American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise & Dr. Mitchell G. Bard
Myths & Facts Online:
“Press coverage of Israel is proportional to its importance in world
It is hard to justify the amount of news coverage given to Israel based
on that nation's importance in world affairs or American national
interests. How is it that a country the size of New Jersey routinely
merits top billing over seemingly more newsworthy nations like Russia,
Chinaa and Great Britain?
Israel probably has the highest per capita fame quotient in the world.
Americans know more about Israeli politics than that of any other
foreign country. Most of Israel's leaders, for example, are more
familiar in the United States than those of America's neighbors in
Canada or Mexico. In addition, a high percentage of Americans are
conversant on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
One reason Americans are so knowledgeable about Israel is the extent of
coverage. American news organizations usually have more correspondents
in Israel than in any country except Great Britain.
“Israel receives so much attention because it is the only country in
the Middle East that affects U.S. interests.”
The Middle East is important to the United States (and the Western
world) primarily because of its oil resources. Events that might
threaten the production and supply of oil affect vital U.S. interests.
The United States also has an interest in supporting friendly regimes
in the region. Attention is warranted because the Middle East is the
scene of repeated conflagrations that directly or indirectly affect
American interests. Events in countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Iran
have required the intervention of U.S. troops, and nothing focuses the
attention of the public like American lives being endangered abroad.
The United States has been deeply involved in each of the Arab-Israeli
wars, but has also had its own independent battles, most notably the
Gulf War with Iraq.
On the other hand, Americans are not typically interested in the
fratricidal wars of people in distant lands when the fighting does not
appear to have any bearing on U.S. interests. This is true in Africa,
Latin America and even the Balkans. Similarly, inter-Arab wars have not
generated the kind of interest that Israel's problems have. However,
the Israeli-Palestinian dispute — two people fighting over one land —
is a particularly compelling story. It is made all the more so by the
fact that it is centered in the Holy Land.
Another explanation for the disproportionate coverage Israel receives
relative to Arab countries is that few correspondents have a background
in Middle East history or speak the regional languages. Journalists are
more familiar with the largely Western culture in Israel than the more
alien Muslim societies.
Israel is the one Middle East country where a correspondent can find a
— S. Abdallah Schleifer1
“Western media coverage of the Arab world is equal to that of Israel.”
The journalistic community regards the Arab/Islamic world as the "arc
of silence."2 The media in those countries is strictly controlled by
totalitarian governments. By contrast, Israel is a democracy with one
of the most freewheeling press corps in the world.
The limited access is often used as an excuse for the media's failure
to cover news in the region. This was the case, for example, during the
Iran-Iraq war — one of the bloodiest conflicts in the last four
decades. Still, given the resourcefulness of American journalists, it
is shocking that so little coverage is given to even the most
authoritarian of regimes.
“Media coverage of the Arab world is objective.”
When journalists are allowed to pierce the veil of secrecy, the price
of access to dictators and terrorists is often steep. Reporters are
sometimes intimidated or blackmailed. In Lebanon during the 1980s, for
example, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had reporters
doing their bidding as the price for obtaining interviews and
protection. This is not just the case for Western journalists. During
the “al-Aksa intifada” Israeli journalists were warned against going to
the Palestinian Authority (PA) and some received telephone threats
after publishing articles critical of the PA leadership.3
An Associated Press cameraman filmed Palestinians at a rally in Nablus
celebrating the terror attacks in the United States September 11, 2001.
The cameraman was subsequently summoned to a Palestinian Authority
security office and told that the material must not be aired. Yasser
Arafat's Tanzim also called to threaten his life if he aired the film.
An AP still photographer was also at the site of the rally. He was
warned not to take pictures and complied. Ahmed Abdel Rahman, Arafat's
Cabinet secretary, told AP the Palestinian Authority "cannot guarantee
the life" of the cameraman if the footage was broadcast. AP caved in to
the blackmail and refused to release the footage. More than a week
later, the Palestinian Authority returned a videotape it confiscated
from AP showing a Palestinian rally in the Gaza Strip in which some
demonstrators carried posters supporting Saudi terrorist Osama bin
Laden. Two separate parts of the six-minute tape involving "key
elements" were erased by the Palestinians, according to an AP official.
In addition, Israel Radio reported Septermber 14, 2001, that the
Palestinian Authority seized the footage filmed by cameraman from
various international and even Arab news agencies covering celebrations
held in cities across the West Bank and Gaza by Hamas of the attacks
against America. The celebrants waived photographs of wanted terrorist,
Osama Bin Laden. The very same news programs and networks that
broadcast the photo opportunities produced by the Palestinian Authority
(Arafat donating blood, Palestinian students in moment of silence,
posters supporting America) failed to broadcast the news that the PA is
using terror and intimidation to discourage the airing of unfavorable
When asked to comment on what many viewers regard as CNN's bias against
Israel, Reese Schonfeld, the network's first president explained, "When
I see them on the air I see them being very careful about Arab
sensibilities." Schonfeld suggested the coverage is slanted because CNN
doesn't want to risk the special accesss it has in the Arab world.5
In Arab countries, journalists are usually escorted to see what the
dictator wants them to see or they are followed. Citizens are warned by
security agencies, sometimes directly, sometimes more subtly, that they
should be careful what they say to visitors.
In the case of coverage of the PA, the Western media relies heavily on
Palestinian assistants to escort correspondents in the territories. In
addition, Palestinians often provide the news that is sent out around
the world. “By my own estimate,” Ehud Ya'ari wrote, “over 95 percent of
the TV pictures going out on satellite every evening to the various
foreign and Israeli channels are supplied by Palestinian film crews.
The two principle agencies in the video news market, APTN and Reuters
TV, run a whole network of Palestinian stringers, freelancers and
fixers all over the territories to provide instant footage of the
events. These crews obviously identify emotionally and politically with
the intifada and, in the ‘best’ case, they simply don't dare film
anything that could embarrass the Palestinian Authority. So the cameras
are angled to show a tainted view of the Israeli army's actions, never
focus on the Palestinian gunmen and diligently produce a very specific
kind of close-up of the situation on the ground.”6
A particularly egregious incident occurred in October 2000 when two
non-combatant Israeli reservists were lynched in Ramallah by a
Palestinian mob. According to reporters on the scene, the Palestinian
police tried to prevent foreign journalists from filming the incident.
One Italian television crew managed to film parts of the attack and
these shocking images ultimately made headlines around the world. A
competing Italian news agency took a different tack, placing an
advertisement in the PA's main newspaper, Al Hayat-Al-Jadidah,
explaining that it had nothing to do with filming the incident:
My dear friends in Palestine. We congratulate you and think that it is
our duty to put you in the picture (of the events) of what happened on
October 12 in Ramallah. One of the private television stations which
competes with us (and not the official Italian television station RTI)
filmed the events; that station filmed the events. Afterwards Israeli
Television broadcast the pictures, as taken from one of the Italian
stations, and thus the public impression was created as if we (RTI)
took these pictures.
We emphasize to all of you that the events did not happen this way,
because we always respect (will continue to respect) the journalistic
procedures with the Palestinian Authority for (journalistic) work in
Palestine and we are credible in our precise work.
We thank you for your trust, and you can be sure that this is not our
way of acting (note: meaning we do not work like the other television
stations). We do not (and will not) do such a thing.
Please accept our blessings.
Representative of the official Italian station in Palestine7
If a news organization strays from the pro-Palestinian line, it comes
under immediate attack. In November 2000, for example, the Palestinian
Journalist's Union complained that the Associated Press was presenting
a false impression of the "al-Aksa intifada." The Union called AP's
coverage a conscious crime against the Palestinian people and said it
served the Israeli position. The Union threatened to adopt all
necessary measures against AP staffers as well as against AP bureaus
located in the PA if the agency continued to harm Palestinian
On September 11, 2001, the day terrorists attacked New York City and
Washington, D.C. in deadly suicide bombings, Palestinians took to the
streets to celebrate. Armed Palestinians reportedly trapped foreign
photojournalists inside a hotel in Nablus to prevent them from covering
the festivities. At least one photographer who managed to film the
celebrations was told his life would be in danger if the pictures were
“Journalists covering the Middle East are driven by the search for the
It will come as no surprise to learn that journalists in the Middle
East share an interest in sensationalism with their colleagues covering
domestic issues. The most egregious examples come from television
reporters whose emphasis on visuals over substance encourages facile
treatment of the issues. For example, when NBC's correspondent in
Israel was asked why reporters turned up at Palestinian demonstrations
in the West Bank they knew were being staged, he said, “We play along
because we need the pictures.”10 The networks can't get newsworthy
pictures from countries like Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran or Libya.
Israel often faces an impossiblesituation of trying to counter images
with words. "When a tank goes into Ramallah, it does not look good on
TV," explains Gideon Meir of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "Sure we can
explain why we are there, and that's what we do. But it's words. We
have to fight pictures with words."10a
The magnitude of the problem Israel confronts is clear from Tami
Allen-Frost, deputy chairman of the Foreign Press Association and a
producer for Britain's ITN news, who says "the strongest picture that
stays in the mind is of a tank in a city" and that "there are more
incidents all together in the West Bank than there are suicide
bombings. In the end, it's quantity that stays with you."10b
“We were filming the beginning of the demonstration. Suddenly, a van
pulled in hurriedly. Inside, there were Fatah militants. They gave
their orders and even distributed Molotov cocktails. We were filming.
But these images, you will never see. In a few seconds, all those
youngsters surrounded us, threatened us, and then took us away to the
police station. There, we identified ourselves but we were compelled to
delete the controversial pictures. The Palestinian Police calmed the
situation but censored our pictures. We now have the proof that those
riots are no longer spontaneous. All the orders came from the
— Jean Pierre Martin11
“The media lets Israel get away with more because of its alliance with
Americans tend to have a double-standard about the Jews, expecting more
from them than other peoples. This is in part due to the Jews' own high
expectations and goal of being a "light unto the nations." Thus, when
Israelis do something bad, it often attracts attention, whereas Arabs
are usually held to a lower standard. For example, when Israel expelled
four Palestinians, it generated banner headlines, but when Kuwait
deported hundreds of thousands, it was a nonevent. Similarly, the death
of one Palestinian in the West Bank received far more coverage than
thousands of Arabs killed in Algeria. Rightly or wrongly, the attitude
of the public and press is that Jews should behave differently.
“Israel doesn't warrant so much attention because it is not one of
Israel enjoys a unique relationship with the United States dating back
to the early part of the century when the Congress endorsed the
creation of a Jewish State in Palestine. Harry Truman is generally
considered the midwife in the birth of the new state, and U.S.
economic, diplomatic, and military support has been crucial to Israel's
development and survival.
Americans feel a kinship to Israelis because of the values we share —
democracy, love of freedom, a commitment to education — that translates
into a broad range of people to people and government to government
relationships. The public is fascinated by this People of the Book, who
wandered from country to country through the centuries, suffered great
persecution, returned to their homeland, built a thriving high-tech
society, and have fought and defeated enemies with overwhelming
superiority. Americans admire the pioneering spirit of the Jews who
first settled in Palestine and created kibbutzim, in part because it
mirrors their own history. They also like underdogs, which the Jews
continue to be even as Israel has grown to be a military power.
As Israel has grown more militarily powerful, it has also become a
strategic ally that enjoys the special status of Major Non-NATO Ally.
“Israel gets favorable coverage because American Jews control the media
and have disproportionate political influence.”
If Jews controlled the media, it's not likely you'd hear Jews
complaining so much about the anti-Israel bias of the press. It is true
that the amount of attention Israel receives is related to the fact
that the largest Jewish population in the world is in the United States
and that Israel greatly concerns American Jews. Large numbers of Jews
do hold significant positions in the media (though they by no means
"control" the press as anti-Semites maintain), and the Jewish
population is concentrated in major media markets like New York and Los
Angeles, so it is not surprising the spotlight would be directed at
Politically, Jews wield disproportionate power in the United States and
use it to advocate policies that strengthen the U.S.-Israel
relationship; however, there is no evidence this has translated into
favorable press coverage for Israel. It is possible to argue that
pro-Arab forces, such as the petrochemical industry, have as much or
more influence on the media and encourage an anti-Israel bias.
“Arab officials tell Western journalists the same thing they tell their
Arab officials often express their views differently in English than
they do in Arabic. They express their true feelings and positions to
their constituents in their native language. For external consumption,
however, Arab officials have learned to speak in moderate tones and
often relate very different views when speaking in English to Western
audiences. Long ago, Arab propagandists became more sophisticated about
how to make their case. They now routinely appear on American
television news broadcasts and are quoted in the print media and come
across as reasonable people with legitimate grievances. What many of
these same people say in Arabic, however, is often far less moderate
and reasonable. Since Israelis can readily translate what is said in
Arabic they are well aware of the views of their enemies. Americans and
other English-speakers, however, can easily be fooled by the slick
presentation of an Arab propagandist.
To give just one example, Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat is
frequently quoted by the Western media. After the brutal murder of two
Israeli teenagers on May 9, 2001, he was asked for a reaction. The
Washington Post reported his response:
Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian official, said in English at a news
conference that “killing civilians is a crime, whether on the
Palestinian or the Israeli side.” The comment was not reported in
Arabic-language Palestinian media.12
The unusual aspect of this story was that the Post reported the fact
that Erekat's comment was ignored by the Palestinian press.
“Journalists are well-versed in Middle East history and therefore can
place current events in proper context.”
One cause of misunderstanding about the Middle East and bias in media
reporting is the ignorance of journalists about the region. Few
reporters speak Hebrew or Arabic, so they have little or no access to
primary resources. They frequently regurgitate stories they read in
English language publications from the region rather than report
independently. When they do attempt to place events in historical
context, they often get the facts wrong and create an inaccurate or
misleading impression. To cite one example, during a recitation of the
history of the holy sites in Jerusalem, CNN's Garrick Utley reported
that Jews could pray at the Western Wall during Jordan's rule from 1948
to 1967.13 In fact, Jews were prevented from visiting their holiest
shrine. This is a critical historical point that helps explain Israel's
position toward Jerusalem.
“The intifada constituted passive resistance. At its worst, it involved
nothing more than children tossing stones at heavily armed soldiers.”
The intifada was violent from the start. During the first four years of
the uprising, more than 3,600 Molotov cocktail attacks, 100 hand
grenade attacks and 600 assaults with guns or explosives were reported
by the Israel Defense Forces. The violence was directed at soldiers and
civilians alike. During this period, 16 Israeli civilians and 11
soldiers were killed by Palestinians in the territories; more than
1,400 Israeli civilians and 1,700 Israeli soldiers were injured.14
During an August 1988 visit to Bethlehem, U.S. journalist Sidney Zion
was nearly struck by a rock while riding in a taxicab. "It's a good
thing the rock missed me," he said. "I didn't see it coming, and
wouldn't have lived to see the next second had the driver been going a
kilometer faster. Fortunately, nobody was in that seat, but it was
clear that the Arabs weren't aiming at dead air."
Zion — who had been writing about the Middle East for more than 20
years — said that American media reports had led him to believe that
"the rock-throwers were aiming at the Israeli Army, not at taxicabs.
Did you ever see anything else on TV? Did you read anything to the
contrary in the newspapers? Kids were tossing stones at soldiers,
"It simply didn't occur to me that American journalists would suppress
news of a life-and-death danger. It was only later that I discovered
that what happened to us was hardly uncommon," Zion wrote. "On any
given day in the West Bank, Israeli civilians are getting brain-damaged
from these nice little Arab youngsters and their pebbles."15
“Media coverage of the intifada was fair and balanced.”
Candid members of the media admitted that coverage of the intifada was
skewed. According to Steven Emerson, a CNN correspondent, U.S.
reporters have acquiesced to Palestinian control over what gets filmed.
An Israeli cameraman who worked for several U.S. networks told Emerson
that "if we aim the camera at the wrong scene, we'll be dead." In other
instances, the networks handed out dozens of video cameras to
Palestinians so that they could provide footage of strikes, riots and
funerals. "There is absolutely no way to ensure the authenticity of
what is filmed, nor is there any way to stop the cameras from being
used as a tool to mobilize a demonstration," he wrote.16
Although nearly one-third of all Palestinians murdered in 1989 were
killed by their Arab brethren, only 12 of the more than 150 stories
filed by U.S. networks from the West Bank that year dealt with the
internecine warfare. "While Palestinian political terror on the West
Bank fails to make the news," Emerson wrote, "utter fabrications about
Israeli brutality are reported uncritically."
For example, in early 1988, reporters were called to el-Mokassed
Hospital in Jerusalem to film a dying Palestinian boy. His Palestinian
doctor showed him hooked to life-support tubes, and claimed the child
had been savagely beaten by Israeli troops. On February 8, 1988, ABC's
Peter Jennings introduced the report by saying UN officials "say that
the Israelis have beaten another Palestinian to death in the
territories." NBC and CBS also gave the claims wide publicity.
But the story wasn't true. According to the child's autopsy and medical
records, he died of a cerebral hemorrhage. He had been sick for more
than a year. Overall, the U.S. networks, Emerson wrote, "have been
complicit in a massive deception about the West Bank conflict."
NBC's Tel Aviv bureau chief Martin Fletcher acknowledged that the
intifada posed a fairness problem. He noted the Palestinians
manipulated the Western media by casting themselves as "David" against
the Israeli "Goliath," a metaphor used by Fletcher himself in a 1988
"The whole uprising was media-oriented, and, without a doubt, kept
going because of the media," he said. Fletcher openly admitted
accepting invitations from young Palestinians to film violent attacks
against Jewish residents of the West Bank.
"It's really a matter of manipulation of the media. And the question
is: How much do we play that game? [We do it] in the same way that we
turn up at all those Bush or Reagan photo opportunities. We play along
because we need the pictures."17
A Washington Post story about the “cycle of death” in the West Bank
included an interview with Raed Karmi, an official in Fatah, the
dominant faction in Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization.
The report begins with the observation that Karmi is running out to
join a battle against Israeli soldiers and grabs an M-16 assault rifle.
What the story fails to mention is that only Palestinian police are
supposed to be armed. The story implies that Israeli and Palestinian
violence is equivalent in this “cycle” because Karmi said he was acting
to avenge the death of a Palestinian who the Israelis assassinated for
organizing terrorist attacks. Karmi admits that he participated in the
kidnapping and execution-style murder of two Israelis who had been
eating lunch in a Tulkarm restaurant. Karmi was jailed by the
Palestinian Authority, but he was released after just four months and
subsequently killed four more Israelis, including a man buying
groceries and a driver who he ambushed. “I will continue attacking
Israelis,” he told the Post.18
“Israelis cannot deny the truth of pictures showing their abuses.”
A picture may be worth thousand words, but sometimes the picture and
the words used to describe it are distorted and misleading. There is no
question that photographers and television camera crews seek the most
dramatic pictures they can find, most often showing brutal Israeli
Goliaths mistreating the suffering Palestinian Davids, but the context
is often missing.
In one classic example, the Associated Press circulated the
accompanying photo around the world. The dramatic image was in the New
York Times19 and spurred international outrage because the caption,
supplied by AP, said, “An Israeli policeman and a Palestinian on the
Temple Mount.” Taken at a time when Palestinians were rioting following
Ariel Sharon's controversial visit to the al-Aksa mosque, the picture
appeared to be a vivid case of Israeli brutality. It turned out,
however, the caption was inaccurate and the photo actually showed an
incident that might have conveyed almost the exact opposite impression
had it been reported correctly.
In fact, the victim was not a Palestinian beaten by an Israeli soldier,
it was a policeman protecting an American Jewish student, Tuvia
Grossman, who had been riding in a taxi when it was stoned by
Palestinians. Grossman was pulled out of the taxi, beaten and stabbed.
He broke free and fled toward the Israeli policeman. At that point a
photographer snapped the picture.
Besides getting the victim wrong, AP also inaccurately reported that
the photograph was taken on the Temple Mount. The incident did take
place in Jerusalem.
When AP was alerted to the errors, it issued a series of corrections,
several of which still did not get the story straight. As is usually
the case when the media makes a mistake, the damage was already done.
Many outlets that had used the photo did not print clarifications.
Others issued corrections that did not receive anywhere near the
prominence of the initial story.
Another example of how photos can be both dramatic and misleading is
the Reuters photo shown below showing a young Palestinian being
arrested by Israeli police on April 6, 2001. The boy is obviously
frightened and has wet his pants. Once again the photo attracted
worldwide publicity and reinforced the media image of Israelis as
brutal occupiers who abuse innocent children.
In this instance it is the context that is misleading. Another Reuters
photographer took the picture shown below just before the first one was
taken. It shows the same boy participating in a riot against Israeli
soldiers. Few media outlets published this photo.
“The press makes no apologies for terrorists.”
On the contrary, the media routinely accepts and repeats the platitudes
of terrorists and their spokespersons with regard to their agendas. The
press gullibly treats claims that attacks against innocent civilians
are acts of "freedom fighters." In recent years some news organizations
have developed a resistance to the term "terrorist" and replaced it
with euphemisms like "militant" because they don't want to be seen as
taking sides or making judgments about the perpetrators.
For example, after a Palestinian suicide bomber blew up a pizza
restaurant in downtown Jerusalem on August 9, 2001, killing 15 people,
the attacker was described as a "militant" (Los Angeles Times, Chicago
Tribune, NBC Nightly News) and "suicide bomber" (New York Times, USA
Today). ABC News did not use the word "terrorist." By contrast, every
media outlet called the attack on the United States September 11, 2001,
a terrorist attack.
Clifford May of the Middle East Information Network pointed out the
absurdity of the media coverage: "No newspaper would write, 'Militants
struck the World Trade Center yesterday,' or say, 'They may think of
themselves as feedom fighters, and who are we to judge, we're
The notion that one person's freedom fighter is another's terrorist
simply is not true. Terrorism is possible to define. Here's how the FBI
defines the word:
"Terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or
property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population,
or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social
If the media judged events using this simple definition, journalists
would have no difficulty using the word "terrorist."
“The Palestinian Authority places no restrictions on foreign reporters.”
A case study of the Palestinian Authority's idea of freedom of the
press occurred following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks
against the United States. An Associated Press cameraman filmed
Palestinians at a rally in Nablus celebrating the terror attacks and
was subsequently summoned to a Palestinian Authority security office
and told that the material must not be aired. Yasser Arafat's Tanzim
also called to threaten his life if he aired the film. An AP still
photographer was also at the site of the rally. He was warned not to
take pictures and complied.
Several Palestinian Authority officials told AP in Jerusalem not to
broadcast the videotape. Ahmed Abdel Rahman, Arafat's Cabinet
secretary, said the Palestinian Authority "cannot guarantee the life"
of the cameraman if the footage was broadcast.
The cameraman requested that the material not be aired and, AP caved in
to the blackmail and refused to release the footage.
AP Bureau Chief Dan Perry protested and sought assurances from the PA
that "you will protect our journalists from threats and attempts at
intimidation and that no harm would come to our freelance cameraman
from distribution of the film."
More than a week later, the Palestinian Authority returned a videotape
it confiscated from AP showing a Palestinian rally in the Gaza Strip in
which some demonstrators carried posters supporting Saudi terrorist
Osama bin Laden. Two separate parts of the six-minute tape involving
"key elements" were erased by the Palestinians, according to an AP
The Foreign Press Association in Israel expressed "deep concern over
the harassment of journalists by the Palestinian Authority as police
forces and armed gunmen tried to prevent photo and video coverage of
Tuesday's rally in Nablus where hundreds of Palestinians celebrated the
terror attacks in New York and Washington." The FPA also condemned the
threats against videographers and "the attitude of Palestinian
officials who made no effort to counter the threats, control the
situation, or to guarantee the safety of the journalists and the
freedom of the press."
Israel Radio reported Septermber 14, 2001, that the Palestinian
Authority seized the footage filmed that day by cameraman from various
international and even Arab news agencies covering celebrations held in
cities across the West Bank and Gaza by Hamas of the attacks against
America. The celebrants waived photographs of wanted terrorist Osama
In October 2001, after the United States launched attacks against
Afghanistan, Palestinians supporting Osama bin Laden staged rallies in
the Gaza Strip that were ruthlessly suppresed by Palestinian police.
The PA took measures to prevent any media coverage of the rallies or
the subsequent riots. The Paris-based Reporters Without Frontiers
issued a scathing protest to the PA. "We fear the Palestinian Authority
takes advantage of the focus of international media on the American
riposte to restrain more and more the right to free information," said
Robert Menard, general secretary of the journalists' organization. The
group also protested Palestinian orders not to broadcast calls for
general strikes, nationalistic activities, demonstrations or other news
without permission from the PA. The aim of the press blackout was
expressed by an anonymous Palestinian official, "We don't want anything
which could undermine our image."22
“Al-Jazeera is the 'Arabic CNN' providing the Arab world with an
objective source of news.”
Al-Jazeera is an Arabic-language television network based in Qatar that
is widely viewed throughout the Arab world. The channel began in 1996
as a pet project of Qatar’s emir, Sheik Hamad bin-Khalifa al-Thani and
gained prominence during the U.S. war in Afghanistan because of its
longstanding contacts with the Taliban rulers and Osama bin Laden. By
airing a variety of viewpoints, including those of Bush Administration
officials, the network sought to create the impression that is an
objective news source for the Arab world. In fact Al-Jazeera has a long
history as a propaganda outlet for extremist views in the Arab world.
One Muslim scholar blamed the network for inciting the Arab masses
against the West and for making bin Laden and his aides celebrities.
"There is a difference between giving different opinoions an
opportunity [to be heard] and leaving the screen open to armed
murderers to spread their ideas," said Dr. Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari, dean
of Shar'ia and Law at Qatar University.23
In an interview on 60 Minutes, one Al-Jazeera correspondent was asked
about coverage of the Palestinian issue. He refers to Palestinians who
are killed as martyrs. When Ed Bradley pointed out that the Israelis
would call them terrorists, he replied,"This is a problem for the
Israelis. It's a point of view." When asked what he calls Israelis who
are killed by Palestinians, the reported answered, "We call it that:
the Israeli is killed by Palestinians." Bradley added that Al-Jazeera's
coverage of the Intifada was "credited with igniting pro-Palestinian
demonstrations all over the Middle East."24
For a complete list of References, see the source material at