead use more hidden strategies that still hold the same effect over the general public.

Photo by Prettysleepy on Pixabay

A classic example of American political cartoon propaganda.

The term “framing” in the context of media, describes an ambiguous tactic that allows journalists covering an event to selectively choose the information, quotes, language, and tone used to cover a topic, in the attempt to control the content consumer’s perception. According to Communication Theory,

“Framing stimulates the decision making process by highlighting particular aspects by eliminating the others… It can regulate the audience’s perception and also the acceptance of a particular meaning. As media plays an important role in the people’s perceptions, the negative framing can create a huge impact upon the people.”

With the public’s general trust and regard for news as objective and truthful, the subtle insertion of bias creates an easy (and unethical) route to potentially altering the opinions of the masses exposed to it.

Israel’s Unfair Advantage

The conflict between Israel and Palestine spans a century and involves incredibly complex and sensitive identities such as: religion, political beliefs, and power dynamics. Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Compehensive Guide PART 1,  by Jetset Times contributor, Lily Adami, provides an in-depth and fundamental understanding of the history behind the conflict for context.

The large power imbalance between Israel and Palestine provides an unfair ability for Israel to gain sympathy from the global world’s observance of the conflict. Israel’s powerful government has long had its hand in the media coverage produced not only in the nation, but in external media outlets as well, such as in The United States and The United Kingdom. Sarah Helm, “a former foreign correspondent for the UK’s Independent newspaper,” as described by Aljazeera, explained the intense pressure she was under as a journalist covering the conflict in the 1990s, to the news organization, saying,

“You always come under particular pressure with because there is an intense and concerted Israeli media lobby – and there always was… That includes a very intense Israeli political lobby working at every single level, which there always was too – and that was no secret and nor would they make a secret of it.” 

Israel’s influence over the media often manifests in minute detail changes – which journalists are required to carry out. According to the documentary, Peace, Propaganda, and the Promiseland, in the early 2000’s CNN sent out letters to their journalists, instructing them to call settlement territories in Palestine, “neighborhoods” instead. The documentary also exposes the fact that American journalists were trained to write stories that favored Israel and painted the nation as if it were in defense, despite the fact that Palestine was under occupation. Influenced media was also not allowed to show or describe the sufferings of Palestinian citizens under occupation.

in the media
Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

A person protests for justice in Palestine.

In addition to altering the subtle intricacies of a journalist’s work, the influenced media creates false narratives to both justify occupation and distract from the root issues of the conflict. Through the grouping of Israel with Judaism and Palestine with Islam, the narrative of a religious war has heavily dominated the discourse surrounding the conflict. Critique of the Israeli government is criticized as anti-Semitic and retaliative acts of violence by Palestinians are labeled as “terrorism.” The article, “Israel-Palestine: A glossary of problematic media language” further analyzes the specific ways in which terms, including: “Zionism” and “Arab” are strategically used to further a political agenda through the cloak of religion. The article notes,

“In another world, where there might be a state where Israelis and Palestinians lived as fully equal citizens, then the debate could be considered as one of religious rights and theology – but in the current context, material conditions dictate the narrative.”

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict consists of decades of complex strife in the spheres of politics, religion, and personal identity. To unwaveringly choose one side over the other is a difficult task for most, and as a result the media is looked to for guidance. The abuse of this trust, however, manifests through subtle biases and control, often inflicted by the Israeli government and those they affiliate with. To recognize this bias and reject it in the name of truth, is ultimately the only way to escape the immeasurable hold it has. Bias in the news is inevitable, humans are opinionated creatures and our level of objectivity can only stretch so far. The value of objectivity lies in its pursuit, attempting to look outside one’s own prejudices and see the situation from a fair perspective is owed to those who have been denied fair coverage and subsequently denied empathy from the world for far too long.

Delaney Beaudoin

Content Creator & FB Manager

Having grown up in a non-traditional family of intersecting identities, Delaney takes pride in her blank-slate, open-minded perception of the world. Her interests in writing, politics, and travel converge perfectly to fuel her intense passion for journalism and the pursuit of truth in modern media. Delaney values her tendency towards impulsivity and loves the unprecedented circumstances that come with traveling.

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