Blood imagery and anti-Semitism in Palestinian Media -a radio interview with Itamar Marcus Director PMW-Palestinan Media Watch 11/25/01)
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INTRODUCTION: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.
Itamar 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
Itamar 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.
Itamar 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
Itamar 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 promote anti-Semitism. 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
Itamar 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.
Itamar Marcus:Thank you, and good night.(PMW.ORG.IL 11/25/01)
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