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Western Media Portrayal of the Arab‐Israeli Conflict Essay


Reliable and effective media reporting requires the elimination of diction, evading omissions, ensuring verifiability, circumventing selective reporting, and refraining from de-contextualization. However, Arab-Israeli conflict reporting by western media suffered criticisms for having failed to observe these principles (Falk & Friel 2007). The outcome was inaccurate reporting on the role and intention of each party in the conflict. Luntz (2009) asserts that the western media portrays Israel as a nation that deploys force to settle its people in a land that legitimately belongs to the Arabs. The use of language inappropriately coupled with unverifiable reporting, western media portrays Israelis as murderers who target even unarmed peaceful Arabs such as women and children. The outcome is the representation of Israel as the offending party in the Arab- Israeli conflict.

Project Israel (2009) calls upon the international community, including the media, to adopt the correct language in discursive forms and reporting on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Central to such conversations, the media must appreciate that both parties have their concerns and rights. However, the western media portrays the conflict as involving Arabs who are fighting for their legitimacy, which is denied by the Israelis. For example, the media fails to put it clear that Israel attacks terror groups such as Hamas to protect its people as a noble responsibility of any state and in line with Israeli sovereign rights for defending itself. Rather, some sections of the media report attacks by groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas as an expression of their feeling about Israeli’s subjugation of the oppressed (Luntz 2009). On such grounds, the notion that attacks, which target Israeli women and children launched by groups such as Hamas are treated as a problem of Israeli’s own making.

The Israeli defense forces in collaboration with the government support one of the pros-Israeli groups that are committed to telling the Israeli side of the story over social media platforms. The group comprises student volunteers operating from Herzliya Interdisciplinary Centre (IDC), which is located in northern Tel Aviv. The students compose messages and other details, including diagrams, to overcome the effects of anti-Israeli sentiment posted on social media (Hall 2014). The group claimed in 2014 to have successfully closed a Facebook page that was spreading propaganda engineered by Hamas. Israeli blames the groups for launching rocket attacks targeting Israelis.

A Hama’s Military group (al-Qassam Brigade) operates Twitter accounts that have injured children and/or dead children graphics. They also highlight prepared rockets ready for launching in response to attacks that lead to the injuries or death of children (Hall 2014). In contrast, efforts to tell Israel about the conflict via strategies such as those launched by IDC are dismissed as government propaganda. Therefore, the western media portrays Israel as not committed to ending the conflict to guarantee long-term peace and security both within its borders and in the disputed territories such as West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Gaza civilians’ Twitter accounts narrate the experiences of young people who are frightened by falling bombs in areas of their dwellings coupled with sleepless nights arising from loud sounds of Israeli drones (Hall 2014). This case portrays Israelis as the offending party in a manner that any reaction by Arabs is a retaliation effort. Using the term retaliation evokes negative feelings about attacks by Israelis compared to the term ‘in response to’ while reporting the Arab-Israeli conflicts by some sections of the western media. A similar concern arises in the usage of the word murder and kill. Murder signifies intent (Falk & Friel 2007). The western media considers Israeli as having the desire to occupy West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The use of the word ‘occupy’ as compared to ‘disputed territories’ portrays Israeli as having ill motives of taking over Arab’s legitimate territory.

Most Important Factors to the Next Decade of Israeli‐Palestinian Relations

Israeli and Palestinians have different viewpoints about the conflicts and the peace process. However, in the next decade, the Israeli-Palestinian relationship is most likely to be shaped by factors that influence the two parties in conflicts. Such factors comprise the act of violence, borders, settlement, and peace education, including factors outside the realm of the two parties such as the role of the United Nations in helping to end the conflicts, the state of peace in Iran and Syria, the growth of Islamism, and the existence of groups such as Hezbollah. These factors are crucial in the future relations between Israeli and Palestinians.

Palestinians and Israelis will most likely continue to struggle with the question of their true borders. Such borders define their identity. Does Israel have branches in West Bank and Gaza? Is eastern Jerusalem part of Israel or do Israel borders exist only according to the partition plan? Similarly, Palestinians have the question of borders such as whether Gaza is part of Palestine (Adler 2012). If these questions are resolved, the peace process may proceed amicably over the next decade. However, this outcome is most unlikely since both parties have their historical understanding of where their borders should be located and that they are unlikely to ease their positions.

History is expected to complicate the question of settlements and the Israel-Palestine relations in the next decade. Indeed, until the 2005 evacuation, Jewish settlements in Gaza and West Bank comprised one of the intriguing questions that defined Palestine–Israel relations. Judging from history Jews lived in the West Bank (Samaria) and Judea (Reich 2008). Throughout the Ottoman rule, Jewish settlements were found in Hebron. The mid-half of the 19th century saw the establishment of Jewish settlements in Palestine. Hence, issues such as the definition of the appropriate settlement areas for each of the parties in conflict and the recognition that such settlements are predominantly in Israel or Palestine (Fatah or Hamas) may help to resolve the question of settlement, which is a key ingredient to the improvement of the relationship between Israelis and Palestine over the next decade.

Peace education is the pillar that guarantees sustained security between Palestine and Israel. To this extent, the two parties in conflict should see each other as neighbors and change any negative perceptions about each other that are being passed from one generation to another. Part of this education is the recognition of the fact that both Israel and Palestine need to enjoy their rights to security. Therefore, training suicidal bomber, firing rockets, dropping bombs aboard drones, and even negative mentality are threats to the collective security of the two neighbors. It is only interesting to learn how the conflict between Israel and Palestine will unfold in the next decade as Palestine anticipates the replacement of the fading Mahmud Abbas (Erlanger 2016). The conflict will most likely maintain its standing or ease depending on the next Palestine leader’s policy towards Israel and its allies coupled with Israelis perceived threats to its security such as Iran and groups, for instance, Hezbollah.

The United Nations is critical to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestine conflict (Remnick 2014). However, the organization must play a non-partisan role in providing platforms for the two parties to debate their differences and/or establish a compromising situation. However, the UN must not commit the errors of making solutions for the two parties. Even though Palestine declares its commitment to peace processes, with Israeli echoing the same, the conflict is complicated by external actors such as Iran, Syria, the growth of Islamism, and the support of Palestine by groups such as Hezbollah that Israel considers its enemies.

Prospects for Israeli‐Palestinian Conflict

The UN and the US concur that a two-state solution is the best answer to the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Mahmud Abbas echoes similar sentiments. While Netanyahu joins in a similar song, the feasibility of the solution is open to criticism for various reasons. First, a two-state solution is only feasible if Israel has the political commitment and the will to leave its occupied territories in West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza strip. However, such commitment can only happen upon answering the question of whether Israel constitutes an occupying state since Palestine would argue. Certainly, Israel would not concur with Palestine. Rather, Israel would want to know where the boundaries are located (Adler 2012). To this extent, Palestinians are not only traditional adversaries of Israel but also hindrances to the establishment of Israeli identity.

The fear of losing the national identity propels and nourishes conflicts between Israel and Palestine (Adler 2012). The fear is so enormous on the Israeli side to the extent that the state remains committed to defending all its settlements in West Bank, Gaza strip, and even in East Jerusalem, regardless of whether they were legally acquired or not legal. Consequently, President Obama’s call for Israel to freeze its established settlements in what would become the Palestinian state under the two-state solution is an insult to the Israeli sovereignty.

The phrase ‘peace should come first before erecting political boundaries’ only serves to support the dismissal of the feasibility of a two-state solution even though it may be the best solution for Israel-Palestine conflict. The creation of a political border heralds the formation of two states. Israel is pushing for peace first. It holds the position that the firing of rockets and the issuing of threats and war should stop before the two-state debate can continue. Therefore, currently, a two-state solution is not realistic at least from the Israeli side. Palestinians want it the other way round. They regard the debate on two-state as the fundamental building block to peace and security with its Israeli neighbors. Hence, the two warring parties are divided on what would come first since each party fears the case of being cheated by the other.

Europe and the US strongly hold the position that the two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestine conflict is the ultimate solution to security and long-term peace in the Middle East conflict (Safieh 2012). While Israel recognizes the need and the right of Palestine’s self-governance, it voices serious security concerns. For instance, an Israeli sentiment is that its withdrawal from Gaza only made it’s less safe (Luntz 2009). Hence, for now, Israeli leadership does not articulate any support for a two-state solution.

The question of what happens to Israelis living in the territories that would become Palestine state under the two-state solution only reinforces Netanyahu’s position. During his last campaigns, a Palestine state would not be established under his watch (Nashashibi 2016). How many Israelis require evacuation from East Jerusalem, which would be the capital of Palestine state if the two-state solution becomes a reality? The evacuation of 7000 Jews from the Gaza strip cost NIS 10 billion (Adler 2012). Arguing from the point of this figure, evacuating 100,000 Jews would be done at a cost of NIS 150 billion. This figure is about 50 percent of Israel’s yearly budget (Adler 2012). Perhaps for the sake of enhancing peace in the Middle East, the US would be willing to invest in the idea. Otherwise, Israel cannot afford it. Even though the US pressurized Netanyahu to accept the two-state solution, questions on the feasibility of the position remain. Do both Israel and Palestine have the same vision for two-sates? Where should the border of the states be located?

Camp David Accords

The mid-1967 war left Israel a victor. Arab forces had built up along Israeli borders. Israeli responded through attacks on Egypt and Syria. Jordan would then later join in the battle, but Israel forces proved stronger. After six days of continuous fighting, the Egyptian Sinai peninsula, the Gaza strip, West Bank, the section on East of Jerusalem occupied by Arabs, and the Syrian Golan Heights both under Jordan’s rule fell in the hands of Israel (Lesch, Hass, & Mark 2011). The UN would later declare a ceasefire on June 11. However, Israel had already increased its size more than double. Its problems with the Arabs blossomed. Amid calls by the UN Security Council for Israel to return the occupied territories, Israel responded by fully annexing East Jerusalem (Stein 1999).

Israel established military centers of administration in all the territories. It maintained that it would only give out Sinai, West Bank, Golan Heights, and Gaza strip when Arabs recognize its right of existence accompanied by guaranteeing its future existence without any attacks. The Arabic leaders, saddened by their defeat, retreated on talks to determine how the Middle East would look like in the future. They contended that they would not recognize Israel, would not give in to any peace policy and that they would do anything within their power to defend all occupied territories belonging to Palestine. However, under President Sadat’s leadership, Egypt chose to make peace with Israel. This decision culminated in Camp David Accords. Nevertheless, the Accords benefited Israel more than Egypt.

On 17th November 1978, the 13 days of negotiation yielded fruits. Prime Minister Begin agreed to return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt while President Sadat recognized the existence of Israel and declared the commitment of the nation to maintaining peace with Israel (Reich 2008). Various other details of the reconciliation agenda in the Middle East were also discussed and agreed upon.

The Sinai Peninsula is rich in oil deposits. Considering that Israel lacks any other oil wells, returning the Sinai Peninsula meant that it would buy crude oil from Egypt. Similarly, the territory attracts tourism, and hence why Israel has a primary interest in maintaining good relations with Egypt, especially by noting that only limited tourism occurs in West Bank and Gaza strip. Egyptians also travel less to Israel (Makram-Ebeid 1998). Hence, the economic implications of Camp David Accords in terms of the bilateral trade between the two nations favored Egypt more compared to Israel.

The Camp David Accords had financial implications on Israel. The largest Israeli population supported the Accords. However, the settler population immensely opposed the agreement. President Sadat would not consent any agreement with Israel without securing the Sinai Peninsula back (Reich 2008). Hence, Israel had to destroy all its settlements in the territory, a move that was met with heavy resistance by the settlers (Stein 1999). For example, those who settled in Yamit resisted the evacuation just like in the case of the Gaza evacuation in 2005. The government had no alternative, but to forcefully remove them. Egypt did not have to deal with the trauma associated with forceful evacuation coupled with meeting the costs involved in the implementation of the evacuation policy.

Arguing that Egypt was the only beneficiary of the Camp David Accords is inconsistent. It also presents Israel as having failed to successfully negotiate its demands. Even though Egypt may have gained more, Israel equally benefited from the Accords (Makram-Ebeid 1998). It returned the Sinai Peninsula consistently with its demand for the recognition of its existence. Indeed, Egypt became the first Arabic nation to recognize the existence of Israel. Others, including Palestine, have refused to do the same with claims that Palestinians teach Middle East maps that exclude Israel (Luntz 2009). Peaceful coexistence between Israel and Egypt meant that Israel did not have to concentrate on security threats along its border with Egypt. Consequently, money and thousands of lives have been saved.

References

Adler, E 2012, Israel in The World: Legitimacy And Exceptionalism, Chapter 7, Four States, Two People, One Solution: Can Israel Maintain Its Identity? Routledge, London.

Erlanger, S 2016, , Web.

Falk, R & Friel, H 2007, Israel-Palestine on Record: How the New York Times Misreports Conflict in the Middle East, Verso, London.

Hall, M 2014, , Web.

Luntz, F 2009, The Israel Project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary, Tel Aviv, The Israeli Project for Security, Freedom And Peace, Web.

Makram-Ebeid, M 1998, , Web.

Nashashibi, S 2016, , Web.

Reich, B 2008, A brief history of Israel, chapter 5-the begin earthquake and peace with Egypt, Routledge, London.

Remnick, D 2014, Web.

Stein, K 1999, Heroic Diplomacy: Sadat, Kissinger, Carter, Begin, and the Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace, Taylor & Francis, London.

Lesch, D, Hass, W & Mark, L 2011, The Middle East and the United States: History politics and ideologies, chapter 14-from Madrid and Oslo to Camp David –the United States and the Arabic –Israeli conflict, 1991-2001, Taylor & Francis, London.

Safieh, A 2012, The Peace Process: From Breakthrough To Breakdown, Saqi Books, New York, NY.

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IvyPanda. (2020, August 1). Western Media Portrayal of the Arab‐Israeli Conflict. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/western-media-portrayal-of-the-arabisraeli-conflict/

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IvyPanda. "Western Media Portrayal of the Arab‐Israeli Conflict." August 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/western-media-portrayal-of-the-arabisraeli-conflict/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Western Media Portrayal of the Arab‐Israeli Conflict." August 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/western-media-portrayal-of-the-arabisraeli-conflict/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Western Media Portrayal of the Arab‐Israeli Conflict'. 1 August.

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