By ELIE LESHEM, JPOST
Israel’s image in the international media has deteriorated since the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip, despite expectations to the contrary, according to a study conducted at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
According to a statement released by the Department of Media Relations at the university, instead of helping mend Israel’s “image as an occupier and an oppressor,” and decreasing international demands for major territorial concessions on Israel’s part, the disengagement only served to aggravate Israel’s already poor showings in the international media arena.
Researchers Dr. Tamir Sheafer and Itai Gabai tracked representations of Israel in the American and British media and found that, despite temporarily finding favor in the media’s eyes directly following disengagement, Israel was generally represented “in a more negative light after the disengagement in comparison to the period that preceded it.”
“We found that one of the main reasons for this phenomenon is that Israel continues to be viewed by the world as a occupying state,” Sheafer explained. “We also found that the demands from Israel to territorial concessions in the Territories not only were not lessened following the disengagement, but actually became stronger.”
Former prime minister Ariel Sharon, speaking before the plan was carried out, had said that “In the wider view, the Disengagement Plan improves our international standing and promotes the chance of peace in our region.”
Shaefer and Gabai gleaned their data from thousands of on-line articles, and statements made by US and British leaders, ministers and politicians on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
The study also showed, however, that the Palestinian Authority was also unable to rectify its international image. According to the conclusions, the PA, which had hoped to improve its media standing by holding elections, was unsuccessful in selling its exercise in democracy.
“Although the Palestinian Authority tried to market the January 2006 elections as positive and democratic, the elections were ultimately portrayed in a negative light in the foreign media due to their strengthening of Hamas,” Sheafer said.