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Media Analyses





Study: On Nation's Op-Ed Pages, Israel's Voice is Stifled


Introduction

According to many of Israel’s detractors, such as Jimmy Carter, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, pro-Israel voices dominate the American media and drown out pro-Palestinian views. Yet, if the Op-Ed pages of three leading national newspapers – the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times – are any indication, the exact opposite is the case.

A 19-month CAMERA study, from January 2006 through July 2007, of guest Op-Eds about the Arab-Israeli conflict found that in these three papers pro-Arab Op-Eds and/or those critical of Israel overwhelmingly outnumbered pro-Israel Op-Eds and/or those critical of Arabs. Even more telling is the striking fact that during the 19-month period, none of the newspapers ran even a single Op-Ed by an Israeli official. In contrast, each of the three papers ran four Op-Eds by Arab officials, including multiple pieces by Hamas leaders.

The criteria for CAMERA’s studies and individual analyses of the three newspapers follow. See the appendix for data lists.

Methodology

Using Lexis-Nexis, CAMERA examined guest Op-Eds about the Arab-Israeli conflict between Jan. 1, 2006-July 31, 2007. The study did not consider columns by newspaper staff or syndicated columnists. The relevant guest Op-Eds were divided into the following categories based on their content, regardless of who wrote the column.

Primary Op-Eds: Op-Eds directly addressing the Israeli-Arab conflict or addressing third party (United States, United Nations) policy vis-a-vis the conflict

1. Anti-Israel or Pro-Arab Op-Eds meet one or more of the following criteria:

a) Criticizes Israel or Israeli policy primarily

b) Criticizes specific Israeli policy that affects the conflict

c) Defends Arab role in conflict

d) Presents Arab position or advocates a softening of demands on Arabs

e) Criticizes U.S. or U.N. role as too supportive of Israel or not supportive enough of Arabs and/or advocates a harsher policy toward Israel or a softer policy toward Arabs

2. Anti-Arab or Pro-Israel Op-Eds meet one or more of the following criteria:

a) Criticizes Arabs or Arab policy primarily

b) Criticizes specific Arab policy that affects the conflict

c) Defends Israeli policies or role in conflict

d) Presents Israeli position or advocates a softening of demands on Israelis

e) Criticizes U.S. or U.N. role as too supportive of Arabs or not supportive enough of Israel; Advocates a harsher policy toward Arabs or a softer policy toward Israel

3. Neutral Op-Eds meet at least one of the following criteria:

a) Criticizes both Arabs and Israelis

b) Addresses conflict without assigning blame or criticizing either side

c) Does not advocate harsher or softer policy toward either side

Tangential Op-Eds: Op-Eds that only tangentially address the Israeli-Arab conflict were tallied separately in each individual study. We classified an Op-Ed as “tangential” if it

1. Does not deal with the Israeli-Arab conflict itself, but used the conflict as an example to illustrate another point in more than a passing mention (at least one paragraph or more). Examples of these topics include the Muslim world’s hypocritical intolerance for losing territory, the international need to hold regimes responsible for terror groups based on their soil, and the notion that military victories are only lasting and genuine if they solve the root political problem.

2. Discusses issues related to a film, play, or book that concerns the Israeli-Arab conflict (for example the Rachel Corrie play, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer’s Israel Lobby paper, and the “Munich” film) but did not directly address the conflict.

3) Directly discusses Iranian-Israeli relations, or Iranian-Hamas/Hezbollah relations. Though Iran is not part of the Arab world, and therefore not technically part of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iran and its actions certainly affect the conflict to a great degree. For instance, Iran’s involvement with Hezbollah and Hamas is clearly Iranian meddling in the Arab-Israeli conflict. On the other hand, Op-Eds generally concerning Iran’s nuclear program are not counted.

It should be noted that many of the Op-Eds generally supportive of Israel also contained criticism of the Jewish state. In contrast, virtually none of the Op-Eds expressing a pro-Arab point of view contained criticism of the Arab side. As a result, in both the primary and tangential categories, our criteria for “pro-Israel/critical of Arabs” were much more lenient than those for “pro-Arabs/critical of Israel.” Thus we included articles that were subtly negative or critical of Israel under pro-Israel if the writer purported to represent a dominant Israeli perspective and we included articles with criticism or condemnation of Israel under neutral if it included criticism of the Arab side as well, even when it leaned more toward criticism of Israel or softening of policy toward Arabs.

By contrast, the only articles we included under the category of “critical of Israel/pro-Arab” were those that unquestioningly adopted a pro-Arab position or were critical of Israel with no accompanying criticism of Arabs.
 
The following chart presents a summary of results for primary Op-Eds. All figures are rounded to the nearest percentile.
 
LA Times NY Times Post Total
Supporting Arab Perspective or Criticizing Israel
29
(51%)
16
(48%)
17
(74%)
62
(55%)
Supporting Israeli Perspective or Criticizing Arabs
18
(32%)
8
(24%)
4
(17%)
30
(27%)
Neutral -- No criticism of either side, or criticism of both sides
10
(18%)
9
(27%)
2
(9%)
21
(19%)
Total
57
(101%)
33
(99%)
23
(100%)
113
(101%)
 
 
* For the Los Angeles Times analysis and data, click here.
* For the New York Times analysis and data, click here.
* For the Washington Post analysis and data, click here.
 

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