Media Fails to Ask: Who Really Wants Peace?

While events at the United Nations on Friday generated many column inches in the international media, very few read between the lines and looked carefully at the actual contents of Palestinian PM Mahmoud Abbas’s and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s speeches.

Instead, we were treated to headlines proclaiming the “historic” moment as Abbas called for a Palestinian state, and photographs of celebrations in Ramallah. But what if Abbas’s and Netanyahu’s speeches called into question the misleading media narrative that Israel is the obstacle to peace?

A “word cloud” of the contents serves to illustrate what both leaders chose to emphasize. Take a look at how Netanyahu emphasized “peace” (44 times in fact) and mentioned the Palestinians on many occasions. Contrast this with Abbas, whose speech contained nothing in the way of conciliatory language with little emphasis on peace (26 times) or addressing Israel, the state with whom the Palestinians must make peace with.

Word Cloud of Netanyahu’s UN Speech

Word Cloud of Abbas’s UN Speech

While Netanyahu reached out his hand to Israel’s neighbors and the Palestinians, Abbas not only dispensed with any conciliatory statements but actually came out with statements and claims that the media chose to ignore.

  • Abbas referred to 63 years of Palestinian suffering under “occupation” – the implication being that the birth of the Israeli state in 1948 is the real issue rather than Israeli control over the West Bank and Gaza Strip which began in 1967 following the Six Day War.
  • Abbas spoke of the importance of the Holy Land to both the Christian and Muslim religions failing to even acknowledge the undeniable and historical connection of the region to Judaism.
  • Abbas spoke of Israeli “ethnic cleansing” and “apartheid” and then had the gall to claim that he was not interested in delegitimizing Israel. Of course, such language has been at the forefront of efforts to do just that.
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Indeed, while Netanyahu’s speech got very little coverage, why are question marks raised over the credibility of his words while obvious signals in Abbas’s speech are virtually ignored?


HonestReporting Managing Editor Simon Plosker appeared on Rusty Mike Radio, Israel’s English-language station, to discuss how the media covered the speeches at the UN.

Click here or on the image to listen.

Source material can be found at this site.

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