Seeing the Unseen: How Framing Influences Perceptions of Palestine- Script

Seeing the Unseen: How Framing Influences Perceptions of Palestine

Created by: Christina Cavalcanti, Nilofar Eschborn, Antonia Gottschick, Lourde Hadid, Yumna Hamidi, Taha Yassen Jasim, & Mohammad Abdallah Khamis

*Antonia Gottschick on screen*
“As you’ve just read, today we’re going to talk about the aspects of protests in Palestine that are unseen in the media. We’re also going to discuss how the parts that are seen are framed in German media.”

As a little disclaimer in the beginning: The purpose of this video is not to antagonize anyone, but to show how the media can create certain narratives through framing.

*Antonia on screen*
“During our research we noticed it can be quite tricky to talk about this topic, especially because it’s impossible to talk about Palestine without talking about Israel as well. As Germans it puts us in a preeeeetttyyy sensitive spot, so we’re not trying to cause any problems. But we’ll get back to that later. For now, we’re just going to take a quick look at what we see here in Germany when protests in Palestine are discussed in the news:
*videos on smartphone/laptop screen showing typical German coverage*

VIDEO 1  “Tel-Aviv has never experienced such massive rocket fire. Radical Islamic Palestinians from Gaza continued their attacks during the night. People flee to bunkers and many spend the night there. The South of Israel is still under attack. The Hamas leadership has rejected attempts of mediation from abroad.”

VIDEO 2 “On Land Day, security forces from Israel and Palestinian demonstrators have held street battles in several locations. At a checkpoint north of Jerusalem, security forces cracked down on demonstrators who were taking part in a march to Jerusalem. The police dispersed dozens of demonstrators at the Damascus Gate to the Old City of Jerusalem. Clashes also broke out in Bethlehem.”

*Antonia on screen*
“That video is just one example, but it’s part of a pattern: when people in Germany hear or see news about Palestine, the images and narratives are mainly dominated by violence. Violent clashes, demonstrators throwing stones, tear gas, bullets… These are all typical images. In May 2021 especially, the news reports were dominated by this kind of heavy violence. But they are only fragments of a much, much bigger picture.

INSERT: photo of Kai Hafez + excerpt from Hafez (2000)

[VOICE-OVER] “As political scientist Kai Hafez stated in a discussion paper about the West and Islam, conflicts like the Israeli-Palestinian one seem to swallow up the capacities of many global mass media because it is considered “hard news”. direct quote from Hafez (2000)

[VOICE-OVER] He explains: “Images and information about the politics and society of ‘the other’ have remained highly selective and fragmented. They are mostly confined to politics while other spheres of every-day life are underrepresented.” (Hafez, 2000, p.6)

INSERT: excerpt from Entman (1993)
[VOICE-OVER] “This selectiveness can be explained using a variety of communication theories, such as framing theory. Framing’s actually a set of theories that emerged from agenda-setting research and it’s such a broad, all-encompassing approach that it’s been popular across multiple research disciplines since the 1970s. The most useddefinition of “framing” is Robert Entman’s conceptualization:  “Framing essentially involves selection and salience. To frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation for the item prescribed.” (Entman, 1993, p.52)

*Antonia on screen*
“Basically, frames can be understood as the way information is presented or packaged – something like a cognitive aid for interpreting information. This field of research also focuses on the ways specific parts of information are emphasized. These choices can influence the opinions of people on the receiving end.

INSERT: excerpt from Lopatin et al. (2017)
[VOICE-OVER] “According to a study, the framing of the conflict, while primarily dominated by political frames in the past, now mainly consists of religious frames.

*Antonia on screen*
“But there is another huge factor influencing the way this issue is framed in Germany: the perception of the past, especially of Nazism. The fact that Germany never wants this to happen again, leads to a strong tendency to support Israel.”

[VOICE-OVER] And of course, this trickles down into the way
news from Palestine is reported on.

*Antonia on screen*
“As a result, the conflict is often framed in a way that portrays Israel’s violence as a “justified” reaction to Palestinian protests. Which are often referred to as “terrorism” by the media.
Another study about news in German TV concluded that Israel and its political actors have a
significantly greater representation than the Palestinian side does. The study also found that Israel is reported on when there are simple social occasions without any direct relevance
to the conflict and therefore no reference to acts of violence. This means that, compared to Israel, a huge part of the image of Palestine and Palestinian protest remains invisible to Germans. With this project, we hope to explore the unseen. So we took a look at some local online videos from
protesters in Palestine.”

INSERT: clip from citizen journalist’s (Nassri Lada) YouTube
video of Ramallah protest in May 2021

*Antonia on screen*
“In the video just shown, Palestinians are holding a peaceful protest in Ramallah in support of Jerusalem, in May 2021. They describe their feelings as “exploding volcanoes [in their] chest”. They say that they want to live freely.”

INSERT: clips from interview with Prof. Uri Davis
[INTERVIEWER] “What do you think about the German media coverage regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict?”

[PROF. URI DAVIS] “It’s pathetic. It’s simply pathetic. I’ll give you a recent example… Deutsche Welle, the official international channel of Germany to the world: “Germany rejects Amnesty [International]’s ‘apartheid’ label for Israel.” The Israeli regime is an apartheid regime because it
discriminates, not between Jew and Arab; in law, between Jew and not-Jew. In law. So in South Africa it was between white and not-white, and in Israel, the regime says, in law, Jew and not-Jew. This is a crime against humanity. It’s not an anti-Jewish label. There are people responsible for the Holocaust, and they should be brought to justice, not to vengeance… But to try and suppress criticism of the state of Israel as an apartheid state by ascribing collective guilt to
the German people – I would use a rather strong and not academic word: it stinks.”

[INTERVIEWER] “What kind of recommendations would you provide
European media outlet coverage?”

[PROF. URI DAVIS] “To do academic research on any subjects that have a relationship to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; to be careful to nourish and foster and further develop the critical
facilities; and to tell the truth. And not to be intimidated. And definitely not to be intimidated by false allegations of anti-semitism. Criticism of Israel as an apartheid state in Germany and beyond Germany, in Europe as a whole, is not anti-semitism; is not anti-Jewish.

*Antonia on screen*
“The problem for German journalists is that, even at peaceful demonstrations, individual protesters may shout out radical anti-Israeli slogans. Even a single statement is
enough to prevent German media from airing this kind of footage.”

INSERT: silhouette/anonymous interviewee
[VOICE-OVER] “To get a better perspective on the way it works in the German news sector, we interviewed a Middle East-expert from Germany who has worked as correspondent in Palestine and Israel. They explained that reporting on Palestine is a very sensitive matter for German journalists. And to our point, our source asked not to be named for exactly this reason. Our source explains: because of Germany’s history, German media go above and beyond to avoid accusations
of antisemitism when a report includes a critical quote from a Palestinian, even if it is not necessarily “radical”.

INSERT: excerpts from website of International Holocaust
Remembrance Alliance
[VOICE-OVER] “As defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, it is even considered anti-semitic if the state of Israel, understood as a Jewish collective, is so much as criticized. The unfortunate consequence is: a majority amount of journalists shy away from reporting on Palestine and Palestinian points of view in order to avoid being criticized in the German public sphere.

*Antonia on screen*
“Our source also confirmed that, due to the sensitivities surrounding the matter, there isn’t much
reporting on Palestine in German news in general… So people in Germany don’t really have a clear idea what’s going on there. They also added that colleagues who still work as correspondents often struggle to get their stories and pitches about Palestine through to the German media sphere. The expert complained about the really low interest in German newsrooms as well. If a report is to be published, there has to be a connection to Germany – or at least ten people must
have died on the Palestinian side, for it to be considered “relevant news”. Our source regretfully explained that this is the requirement in many German newsrooms. But the lives of Palestinians, the way the Palestinians view the world, their voice on their own oppression, is often of very little interest to German media. So it is also not surprising that German media does not cover
Palestine’s peaceful protests at the very least, and many images of people from Palestine remain unseen.”


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