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Recent Article: U.S. Media Bias Toward Israel

Monday, January 26, 2009

I wrote an article recently in where I interviewed Dr. As’ad AbuKhalil and FAIR representative Peter Hart.  The article was about U.S. media bias on the coverage of Israel.  This is my original article which was translated by journalist Ashraf Allam.

U.S. Racism and Colonialism Fuels Media Bias Toward Israel/محللون أمريكيون: العنصرية والعقلية الاستعمارية وراء انحياز الإعلام «الفطري» لإسرائيل

During the recent conflict in the Gaza strip many inside and outside the United States accused the mainstream United States media of being biased towards Israel.

In one instance the Washington Post, one of the main newspapers read all over the United States of America, had two prominent pictures on their front page.  In one picture was a Palestinian mother who had lost five children due to the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip the other was of an Israeli woman “distressed” over the fighting.

For Lebanese born University of California professor As’ad AbuKhalil this is just one more example of the pro-Israeli bias in the U.S. media.

“The flagrant bias is the that in the racism and colonial mindset; the life of the Jew is more precious than the of the Arab.” States AbuKhalil.  “So any injury or shock inflicted by the Israeli is more important than Palestinian women and children killed in terrorist Israeli bombing.”

This pro-Israeli coverage, according to Peter Hart, a spokesperson for the U.S. media monitor group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), is an overarching thing.

“American coverage has the tendency to see the conflict from an Israeli point of view,” explains Hart.  “Political debate concerning Israel in the elite circles of Washington politics leaves very little room to criticize Israel.”

As a result U.S. media coverage tends to only focus on what the debates are between the elites in Washington D.C., the capital of the United States.  If there is no debate on Israel and everyone in Washington supports Israel then the media coverage will reflect that.

Not only does the media only report what tends to be going on in elite circles in Washington D.C. but certain media conglomerates actually have business interests in the military industrial complex.

AbuKhalil states.  “The key problem lies in the nature of media ownership. There is a conglomerate ring of about 4 giant companies that monopolize the ownership of the key media companies. These giant companies-like GE that owns NBC- get multimillion-contracts from the American administration especially the defense budget. GE, for example, makes the nuclear bomb catalysts. So, they are reluctant to go far in criticizing the foreign policy subjects of little relevance to public opinion.”

The same thing happened during the lead up to the Second Iraq War, says Hart.  “They say since there was no critical debate in Washington on the war there was very little need to push for critical questions.”

This lead the public to be misinformed about the reasons for going to war with Iraq since the media was not challenging the foreign policy of the Bush administration.

Any journalist who does try to question what the Israeli or U.S. government is doing will face political harassment, according to AbuKhalil.

“Who dares to defy this general consensus face professional harassment. A journalist works for a prominent paper wrote to me: It’s OK to criticize the [New York Times] coverage but please don’t mention this approval in your own blog as not to harm me.”

Even though the U.S. media offered very biased coverage during the Gaza conflict, Hart states, “If you read the media content you would get a false impression of U.S. public opinion, which is more nuanced than the media lets on and has more questions than the media is willing to ask.”

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