PSC and the Media
Please, DO mention the occupation! DO mention the Nakba!
To join our national letter-writing initiative or participate in general medial work, email the office on firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Starter Pack is sourced from:
Guardian Media Directory (Guardian Newspapers, 2005)
Bad News from Israel (Glasgow Media Group, 2004)
Do-It-Yourself Apartheid in Palestine (Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Campaign, 2005)
Our media strategy revolves around our members and supporters and depends on you. Our greatest assets are the justice of our cause and our nationwide reach of pro-active membership and networks. PSC is an independent, autonomous organisation, which is listened to when we succeed in making ourselves heard. By co-ordinating our letter writing and complaints to editors and media watchdogs at national and local level, we can make a difference. If you are reading this and are still not a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, please join us. You can do so on line via our website.
Local branches of PSC exist in many towns and cities in the UK and are ready to welcome you.
If you are already in a branch, why not set up a letter-writing group?
HINTS FOR LETTER-WRITING: Please join up the dots by doing your own research and using your own words.
Letters from an original perspective are more likely to be published, although we also still have to keep challenging the usual diet of basic misinformation.
Examples: A letter in The Church Times revealing Blair’s ignorance about Palestine by his G8 reference to “the two religions in the region” although he himself is a Christian; a letter in the Express newspaper, which is outside our usual focus on the Independent and Guardian.
Use economical language. Keep your letter as short as possible.
Subscribe to Palestinian email services and visit websites such as Stop the Wall. Palestine Monitor and Electronic Intifada as well as the PSC website to arm yourself with the facts on what’s really going on.
Daily papers have a DEADLINE of 4pm for publication the next day, so submit your letter as early as possible.
Trade journals, trade union journals, Women’s Institute publications etc. are all potential publishers of material on Palestine from their different perspectives. For example, medical journals could be supplied with articles on the crisis in care, the ambulance service. The Disability Movement press would be interested in people who have been disabled by occupation. Construction News might publish something on the Caterpillar boycott. Grocer magazine might take something on the boycott of Israeli goods. Music and Dance journals could take something on the Palestinian music and dance scene. Architectural, geological and educational journals can all be approached. Vogue carried a piece by Bella Freud in its September issue about Palestinian embroidery and crafts.
Dissident Israeli activists and human rights organisations are also a good source of information and the media may be less dismissive of them. Examples: Gush Shalom; Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
Please remember that even unpublished letters are counted, as are complaints to the BBC and Ofcom, so keep writing, ringing, emailing and faxing!
Ofcom consists of the merged ITC and Broadcasting Standards Commission. The BBC is regulated by its governors but Ofcom is angling to take control of the BBC.
Office of Communications (Ofcom),
2A Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1 9HA
Ofcom Media Office,
202 7 981 3033
The BBC is accountable to its governors and the government as regulators.
Chairman of BBC Governors is Michael Grade. Vice-Chairman Anthony Salz: Governors are Deborah Bull, Dame Ruth Deech, Dermot Gleeson, Professor Merfyn Jones, Professor Fabian Monds, Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, Angela Sarkis, Ranjit Sondhi and Richard Tait.
Michael Grade recently announced that the BBC governors’ next impartiality review will focus on treatment of stories about Israel and Palestine. Please write to Michael Grade to let him know your views.
BBC Television Centre,
020 8743 8000
BBC complaints department: email@example.com
“The question which must be asked about TV news journalism is – why is it that it has such difficulty in explaining the Palestinian perspective, when it can so readily feature that of the Israelis?”
(Philo and Berry, Bad News from Israel, Pluto Press, 2004)
“Rarely in the media do we hear the many anti-occupation voices that challenge the consensus that the Palestinians are to blame for their own misery. But it’s not just Palestinian resistance that is distorted or ignored; so too are Palestinians themselves, their faces, their lives.” – Naomi Klein and Aaron Mate, the Guardian, July 4, 2005.
Most people get their information about Palestine from television news programmes (85%) and newspapers (9%) according to figures collected by Greg Philo and Mike Berry of the Glasgow Media Group in 2002 and published in their book “Bad News from Israel”. Surveys taken before that date showed that the numbers of those whose main source of images is the television news was increasing while the number of those gleaning information from newspapers was declining. However, “opinion formers” who read newspapers were marginally better informed.
Half the respondents in a “low income group” replied that the Palestinians were the occupying power. When asked, what nationality are the settlers? The majority from all groups replied: “Don’t know.”
People questioned by the Glasgow Media group said that lack of context was a major ‘turn off’:
“Every time it comes on it never actually explains it so I don’t see the point in watching it – I just turn it off and go and make a cup of tea.” (‘Female student, Glasgow’)
Respondents complained that even the phrase “occupied territory” does not make it clear who is occupying what. Just a couple of added words could make that clear. Lack of time or space, is no excuse for shoddy reporting which adds to incomprehension and leaves the viewer or reader feeling disempowered.
Programmes which could be said to reflect something of the reality on the ground, are given the twilight slot, i.e. “Frontline Football”.
COUNTERING THE PRO-ISRAELI COMPLAINT OF ‘BIAS AGAINST ISRAEL’
Israel 367.75 – Palestine 189.5
The media must be called to account on this. These figures represent the relative amounts of air time and lines of text used respectively about Israel and Palestine in 2001 and 2002, not necessarily favourable comment. (The Glasgow Media Project measured BBC and ITV output if they were lines of text).
Media organisations frequently excuse themselves from explaining the Palestinian perspective by pleading that they are under siege from the pro-Israeli lobby demanding that they maintain ‘balance’. By succumbing to this, they effectively censor their output by excluding Palestinian interviewees, and whiting out the background to the story.
Israel places severe restrictions on journalists who are trying to provide coverage on the ground, keeping the international media away from the scenes of their war crimes.
Veteran BBC correspondent Keith Graves:
“Under the Sharon government intimidation of reporters deemed ‘unfriendly’ to Israel is routine and sanctioned by the government (of Israel).” (Guardian, 12 July 2003)
The Israeli Occupation Force has deliberately targeted gunfire at journalists and killed a Channel 4 reporter when he had been filming the bulldozing of Palestinian homes.
Israeli Embassy press secretary:
“London is a world centre of media and the embassy here works night and day to try to influence that media. And, in many subtle ways, I think we don’t do a half bad job, if I may say so… We have newspapers that write consistently in a manner that supports and understands Israel’s situation and its challenges. And we have had influence on the BBC as well.” (Independent, 21 September 2001)
Conservative Friends of Israel invites senior journalists to lunches at the House of Commons.
Speakers from the US are frequently featured on TV news endorsing and supporting Israeli positions.
THE BBC has caved in to embassy and lobbying pressure to refer to the Apartheid Wall was a ‘security’ fence – and to use language such as ‘disputed territory’ rather than ‘occupied territory’ –
see Robert Fisk, Independent on Sunday
see Paulo Derooij, Counterpunch
DO MENTION THE OCCUPATION!
Lack of context in news reports leads to misconception and incomprehension: eg. headlines such as “Mob Violence in Israel”, “Fighting over sacred site in Israel” – when the location is Ramallah or Jersalem. Jerusalem is constantly referred to as the capital of Israel.
Israeli’s are portrayed as “people like us” – part of the Western world, entrants in the Eurovision Song Contest, just trying to get on with normal lives, under siege in a sea of hostility.
Rarely acknowledged is Israel’s overwhelming military might, stockpiled WMD, ingrained racism, lack of democracy for Palestinians inside Israel, zealous land-theft, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and that Israel is a theocratic state practising state terror styled on an apartheid template.
In contrast, Palestinians are not shown as rounded human beings, there is a dearth of personal stories to which people can relate, and an absence of historical context. The rich diversity of Palestinian culture is completely ignored. The steadfast, heroic day-to-day non-violent resistance of the Palestinians is entirely overlooked.
THE APARTHEID WALL, is frequently referred to as a ‘security’ fence, rather than a wholesale land-grab, further dispossessing Palestinians by starving them into submission inside ghettos. The World Bank is set to finance hi-tech gates in the wall for trafficking cheap labour and goods.
Concentric circles of concrete walls twice the height of the Berlin Wall, engulf Palestinian towns such as Bethlehem, strangling a once-thriving tourist industry and cutting Palestinians off from their land, schools and hospitals, and each other.
For a full explanation of Israel’s ‘disengagement’ policy and the role of the Apartheid Wall see “Do-It-Yourself Apartheid in Palestine – Israel, The World Bank and ‘sustainable development’ of the Palestinian Ghettos.” (published by La Citta Del Sole, 2005)
Copies available from PSC Office at £6, or go to stopthewall.org.
SETTLERS and SETTLEMENTS
“TV news images presenting settlers as isolated, vulnerable communities – disguising the deep levels of racism, fundamentalism and violent behaviour of settlers..” (Bad News from Israel ibid)
Report in Ha’olam Ha’ze as early as 1994:
“Beating the Arabs, or humiliating them otherwise or vandalising their property before the very eyes of the army soldiers is not regarded as ‘suffient reason’ for arresting a settler.”
Settlers are depicted as innocent victims being forced to leave their homes. There is no questioning of the role of settlements as part of occupation, no reflection of the reality described by a report by Amnesty and B’Tselem (Israeli human rights group):
This report offers an image of a frightened but friendly settler who wants peace and co-operation.”
“Among the settlers’ actions against the Palestinians are setting up road blocks to disrupt normal Palestinian life, shooting at rooftop water heaters, burning cars, smashing windows, destroying crops and uprooting trees, and harassing merchants and owners of stalls in the market.” (B’Tselem, 2003)
Graffiti at entrance to
Cycle of Violence: implying two equal sides in a tit for tat struggle.
“…a unilateral exit without any Palestinian concession in return”
(Christian Science Monitor, July 21, 2005)
LAND GRAB/Home Demolition: Violent dispossession of people from their homes and destruction of homes and property – contrast international reaction to Mugabe’s Operation Drive Out Trash:
UN’s 98-page report described Zimbabwe crisis as a “catastrophe” that violated international law, and was “carried out in an indiscriminate manner, with indifference to human suffering, and, in repeated cases, with disregard to several provisions on national and international legal frameworks.”
It called for an immediate halt to any further demolitions and for Zimbabwe to allow unhindered access to the international and humanitarian community to provide assistance.
We welcome your suggestions and look forward to receiving examples of your interventions in radio phone-ins, letters to editors, and complaints to the relevant media watch-dogs.