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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Observations on Palestinian Arabic media

As readers of this blog know, I've been spending some time over the past few days reading auto-translated PalArab media websites. Here are some general observations:
  • Unlike newspapers all over the world, including Arab newspapers, there are almost no local "human interest" stories. A great majority of "local" news is dedicated to Israeli actions.
  • Local crime, especially "clan clashes" and Fatah-Hamas violence, is only sporadically reported and definitely downplayed. While the 15 killed earlier this month did get some press the other violent acts that are a part of daily life are either considered normal or something meant to be minimized. Almost no individual acts of local terror will get covered in every newspaper the way that an Israeli arrest or incursion does - I have to look through many papers to find a single mention.
  • There is some obsession with local Israeli politics, pretty much a funhouse mirror version of Haaretz or Yediot. Small stories get large headlines and vice versa.
  • When it comes to paranoia, Jews don't come close to Arabs. There are many stories about Western attempts to obliterate Islam altogether, and lots of articles about imaginary plots by Jews to destroy the mosque on the Temple Mount.
  • As can be expected, the theme that Jews have no historic or religious connection to the land is prevalent. Articles will regularly say things like "historians have proven that there was no Temple in Jerusalem" or that Jews going to Joseph's Tomb to pray are "desecrating" it.
  • Normal journalistic standards that can be expected in Western media, as well as in most English-language Arab media - the pretense of objectivity - is in much shorter supply. I have no doubt that it is not as bad as in the past, now that many Arabs can read English and can compare for themselves, but the Arabic media is tilted away from the truth compared to their English-language counterparts.