Media Coverage of the Middle East
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is drenched in distortion, myths and half-truths. Basic facts about UN resolutions, the Oslo peace process and what happened at Camp David are barely known. The media have been instrumental to the Israelis in making their side of the conflict known to Americans. Israel, a U.S. ally, is far and away the largest recipient of American aid. Ariel Sharon says his country is the “U.S. bridgehead in the Middle East.” For the Palestinians, finding a receptive audience that does not prejudge them is difficult. They are the threatening, dark Other, speaking a strange language and practicing an alien religion. Images of angry and swarthy men wearing kaffiyehs and brandishing weapons are the staple of network broadcasts. Outside the U.S., in Canada, Europe, Asia and even in Israel itself, the media picture is wider and there is a greater range of information.
Sut Jhally is Professor of Communications at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He is the founder and executive director of the Media Education Foundation and the author of The Codes of Advertising. He co-directed the critically acclaimed documentary, Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear and the Selling of American Empire.