Radio Wars–Taylor Hixson

This weekend the Kol Hashalom, or Whole Peace, radio station based in the West Bank was shut down by Israeli authorities under the claim that it was an illegal radio station operating without proper licensing by the Israeli government.

To examine how this story is unfolding, I looked at two news sources: the International Middle East Media Center (http://www.imemc.org/article/62531) and Arutz Sheva (http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/149904#.Tsmv7HOaBz0). The IMEMC story was written on Nov. 20, and the Arutz Sheva story was written on Nov. 19.

Each story was framed for its particular target audience. IMEMC is a pro-Palestinian source, and that shows in its framing of the story. It called the station a “peace radio” that was a “joint” collaboration to “bring together” the Palestinians and Israelis. To contrast, Arutz Sheva, which claims to be Israel’s No. 1 news site, is a pro-Zionist/anti-Palestinian source, and their story framed the station as “illegal” and “ultra-leftist.” Neither of the sources were wholly objective, but the IMEMC seemed more objective than Arutz Sheva.

The IMEMC story portrayed the radio station as an outlet that was trying to bring Israelis and Palestinians closer together. The Arutz Sheva story focused on demonizing the station and one of the station’s co-managers, Mossi Roz. It even included an unflatteringly image of him. To contrast, IMEMC’s image was the Kol Hashalom logo.

Arutz Sheva's image of Mossi Raz versus IMEMC image of the station's logo

One difference I saw in the stories was that the IMEMC said Israeli officials shut down the station because it was a pirate radio and needed an Israeli operating license. But Arutz Sheva reported that the anti-Zionist content was a much bigger issue in shutting down the station than the legality of it.

The information is seemingly accurate in both stories. The IMEMC story uses legitimate sources for its information such as the Israeli Communications Ministry and Israeli Knesset members. The Arutz Sheva story is also accurate and relatively believable. Some of the claims though are not attributed and thus not as believable. For example, there is no attribution for the radio station being anti-Zionist.

Shutting down the radio is limiting the freedom of speech allowed to Palestinians. The Israeli government saw this outlet as a threat. They wanted to shut it down based more on the content than the legality. Why would it matter that a West Bank operation has an Israeli radio license? It doesn’t. The Israeli government is censoring media and denying Palestinians a media outlet.

Both sources made valid points against the other though. Arutz Sheva brought up that one of the broadcasters expressed “sorrow” in 2010 that the Intifada ended. That is a terrible comment for anyone to make. However, I believe that one broadcaster should not be the sole representation of a radio station as a whole. As far as objective reporting goes, I think the IMEMC reporter did a better job telling the story by giving an honest statement of the facts whereas the Arutz Sheva reporter was too one-sided.

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About middleeastcommentary

As an Associate Professor in Electronic Media Communication at Middle Tennessee State University, I teach courses in Media in the Middle East, among other courses analyzing media. I also produce media -- a recent documentary on the Kurds of Northern Iraq "More than the Mountains: Kurdistan of Iraq" produced following two trips to Iraq in 2005 and 2008.
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3 Responses to Radio Wars–Taylor Hixson

  1. Crystal Collins says:

    I thought that both of those articles were really interesting in that you could definitely feel the bias in each of them. I agree that the IMEMC, but even that was really lacking in a lot of information. I wonder if perhaps that was intentional. Since both of those sources were so set in trying to paint things in a different light, they seemed to leave out something or as you mentioned, twist some things without proper attribution in order to make their points.
    I thought it might be interesting to see if I could find any other sources reporting on this issue. Haaretz had a pretty good article, I think. (http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/ministry-shuts-down-broadcasts-of-israeli-palestinian-radio-station-1.396513) It had a more information on what happened and I felt like it did a good job at providing quotes and beliefs from each different side of the issue. It didn’t just focus on the view of the government that shut down the station, but also provided the view of the station itself.
    I also decided to see if I could find any big Western sources reporting on the radio station being shut down. There were only a handful, really, and most of them were really short. The Montreal Gazette (http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Israel+shuts+peace+radio+citing+licence+issue/5740528/story.html), for example, just reposted the AFP article, which is pretty straight-forward. In perhaps one of the shortest articles ever, the San Francisco Chronicle (http://articles.sfgate.com/2011-11-20/world/30424126_1_radio-station-cabinet-ministers-and-lawmakers-israeli-authority) basically had one sentence on the radio station being closed, and then one sentence about what the authorities said and one sentence about what the radio station said. It doesn’t seem to be something that would make many Western news sources.

  2. tnthomas17 says:

    I think your comparison of the two local news sources was rather intriguing, but I like to see things from a broader perspective; as such, I found an article on the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/20/israel-all-for-peace-station-shut-down_n_1103920.html) that covers this situation also.

    The Huff Post says that this legislature closing the radio station may be a governmental step by the Israelis to end free press in their country, and also points out that the illegality of the radio station has never been questioned in the past. The Israeli government has even issued press passes to reporters for the kol hashalom’s reporters.

    Just some food for thought!

  3. Clare Bratten says:

    I notice that the Haaretz piece was somewhat confusing in its timeline. It mentions that the station has been operating “for seven years” but also that this “version” of Kol Hashalom was intended to replace an earlier “legendary” version of the station run by Abbie Nathan — and gives no context for who that was or when the change happened. It says according to the stations’ operators “for all its history” it had never been asked to be shut down. So it’s not clear if the reaction to shut it down followed swiftly upon the new Kol Hashalom going on the air or if the new one is the one that has been operating for seven years. I did some research and found this history of Abie Nathan — http://www.abie-nathan.com/pages-eng/main.html — he ran a voice of peace radio station from a ship off the coast of Tel Aviv from 1973 to 1993. He died in 2008. So this version of Kol Hashalom has been operating since 2004. Shutting it down on November 4th was also mentioned in a report I saw as not being a coincidence. It was on November 4th in 1995 that the last pro-peace (and former) Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by Yigal Amir a far right Israeli extremist because Rabin had signed the Oslo Peace Accord.

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