A Call-To-Action for Palestine:
An Analysis of the Pan-Arab Press
(Egypt, GCC,& Lebanon)
Prof. Bozena Welborne
Dec. 22, 2016
Janis Luke, The Daily Star-Lebanon
Sonia Peña, The National-UAE
Colgan Powell, Al-Jazeera-Qatar
Srabasti Sarker, AlSharq Al-Awsat-Saudi Arabia
Divya Schlesinger, Al-Ahram-Egypt
While a variety of international newspapers are largely influenced by the political
agendas of their respective countries, the Pan-Arab provides a more sympathetic stance towards
the Gaza blockade. The other news outlets presented their positions on the blockade as a conflict
perpetuating further the instability between Israelis and Palestinians. These positions make a
difference in influencing the respective audiences’ of these newspapers. In order to better
understand how the blockade of Gaza influenced Israeli, Palestinian, and Arab relations, the
Pan-Arab Press focused its analysis on the Freedom Flotillas through news reports and editorial
articles. The Gaza Freedom Flotillas refer to a group of ships carrying humanitarian aid in the
form of supplies and activist sailing from around the world to Gaza in an attempt to break Israel's
naval blockade of the Gaza Strip in May 2010. Israel’s response to the Flotilla was to seize and
raid the Gaza-bound ships in international waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Israel questioned the
humanitarian motives of the flotilla organizers, believing the aid will only serve to support
Hamas moving forward. Our research across five newspaper outlets and seventy five articles
serves to demonstrate how the Pan-Arab press is framing this conflict from May 2010 to July
2011. From the results, we have concluded that the Pan-Arab Press ultimately frames itself as
pro-Palestinian, but on a spectrum that attempts to be neutral whilst pushing a predominantly
The Al-SharqAl-Awsat-Saudi Arabia and Al-Jazeera-Qatar both have an international
audience and are partly owned by the government or the reigning royal families in the region.
They both attempt to appear neutral to the Flotilla but are seen as pro-Palestinian. Saudi Arabia
believes that the blockade is a result of the lack of concessions made by Israel and Hamas on the
blockade. Qatar frames the situation as a violation against human rights. The views expressed by
these two newspaper outlets depict Saudi Arabia attempting to unite the leaders of the Arab
Nations, including Turkey and Syria, against Israel and Qatar supporting the social and economic
development of the Palestinians. In terms of foreign policy, these newspapers do not state their
Al-Ahram-Egypt is an Arabic and English newspaper with one of the widest circulations
in the world. The Egyptian government owns a majority of the outlet and thus despite
Al-Ahram’s attempts to come across as impartial, there is significant potential for bias in their
reporting. Their political alignment is vague and whether or not the paper can be considered
politically moderate is up for interpretation, but the outlet downplays Egypt's involvement in the
blockade of Gaza and focuses on portraying both domestic and international relations with Israel
in a negative light.
The National-UAE depict the conflict as a humanitarian crisis and use a leftist rhetoric to
underscore their pro-Palestinian stance. The publication outlined the conflict as a violation of
human rights by Israel and even related Israel with other historical events, i.e. the apartheid.
Although the publication is taking a left stance on this topic, it is still unclear whether this is due
to the political agenda of the United Arab Emirates, since their role in this conflict is also unclear
and has not been explicitly states in all publications. The National seems to be the least neutral
out of all five publications.
The Daily Star-Lebanon is an English newspaper edited in Beirut, Lebanon. Although
founded largely for ex-patriates, the Daily Star was founded by the wealthy Lebanese Hariri
family. The Daily Star focuses predominantly on writing feature pieces than reporting events, or
doing political wraps. This is partially because at the Daily Star-Lebanon desk in particular, the
Arabic speakers are limited. However, by having a young expat writing base, this allows the
Daily Star the opportunity to present a more "liberal” perspective than some of their competitors.
This perspective also influenced how the 2010 Freedom Flotillas were reported as well. The
Daily Star focused primarily on the aggression and brutality from Israel during the conflict,
diplomatic allegiances, as well as leadership actions taken by Israel, Hamas, and the US.
While each publication is very different, each press outlet still has either the ruling class
or the government.The Pan-Arab press position makes a difference in that it provides an
international voice on behalf of the Palestinians and other Arab co, for their legitimacy is in
question in the eyes of the international community.
Individual Analysis of Newspapers
The Daily Star-Lebanon
Founded in June 1952, The Daily Star looked to serve as a news outlet for expatriates
brought to Lebanon by the oil industry. Although the newspaper outlet is not a state-sponsored
news outlet, the close ties between the founding Hariri family and Lebanese government should
not be ignored. Two men in the Hariri family have served as the Lebanese Prime Minister. The
journalists of The Daily Star are a combination of Lebanese and ex-pat writers. Victoria Yan,
journalist for the Daily Star, shared that there are only three fluent Arabic speakers out of eight
writers, thus affecting what the newspaper can report. However, the liberal perspective that the
news outlet does have allowed for salient Pro-Palestine articles to be published. As illustrated by
the word frequency below, The Daily Star’s Pro-Palestine stance appeared when discussing the
calls to peace by Hamas as well as protests, surrounding the Arab Spring, calling for
international interventions in Israel’s brutal retaliation to the Freedom Flotillas.
These trends in Pro-Palestine news
coverage were also clear during the
coding process. The nodes that were
most frequently coded were conflict,
allegiance, and leadership, while
rights, aid, and peace did not appear as
(subnodes: aggression, blockade, brutality, freedom, Gaza, protest)
Conflict was the most common theme and was coded 325 times across the articles. The
Daily Star primarily focused on Israel’s brutal retaliation to the aid being sent from Turkey as
well as the diplomatic tensions caused by the flotillas as well. The news outlet began coverage
of the conflict with the report of the sunken flotilla ship from Turkey, and proceeded to denounce
all parties involved in hindering aid to Gaza. The general consensus of the newspaper was that
Israel should be held accountable for not only preventing the international aid flotillas from
reaching Gaza, but also for not paying reparations to Turkey after the murder of eight Turkish
activists on board the flotilla. The Daily Star also covered the responses of Hamas and Hezbollah
during the conflict as well. Hamas called on Greece to stop the blockade on Gaza because of the
desperate need for aid in the impoverished area, for example. During the time of the Freedom
Flotilla, the Daily Star also reported on the protests following the blockade that would eventually
exist alongside the Arab Spring. With one of the more politically flexible governments in the
Middle East, the Daily Star had the opportunity to speak out against countries like Israel without
censorship. This allowed the Daily Star to serve as a platform to cover stories that empathized
with the Palestinian struggle in Gaza.
(subnodes: international, Israel, Turkey, US)
Allegiance was coded 234 times across the articles, making it the second most frequent
node. The Daily Star’s coverage of allegiance primarily pertained to diplomatic cooperation of
the US and Israel. Because of the Gaza blockade, US foreign policy suffered. At first, the US
refused to denounce the actions taken by Israel, however, because of its NATO relations to
Turkey, the US ultimately could not afford to ignore the conflict completely. Other Arab states
and activists also called on President Obama to stop the Gaza blockade to no avail. On the other
hand, Egypt and other Arab states, as well as activists, showed an immense amount of support
for Turkey cutting ties with Israel during the blockade as well. Greece also assisted in the Gaza
blockade in July 2011 The focus on the US not only showed how complicit the western empire
was during the flotilla unrest, but also a need for an international intervention as well. This
coverage and empathy towards the Freedom Flotillas alluded to The Daily Star’s disappointment
in the lack of international complacency in the oppression of Palestine.
(subnodes:Hamas, UN, US, youth)
Leadership focused essentially on the opinions held by heads of state, the decisions made
by the UN, as well as leadership taken by the youth leading the protests as well. This node was
coded 230 times across the articles. The Daily Star wrote that “Turkey was ‘entitled’ to react to
the blockade” and commended Turkey on its leadership in cutting ties with Israel. The Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also commented that “Turkey wanted confrontation” when
sending the flotillas to Gaza. The UN lead the negotiations of the legality of the flotilla raid and
deemed them legal. This decision not only justified the murder of innocent activists, but can also
be regarded as yet another catalyst for the protests in Lebanon, and later the Arab Spring. While
covering both sides of the conflict equally, it is obvious that the Daily Star was sympathetic to
Turkey. Within Lebanon, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, called on Lebanese citizens to join
the rally for the Flotillas and to join together in supporting the Palestinians and Gaza. Protesters
and activists led demonstrations at the US Embassy in Lebanon to also denounce the leadership
of the US and Israel. By portraying the U.N. decision as a loss for Turkey, the Daily Star once
again directs the reader’s attention to the flawed system of diplomacy. The Daily Star reported
that Israel believed the aid ships were carrying arms, Turkey made it clear that it would not be
asking for an apology if that were true. It is clear that The Daily Star had a willingness to
question the validity of international institutions while giving praise to activists seeking
recognition and aid.
(subnodes: human, violations)
Rights was one of the least coded nodes in the articles. While suspecting reports on a
number of human rights violations, The Daily Star covered rights in regards to whether Israeli
retaliation was warranted or not. Initially, rights was discussed in terms of Turkey’s right to send
aid to Gaza. The Daily Star covered the Turkish aid as a humanitarian effort to support those
living in Gaza. On the other hand, coverage Israel acknowledged its right to retaliate, but
ultimately worked to discredit it’s method of retaliation instead. The Daily Star primarily
focused on the right of the citizens in Gaza and their rights to aid. The news outlets coverage of
rights showed a focus on the priority of protecting and providing for citizens rather than asserting
a specific diplomatic standing.
(subnodes: ships, supplies)
Overall, aid was not covered unless the flotilla was being directly mentioned. However,
insights into the language during the negotiations for peace also showed that diplomatic approval
works as its own form of aid during the conflict. The Arab League met on June 3, 2010 to
discuss how they could present a united front in support of Palestine and the flotillas.
Unfortunately, these talks did not lead to any collective action by the Arab League. Other
countries, such as Ireland, also called for the attack on aid ships to stop, however Israel did not
listen. Greece also engaged in the blockade and held a firm position in its allyship with Israel.
This lack of coverage of aid specifically showed the conflicts focus on diplomacy rather than
providing support to Palestine.
(subnodes: discussion, protest)
Peace was the least coded node out of the six. The Daily Star never reported that groups in the
conflict came to an agreement regarding next steps towards peace. However, the only group
mentioned in relation to peace was Hamas. Hamas called for Greece to stop their blockade on the
flotilla ships to Gaza. The newspaper also mentioned the collapse of negotiations between Israel
and Turkey. During this time, Turkey closed airspace to Israel and threatened to do the same to
the US. Israeli President Shimon Peres however did mention that if peace in Israel was to be
reached then talks with Hamas could not be ruled out. The Daily Star’s lack of coverage of
peace directly stems from the inability of the governments and activists involved to reach an
agreement on next steps. There is still unrest in Gaza today.
The National is a government owned publication based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Further investigation revealed that The National has been heavily scrutinized in past years for its
political agenda. The political direction of the newspaper has been at times been unclear;
however, during the timeframe discussed above, the newspaper took a very defined stance with
the Arab League and the protection of Palestinians in occupied territories. The nodes that
appeared most frequently across the fifteen articles were conflict, allegiance, rights, and aid
respectively. Although leadership and peace were also coded, these nodes did not appear with
enough frequently to alter the outcome of this investigation.
It is critical to note that the node analysis revealed that the publication chose to frame the conflict
with Gaza and Israel as one that was
predominantly the fault of Israel. Hamas is
mentioned a total of two times, and both
times it was referenced by an international
leader in a statement. The National seems to
strongly reject connecting the aid of Gaza
with Hamas, perhaps due to a great number
of international players classifying Hamas
as a terrorist organization.
Conflict was coded across 14 out of 15 articles a total of 85 times. It was by far the most
important node coded within The National. I noticed conflict could be separated into two sub
categories: domestic and international. Although I mean domestic conflict here as direct conflict
between Israel and Gaza, the articles seemed more concerned with the international players
involved in the conflict as well. Significant references within this node addressed the conflict
between international players, primarily Turkey, Egypt & Israel, rather than the direct conflict
between Gaza and Israel. One of the principal events that was coded in almost every article
under the node conflict was the botched raid of the Mavi Marmara. This raid was mentioned at
least once per article even months after the attack. The National carefully constructed a dialogue
in which the conflict derived from the blockade was directed, at times even explicitly, as solely
the fault of Israel.
Although allegiance was not coded as much as conflict, it was still among the top nodes
that helped outline the theme of the newspaper on the Freedom Flotillas. The National seemed
extremely concerned with the international players and their ties to the conflict. In fact, the
articles at times reads as a call to action for Arab states as well as international activists. The
newspaper was quite obviously sides with a pro-palestinian outcome to the conflict and makes
little to none attempt at maintaining neutrality. Often times allies to Israel, such as the United
States and European Union, are heavily critiqued for being “in cahoots.” Anytime a nation or
international entity was mentioned, The National always made sure to address or talk in terms of
their ally. Clearly defined allegiances on behalf of Gaza were commended, however; even Egypt
faced harsh scrutiny for not “taking responsibility of Gaza.”
Rights was coded primarily in two ways addressing three players: Israel, Gaza, & activist
groups. The articles addressed rights mainly in terms of human rights violation against Gaza by
Israel. Rights in association with “violation of Israel’s sovereignty” was only mentioned when
quoting Israeli officials. Although slight, the rights of activist groups to respond in a time of
crisis was also highlighted in some articles. Rights of activist groups seemed to only be invoked
to support the argument of human right violations on behalf of residents of Gaza. There was also
an interesting connection being made by some writers between rights and justice. The call for
justice as a direct result of violation of rights from both all players was consistent in almost every
Aid was coded significantly largely due to the nature of the Freedom Flotillas. It was
mentioned in almost every article. However, at times the purpose of the Freedom Flotillas was
overshadowed by the political dialogue of the newspaper. Aid seemed to serve more as a general
fact of the Freedom Flotillas rather than a topic of discussion on its own; however, aid was
referenced in conjunction with rights as well rather than simply standing on its own. The
National typically used the discussion of aid to promote the “violation of human rights”
framework of the blockade. There was explicit anger and frustration on behalf of the publication
at the impediment of aid for the people of Gaza due to Israel's blockade. Aid was coded mainly
in terms of political aid and aid in the form of supplies. The National very clearly meant to
spotlight the members of the international community who were aiding the people of Gaza in a
positive light and praised them for their leadership.
Leadership was chosen as a node due to the significant appearance of world leaders and
organizations throughout our publications on the Freedom Flotillas. Quotes by officials
representing the United States, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, the European Union, United Nations and
Greece were all mentioned. Turkey garnered the most favor among the publication and praised
for its exemplary leadership with regard to defending Gaza from Israel. Turkey was constantly
referred to as a model nation for all others seeking justice for Gaza and for demanding the public
apology of Israel. While The National was elated that Egypt opened its trade borders with Gaza,
the publication still heavily scrutinized the Egypt for not taking full responsibility for Gaza.
Through the articles, it was clear that the United Nations was viewed as an ineffective agency at
controlling the crisis in Gaza and conducting legitimate investigations, especially into Israel
officers and the deaths aboard the Mavi Marmara.
The results of this node were particularly surprising; Peace was coded 11 times across 5
articles. I would have thought that aid would have been linked with peace more frequently than
with conflict; however, peace was rarely mention
altogether. The references pertaining to peace
were mainly from excepts from the United
Nations calling for all players, both nations and
international activists to attempt to find a
solution or carryout aid through peaceful
channels without provocation and conflict. The
National largely rejected these measures and
largely promoted the aiding of Gaza through a
united front and the maneuvering of ships, which
went in direct contradiction to the
recommendations of the United Nations for a
Word Length Count Weighted
israel 6 169 2.28%
gaza 4 154 2.08%
flotilla 8 124 1.67%
turkey 6 47 0.63%
aid 3 45 0.61%
world 5 43 0.58%
palestinian 11 41 0.55%
international 13 40 0.54%
blockade 8 39 0.53%
freedom 7 37 0.50%
activists 9 36 0.49%
raid 4 31 0.42%
government 10 26 0.35%
ship 4 26 0.35%
humanitarian 12 24 0.32%
The Al-Jazeera-Qatar is a Doha-based
state-funded broadcaster owned by the Al
Jazeera Media Network, which is partly funded
by the House of Thani, the ruling family of
Qatar. The outlet believes they are impartial and
conduct fact-based reporting. The newspaper's
approach influences how they approach framing
the overall situation of the Freedom Flotilla.
There were a variety of articles from fact-based
pieces and opinion pieces. There were ten fact-based articles and five opinion articles. The
analysis of the nodes are the top three nodes, rights, conflict, allegiance, which I believe to be
significant, followed by the last three nodes, leadership, aid, and peace.
Rights was the most coded node and its presence in the articles was heavily themed
around human right violations, Palestinians and Freedom Flotilla activists, and right of
autonomy, Israel and the Palestinian’s recognition from an international audience and from one
another. The blockade on Gaza and strict control of travel between Gaza and the West Bank has
decreased goods and services from being imported, along with Palestinians and exports getting
out. The consequences have been the decrease economic growth and what "positive human
consequences" that would have come to term if Palestinians been able to build infrastructure in
Gaza and travel freely. The second violation relating to human right violations were the rights of
the activists participating in the flotilla. The treatment of activists was questioned as these
activists were detained and subjected to interrogations by the Israeli government before being
deported to their respective countries. The deaths due to the raid were thought of as "war crimes
and crimes against humanity" and that Israel's raid on the flotilla violated international law. The
final right violation was the right to autonomy for both Israel and the Palestinians. Israel's
defense in its force against the flotilla was that Israel is within its right under international law to
intercept the ships. Then there is the right of autonomy for the Palestinians where there is
growing support that Palestinians have the "right to access the outside world and the right to
determine their own future." The U.S. role in this is unclear, Secretary Clinton stated, "Israel's
legitimate security needs must be met just as the Palestinian's legitimate needs for sustained
humanitarian assistance and regular access to reconstruction materials must also be assured." A
senior Hamas leader said that "[Israel is concerned about these ships...because they grant
legitimacy to [engage] with the Palestinian government."
As the second most coded node was conflict. The node was referenced from the
Palestinian perspective of the tactics used by the Israelis to seize and raid the aid ships.
Mohamed Vall, a freed Al Jazeera reporter, was quoted that there were "30 war vessels
surrounding this [Mavi Marmara] ship, and helicopters attacking with very luminous bombs." A
captain of one of the seized ships told reporters that an Israeli navy ship threatened to sink his
vessel before troops boarded and turned guns on all aboard. There were accounts of Israeli
soldiers opening fire on passengers even if they were raising a white flag. These accounts
contradict Israeli explanations of the raid. Israel insisted that its troops acted in self-defence after
being attacked by those onboard. The casualties that received the most attention were when nine
Turkish nationalists were killed on the lead ship Mavi Marmara, which sparked international
condemnation and a call for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to act over the flotilla raid.
(subnode: international approval)
There are three themes identified in the articles reflecting allegiance. The first is how
international institutions aligned themselves to the flotilla. The United Nations and the European
Union members were regularly quoted as empathizing with the aid convoys and the Palestinians.
These institutions would question the motives of the Israeli government and legality of the force
used by the Israeli military. The second theme was how allegiance has shifted in the western
societies from being Pro-Israel to being empathetic toward the Palestinians. One article spoke
specifically about the disconnect between government and citizens when concerning Israeli
policy. The government may align itself with Israel while its citizens may not. The last theme
was who was sending aid and who was not. Several European countries were repeatedly
mentioned for sending aid, while the position of the United States was murky. It was mentioned
several times that the United States was attempting to prevent aid workers from participating in
the flotilla. Secretary Clinton believes Israel blockade on Gaza leave the Palestinians in a
situation that is “unsustainable and unacceptable.” Allegiance was used to provoke international
institutions to take intervene against Israel or to further rally support for the Palestinians by
sending a clear message to Israel that the international community is not accepting the siege on
Leadership was reflected in the articles through the individuals, countries, international
institutions, and organized movements participating in the Freedom flotilla. The articles included
numbers aboard the ships sailing to Gaza and used these individuals as sources. Leaders of
influential countries with ties to the Arab-Israeli crisis were identified, specifically President
Obama, Israel's Prime Minister, and military personnel, and the authoritative figures working on
behalf of the Palestinians. They mentioned the overall framing of a leader's position and
therefore a country's position on flotilla. International institutions, the United Nations and the
European Union, were referenced directly through their leaders or by councils condemning
Israel's siege and raid on the ships. Organized movements such as the Free Gaza Movement and
organizations with ties to either Israel or the Palestinians were among those referenced support
the narrative of the reality flotilla had on all parties involved in the conflict.
The reference of aid was specific to the personnel and humanitarian goods and services
that were a part of the Freedom Flotilla. Some articles went into detail as to the monetary value
of the aid, the number of ships, and personnel aboard. There are references to the countries
taking part in sending humanitarian aid. The articles go into details about the reconstruction
materials that were part of the cargo delivery to Gaza. They explain that Gaza's infrastructure is
crumbling and that reconstruction material is sorely needed. There are questions concerning
Israel's reason for seizing and raiding the ships. Israel's defense is that they want to stop Hamas
from occurring weapons and ammunition, but Palestinians believe it is to continue Israeli’s
control in Gaza.
Any reference to peace specifically points to actions taken by Israelis that created
obstacles to peace development. The Palestinians felt that their economic and social development
was suffering due to Israel's siege and that lifting the siege would significantly change
opportunities among the Palestinians. The articles also used peace in the context of what parties
were included or excluded from peace talks.
Specifically the mention of including or
excluding Hamas, the Islamic Resistance
Movement, from peace negotiations. Though
Hamas is in power and is largely responsible for
the tunnels, the Palestinians have become
increasingly disconnected with Hamas's rhetoric.
To achieve sustainable peace on behalf of the
Palestinian people, radical change in the balance
of power between the two sides would need to
happen. The newspaper suggested that
Palestinians have been and will continue to be at
a disadvantage to the Israelis.
Word Length Count Weighted Percentage
people 6 66 0.57%
obama 5 65 0.56%
international 13 64 0.55%
activists 9 63 0.54%
opinion 7 62 0.53%
indepth 7 43 0.37%
blockade 8 39 0.34%
freedom 7 38 0.33%
state 5 36 0.31%
hamas 5 34 0.29%
rights 6 33 0.28%
middle east 10 32 0.28%
peace 5 32 0.28%
siege 5 29 0.25%
strip 5 28 0.24%
AlSharq Al-Awsat-Saudi Arabia
Alsharq Al - Awsat is known as a
leading Arabic international newspaper
headquartered in London. It is also one
of the most influential newspapers in
the region. The paper was founded with
the approval of the Saudi royal family
and government ministers, and is noted
for its support of the Saudi government.
The newspaper is owned by Faisal bin
Salman, a member of the Saudi royal family. I have found nine opinion pieces and six factual
articles. Overall, the blockade has been framed as one caused mainly by the intransigence of the
Israeli government and Hamas. I will be analyzing the nodes in the order of their frequency with
leadership being the most important and rights being the least.
I have chosen leadership to reflect the role of Israel, United States, and United Nations in
Gaza blockade as words such as “international”, “netanyahu”, “negotiations”, “Washington”
closely associated with leadership have appeared 30 times, 24 times, 14 times and 13 times
respectively. The newspaper has not only condemned Netanyahu for promoting violence, but has
also demonstrated the failure of the U.N. Security Council’s investigation into the Freedom
Flotilla attack due to Netanyahu’s denial to allow the U.N. the right to question the Israeli
military involved in the flotilla attack. This reflects the Pro - Palestinian nature of the newspaper.
President Barack Obama seems to have played an important role in this crisis. The newspaper
seems to be of the opinion that president Obama will never be able to negotiate peace in the
Middle - East unless he takes a strong stance against Israel. The reason why Obama has been so
involved with the crisis could be because of U.S. government’s desire to maintain a sphere of
influence in the middle east.
Conflict is an overarching theme that runs across almost all the articles. The terms
“flotilla” and “blockade” that relate closely to the theme of conflict are two of the most frequent
words in the word cloud. The theme includes the “Freedom Flotilla” incident when Israeli
commandos attacked a Turkish ship at the coast of Gaza that was attempting to transport activists
and aid to the Gaza strip. The articles accuse Netanyahu of thwarting the peace process by using
attacks on the Freedom Flotilla as a pretext to cancel the meeting that was scheduled to take
place with US President Barack Obama, as he was expecting to face demands to speed up the
process of negotiations. As a consequence, the ties between Israel and Turkey have severed.
The reference to peace directly or indirectly has been made only in some of the articles.
The word “negotiations” that is closely related to peace has appeared 14 times across all articles.
It accuses both Hamas and Israel as opponents of peace as Hamas continue to refuse to recognize
Israel and as Israel pay no heed to international laws established to ensure peace. Obama has
been portrayed as a leader who has unsuccessfully attempted to bring about peace in the middle
east either by organizing meetings or offering aid while trying to maintain peaceful relationships
with both Israel and Palestine. Reference has also been made to the Arab initiative that was
initiated by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz in order to make the point that if the leaders of the
Arab nations such as Turkey and Syria really push for peace, then Israel will have to submit to
their will. This shows that according to the newspaper, peace can only be attained if Hamas and
Israel make concessions, Obama take a stronger stance and Arab nations come together against
I have chosen allegiance to not only reflect the lack of allegiance of the Israeli - Arabs to
Israel, but also to show both the international approval and disapproval of the Gaza blockade.
Hanin Zoabi is an Israeli - Arab lawmaker. Her decision to join hundreds of activists on a Pro -
Palestinian flotilla has elevated her from relative political obscurity, transforming her into the
poster child for the growing rift between Israel’s Jewish majority and its Arab minority.
International approval & disapproval: The word “international” has appeared 30 times across all
articles. While countries such as U.S. and Greece have been shown as the main actors upholding
the blockade, countries such as Turkey, France, Sweden and Ireland have been shown as main
actors condemning the blockade.
I had chosen Aid not only because this project is on Freedom Flotilla but also because
words such as “flotilla”, “international” and “activists” that are closely associated with aid have
appeared 84 times, 30 times and 29 times respectively across all articles. The implication of the
word aid in the articles ranges from economic aid to political aid & support from a number of
countries. While Greece has been shown as a country supportive of the Israeli government,
Ireland has been shown as a country supportive of the Palestinian people. Interestingly, U.S. has
been shown as a country supportive of both Israel and Palestine. Greek support for Israel has
been shown by explaining the Greek ban on all Gaza bound fleet that has been referred to as
“outsourcing of Israeli foreign policy” by the American activists. Irish support for Gaza has been
implicitly conveyed through news coverage of sabotage of two Irish boats by Israeli soldiers.
While the American activists have been shown to be advocating Gaza, the American government
has been shown to be in support of Israel.
Rights is the least popular node across the
articles. However, the node has manifested itself
in unique ways in different articles. Few
references have been made to the rights of the
Palestinians to live peacefully in their space.
According to the newspaper, the women,
children and elderly in Palestine should not have
to pay for the problems that Israel has with
Hamas. Moreover, it seems that the Obama
administration has been trying to legitimize
Israel’s blockade of the strip, and delegitimize
the attempts of the American activists to
challenge the blockade, drawing from the
security concerns that Israel faces from Hamas -
Controlled Gaza. References have also been made to the oppression of rights of the Arab
minority to voice their opinion in Israel. This shows that although both the U.S. and the
newspaper itself highly condemn Hamas authorized terrorist activities, they use it to justify the
rights of two completely different groups of people.
Word Length Count Weighted Percentage
flotilla 8 84 1.53%
blockade 8 31 0.56%
palestinian 11 31 0.56%
international 13 30 0.55%
activists 9 29 0.53%
netanyahu 9 24 0.44%
palestinians 12 19 0.35%
president 9 16 0.29%
administration 14 15 0.27%
hezbollah 9 15 0.27%
minister 8 15 0.27%
nasrallah 9 15 0.27%
negotiations 12 14 0.25%
washington 10 13 0.24%
incident 8 11 0.20%
Al-Ahram is the second oldest newspaper in Egypt
and among the widest-circulating newspapers in
the world. Because privately-owned news sources
are illegal in Egypt, the Egyptian government has
majority ownership of the paper; this has led to a
history of influence and accusations of censorship
by the Egyptian government, potentially
demonstrating biases reflecting Egypt's foreign
policy agenda. Their political alignment is
nebulous, but the outlet downplays Egypt's involvement in the Flotilla and focuses on portraying
relations with Israel negatively. The articles express admiration for Turkey's decision to cut ties
with Israel, and while they do not show any direct support for the Flotilla, they publish reports on
official opinions in favor of the Flotilla, on Egypt’s decision to allow searched aid vessels into
Gaza, and on the right of Palestinians to humanitarian aid.
There is a notable gap between the first article of the set, published December 2010, and the rest
of the articles, which begin in April 2011 and continue from there; this is mostly due to the Arab
Spring, during which it appears all available reporting staff were focused on the uprising. Even
when news returns to the subject of the flotilla, several of the articles published come from
associated presses, and those that don’t are relegated to a specific few writers. The political
tensions caused/elevated by the Spring are generally downplayed in the articles.
Conflict was the most common theme across the articles, signifying Egyptian focus on
the violence perpetrated by Israeli forces during the course of the flotilla conflict. Al-Ahram
brought up the slaughter of eight Turkish citizens and one Turkish-American by IDF forces on
the Mavi Marmara in almost every single article, which accounted for a significant number of the
references to death and casualties, but also often did this in conjunction with discussion of IDF
brutality against Egyptians. While the paper never questioned the Egyptian government’s plans
to address the violence against Egyptians, by repeatedly bringing up Turkey’s response to the
deaths of its citizens it was able to subtly address the notion of what the consequences of
following Turkey’s example (or not) could be.
(subnode: International Approval)
Allegiance was the second-most common node coded due to Al-Ahram’s focus on the
actors involved in the flotilla and blockade conflicts rather than on the aid crisis in Gaza or the
humanitarian efforts of the flotilla activists. Allegiance typically stood for the political ties being
referenced by various nations, while International Approval was focused primarily on the
influence of non-state actors such as UN officials. Egypt was preoccupied with Israel’s side of
the conflict, shown both by almost no mention of Egypt’s own role in the blockade as well as
with heavy focus on Turkey, Greece, the UN, and the EU. Turkey came up most often--the
nation’s decision to end all contact with Israel until an apology for the deaths aboard the Mavi
Marmara was issued was supported by Egyptians; Al-Ahram frequently reported that the
consensus in Egypt was that the Egyptian government should have followed suit and cut ties
with Israel entirely. Also important were Greece and the UN, both of which expressed serious
concerns over the possibility of weapons being smuggled into Gaza by the activists aboard the
flotilla. Al-Ahram attempted to be vague about Egypt’s own political position on the subject, but
the anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian, if not pro-flotilla, sentiments were obvious within the
The subject of leadership in the event of the second Freedom Flotilla is extremely
important to the Egyptian press because my ability to code for it so frequently stems from
Egypt’s overwhelming focus on the opinions of a few leaders. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu is typically quoted in conjunction with reporting on Egyptian public opinion directly
opposite whatever he says; if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is not quoted, his
decision to cut ties with Israel is mentioned as being lauded again and again by both Egyptian
officials and the Egyptian public; UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon serves to represent the
international world’s position on the conflict and the flotilla, though it is usually unclear whether
or not the Al-Ahram staff agrees or disagrees with his assessment of the situation. Overall, it
appears that the newspaper skirts taking its own ideological stance or expressing a specific stance
of the Egyptian government’s by reporting repeatedly on stances taken by other players in the
Rights generally only came up in reference to Palestinian right to aid, food, and
humanitarian relief. Most notable was the single op-ed piece by Khalid Amayreh, who detailed
in extreme, perhaps hyperbolic language how racist and transparently anti-humanitarian the
Israeli government was acting in response to the flotilla, as well as how dire the situation on the
ground in Gaza was. The other significant reference was in an article about the UN Special
Rapporteur on the Right to Food’s denouncement of UN support for anti-flotilla efforts by Israel,
Greece, and other countries. Professor Olivier De Schutter was concise but firm when he stated
that Palestinians were in need of aid regardless of the potential political turmoil it could cause,
and while Al-Ahram seemed to remain neutral on the subject, it also seemed to lean toward the
same decision as far as Palestinian right to aid went.
The fact that the flotilla was an international humanitarian aid effort was only briefly
mentioned in a few articles. Khalid Amayreh’s opinion piece mentioned it the most, speaking in
extreme terms about immediate Palestinian need for humanitarian aid and the implications of
that aid not getting safely delivered to Gaza. Otherwise, most Al-Ahram pieces minimized the
overall significance of the aid aspect in favor of focusing on politics, which can be clearly seen
in the Aid word tree--most of the branching subjects are related to politics. When it is brought
up, it is almost always in reference to the
international aspect of the flotilla or
specifically in relation to the Turkish
government’s involvement and decision
to cut ties with Israel. The lack of
reference to aid shows, at best, Egyptian
willingness to cooperate with aid
mission attempts paired with a distrust of
Hamas’ intentions and deep-seated
anti-Israeli sentiments. For the most part,
Egypt’s own role in the aid efforts and the blockade as a whole is generally left unspecified.
Peace was hardly ever referenced in any of the chosen articles. If the subject came up at
all, it was usually related to Israeli actions that suggested no desire for peace talks according to
the Egyptians. Often, the topic of an Israeli apology for either the deaths of Turkish nationals
aboard the Mavi Marmara or the violence perpetrated against Egyptians in various IDF raids was
brought up, and just as often Al-Ahram reported Israeli officials standing firm in their refusal to
issue any such apology for either set of attacks. The single opinion article related to the flotilla
brought up Israel’s lack of effort toward peace agreements as both a sign and symptom of
extreme racism and anti-humanitarian sentiment within the country’s government, though it was
very much an outlier in how strongly worded its opinions were. Otherwise, peace was hardly
mentioned at all.
Word Length Count Weighted Percentage
israel 6 93 2.47%
flotilla 8 83 2.20%
gaza 4 70 1.86%
turkey 6 35 0.93%
palestinian 11 31 0.82%
ships 5 30 0.80%
report 6 28 0.74%
blockade 8 25 0.66%
international 13 24 0.64%
egypt 5 23 0.61%
sail 4 23 0.61%
state 5 22 0.58%
greek 5 22 0.58%
minister 8 22 0.58%
activists 9 22 0.58%
The common theme across the newspapers was conflict. The issue of the Flotilla was
directly related to the perceived injustice of the blockade. Our research proved that Israel
consistently acted as the aggressor against not only Palestinians, but also Arabs and activists,
most of whom reacted peacefully during that time. Allegiance was the second most common
theme, which is indicative of the emphasis placed on the international perception of the conflict
and the Flotilla. The focus on international perception portrayed diplomatic decisions made by
countries, such as Turkey, as a call to action for the international community. This suggests a
need for aid in a broader sense than just the Flotilla. Across each publication, Turkey was
praised for cutting its allegiance with Israel, demonstrating that these countries desired strong
action against Israel, however the international community still took no action against them. Aid
was one of the least common nodes across the publications, but this can be understood
considering the emphasis on aid in the form of allegiance. Peace and Rights were among the
least coded themes across all of the publications. While the surrounding Arab countries were
very attuned to the rights of the Palestinians, they expressed Israel as not respecting those rights
and had no desire to make concessions for peace. The research of Pan-Arab Press confirmed that
because of Israel’s position as a proxy to larger colonial powers and its refusal to negotiate
peace, the other diplomatic leaders would not step in.
Node Frequence across all 75 articles
Name: Source References
Aid 56 293
Allegiance 59 472
Conflict 72 689
● Casualties 23 74
Leadership 70 567
Peace 48 232
Rights 56 364
The research of the Pan-Arab Press proved that a large majority of publications in the
Middle East have Pro-Palestine tendencies. These news outlets named Israel, the Palestinians (in
addition to Hamas), United States, United Nations, and Turkey as invested parties in the conflict.
The Pan-Arab Press portrayed the United States as complicit in Israel’s decision to cause
instability in Gaza and during the Freedom Flotilla. With Turkey’s decision to sever ties with
Israel, thus creating a new allegiance between Turkey and Palestine, this allows Turkey the
opportunity to serve as diplomatic support to Palestine in the future . The United Nations was
seen as ineffective in both brokering peace and enforcing international human rights laws. The
Pan-Arab Press noted the language used to defend the actions taken by Israel as “ambiguous”. It
also noted that ambiguous language itself as support for a specific regime.
While the American and Israeli Press are largely influenced by the political agendas of
their respective countries, the Pan-Arab, Palestinian, and British Press are left leaning and more
sympathetic towards the Gaza blockade. By demonstrating sympathies towards the Palestinians,
new movements could arise out of European and Arab countries. The American and Israeli
Press’ positions on the blockade will further perpetuate the instability between Israelis and
Palestinians. These positions make a difference in influencing the respective audiences’ of these
newspapers. The Pan-Arab press position makes a difference in that they lend an international
voice on behalf of the Palestinians, for their legitimacy is in question in the eyes of the
The Daily Star-Lebanon:
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Sonia Peña ‘18
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