Maurer, Markus & Wilhelm Kempf

Coverage of the Second Intifada and the Gaza War in the German quality press




Umfang & Ausstattung
Erschienen 06/2011
ISSN & Heft-No. 1611-1818_69


In recent years German media coverage of the Middle East conflict has been accused of an anti-Israeli bias that reinforces old, widely held prejudices and stereotypes about Jews and supports the common accusation that Israel misuses the tragedy of the Holocaust to justify anti-Palestinian policies. In particular, there is the accusation that during and after the Gaza War the media portrayed Israel as the aggressor while minimizing Palestinian terrorism.
There is still no systematic research on this topic, however. The present paper is intended to help correct this deficiency by presenting the results of a content analytical study comparing the coverage of the Gaza War and the Second Intifada by a group of highly regarded national German quality newspapers: Die Welt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Rundschau and Tageszeitung.
We analyzed a representative sample of 396 articles from these papers, covering the entire political spectrum from right to left, using the following dimensions: (1) portrayal of the conflict parties’ behavior, (2) evaluation of their aims and actions, and (3) punctuation of the conflict and portrayal of victims.
We found that the media coverage of both conflicts was much more complex and differentiated than assumed by critics, and during the Gaza War the German quality press also did its best to avoid shifting to the Palestinian side. If the German press stimulated anti-Israeli or even anti-Semitic attitudes, this was due more to a “boomerang” effect than to any anti-Israel bias in news coverage