conflict & communication online, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2003
ISSN 1618-0747




Anat First & Eli Avraham

Changes in the political, social, and media environment and their impact on the coverage of conflict: The case of the Arab citizens in Israel

The present paper examines the ways in which the Arab citizens of Israel are portrayed in the Hebrew media, with particular attention to the coverage of two violent incidents in national newspapers: the events surrounding the first Land Day (3/30/76) and the events of October 2000, which took place during the first two weeks of the Al-Aksa Intifadeh. Our purpose is twofold: 1) to examine the ways in which Israeli Arabs are portrayed in times of violent conflict that lead Jewish citizens to perceive them as threatening, and 2) to examine the means of presentation in terms of a time frame, in accordance with the view that the presentation process is dynamic, affected both socially and symbolically by a changing "reality." The research was conducted using both a quantitative and qualitative analysis of media content.
Two central questions are at the heart of this research: 1. How is the "other" portrayed in the national media during the outbreak of national-ethnic conflict? In other words, how are Arab Israelis depicted in the Israeli press? 2. Has there been a difference in this representation in various newspapers throughout the years, and how can such differences be explained?
We analyzed two Hebrew national newspapers - one a popular daily and the other a quality paper - and compared their coverage of the events. Our findings showed similarities in the coverage of both events in the two papers, including the use of disorder and terror frames, the identification of Israeli Arabs as the enemy and not presenting the events as civilian protest. Both papers used the voice of the establishment and the security forces as the defining voices of the coverage, while ignoring the Arab voice. The coverage was presented with the use of "us vs. them" terminology, and the Arab leaders and the reasons behind the events were de-legitimized. Nevertheless, there were some differences between the coverage of the two newspapers and the two events. These differences stem from changes in the socio-political environment, the media environment and the Arab Israeli population in the course of the years.


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On the authors:
Eli Avraham (PhD, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1998) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication, Haifa University, Israel. His research interests include images of social groups and places in the media.
Address: Department of Communication, Haifa University, Mount Carmel, Haifa, 31905, Israel. e-mail:

Anat First (PhD, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1995) is a senior lecturer in Communication at the Netanya Academic College, Israel. Her research interests include the social construction of reality and images of minorities in the media.
Address: Netanya Academic College, School of Communication, Netanya, Israel. e-mail: