Feeling guilty

Daphna Baram, Guardian, November 7:

“The challenges facing the state of Israel in the past five years have been considerable. Since the collapse of the Camp David talks with the Palestinians and the outbreak of violence in Israel and the occupied territories, excessive bloodshed has been part of the life of every Israeli and Palestinian. During the past summer Israel also faced an internal rift over Ariel Sharon’s decision to withdraw from the occupied Gaza strip and dismantle the Israeli settlements in it. These posed challenges for the Israeli media too – and the success of the media’s response has been questionable.

“Many journalists and readers watched in despair as the state’s three major newspapers, rightwing Ma’ariv, mainstream Yediot and liberal Ha’aretz, seemed to close ranks with an ultra-patriotic line in 2001. For a very long period, Israel’s contributions to the violence were not mentioned, and the reports of violations of human rights in the re-occupied territories were suppressed by most of the mainstream media, at least during the first two years of the current Palestinian uprising.”

Israel is not unlike many other quasi-democracies, with a generally compliant press and corporatised news values. A new book by Daniel Dor, lecturer in media studies at Tel Aviv university and a former editor, examines the role of the Israeli media in shielding the population from the establishment’s true goals and actions. War crimes are ignored or relegated to the back pages. Palestinians are demonised as terrorists. Israelis are portrayed as unwitting victims.

Ariel Sharon and his propaganda team would be pleased.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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