- Palestinian-allied group seeking to shape news media coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict
The mission of Palestine Media Watch (PMW) is to “help media outlets with [i.e., gain] access to pro-Palestinian points of view and voices for interviews, op-eds, or background discussions.” PMW seeks to minimize media references to Palestinian terrorism and corruption, while promoting images of Palestinians as victims of Israeli oppression. (This group is not connected to the Jerusalem-based, similarly named, but pro-Israel media monitoring group “Palestinian Media Watch.”)
A donation-based, all-volunteer organization with 42 U.S. chapters, PMW was founded in October 2000 by Philadelphia-based activist Ahmed Bouzid, an Algerian-born computer engineer and software developer who remains the organization’s President. Bouzid established PMW as a result of what he perceived to be the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s biased coverage of Middle East issues.
PMW focuses on disseminating e-mail action alerts, submitting opinion columns to newspapers, meeting with newspapers’ foreign and opinion page editors, teaching activists how to write letters to editors, and providing basic talking points from a pro-Palestinian perspective.
The organization analyzes the writings of various media outlets, compiling statistics on how many sentences, quotes and photographs depict the Palestinians, and, conversely, the Israelis in a favorable light. One PMW media critique “quick sheet” gives the following instructions:
“When critiquing a news story about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, ask yourself the following questions: How many times were UN reports/findings/resolutions mentioned? How many times were Human Rights reports/findings/statements mentioned?”
“How many times were the words ‘terror/terrorist’ used to describe Palestinians/Palestinian actions vs. Israelis/Israeli actions? How many times was the word ‘violence’ used to describe Palestinian actions vs. Israeli actions?”
“Were Palestinian actions described in context (e.g., ‘Palestinians launched a mortar attack after Israelis bulldozed a row of houses’)? Were Israeli actions described in context (e.g., ‘Israelis bulldozed a row of houses after Palestinians launched a mortar attack’)? Did the story describe official Palestinian denials/pleas of ignorance and innocence in violent acts?”
- “Did the story describe official Israelis’ denials/pleas of ignorance and innocence in violent acts? How much personal detail about Palestinian victims did the story go into? How much personal detail about Israeli victims did the story go into?”
Typical of PMW’s work was a March 2005 report — produced jointly with two other Palestinian-allied groups, If Americans Knew and Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights, charging that Oregon’s largest daily newspaper, the Portland-based Oregonian, had provided biased coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict. According to the report, Oregonian news pages from May through October of 2004 were characterized by “clear double standards when it comes to reporting Palestinian deaths compared to Israeli deaths. … Analysis of The Oregonian news articles showed that 100% of all Israeli deaths were report[ed] during the analysis. … By contrast, only 61% of all Palestinian deaths [were reported].” The PMW web page headline read, “Oregonian: Some lives are more equal than others.”
To brief activists on the background and basic facts of the Arab-Israeli conflict, PMW uses the book Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: Primer, by anti-Israel researcher Phyillis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies. Palestine Media Watch also sponsors speaking engagements by activist-lecturers Rania Awwad and Rima Mutreja.
PMW urges media outlets to use, in their coverage of Palestinian-Israeli affairs, terminology favorable to the Arab perspective. For example, it encourages the use of “anti-occupation” rather than “pro-Palestinian”; “extra-judicial liquidation” rather than “targeted killing” [of terrorists]; “Israeli colonizers” rather than “Israeli settlers”; “Israeli Occupation Forces” rather than “Israeli Defense Forces”; “Israeli-only colonies” rather than “settlements”; “Israeli assault against Palestinian civilians” rather than “military operation”; “occupied Arab Jerusalem” rather than just “Jerusalem”; “Palestinian armed resistance” rather than “Palestinian violence”; “Palestinian resistance fighters” rather than “Palestinian militants”; “Palestinian struggle for self-determination” rather than “Palestinian-Israeli conflict”; and “pro-occupation” rather than “pro-Israel.”
PMW proudly embraces quotes of praise it has received from such noted anti-Israel critics as Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein. “I have been impressed with the care and sophistication of the work of PMWatch, and its constructive achievements,” says Chomsky. “This worthy project [PMW] deserves the support of everyone seeking a just and durable peace,” Finkelstein agrees.
The organization’s website has not been active since about 2009.
This profile is adapted, with permission, from Stand4Facts.org.