Media's role in Arab-Jewish relations debated

MK Ahmed Tibi: 70% of media reports on Arabs are negative, describe Arabs in different terms than Jews.

January 25, 2012 15:43
1 minute read.
Child watching TV

TV 311. (photo credit: Hemera)


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The 2012 Jaffa Convention on Jewish and Arab Relations in Israel opened on Tuesday, with a special discussion held at the Knesset on the role of the Knesset, the media and academia in the increasing distance and animosity between Israeli Jews and Arabs.

The discussion, titled “Politics, Media and Academia in Jewish-Arab Relations in Israel,” was organized by the Knesset Lobby for Jewish-Arab Coexistence and chaired by MK Orit Zuaretz (Kadima), in collaboration with the Citizens Accord Forum and the Jewish- Arab Center at the University of Haifa.

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Zuaretz opened the meeting by describing what she called the “voices of extremists on both sides that have risen over the past year,” and referred in particular to anti-democratic legislation in the Knesset and the “silencing of academics.”

Prof. Itzchak Weismann, head of the Jewish-Arab Center, spoke about the need to build bridges between the peoples, as well as efforts he participated in to make Acre a model of coexistence.

Weitzman also spoke of statistics that paint a picture of declining relations between the groups, saying that today, some 30 percent of Arab Israelis reject Israel’s status as the national homeland of the Jewish people. He said this figure stood at only 6% in 1995, when former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated.

Weitzman also highlighted how 70% of Jewish Israelis do not feel comfortable entering Arab villages.

MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta‘al) discussed how 70% of media reports on Arabs are negative and how they describe Arabs in different terms than Jews.

“Arabs are described as ‘educated,’ Jews as ‘intellectuals,’” he said.“A Jewish family is called a family, an Arab family a ‘clan.’ Jewish families are described as ‘having children,’ Arab families as ‘multiplying.’ Jews ‘demonstrate in the street,’ while Arabs ‘take part in disturbances.’” Tibi said that Arab Israeli MKs are not invited on news shows to discuss matters unrelated to Arabs or security, emphasizing that they are viewed as Arab MKs rather than just MKs.

MK Hanna Sweid (Hadash) issued a more severe version of this statement, saying that the only way for an Arab to get on Israel television is “to be on a reality show or commit some sort of act of treason.”

The meeting is the first of several to be held over the course of 2012.

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