CONSEQUENCES OF SUICIDE
"EXPRESSING THE INEXPRESSIBLE"
9.1 "YOU ARE ALL DEAD"
| 9.2 THE SECURITY FENCE – A ONE-SIDED OBSESSION | 9.3 SLOGANS, IMAGES AND BIASED LEGACY
| 9.4 LIES, VIDEOS AND STATISTICS | 9.5 ACCURATE AND IMPARTIAL?
| 9.6 THE MANNER OF DYING – OFTEN BEYOND IMAGINATION |
9.7 BE THE FIRST TO KNOW – WHAT? | 9.8 ARAB MEDIA COVERAGE
| 9.9 WHAT DOES INTERNATIONAL 'MEDIA VIOLENCE' DO TO VIEWERS?
| 9.10 WHO HAS BENEFITED FROM MEDIA BIAS?
What does the world see of a suicide bombing? A review of media coverage of suicide bombings cannot be
detached from a critique of general media response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Suicide bombings are
reported within a context that was set decades ago, against a consensual agenda of much of the world media.
Coverage is often cursory and biased, against a backdrop of pictures of burning buses, wrecked cafes and
shopping malls, and ambulances ferrying away the dead and wounded. This chapter also looks at what is not
shown or reported.
Following the alleged "Jenin Massacre", an Israeli Defence Force spokesperson was invited to be
interviewed live on one of the world's leading television networks in its Jerusalem studio. Unknown to the staff, she had smuggled in a Palestinian suicide bomb vest and fake explosives. As the interviewer
welcomed her and was about to launch into hard questions about Jenin, she took out the belt. "This is
Palestinian suicide belt whose purpose is to blow up innocent civilians," she said. Then came the punch line:
"You are all now dead."
There was dead air for ten seconds. Can you imagine what dead air is on a live
international news network which reaches hundreds of millions of viewers? The interviewer could only
muster a meek and nervous response. "That was pretty dramatic." To which the spokesperson replied, "That
was pretty real." Again the studio was silent as cameramen, producers, sound people – everyone in the
studio and the global audience came face to face with the terrorism that Israel confronts on a daily basis
That was a dummy run. But it brought home to all who watched, particularly to those in the studio, the
arbitrariness of suicide bombings. They happen while you are about your normal business, boarding a bus, eating in a restaurant, queuing to get into a nightclub or, if this had been a real instance, while you are broadcasting from a studio. It brought home the reason for Israel's incursions into the West bank which are
frequently shown or written up as arbitrary acts whose sole purpose is to make the lives of the Palestinian
people miserable. The real reason, that it is an effective way of pre-empting terror, is seldom spelt out. The
IDF spokesperson got it in one.
She made another point. Suicide bombings in which "you are all dead," can happen anywhere, not just
among Israelis. Anyone who thinks that his or her cause justifies indiscriminate murder of civilians can
strike in London, Paris, Berlin or New York with the same alarming ease. The passage from "you are all
dead," to "we are all dead" is implicit in the spokesperson's action.
In its campaign to prevent suicide bombers from entering Israel – at one time, a fairly simple exercise; they
just walked in – a defensive barrier was built along sections of the border, its path chosen in accordance with
security and topographic considerations. Palestinian centres of terrorism are often located within short
walking distance of Israeli centres of population. The security fence formed a strip approximately the width
of a four-lane highway. At its centre is a chain-link fence that supports an intrusion detection system.
This technologically advanced system is designed to warn against infiltrations, as is the dirt tracking path and
other observation tools. Despite the many pictures shown by the international media of a tall concrete wall,
most of the security fence (approximately 95%) will eventually consist of this chain-link fence system.
The decision to establish the security fence was taken only after other options were tried, but failed to stop the
deadly terrorist attacks. (A similar fence already exists in Gaza, built in accordance with the 1994 Gaza-Jericho Agreement between Israel and the PLO, and it has a proven record of successfully preventing
terrorist attacks.) The security fence does not attempt to mark in any way a future border.
Neither does it annex land to the State of Israel. "No particular preference was given to using land in the West Bank itself,
and indeed, in certain sections, the security fence is being built within Israel's pre-1967 lines. The fence does
not change the status of Palestinian lands, their ownership or the status of the residents of these areas. Only a
small number of Palestinian villages will be included on the western side of the security fence. Their
residents will not have to relocate and their legal status will remain unchanged.. Israel has made use of
public lands a priority in building the security fence in order to avoid, as far as possible, the requisition of
private lands. If this is not possible, then private land is requisitioned, not confiscated, and it remains the
property of the owner". (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel 5 May 2004.)
When private lands are used owners are offered compensation. Gates have been installed to allow farmers access to any of their land
beyond the fence.
The security fence has been highly effective in reducing suicide and other terror attacks. But many elements
of the media have seen it as an unjustified assault on Palestinian rights without looking at the situation which
made it necessary and against which it should have been carefully measured. A section of wall put up
opposite the Israeli coastal resort of Netanya – which endured the 27 March 2002 Passover massacre suicide
bombing which killed thirty guests and wounded eighty-six – has stopped some bombers from reaching the
town which is a few kilometres from the 'Green Line'. Our research has revealed no attempt by media to
show how easy it was to cross the line and reach an Israeli civilian target.
It could have been demonstrated in the way that the IDF officer made her point in the studio, or by walking a correspondent through one of the
many paths that real bombers took and getting them to choose a crowded cafe to detonate an imaginary
bomb. You are all dead.
An Israeli analyst, Klein Halevi, noted that two key elements of Palestinian long-term strategy are to
undermine Israel's viability by forcing Israel back to the 1967 'Green Line', and then to overwhelm the
Jewish state with Palestinian refugees, through international pressure on Israel to increase the number of refugees it would be willing to accept. He notes the "invisible return' of Palestinians slipping across the border and settling in Israeli Arab communities, as tens of thousands have already done in recent years.
"The fence puts a brake on both of these processes, and is the real reason why Palestinian leaders see the fence as
a disaster and why they mobilized their political allies in the international court to stop it." (Klein Halevi
2004). The court was not mandated to examine Israel's rationale for the fence, only its effects on the
Palestinians. Rulings made by Israel's High Court to halt parts of the fence and to alter its course were
Much of the world media took a similar line and continues to focus on the 'fence' through promoting such
issues as uprooted Palestinian olive trees and citrus groves, loss of access to agricultural lands on the Israeli
side of the fence, and 'humiliation' of Palestinians at checkpoints. From the perspective of Israeli civilians,
the maligned security fence, sometimes referred to as the 'separation or apartheid fence', represents a
demonstrated asset in reducing the number of suicide bombers whose primary target is Israeli civilians.
The issue of loss of trees is not in any way equal to the loss of family members to suicide bombers. Trees can be
replanted. Bombers' victims do not return. The fence currently has 44 gates to enable Palestinians access to
their agricultural lands. The 'humiliation' of the Palestinians is always quoted as a major issue. Is it not
'humiliating' for Israeli casualties to have to spend the rest of their lives in wheelchairs, or without sight or
hearing, or with metal balls embedded in their head – the bitter legacy of 'bombs with eyes'? There is no
prize for concluding just who may be more humiliated.
The handling of the security fence is a typical example of media demonization of Israel and a lack of interest
in Israel's duty to defend its population now and in the future. The real issues behind the International Court
in The Hague's decision against the fence were generally left unexplained. Yehuda HaLevy describes the
background: "The International Court in The Hague did not challenge Israel's right to build fences along its
borders with Lebanon or Gaza because those were built on the 1967 ceasefire lines. But, the real meaning of
the Court's final condemnation of the fence decision was to de-legitimize not Israel's right to self defence but
its right to claim any territory, even for self-defence, over the so-called Green Line of the 1967 borders.
However, the danger of The Hague decision was that it could create legal groundwork for an imposed
solution that would force Israel back to the 1967 borders, even without a peace agreement... In determining
that Israel has no legitimate claim to any territory it won in 1967, including presumably Jewish
neighbourhoods built in East Jerusalem, the court had in effect overturned UN Resolution 242, the basis of
the land for peace formula, which does not refer to Israel's return of 'the territories' but merely 'territories'.
Waiving (Israel's) legitimate claim to most of the territory over the Green Line would make sense in a
benign Middle East that is prepared to accept a non-Arab, non-Muslim state in it's midst... but the Middle East today is a region that celebrates mini-genocidal acts of terrorism as sacraments, and denies the most
basic legitimacy to the Jewish story, from the existence of the Temple to the existence of gas chambers.
Under these conditions it would be madness to return to the eight-mile wide borders of 1967 – whose
vulnerability, after all, tempted the Arab world to try to destroy Israel" (Klein Halevi 2004).
"The campaign to demonize Israel, which reached a crescendo in the Jenin massacre myth and the Durban conference of 2001, did not suddenly appear following the collapse of the Oslo process. Rather, its origins can be found in the glorious 1960s, in the era of the civil rights movements, free speech, flower power, protests against the Vietnam War, and the marches for justice, equality, and the national liberation of all –
except the Jews.
In sharp contrast to the self-serving myths of peace and love, the excesses of the political
movements during the 1960s are the direct antecedents of the slogans and myths that now promote the
Palestinian campaign of murder. Unlike most major changes in history, which cannot be traced to a single
event, the demonization of Israel had a clear beginning immediately following the Israeli victory in the June
Before the fighting began, during the weeks of crisis and tension, the world's sympathy (with the
exception of the Arab world of course) was with Israel, the beleaguered Jewish state struggling to survive.
Nasser's eviction of UN peacekeeping troops from the Sinai, the shrill rhetoric promising to "throw the Jews
into the sea", as well as the military pacts and deployment of troops along Israel's borders, were all reported
widely and accurately. At that time there was no "occupation" to excuse Arab and Palestinian hatred and
barbarism, and there were no Israeli settlements to condemn. When the fighting began , almost no one
questioned Israel's right to defend itself. However, from the moment the Jewish people and Israel ceased
being victims and demonstrated the capability to defend themselves and their homeland, the sympathy
suddenly shifted to hostility" (Steinberg 2002).
The mass ignorance, perversion of history, and irrational hatred of Israel that developed on university
campuses became the seeds of the global campaign of de-legitimization against Israel. (Steinberg 2002). For
example, after the Six Day war in 1967 any defence of Israel was prohibited in Berkeley and other
universities which followed its example, and anyone who did not share the elite's politically-correct ideology
was subject to physical attack. Many of the students who learned about the Arab-Israeli conflict
subsequently adopted the simple-minded framework of Israeli demonization and Palestinian victimization. "Some graduates became journalists who report events in the Middle East through the prism that begins with
the 'Israeli aggression of 1967'" (Steinberg 2002).
A similar process took place in Europe – this time with a strong mix of anti-American as well as anti-Israeli feeling. One of the defining aspects of growing European self-awareness was a tendency to criticise Israel fairly or otherwise, as a means of thwarting American policies. Knee-jerk condemnations of Israel were regularly issued by European governments and echoed in the media against a bland acceptance of Palestinian intransigence and acts of terror, while the legacy of the Sixties produced a stream of diplomats
who flocked to pay their respect to the late Yasser Arafat.
However, by 2002 "a few brave intellectuals (have) dared to stray from the socially acceptable path, pointing to the fundamental intellectual and moral
failure on university campuses around the world... Oriana Fallaci, an Italian journalist and former member of
the Euro-elite, published a powerful attack against the rampant European demonization of Israel and the
anti-Semitism it exposed. These and other contributions mark an important beginning of the counterattack."
In 2004 a British academic used key events in Israel's history to present a new set of
arguments that challenge much of the conventional wisdom on the Jewish state. He eloquently retraces the
roots of the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict, avoiding slogans and distorted images, and looks at
significant lessons which need to be learnt from the past. He points out how the "visual image – either
television or photograph – has come to play a central role in legitimizing Israel's existence, its borders and
its conflict with the Arabs.
The first is of a badly mangled bus with only its basic structure intact – the latest
target of the now terrifyingly routine strategy of suicide bombing. Such attacks have turned Israeli cities into
war zones, reducing everyday life in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to a perverse game of Russian roulette (or the
'odds game' as some Israelis prefer to term it). The second image is of an Israeli soldier firing on a
Palestinian, and the wounded Palestinian being carried to a waiting ambulance. Both images are brutal, and
help stoke the embers of hatred in the region. No matter how tragic, however, they merely reflect news
editors' obsession with the humanistic story over the developing of a deeper understanding of the complex
arguments. Somewhere along the line, the deep lying arguments over Israel and its fight for its existence
have been lost in the rush to play the blame game or the 'who's right, who's wrong' set of arguments"
The Treasury of Humorous Quotations compares the man who uses statistics to a drunken man's use of
lampposts – for support rather than illumination. All too often statistics hide the real meaning of situations
they should cast light on (seldom to Israel's advantage).
Take a report that appeared in the London Guardian (18 June 2002) which claimed that in two months 154 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli troops. But no
mention was made of how many of them were civilians or suicide bombers, their dispatchers, recruiters or
armed 'militants'. Readers were left to suppose, without being told so point blank, that perhaps all were
civilians. The objective of terror organizations is to "terrorize," and their targets are correspondingly those
most subject to terror – the civilian population. For a terrorist organization the more they kill the better.
Israel, on the other hand, seeks not to terrorize but to hunt down terrorists, from the cogs of the terror
machine to its big wheels. Any statistical correspondence therefore between Israeli and Palestinian casualties
demands astute reading between the lines. The statistics may be nominally correct, but essentially
In the same report, the Guardian had this to say: "Israel refuses to pursue peace negotiations and continues to
impose the collective punishments of curfew, closure, and house demolitions on the civilian population.
Nablus has been under curfew for 2,208 hours since June 18, 2002. This has led to a humanitarian crisis for
the Palestinians. Almost 75% of Palestinians now live below the poverty line and over 30% of children
under five suffer from chronic malnutrition" (The Guardian "Mid-East Peace Plan" 8 March 2003).
It painted a grim picture of Palestinian suffering without any mention of the fact that, for Israelis, 2002 was a
bloodbath year and that measures to stop suicide bombers and other terrorists from reaching their targets was
a matter of survival. But in the Guardian story the listing of Palestinian deprivations was paraded alongside
massaged statistics. This is not a rare example but a routine practice in much coverage of the ongoing war
between Israel and terror.
A "Reporters Without Borders" advertisement in 2003 claimed: "In a conflict as tragic and impassioned as
this one (the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) the public has a right to accurate and impartial news." If the public
does not get news that is accurate and impartial, it is losing out on a right that is as fundamental as any other
acknowledged human right – to work, to freedom, to literacy.
In August 2003, the Israeli press took great interest in a study conducted in 2002 by Germany's
Bonn-based Media Tenor which estimated that 85% of the BBC's coverage was 'negative', another 15% 'neutral' and
none was 'positive'. An Israeli correspondent considered, "This has been going on for decades. Nobody
noticed, in part because Israel is far away, and in part because the negative coverage conforms to existing
How many BBC reporters come to Israel, for instance, sincerely convinced that the core problem
is the 'Occupation'? Nearly all of them. And how many of them have stopped to wonder how their coverage
would change if they tested the proposition that Arab rejectionism was instead to blame. Probably very few"
(Stephens 2003, "The Second Dumbest People in the News" Jerusalem Post, 8 August 2003).
Reporting suicide bombings has to be seen within a wider context of media bias, especially on television. In
June 2003, Israeli officials severed ties with the BBC in protest against the network's transmission of a documentary on Israel's unconventional weaponry. The documentary also claimed that Israel used nerve gas
against the Palestinians. The intrusion of bias (not to mention untruths) is not something containable in one
sector of reportage. Once it becomes a commonplace in one sector it is transferable to another. In May 2003,
at the start of the invasion of Iraq, the London Times newspaper carried a story referring to the fact that "the
Royal Navy has switched off BBC News 24 aboard the British aircraft carrier Ark Royal after complaints
from the crew. Sailors said they believed that the rolling television program placed more faith in Iraqi
reports than British or Allied sources."
Back in May 2001, a BBC 'Panorama' program had shown a film clip of a 'victim of Palestinian terrorism'.
The details are as follows; "the BBC showed an 'Israeli attack on PA military and intelligence facilities in
Gaza'. Amidst the chaos an ambulance was seen leaving a Palestinian compound. The next scene showed an
ambulance arriving at hospital with a severely wounded man. The impression was clear. Israel attacks,
Palestinians are hurt. The London-based newsreader concluded: 'Those are the pictures from Gaza'.
However, closer viewing of that sequence showed that the last clip was filmed not at a Palestinian but at an
Israeli hospital. The arriving ambulance was an Israeli ambulance bearing a Romanian worker seriously injured by a Palestinian bomb. Letters of protest to the BBC apparently went unanswered"
The New York Times published on its front page a picture of a 'victim' of the Intifada. The picture
showed a bloodied young man cowering in front of a baton-wielding Israeli policeman. The caption read:
"An Israeli policeman and a Palestinian on the Temple Mount". Then the truth emerged, but too late for the
worldwide readership to correct their first impressions. In reality, the bloodied young man, Tuvia Grossman,
was an American Jewish student from Chicago, who had been attacked by Palestinians in Jerusalem near the
Western Wall. An Israeli policeman had gone to rescue him. The baton was being wielded to protect the
victim from further Palestinian attack. It was the young man's father who first noticed the mishandling of the
story when he bought his morning newspaper.
Unfortunately, the present era of terrorism has added a special touch to contemporary dying. During past
wars civilians always died in a variety of ways, often gruesome. Now, civilians continue to die around the
world in savage and inhuman ways, targets of ethnic or religious hatred, butchered shot, raped, maimed.
In the case of Israeli civilians, the suicide bombers and their dispatchers have devised particular elements to
cause the maximum death and maiming. Elsewhere in the world suicide bombers have detonated their
explosives with deadly effect. In Israel they have devised an additional 'twist' to their explosive techniques.
From hardware stores they purchase steel nails, metal screws and bolts, metal ball bearings, and pack them
into their explosive belts and devices. Their objective is to maximize the effects of the blast, not just to kill
as many civilians as possible, but also to ensure that the wounded are peppered with shrapnel, screws and
metal balls. These penetrate their bodies, their heads and cause devastation to internal organs, breaking
bones and burrowing deep into their brains. This is the 'anatomy of terror'. This is what really happens when
a suicide bomber detonates in the middle of a crowd of civilians. The sheer will of the suicide bombers to
maximize death and maiming has, on the whole, been overlooked by much of the media who prefer to focus
on 'Palestinian deprivations' and 'Israeli aggression'. It turns the argument once again on the 'plight of the
Palestinians' conveniently forgetting to observe the mayhem caused by the suicide bombers.
For those who survived the bombings the manner of living is also often beyond imagination. For example,
during the interviews for this project, some bombing survivors, halfway through the interview, would
produce a steel nail or a handful of metal balls and say that they were removed by surgeons from their leg or
their head, but the ones inside their brain had been left to avoid causing further damage.
CNN, like the BBC, has come in for a good deal of criticism regarding bias in its reporting of the Middle
East conflict. CNN has had a bureau in Jerusalem since 1980. Several bureau chiefs have taken no pains to
hide a marked pro-Palestinian bias. One bureau chief flew the Palestinian flag in his office. The sign under
one of the clocks in the office which showed Jerusalem time was relabelled Palestine. Israeli and American
monitors of media coverage reported many instances of bias in news bulletins until the bureau chief was
Honest Reporting.com came to the conclusion that the news we see "is driven by correspondents in the field,
not by the corporate side of the organization which is instinctively more pro Israel than the correspondents.
...The reporters on the ground had relatively free reign. They very often came to Israel without proper
understanding of the region's history or culture, or with attitudes shaped by other countries they had covered
such as South Africa, where the racism model prevailed. Many of the journalists also find themselves
influenced by their foreign media colleagues, who reflect their own bias.
There is a tendency among foreign correspondents to arrive at a consensus about the issue at hand and report accordingly. Anyone who deviates
from the consensus is considered an outcast, someone who 'got the story wrong'. Material on CNN.com,
which is written in Atlanta, Georgia in the USA, was often much less biased towards the Palestinians than
the CNN broadcast material. For example, the use of the word 'terrorist' to describe Palestinian suicide
bombers was common, while on air they were routinely described as 'militants'. CNN Chief news executive
and newsgathering president said in June 2002 while visiting Israel "CNN is committed to fairness, truth and
being responsible in its Israel coverage. There is no bias against Israel. We even have great sympathy,
especially for the victims of suicide bombers after September 11. But, (he admitted) the network erred by
airing an interview with the mother of the Petach Tikvah suicide bomber ... instead of an interview with Hen
Keinan whose mother and daughter were killed in the explosion. From now on the network will refrain from
giving airtime to the families of suicide bombers" (Shaviv 2002).
In 2002 it was reported that CNN was making new efforts to contend with criticism by Israel and the Jewish
community of its Middle East news coverage. Although CNN routinely reports on terror attacks in Israel,
pro-Israel groups have complained over a long period that it downplays the stories of victims , often
neglecting to identify them by name and age and devoting to them less airtime than to suffering Palestinians.
In 2002, to answer such criticism, CNN aired a five-part television series called 'Victims of Terror'. It
included interviews with people who had lost family in suicide bombings – including a mother whose son
had been stoned to death in a cave near his home, a young man who had lost his parents and three siblings in
the Sbarro Pizzeria bombing, a girl who survived the Dolphinarium bombing, and a psychologist who deals
with post traumatic stress disorder.
Watchdog groups have long charged that CNN is biased against Israel, and have logged countless
examples of bias, as in a February 2002 report that 'a Palestinian died when a car exploded', which omitted mentioning
he had been in the process of attempting a suicide bombing (Shaviv 2002).
In 2003 CNN aired a Canadian-made documentary "The Impact of Terror" which focused on the survivors
and families of the victims of the Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem on 9 August 2001 which killed
fifteen people, including seven children, and wounded one hundred and thirty people. This well made
documentary showed, perhaps for the first time at length, the multifaceted consequences of suicide
bombings on Israeli civilians. Survivors were interviewed, as well as families of victims. In one sequence
the director reconstructed the circumstances where an aunt who worked in a hospital was forced to search for – and find in the morgue – the body of her niece. First responders, emergency medicine doctors, and a photographer at the scene appeared in the film. The documentary offered a rare inside view of the impact of
suicide bombings on Israeli civilians.
How do the Arab media, particularly the Palestinian media, react to suicide bombings? Israeli and other
commentators have argued that the Palestinian media has contributed to suicide attacks on Israeli civilians
by placing an inappropriate commendatory emphasis on martyrdom. "The media coverage comprises only
part of a larger atmosphere of social respect for those who have died in the Intifada, expressed through street
posters, pamphlets, Internet sites, murals, banners, public discourse, and attendance by public officials at
funerals as memorial ceremonies.. .The then PA cabinet secretary Abd al-Raman on the Al Jazeera satellite
TV station based in Qatar, in 2002 described suicide bombings as 'the highest form of national struggle"
Hani a-Masri an official in the PA Ministry of Information, and outspoken critic of suicide
bombing attacks on civilians, told Human Rights Watch that in 2002 PA television programming policies
had changed since December 2001 "There is a lot more coverage of (suicide bombings) on CNN than on
Palestinian TV" (Human Rights Watch telephone interview, June 19,2002). A Palestinian legislator at the
same period commented that few Palestinians watched Palestine TV. They watch Al-Jazeera and Manar.
You want to see incitement. That's where it is" (Human Rights Watch Interview with Ziad Abu Amr
Washington DC, June 28, 2002.)
Coverage of suicide bombings and the "martyrdom" behind them has replaced Palestinian independence as
the main focus of the Arab media. "Suicide bombing is, after all, perfectly suited to the television age. The
bombers' farewell videos provide compelling footage, as do the interviews with families. The bombings
themselves produce graphic images of body parts and devastated buildings. Then there are the 'weddings'
between the martyrs and dark-eyed virgins in Paradise. Announcements that read like wedding invitations
are printed in local newspapers so that friends and neighbours can join in the festivities. There are marches
and celebrations after each attack, and display of things bought with the cash rewards to the families. Woven
together, these images make gripping packages that can be aired again and
again" (Brooks. D 2002).
A 2003 article observed: "It is a sad fact that Arab anti-Semitism is now the most dangerous form of hatred
for Jews, wherever they are, since the late 1930s. There has been close collaboration between Arab anti-Semites and their Western counterparts (with) repeated reference to Jews as despised beasts (like monkeys
and pigs) dehumanizing them and providing justification for their destruction. .. .Arab anti-Semitism has
adopted all of Europe's anti-Semitic myths, even those Western anti-Semites have themselves discarded as
too primitive. (In an Egyptian newspaper, Al Ahram, an article in October 2000 appeared entitled "Jewish
Matza Is Made From Arab Blood'.)
The use of the 'Protocols' in the Arab media (became) a world-wide
topic for discussion in Egypt with the screening in 2003 of the television series 'Knight Without a Horse'
throughout the Arab world over Ramadan. Another Arab claim is that the Zionists collaborated with the
Nazis to annihilate the Jewish people. Such claims were the focus of a doctoral dissertation presented in
1982 at Moscow's Oriental College by PLO Executive secretary General Mahmoud Abbas also known as
Abu Mazen. TheArabic version of the dissertation was published in 1984" ... Recent experiences (however)
have shown that Arab governments and intellectuals are not indifferent to protests and outside pressures. In
December 2002 an article by Osama el-Baz had denounced anti-Semitism" (Milson 2003).
One of the most telling examples of the deliberate use of explicit anti-Semitism by Arab media came with the transmission of the television drama series "The Horse Without Horsemen." In 2002 two Egyptian channels aired the extravagantly produced series based on the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an
anti-Jewish document fabricated by the Russian Czar's secret police in the early 20th century and decisively
judged a forgery by historians. It was aired during Ramadan in November 2002 by Dream TV a private
satellite channel and the state-run Channel 2.
"The Horse without Horsemen" was produced by Arab Radio
and Television of Saudi Arabia as an epic that was written, directed and played by Egyptians. It portrayed
the fictional Elders and their purported blueprint for Jewish global domination as historical fact. A
mishmash of periods made it also appear to be the guiding principle of Israeli policy. A director of the series
said that it was 'based on the history of Zionism'. Calls to cancel the series, especially from the US
government, on the grounds that it stoked bigotry and racism in a region which already suffers from a surfeit
of destructive emotions, were rebuffed by Cairo.
So too were appeals to Arab leaders to condemn the anti-Semitism rife in the Egyptian media. An Arab League spokesperson then rejected Israeli charges that the
series was a violation of the commitment Cairo undertook under the Egyptian-Israeli peace accord to shun
anti-Israel incitement. "Our media policy" he said "is to respect all monotheistic religions." The Egyptian-Saudi production represented another round in the religious, ethical and conceptual war against the Jews per
se waged (at that time) by the first Arab government to sign a peace agreement with Israel (Debka file, 5
It is interesting to note the use of anti-Semitism by Arab media and government in a similar way and for
similar purposes to those used by the corrupt Czarist regime of the 19th century and the medieval Church –
to draw attention away from problems inherent in their societies by demonizing Jews. The resulting fantasies
reflect more on those who create them and the public for whom they are intended than their targets.
In 2005 the book Beacon of Hatred describes Hizbullah's Al Manar television station with its 300
employees. It describes "the creation of Al Manar as well as that of the terror organization which stands
behind it. It analyzes the relationship between them, and their connection to the governments of Lebanon,
Syria and Iran. But most of all, the book details the station's programming and its reiterated messages of
hate, destruction and despair.
According to (the author) the station's effectiveness as a news source derives
largely from its international network of reporters. These bureaus... should be closed, for Al Manar is
already planning a 24-hour news service as well as programming in English, French, Hebrew and Russian to
bolster an audience already estimated in the tens of millions. Seven weeks after the book's publication, the
station was off the air in the US. It has also been officially banned in France, but European audiences can still watch it through one of its satellite feeds... the material is frightening. These broadcasters still seek no
less than a 'final solution' to the 'Jewish problem'... Today, after the world has seen what such hatred can lead
to, it is up to the Arab nations to disavow this abysmal generator of hate for all that is decent and good"
A 2006 report considers that "During the current confrontation, the cult of the shaheed has also spread to the
Arab-Muslim world, including to Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Lebanon. Books, songs, TV and
regular movies, newspaper articles, TV commentaries and religious edicts (fatwas) all praise the suicide
bombers and encourage the Palestinians to continue suicide bombing attacks against Israel. When, however,
suicide bombing attacks are carried out against their own regimes (i.e., the attacks at hotels in Jordan in
November 2005) they are roundly condemned as terrorist activities" (CSS 2006).
A book published in 2003, written by Gina Ross, put forward an appeal to news and entertainment media for
assistance in turning violence and the horrors of conflict towards healing and eventually peace. It stresses
how trauma, whether personal or societal is often a root cause of violence and how recognizing a personal
'trauma vortex' can be a prelude to progressing towards a 'healing vortex'. With better understanding of the
impact of trauma and processes of personal and collective healing, new horizons could eventually open up
for Israelis and Palestinians.
The media role in this cannot be overestimated. Instead of almost non-stop scenes of violence and carnage
which raise anxiety levels and fan the flames of conflict, international media could become involved in
reporting and broadcasting tentative approaches towards reconciliation and healing.
This brief outline of media bias has given some indication of the way the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has
largely been reported, both in the Western and Arab media, particularly with regard to suicide bombing. But,
the question remains: Would the 'Intifada' which the Palestinians launched in 2000 – and which, at the
time of writing, may still be the preferred option of the terrorists – have lasted as long as it did, if its methods and objectives had come under greater critical scrutiny by the media?
Some Palestinians who now see the Intifada in general and the suicide bombing campaign in particular as having actually gained them
little, are as much victims of media tilt as Israeli civilians. The encouragement they received from a largely
one-sided media helped to keep them on a disastrous course which has also cost them dearly. But, perhaps
the ultimate victim of bias is the television viewer or press consumer who has hardly been given the chance
during 9 years of carnage to make a balanced judgment on the issues involved. They deserve better.
This has since become blatantly clear.
Return to top
| Introduction | Chapter 1
| Chapter 2 | Chapter 3
| Chapter 4 | Chapter 5
| Chapter 6 | Chapter 7
| Chapter 8 | Chapter 9
| Chapter 10 | References
| Acknowledgements | Glossary
| Questionnaires |