Blood imagery and anti-Semitism in Palestinian Media - a radio interview with Itamar Marcus, Director PMW-Palestinian Media Watch 11/22/01)
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Following the broadcast of an anti Semitic program on Abu Dhabi TV,
three Israeli radio talk shows interviewed PMW director Itamar Marcus
on Monday Nov. 19. The following is an English language translation
of one of those interviews, discussing the use of blood imagery in
the Palestinian media.
Kol Yisrael - Israel Radio.
Radio Show: “Round Table” (Shulchan Agol), hosted by Yedidya Peretz
Question: I would like to welcome Itamar Marcus, Director of the
research institute, Palestinian Media Watch. Mr. Marcus, [referring
to the anti-Semitic satire of Ariel Sharon on Abu Dhabi television]
what influence would you say one satirical program of this sort has?
Itamar Marcus: A single satirical program would have limited
influence upon viewers, however, the broadcasting of such programs,
depicting Prime Minister Sharon as a murderer thirsty for Palestinian
blood, is not a one-time occurrence. This message that Sharon seeks
Arab-Palestinian blood is a recurring theme, appearing regularly in
the Palestinian media. The Palestinian Authority audiences see this
image day after day, week after week. There is little doubt that
this continuous portrayal creates the image of Sharon as a monster.
Question: You are saying that this sort of thing is not only
broadcast in Abu Dhabi, but in the Palestinian media as well.
Marcus: Yes, this message is one communicated repeatedly in the
Palestinian media. Let me give you an example. Just a few weeks
ago, a caricature of Prime Minister Sharon appeared in one of the
Palestinian dailies, depicting him having a celebratory drink with
American President George Bush. The two leaders were toasting one
another and on the bottle were the words “Palestinian Blood”.
Another example: During the Israeli election campaign they published
a caricature portraying Sharon and Barak together in a bathtub filled
with Palestinian Blood. This motif of Palestinian blood of Israelis
celebrating when it spills, of Jews drinking and bathing in it is a
recurring motif in the Palestinian media.
Question: This seems to be a motif taken from the past, the idea of
the blood libels made against the Jews, claiming Jews used the blood
of Christian children for their Passover rituals. This seems to be a
return to those kinds of blood libels and accusations.
Marcus: Indeed. We constantly find pictures and imagery of blood,
even of toying with blood. Let me give you an appalling example. A
little over a year ago, a film appeared on Palestinian Television in
which actors depicted Israeli soldiers raping a Palestinian girl. In
the scene, “Israeli soldiers” on patrol come across a Palestinian
girl and her parents. The “soldiers” stop their patrol, drag the girl
from her parents, and then throw her on top of the jeep where they
rape her. When her parents attempt to intervene, a “soldier” stabs
the mother with a knife after which he wipes the blood on to the palm
of his hand and plays with the blood on his fingers, “toying” with
the blood, stroking the blood.
Question: This bodes ill for future generations [of Palestinians], if
they are sitting and watching these programs.
Marcus: Yes, it is most disturbing especially since such messages,
the portraying of Israelis as evil monsters, are common on
Palestinian television’s children programs, as well. In one very
disturbing film, broadcast on a children’s program broadcast a number
of months ago when the violence was at it height, a young girl is
seen returning from school, a book-bag draped over her shoulders.
Suddenly, real footage of an IDF helicopter is shown and then it
flashes back to the girl who is now running. Next we see the
helicopter shooting a missile, and then the girl falls dead, and her
schoolbag flies off to the ground. Here we see how on a children’s
program, Israeli helicopters are depicted as intentionally targeting
young children, no more than seven or eight years old.
One prominent objective of the Palestinian print and broadcast media
is to promote hatred and fear by presenting Israelis even to the
youngest viewers as monstrous, ready and willing to kill them at any
Question: What can be done to prevent these kinds of broadcasts?
Marcus: I do not think that it is possible to prevent this kind of
programming. After all, we have allowed the Palestinian Authority
control over its own media, as well as over its own education system,
and the motifs discussed here appear, though not as explicitly, in
Palestinian textbooks as well. Indeed, we have examined all of the
books used in the Palestinian Authority school system and Palestinian
schoolbooks are full of problematic material. They teach hatred and
There are those who suggest that we destroy the Palestinian
broadcasting ability. However, were we to terminate their television
broadcasts, this would merely compound the hatred, while the
Palestinians still would have other means of communication at their
disposal to teach the same messages. Furthermore, their television
programs serve as our window into their internal world. It is
essential for us to be able to know what is happening in that world.
In particular it is important to learn if there is a change for the
better if they were to introduce education for peace, for example.
Question: Do you believe that there are figures in the Palestinian
Authority who oppose this type of programming, people who think
differently, who think positively in regard to education for peace?
Marcus: It is difficult to imagine that there are individuals who are
openly opposed to these kinds of broadcasts. If these individuals
exist, they are not heard as the Palestinian Authority and the
Palestinian media are ruled completely from above. It is not
possible for anyone to object. And we have seen these motifs
recurring over a period not only of months, but, of years. Although
there is fluctuation in the frequency and intensity of the messages
related to current events, there has been no genuine change since we
initiated our media watch five years ago.
Question: Itamar Marcus, Director of the research institute
Palestinian Media Watch thank you very much, and good evening.
Marcus: Thank you, and good night. (PMW.ORG.IL 11/22/01)
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