Friday, June 1, 2007

American news coverage lop-sided

PETALING JAYA (The Star, June 1, 2007):
American news coverage on the Israel-Palestine conflict has always been said to be lop-sided, with a strong bias against the Palestinians.

Before a Malaysian audience here last night, former American freelance journalist Alison Weir, now executive director of non-profit organisation If Americans Knew, an organisation that provides Americans with information on Palestine and analyses media coverage of the conflict, related her personal experiences that made her come to the conclusion.

She said that previously, she had only skimmed through headlines on issues related to the Israel-Palestine conflict “with little interest or knowledge on the subject.”

However, when the conflict took a serious turn, she began to take heed and worked hard beyond her office hours to find out “that it was perhaps the most covered-up story”.

“When I was there (Gaza strip and West Bank in 2001), I discovered that while the American news agencies were reporting on the deaths of Israelis, they were covering up deaths of many Palestinians.

“For example, the cover up of Palestinian child deaths was 14 times greater and they got away with biased terminologies,” she said.

Weir, who was delivering a talk entitled Deadly Distortion: American News Coverage of Israel-Palestine and its Effect on the Alleged “Clash of Civilisations” here, said she felt Americans should be given an accurate picture of what was transpiring there as American taxpayers were spending over US$10mil a day on Israel.

In 2002, Weir was denied entrance and incarcerated by the Israeli government. Disturbed that American citizens were being misinformed and uninformed on the issue, Weir founded the organisation.

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