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Excellent book on how the media covers the Palestinian Israel conflict, the biasness and the non-objective element. Im tempted here to republish a review essay I made of the book when it was first published in 2004... Academics, media practitioners, commentators and even the ordinary man-in-the-street must read this book over and over to understand how television news in Britain manipulates coverage for the benefit of one side—the Israeli. Philo and Berry of the Glasgow University Media Group carefully painstakingly looking at news bulletins by the BBC and ITV through a two-year period to see how the networks have covered the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Intifada. They examine the news content provided by these organizations and argue that television news is not innocently aired to audiences watching the news dominated by violent images and concentration on projecting riots, mobs, stonethrowing, stabbings, shootings, kidnapping, protests and military attacks (p.101).Indeed, one BBC journalists said his his own editor had said to him that they did not want explainers—as he put it: its all bang bang stuff, (p.102).Paul Adams, a veteran BBC journalist who long covered this area says: Its a constant procession of grief—its covered as if it’s a very large blood feud and unless there isnt a large amount of blood, its not covered, (p.113).But behind the keenness to show action, it can be argued there is a very real campaign to favor Israel in the reporting. Philo and Berry says The Israelis had twice as much time to speak, (p 136). In the first sample of bulletins between 28 September till 16 October the Israelis had 105.5 lines of text against 52.5 for the Palestinians, (p 296). And this trend continued throughout the two other samples conducted by the authors within the two year period, (p 157). Similarly in the March 2002 sample 125.25 lines of text were given to covering Israeli deaths as opposed to 46 lines of Palestinian deaths (p 181). But this maybe due to the fact the Israelis have a more stronger public relations machine who are in the business of providing press releases, interviews and even-ready made news giving their versions of events to willing journalists. This point is further facilitated by the fact that Israel as the dominant state controls and quite frequently deny access to the Palestinians to get to Jerusalem were 99 percent of the media is located in (p 136).This means that press releases coming from the Israeli authorities are simply endorsed and reported by the journalist, (p.147). This maybe because of a number of factors one of which the in ability of Palestinian officials to get to studios in Jerusalem in time. This biasness to one side may in the end be related to the structure of occupation. Nevertheless, the book criticizes TV journalists as accepting one version of events without checking its truth. Statements presented by Israeli sources, using emotive specific words become the normal way of reporting the news. Bias and taking the Israeli side is made in other ways too. The use of language is a powerful tool used by the media, to sharpen the reports and give the viewers hidden messages, and telling viewers subliminally which side is wrong. The phrase the Palestinians are show[ing] no sign of remorse (p 155) is designed to convey to the viewers that they dont care at what theyve done. But as the writers show there is nothing in the bulletins to suggest why Palestinians are doing this or explain the reasons for their behavior. Emotive words such as a cold-blooded killing (p147), savage cold-blooded killing, atrocity, murder, lynch mob, barbarically killed (p 153) and brutal killing (p 154), brutal slaying and slaughter (p 155) are all words indiscriminately used to describe Palestinian action against Israeli deaths. In contrast, reporting on the Palestinians is used differently. The authors say despite the large number of Palestinians who have died, words such as cold-bloodied killing had not been used to describe their deaths, (p 148) in the period under study. Further, it is Israelis deaths which are given detailed accounts which is in contrast to the non-specific language of tanks and warplanes hit[ting] Palestinian targets, (p 214).The book criticizes the British television media for identifying with the Israeli side. It says Our analysis suggests that the news framework and the presentational structure which was most frequently used in reporting events tended to favor the Israeli perspective…the Israelis were said to be retaliating or in some way responding to what had been done to them about six times as often as the Palestinian, (p 160).By contrast it is argued the Palestinian attacks are rarely referred to…as a response or retaliation to Israeli action, (p 162).Philo and Berry add journalists adopt the Israeli view (p 163) uncritically, by using emotive words themselves as Israels furious response, Israels retribution, hammer Palestinians and Israel gave the Palestinian Authority a humiliating reminder of its military power today in response to the weekends suicide bombing, (p 164).Journalists at times use the word terrorist…directly in their own speech without attributing it as part of a reported statement, by the Israelis, ( p 172). The word gunmen is also used on one occasion by a reporter although he is presenting the Palestinian point of view. In western culture, Philo and Berry say, the use of this word gives viewers a very negative connotations because it is associated with bank robbers and other criminal activity and used interchangeably with the word terrorist, (p 171).The authors say gunmen and terrorists were typically applied to Palestinian actors rather than Israelis and this tends to be a long-term trend that has long been adopted on the reporting of the conflict, (p 171).A whole battery of vocabulary is used when describing Palestinians on television which has the effect of stripping them of their humanity, their history, and identity and to the fact that they have been driven out of their land and occupied. Words include describing them as activists, followers [of Hams], guerrillas, militants, extremists, assailants, gunmen, bombers, terrorists, killers, assassins, fundamentalist groups, attackers, self-styled Palestinian martyrs and fanatics, (p 173).There is no attempt by the television reporters to provide analysis or explanations for Palestinian actions as rooted in the history of the conflict. In the bulletins transcribed between 28 September and 16 October 2000 just 17 lines out of a total of 3,500 lines of text referred to the history of the conflict.Instead Palestinians are presented as irrational or at least there is no historical context to explain to the viewers why are they doing this, something that created a great deal of confusion among people who are watching, with journalists often speaking obliquely, almost in the form of shorthand, (p 110). The effect of all this was to create the impression there is no clear rationale for [Palestinian] action other than they are driven by hatred, ( p 120). They are merely portrayed as starting and the Israelis are responding. The lack of historical context moves the rationale for Palestinian action (p 157).But the rationale behind Israeli action is clearly expressed. Although, Philo and Berry acknowledge that Israelis do not escape without criticism on television, they suggest it is the Israeli rationales that are routinely present in the coverage both in the reported statements and the interviews with their spokespeople, (p 178). There is very little keenness to provide explanations. The book criticizes television news for its inability to talk about the nature of the occupation and Israeli military control, (p 175) as being motives for Palestinian action. This is something which is widely discussed in Israel newspapers, with Michael Ben-Yair, former Israeli attorney-general, writing in Haaretz as the Intifada as being a war of national liberation for the Palestinians saying we enthusiastically chose to become a colonialist society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating land, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justifications for all these activities…we established an apartheid regime, ( p 157).But the story of the settlers is taken up by television news with reporters saying settlements as venerable and under threat and spending a disproportionate time following the lives and concerns of the settlers, (p 121). One reporter was even in the car of one couple with their baby and an M16 rifle.But such images are designed to convey a picture to the viewers that Israelis are trying to lead normal lives against all odds. However, Philo and Berry argue settlements are not put in the proper context set up and developed by the Israeli government on Palestinian lands to strength the occupation and political control backed by the Israeli army (p 124).Although written in a succinct language, the book has to be read time and again so the reader can fathom, think about and discuss what is being said. At the end of the book, the authors talk extensively to people from different social strata to see whether watching the news helped them to understand more about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.Views spoken to suggest television was not doing its job in informing people. One said the news was dominated by images of atrocity and horror. Many didnt know that the Palestinians were forcibly removed from their land and are now under occupation. Another said the impression he got was that the Palestinians had lived around the area and now were trying to get back…I didnt realize they had been driven out, I just thought they didnt want to live as part of Israel.He seemed to reflect a general attitude among the people interviewed, and this is maybe why the first 90 pages or so was attributed to providing a historical background to the conflict from the invention of political Zionism and Jewish immigration to Israel in the late 19th and early 20th century right up to the current government of Ariel Sharon in Israel.The bibliography at the end of the book is quite extensive, but there might be one bone of contention with the authors and that is most of the references are by English or Jewish sources, in comparison Arab sources either in English or Arabic were somewhat underplayed. The authors should have looked at more primary material from the Arab world especially from such organizations as the Institute of Palestine studies to get a more indigenous view. This is especially important because of the number of Israeli references including the Israeli neo-historians that are used.

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