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on 20 July 2004
This book seeks to explore how the media shapes public perceptions of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The book attempts to establish itself as a 'scientific' study with data generated by a number of 'focus groups' the authors have set up. The groups' discussions and data provided make interesting reading but their credability is undermined when it becomes clear, quite early on in the book, where the authors' sympathies' lie.
The first half of the book amounts to a potted history of the story of the conflict so far. I think it would be fair to say that the account sides firmly with the pro-Palestian view. The account draws largely on the work of the 'new' Israeli historians that tends to question much of the justifiaction Israel has had for the way it has dealt with the Palestinians in the past. If you are not familiar with this view then the book gives a good, well-referenced and concise account. The effect this has, however, is to make you slightly dubious of the 'research's' objectivity and I felt, more than a couple of times, that results were being made to fit the author's desired conclusions and not vice versa.
The authors' general perception is that media reporting of the conflict tends to side with the Israeli's (largely as a result of a right-wing media conspiracy) and it is felt that if viewers were made aware of the history of the conflict more sympathy would be offered to the Palestian side. This of course depends on which history you tell. . . .
In conclusion the book is a clever attempt to put a popular left-wing interpretation of the conflict forward with the added weight of what purports to be empirical research behind it. It is, therefore, more valid as a competent piece of propaganda than a bonafide piece of academic study. Anyone with an interest in the conflict or media studies, however, will find it very interesting.
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on 29 June 2010
This is a well-written and well researched work. Like 99% of books on this conflict it appears to have arrived at its conclusions independently of its research - i.e. it is biased (see first chapter, unscientific methodology and the authors sympathies).

Of course this criticism can be levelled at nearly all books on this conflict, but it is particularly damning in a book which seeks to address why the public is biased!

For those who are prepared to take a book with a pinch of salt, or are prepared to read the reports of right-wing think tanks which claim that there is a 'clear' bias in the opposite direction, then this is a good book to give the author half of the picture.

Otherwise you can join me in trying to find a politically neutral book about the Middle East, however, I warn that this appears to be fairly elusive!

Unfortunately most people tend to pick a side and read sympathetic books, whilst slating any book which disagrees with them. (See every single Amazon review!)

Both have credible historians, but you always get the impression that you can tell what someone will say about Israel/Palestine by their general political outlook - strongly indicative of a bias. This is one of the saddest failings of political theorists.
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on 26 May 2011
The author's attempts to demonstrate that the BBC is pro-Israel is fatally flawed. The sort of bean-counting methodology he relies on has been discredited. In fact, the BBC is anti-Israel, and knows it, (which is why they have adamantly refused to publish the findings of the Balen report into BBC bias on Middle East reporting)

This book is a waste of money. The author is dressing up his political prejudices as objective research.
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