American and foreign news media’s cover events in very different ways, the different biases presented, the angles and presentation of the stories and even the language it is presented in. With all these differences some of the larger events can have very different stories behind them depending on the angle taken by the media. The Russian news sources did not see the conflict in Georgia in anything resembling the same light as what the American news saw it. The same is true of the current situation in Israel with their conflict with the Palestinians. The Israeli Palestinian conflict is the longest running conflict in world history; it has been going on for around a hundred years and has escalated from a religious conflict to a matter of national identity.
Just earlier this week there was a situation in Israel on its West Bank, a historically Palestinian area. The Israeli prime minister decided to build a shrine in the West Bank towns of Hebron and Bethlehem where a holy site for all three of the major religions, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, are located. Both CNN and Al-jazeera reported on the incident, giving background on the area in the Palestinian territory and the holy sites that were included on the list. Al-jazeera was far more critical of the Israeli government, including quotes from the leaders of the Palestinian government condemning the actions of the Israelis. The CNN story included a quote from an Israeli spokesman, Mark Regev, in which he claims that the danger to the peace talks that the two factions are currently engaged in are over stated. This quote was not included in the Al-jezeera story stating instead that the Palestinians were refusing to resume talks until the construction on the West Bank sites had been stopped.
In November the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas decided that he would not run for reelection in the election that he had called for in January. Al-jazeera and CNN had very different takes on this story. Al-jazeera reported much more extensively on the reasons Abbas offered for deciding not to run, CNN did not explore his reasons at all instead focusing on the reactions other factions throughout Israel, Hamas, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Israeli government and the statements they offered in response. That is not to say that Al-jazeera did not include any other faction’s reaction, including the comments offered by a Hamas spokesman and stating the expected position of the Israeli government.
Throughout the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Gaza strip and West Bank area there has been a large amount of actions on both side that could potentially be considered war crimes. In November the U.N. General Assembly voted to conduct a U.N. endorsed investigation on war crimes. While both Hamas and the Israelis were accused of war crimes in the Goldstone report, the report that lead to the U.N. approving the investigation, Al-jazeera only mentions this once at the very beginning of their article. After that one mention Hamas is not included again, but Israel is all but accused of committing war crimes. Al-jazeera also calls the nations that voted against the proposal along with quotes about why it is such a positive move for the U.N. in regards to the Israeli conflict. Conversely CNN does almost the exact opposite. While they did include statistics regarding to the number or Palestinians killed versus the number of Israelis killed they also more focused on quotes against the proposition and put a much more positive spin on the negative vote by the U.S. and other countries.
When an audio tape attributed to Osama Bin Laden was released over a year ago calling for a jihad against Israel in response to their aggression against Palestine and Gaza both CNN and Al-jazeera issued articles regarding it. While Al-jazeera kept their article simple, merely expressing the contents of the tape and discussing some of the statistics and background of Israel’s war in Gaza as well as acknowledging the fact that the tape could not be verified as being form Bin Laden. CNN listed everything that was talked about on the tapes and comments from high ranking U.S. government officials, such as Joe Biden, in regards to the topics as well as background of recent Israeli violence in Gaza, background on Bin Laden and some of the implications of the tape.
The coverage of the war is not by any means equal, Al-jazeera produces numerous articles a day on the topic of Israel while CNN hardly puts out one every couple of months. However in some cases CNN will report a story that Al-jazeera does not cover. This occurred in October of 2006 when the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Europe that its association and support of Israel could come to haunt them in the long run. He claimed that because there was no chance of Israel lasting indefinitely then there is no benefit to be had from their aiding the regime. Al-jazeera apparently did not find this important enough to report on, because they have no articles concerning it. However with Al-jazeera’s higher output of articles regarding the conflict it is inevitable that they have articles regarding events that do not appear on CNN. Such as the Al-jazeera article on an Israeli human rights group that accused the Israeli government of breaking international law regarding the treatment of prisoners in 2006. The claim was that the prisoners were being held illegally.
While reading articles from both of these news sources it is impossible to not note some biases. Al-jazeera decidedly has a stance that is slightly opposed to Israel overall. While not a significant factor in the writing it is impossible to miss the fact that they do not approve of a vast majority of their actions. It is also obvious that CNN is far less critical of Israel and its actions than it probably should be. I went into this expecting Al-jazeera to have a far larger bias on this topic than what was shown, but after reading numerous articles by them I can see that they are a legitimate news source on this topic as well as others.
Clashes over Israel heritage sites. Feb. 23, 2010
Abbas: I’ll not seek re-election. Nov. 6, 2009
UN endorses Gaza war crimes report. Nov. 6, 2009
‘Bin Laden’ Tape urges Gaza jihad. Jan 15, 2009
Israel prisoner treatment condemned. October 26, 2006
Clashes Erupt over West Bank Religious Shrines. Feb. 22, 2010
Palestinian leader doesn’t want new term. Nov. 6, 2009
Gaza War probes get U.N. approval. Nov. 5, 2009
Bin Laden message: Stop ‘aggression’ against Gaza. January 14, 2009.
Iran: Israel links may hurt Europe. October 20, 2006