The United States One Sided Media – Part 2 of 4
By: Hasan Yahya, Professor of Sociology
This is part two of four of the survey published by The Electronic Intifada about media bias in the United States. And came to the conclusion that Arabs and Muslims have a long way to go in America! The survey titled: Israeli and Palestinian voices on the US op-ed pages, made by Patrick O’Connor, Palestine Media Watch, 13 March 2006. This part covers some Findings and Analysis. The research shows that over the last five years and three months, the five US newspapers with the greatest circulation – The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times – have published on average 2.5 op-eds by Israeli writers for every op-ed published by a Palestinian writer.
The Wall Street Journal has the least balanced five-year record, averaging 5.1 op-eds by Israelis for every one by a Palestinian, while The New York Times has been the most skewed over the last three years, publishing an average of 4.3 Israeli op-ed writers for every Palestinian.
Through keyword searches using these newspapers’ on-line search engines and on Lexis-Nexis, an exhaustive list was compiled of 680 op-eds on Israel/Palestine published from September 29, 2000 until December 31, 2005. 214 of those op-eds were written by Israelis and 86 written by Palestinians, including Israelis and Palestinians living in Israel/Palestine or
Substantial variation among the five newspapers demonstrates that the bias towards Israeli writers is not inevitable. The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times’ five year averages of 5.1 and 3.4 Israelis/Palestinian respectively are followed by The Los Angeles Times with 2.3 Israeli writers per Palestinian writer. In contrast, The Washington Post published 1.4 Israelis for every Palestinian, and USA Today published slightly more Palestinians and Israelis, though USA Today’s total number of Israeli and Palestinian writers (nine) was relatively low. The near parity at The Washington Post and USA Today shows that the over-representation of Israelis in the other newspapers is a product of choices made by editors.
Palestinian citizens of Israel: Another stark finding was the op-ed pages’ complicity in nearly erasing the existence of Palestinian citizens of Israel, 20% of Israel’s population. Though 201 op-eds by Jewish citizens of Israel were published, astonishingly only a single op-ed was published by a Palestinian citizen of Israel currently residing in Israel, Azmi Bishara in The Los Angeles Times. (Shibley Telhami Rami Khouri)
Palestinian refugees: Palestinian refugees suffer a somewhat similar fate. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency estimates that there are 2.6 million Palestinian refugees living in the Middle East outside of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, many in refugee camps. However, only one op-ed by Palestinian refugee living in the Middle East, Rami Khouri, was published in the five newspapers.  Though op-eds by Palestinian refugees living in the United States are sometimes published, the fate of Palestinian refugees and their right of return under international law are almost never addressed on US op-ed pages.
Anti-occupation Israelis: Even Israelis who challenge the narrow mainstream discourse on Israel/Palestine that is accepted in the US are rarely published, despite the general propensity to publish Israelis. In my personal experience in submitting more than 45 op-eds by Israeli and Palestinian writers to these same five US newspapers over the last two and half years, they published only a single op-ed that I was involved with by an Israeli who wrote outside that narrow discourse.
In short, a consistent reliance on establishment voices explains which writers are published and what issues are addressed on Israel/Palestine in the US op-ed pages, not journalistic standards of balance or a concern to represent a variety of views. Establishment Israeli writers echoing the official Israeli narrative dominate the US op-ed pages, privileging a point of view that is already generously represented by syndicated American columnists like Charles Krauthammer, George Will, Jeff Jacoby, Mort Zuckerman, Jonah Goldberg, David Brooks and Max Boot, to name just a few.
By deciding whose voices are heard, the US mainstream media plays a powerful role in shaping the US public’s understanding of Israel/Palestine. Palestinian terrorism is presented continually as the dominant issue in the conflict. In contrast, the US media only occasionally addresses issues like Israeli military occupation, the on-going seizure of Palestinian land and international law. Almost never raised are Israeli discrimination against its Palestinian citizens, Palestinian refugees’ rights of return, Israeli state terrorism, nonviolent Palestinian resistance, and important debates over two states vs. a bi-national state, and over divestment from Israel.
Media bias is not inevitable. It is the result of deliberate editorial choices. If the US media truly aims to present the public with all relevant information and points of view, op-eds and other coverage cannot disproportionately rely on the voices of one side at the expense of the other.
Newspapers like the five examined in this analysis can eliminate the significant imbalance between Israeli and Palestinian voices on their op-ed pages. The bigger challenge is for all levels of the mainstream American media to more equally present both Israeli and Palestinian perspectives so that Americans can make informed decisions on Middle East policy. (go to part three)
عرب يارسول الله ….. عرب !
إلى القراء والقارئات العرب في كل مكان
لطفا… إذا أعجبكم هذا المقال فأرسلوه بالموبايل إلى أصحابكم وشاركوا في تنمية الأخلاق الإنسانية السليمة
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واجعلوا يا عرب … من الكتاب عادة -هدية لمن تحبون في المناسبات ، فوالله ما ألفت ولا كتبت ولا نشرت إلى لزيادة المعرفة بين العرب في المهاجر ولكن أكثر العرب لا يقرأون……….. واأسفاه ومعظم الكتب تصلح لمناهج للمدارس العربية والإسلامية في بلاد الغربة وعتبي على المربين وعلى إدارات المدارس في المهاجر الذين لم يستفيدوا بعد من هذه الكتب،
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