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Profs Blame Pro-Israel Bias for Stereotyping Muslims
by Andrew E. Harrod
Arabs and Muslims have an image problem in media and entertainment as a result of a pro-Israel political agenda. So claimed Edmund Ghareeb and Jack Shaheen, professors at American and New York Universities, respectively, on June 11, 2014, before an audience of forty middle-aged individuals at Washington, D.C. Jerusalem Fund think tank.
Ghareeb and Shaheen's presentation, "Portraying Arabs: 30 Years Later," commemorated their respective 1984 publications, Split Vision: The Portrayal of Arabs in the American Media and The TV Arab. Drawing upon personal experiences, Ghareeb decried a "lack of balance" in Middle East news coverage in Israel's favor, although groups such as CAMERA and Honest Reporting routinely demonstrate the reverse. According to Ghareeb, this allegedly biased media stereotyping "dehumanizes a people" and "allows for the use of force" against Arabs.
As evidence for this dubious claim, Ghareeb relied upon equally dubious sources such as Senator William Fulbright, who announced on television in 1973 that "Israel controls the United States Senate" and later became a registered lobbyist for Saudi Arabia. Ghareeb also praised the reporting of Peter Jennings as an isolated example of balanced Middle East coverage and labeled Orientalism author Edward Said an "important figure" for writing, Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World. He then cited Muhammad Hassanein Heikal, longtime editor of Egypt's semiofficial Al Ahram newspaper and government minister under Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser, two individuals who inspired little confidence.
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