Over 7300 full text downloads in its first year of publication gave conflict & communication online a respectable start. These included over 3000 in the first seven months after the appearance of the first issue in late January 2002 and more than 4300 in the four months from the publication of the second issue in late August 2002 to the end of the year.

Developments in peace policy during this period were much less satisfying. The Near East has been propelled into the international center of attention through the escalation of terror on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the (ultimately unsuccessful) attempts of the USA and Great Britain to instrumentalize the United Nations to legitimate a war against Iraq which they had already decided to launch. As early as November 1998, Tony Blair announced to the British House of Commons that US-British air strikes would be continued in an effort to overthrow Saddam Hussein, and, riding the wave of international solidarity with the USA after the terror attacks of 11 September 2001, the time now seemed favorable to finally start bringing about the new world order that had been promulgated in the Gulf War.
That the UN Security Council rejected this strategy did not prevent the war. But even though the United Nations and international law received a severe setback with the war commenced against Iraq, continuing massive protests against the war policy (as well in England and in the USA) have shown that not only the political leadership of 'Old Europe', but also the international community are more willing to assign far greater weight to the principle of solving disagreements through peaceful means than was the case in Bosnia or in Kosovo.
The Bush administration has responded to this precarious situation with a new propaganda strategy. Compared with the Gulf War, when journalists were escorted to selected showplaces in convoys, the current practice of "embedding" reporters in the combat troops may appear at first glance to represent a gain for freedom of information. Never before have the media had such close access to war, promised US Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and Chris Cramer, head of CNN, tried to sell this as an historical step for journalism. Yet, as Alexander Michel rightly commented in the Südkurier, (a Konstanz, Germany newspaper ) on 28 March, "in the Tigris-Euphrates region it is not only the retinue, but also the truth that is embedded. Concretely, the lack of information is not due as much to the practice of censorship, which subjects all photos, films and texts to surveillance. It is rather the comradely closeness of reporter and soldier - eating, sleeping and crouching in the trenches together - that detracts from objective reporting from a detached perspective. Distance disappears, a sense of comradeship arises, and propaganda results, for example when a CNN reporter states, 'We are continuing to advance', or 'We have met with strong resistance'."
Unlike the Gulf War, when Peter Arnett of CNN stuck it out alone in Baghdad, however, this time there were also many journalists reporting from the other side of the Front, and the view which has grown since the Gulf War that journalists are not merely neutral reporters, but rather exert an influence on political events, has meant that today the media (at least in Germany) are dealing much more critically with war and their own role in this war. A new situation has arisen for the development of constructive conflict-reporting as an opposite pole to the usual propaganda, whose strengths must still be studied and whose lessons must still be determined. If permitted by the overall societal frame in which it unfolds, the professional competence and creativity of journalists themselves are doubtlessly one of the most important sources from which something can be learned about the chances and limits of peace journalism.
This issue of conflict & communication online studies the contributions of media to creating the environment in which foreign policy is implemented, using the example of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Dov Shinar argues for understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as above all a cultural conflict, analyzes the serious consequences which the faulty evaluation of the nature of conflicts has (can have) for conflict reporting and explicates some of the consequences resulting from the model of conflict transformation for constructive reporting on cultural conflicts. Lea Mandelzis analyzes changes in the image of the enemy found in the news discourse of Israeli papers during the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and an article by Anat First & Eli Avraham considers how changes in the political, social and media environment have affected reporting on Arab Israeli citizens in the Israeli media.
The topical focus on "conflict, enmification and reconciliation" which was begun here will be continued in the next issue of conflict & communication online, which focuses on theoretical concepts and international experiences going beyond the case of Israel and Palestine. Besides case studies on other conflict areas, Vol. 2, No. 2 includes a study by Susan Dente Ross on the fallout from the terror attack of 11 September 2001 on the framing of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in editorials in the New York Times, and an article by Wilhelm Kempf develops a concept of constructive conflict coverage from a social-psychological perspective.
Under the heading " Non-Thematic Contributions," the present issue of conflict & communication online includes an article by Andreas Mattenschlager and Hubert Riedle on the results of two case studies done in a research project launched by Heikki Luostarinen (University of Jyvaskyla, Finland) on the media construction of national identities in post-war Europe (1945-1995). While the German case study focuses on the construction of national identity under the conditions of a divided country (FRG/GDR), in the Swiss case study the focus is on the gradual overcoming of isolationism by "neutral" Switzerland and its increasing integration into Europe.

Konstanz - Berlin
April 2003

Wilhelm Kempf

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