Monday, November 21, 2005

How will the media describe the Likud now?

The world media like to assign single words or short phrases to people and political movements. This simplifies things for them; they get out of the responsibility of actually reporting anything with any complexity and they can quickly influence the readers to think as they do.

Hence, Ariel Sharon was inevitably described as a "hawk" (never a "risk-taker for peace" for example), Mahmoud Abbas as a "pragmatist" (never a "Holocaust-denier"), terrorists as "militants", Shimon Peres as a "Nobel-prize winner", people who support the settlers as "ultra-nationalists" and so on. We read this appellations so often that we don't think about them but for those who are not intimately familiar with the political landscape it is easy to see that if one side elects a "hawk" as a leader and the other one elects a "moderate", then the "moderate" must be a more reasonable person and any problems are the "hawk's" fault. (

Now, the media have a few problems - if Sharon no longer heads the Likud and starts a "centrist" party, it can hardly keep calling him a hawk when there is a major party to his right. But abandoning the "hawk" label takes time because to do that means that they've been calling him the wrong label for years now. So for now they will probably try to avoid labeling him until they can find something new to hang onto him, and just refer to him as the head of a new "centrist" party.

But what do they call Netanyahu and the remaining Likudniks? "Hawkish" has been too closely associated with Sharon, so they need another name that conveys their strong disapproval for anything they stand for.

The early favorite seems to be "hardliners." Although al-Ha'aretz likes calling them "extremists," a term others like to reserve for Al-Qaeda terrorists and the Jewish religious right-wing.