Public Discourse and Perceptions: Palestinian Media - Coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict (Second Report)
This is the second report that MIFTAH-The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Democracy-issues in coordination with Keshev- Center for the Protection of Democracy in Israel-on the media coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The goal of the project is to facilitate the development of a bold and professional media, and a culture of tolerance, moderation and understanding between the two peoples, through monitoring, research, advocacy and lobbying activities without jeopardizing the freedom of expression.
In our first report, issued in March 2005, we studied the Palestinian media landscape extensively, paying special attention to its components and its shortcomings, as well as to the overriding circumstances under which it operates. We also reviewed our work methodology and presented our definitions of such issues as incitement, dehumanization, de-legitimization of the other, and other forms of bias, acknowledging that these definitions were developed by MIFTAH, and that there may be others with which we may agree or disagree.
In the first report, we focused mainly on the way the media covered the unilateral Gaza Disengagement Plan and the Road Map. We also focused on the coverage of the victims of the conflict on both sides, highlighting in particular, what is ignored by the Palestinian media. We reached several conclusions, the most important of which was the fact that nothing qualified the labeling of the Palestinian media as "incitement to violence." We did find, however, that there were instances of bias, the most important of which was a lack of objectivity in covering the Road Map. We also found no criticism of some Palestinian militant groups’ activities, some of which contradict international laws. We also found that the human dimension is absent from the conflict, and the victims are treated as mere abstract figures, in a way that denies the conflict its human dimension, without which it becomes difficult to embark on a bridge-building process which can help in reaching a just and durable solution based on international law.
At the end of the report, we recalled the recommendations made by the Media Monitoring Unit in its analysis of the media coverage of the Presidential Elections in January 2005. The essence of these recommendations was the adoption of a modern media law that liberates the media from the power and domination of the state or any other authority which may deter it from carrying out its task freely and objectively.
What characterizes our first report is a concentration on the print media, because we did not, at the time, have sufficient material to issue an elaborate enough report on the Palestinian Satellite Channel, since we only started monitoring it in the middle of December 2004. In this report, however, we focus on the Palestinian Satellite Channel, as well as on the print media.