With the Gaza toll rising, nowhere is popular outrage at the Israeli attacks more apparent than in the Arab world. As it rallies its public relations team to placate concerns about the carnage, it is only natural that attention should be given to the Arabic language media, and indeed Arabic speaking Israeli officials are increasingly frequent guests on such channels: vigorously defending the war and chastising the channels for their coverage.
Typifying the experience is Israeli Captain Avichai Adarai, who conducted an on-air interview with al-Jazeera just hours after the attack began. The message was familiar: the attack is just, only terrorists are being targeted, etc. He also chastised al-Jazeera, much as Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni did in her appearance, for broadcasting images of the dead and dying people of the Gaza Strip. Captain Adarai demanded to know why al-Jazeera didn’t devote as much time to the suffering of Israelis during the war.
But al-Jazeera’s ability to do that in Israel, where the government is carefully managing media coverage, is unclear at best. The station has often struggled to even get its correspondents into the nation at all. Just weeks before Israel launched the war, it officially placed an “embargo” on the station, accusing it of promoting terrorist activities. The embargo would place even harsher restrictions on its reporters than its competitors, and the military has a general ban on journalists too close to the strip at any rate.