If you’re like most non-Arabs, you probably don’t read the Arab Press. That could be a mistake.
The Arab world is not monolithic. It’s dynamic. It’s a living entity. It’s home to almost 350 million people. Many of these people know about you. What do you know about them?
Every Thursday before Noon ET, return here for something you may not see elsewhere: a look at the Arab news world.
Here are some personal comments about Arab news for November 20–27, 2013.
Today, we take a quick look at how Arab news sites look at Israel.
From Palestinian (PA) news
Yesterday, November 27, 2013, the PA ran 55 features, analyses and interviews on its news homepage. These 55 features appeared in addition to a list of news headlines.
Of these 55 ‘feature’ presentations, 33 (60%) were unflattering to Israel. Here’s a sampling of ‘feature’ headlines about Israel that visitors to the PA news site saw yesterday:
- Israeli admits shooting at Palestinian children on TV game show
-Bible scholars: Zionists have 'weaponized' scripture
-Medics: Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian in south Gaza
-Israeli forces demolish house, steel structure in Hebron town
-Activists smash holes in separation wall near Jerusalem
-3 Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces near Hebron
The main ‘feature’ of these feature stories is unmistakeable: Israel kills and harms your (Arab) neighbours even as Arabs fight to smash holes in Israel’s symbol of brutality.
Can you identify what’s missing from these stories?
Where’s the coverage of ‘peace’?
Peace is a big story in the West. Peace talks unfold for Israelis and Arabs. Where’s the coverage?
The West can’t stop talking about peace. Israel and the PA are supposed to be talking about how to live together side-by-side.
Where’s the coverage?
-Where are the interviews with those who will build that peace once all the paperwork has been signed?
-Where are the analyses of what might be the first steps taken once the paperwork is signed?
-Where are the feature profiles of those who will build in the new ‘Palestine’?
-Where are the discussions of what should be built first once peace is real?
There’s nothing about peace. There’s nothing about building. In PA news, peace doesn’t exist.
PA news, however, does have a focus. That focus is Israel—and it’s a very clear focus indeed: Israel kills and brutalizes your friends.
What part of ‘Israel-is-evil’ don’t you get—the shooting, the home-destruction, the murder or the bullying?
That’s the PA focus.
If that’s true, there’s a disconnect here. If the PA won’t talk about peace, how do Arabs in the PA prepare for peace? If all PA news can talk about is the ‘demon Israel’, what do you think Arab readers are thinking about—and talking about--when it comes to Israel—peace?
Explain that to me. Then, once you do that, you can explain to me why, in the face of such a disconnect, the West insists on calling Israel the one who doesn’t want peace.
There’s something rotten here—and it’s not Israel.
From around the Arab world
PA news isn’t the only news source covering Israel in the Arab world. For example, on Wednesday, November 27, 2013, Jordanian news had its own homepage. It showed 39 stories and features. But only 2 (5%) were about Israel.
In Saudi Arabia, the news ran 22 features, opinions and news. Only 1 (4.5%) was about Israel.
In Kuwait, the news ran 13 features, opinion and analyses. Only one (7.7%) was about Israel.
The Bahrain news showed 34 stories on its main page. None (0%) were about Israel.
Syrian news ran 43 features and stories. None (0%) were about Israel. The Syrian site does have a section called ‘Related Sections’ displayed at the top of the News Page—and it is therefore visible and noticeable; an ‘Israel’ section appears prominently in this Section. But the stories about Israel under ‘Israel’ do not have the same anti-Israel animus you see in PA news. The stories presented here on Wednesday, November 27, 2013 appeared far, far less hostile than one might expect.
This is just a sampling of Arab news. One news cycle—and one day within that cycle—cannot possibly tell the whole story about how Israel is presented in the Arab world.
There is also a language issue. The stories you read about here have not come from Arabic sites; they come from English-language sites that Arab nations have built for English readers.
The news and features presented to English-speakers may be different from news presented in Arabic. We may be reading a ‘laundered’ version of Arab news.
What you read about here is the news Arab sources want English-readers to see. So, while we may not know what each Arab news site is saying in Arabic about Israel, we can see what they say in English—and what the PA says in English doesn’t appear laundered at all. Their message is clear: Israel is evil.
Does that message prepare English-language readers to support peace with Israel?
You tell me.