The Guardian’s obsession with Israel and the conflicts not covered

H/T Margie

A recent report by Just Journalism on the UK media’s coverage of the Middle East demonstrated that, at the Guardian, coverage of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia combined doubled in 2010 (due to the upheavals inspired by the “Arab Spring”) but still fell far short of the total coverage of Israel;  News reporting about Israel was nearly six times the volume of the next most reported Arab country, Egypt; Comment pieces on Egypt, Libya and Tunisia combined to less than half those published about Israel; Sixteen editorials were published on Israel, whereas none were published on Egypt, Libya or Tunisia.

Of course, it’s possible that the Guardian’s disproportionate coverage of Israel merely reflects the broader obsession in the world with anything Jewish or Israeli, in which case the Guardian may be cynically exploiting this sentiment to drive up web traffic. 

Indeed, if you visit CiF ‘s Middle East section today, you’ll find three pieces highlighted (under “Editor’s Picks”): One about the war in Libya, one about Syria’s continuing bloody crackdown against civilians protesting the regime, and one about Israel’s recent anti-BDS legislation.

As you can see in the snapshot of the page below, the commentary on Israel has generated over three times the number of reader comments than the two other pieces (about Libya and Syria, two nations currently at war) combined, despite the fact that British troops (under NATO) are directly involved in the Libyan conflict. 

More broadly, I recently corresponded with the Guardian readers’ editor, Chris Elliot, to inquire about the Guardian’s disproportionate coverage of Israel, in the context of the Just Journalism report, and his answer was, I think, quite revealing.  He said:

“Israel/Palestine is one of the most intractable conflicts in the world, the effects or which are felt throughout a very large part of the world. It is entirely reasonable that the Guardian, an internationalist newspaper, should devote a great deal of coverage to the issue.”

As I responded to Mr. Elliot, however, no matter how “intractable” the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, it actually pales in comparison to other “intractable” conflicts throughout the world in terms of number of people killed.  

While I don’t realistically expect the Guardian to cover the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (over 5 million killed since 1991) with the same level of intensity they devote to the I-P Conflict (far less than 10,000 casualties), it’s quite curious that, within their main CiF page, there isn’t even a link to Africa related commentaries. 

There’s a very interesting site, called Stealth Conflicts, for those interested in holding the Guardian, and the rest of the mainstream media, accountable to standards of coverage based on evidence, and not merely the arbitrary (or ideologically and/or financially driven) desires of the sites’ editors, and becoming familiar with the information contained in the table below (on conflict death tolls throughout the world since the end of The Cold War) from the site, is a great place to start. 

Conflict

Death Toll

Democratic Republic of Congo

5,400,000

Southern Sudan

1,200,000

Angola

800,000

Rwanda

800,000

Afghanistan

500,000

Somalia

400,000

Iraq

400,000

Burundi

300,000

Darfur

300,000

Zaire

300,000

Liberia

200,000

Algeria

150,000

Ethiopia-Eritrea

100,000

Chechnya

100,000

Uganda

100,000

Sierra Leone

50,000

Kashmir

50,000

Colombia

50,000

Sri Lanka

50,000

Bosnia-Herzegovina

50,000

Philippines

20,000

Turkey

20,000

Nigeria

20,000

Gulf War

20,000

Azerbaijan

20,000

Bougainville

20,000

Cote d’Ivoire

10,000

Congo, Republic of

10,000

Peru

10,000

Aceh

10,000

Myanmar

10,000

Nepal

10,000

Croatia

10,000

Kosovo

10,000

Kurdish Iraq

10,000

Southern Iraq

10,000

Senegal

< 10,000

Guinea

< 10,000

Chad

< 10,000

Mali

< 10,000

Niger

< 10,000

Central African Republic

< 10,000

Haiti

< 10,000

Mexico

< 10,000

Israel-Palestine

< 10,000

Israel-Lebanon

< 10,000

Yemen

< 10,000

Andrha Pradesh

< 10,000

Gujurat

< 10,000

Northeast India

< 10,000

East Timor

< 10,000

Irian Jaya

< 10,000

Kalimantan

< 10,000

Molucca Islands

< 10,000

Sulawesi

< 10,000

Georgia

< 10,000

Moldova

< 10,000

Northern Ireland

< 10,000

Spain

< 10,000

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