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Quotes and Agendas: Israelis vs. Palestinians on Media, Public and Policy Agendas
Unformatted Document Text:  Fan-Page 10 Media agenda. Our first research question (RQ1) was about the ability of Palestinians and Israelis to place their ideas in the American media with the indicator being the extent to which they were both quoted and quoted first in the U.S. press from January 1977 through May 2002. For context, a plot was first made of the total volume of stories discussing both Palestinians and Israelis in the American press (Fig. 1). Peaks in AP coverage are easily explained by looking at the Mid-Eastern chronology of events. In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon, following a series of attacks on Israeli towns and communities near the Lebanese border. This invasion in 1982 started as a small-scale operation (labeled “Operation Peace in Galilee”), and was meant not to go beyond 40 kilometers. However, the fighting soon escalated into a war with the Israeli presence in Southern Lebanon lasting 18 years. In 1988, Israel suffered a series of terrorist attacks when Palestinians in the occupied territories conducted violent demonstrations and disturbances. Finally, elections in Israel ended with the victory of the right-wing Likud party (led by Itzhak Shamir) and the defeat of the Labor party (led by Shimon Peres). The year 2000 marked the beginning of the Intifada including a wave of terrorism. To address RQ1 about the relative quantity of quotes by Israelis and Palestinians, the percent coverage of Israeli and Palestinian speakers was calculated for all stories with Israelis speaking first among the total of all stories with either Israelis or Palestinians speaking first. The equivalent percentages were constructed for any speaker of the two sides, regardless of whether the speaker was found first in the story. The data were aggregated for periods of a quarter year. Overall, AP coverage favored the Israelis (Table 1) who appeared in 70.8% of the stories as compared to 55.5% of the AP items with a Palestinian speaker. Furthermore, Israeli speakers were first in 47.5% of the items while Palestinian spoke first only in 29.9% of the AP stories (all these differences are statistically significant). However, the analysis reveals interesting changes over time: aside from temporary fluctuations, the percentage of AP stories with Israelis speaking first showed a general decrease (Figs. 2 and 3). The decline was quantified by aggregating the stories in the first decade of the data from 1977 to 1986 to show that Israelis spoke first in 71.6% of the AP items, two and half times as much as Palestinians (Table 1). After all news sources became available in July 1994, Israelis were only quoted first in 54 percent of the stories. Thus Israelis still had the advantage but by a much smaller margin. Public agenda. A time trend of the public agenda could be constructed for a survey question repeated over time on sympathy for the Palestinians versus the Israelis (RA2). The percentage of Americans sympathetic to the Palestinians in 53 polls remained largely unchanged from 1977 to 2002 (Fig. 4) at an average of 14 percent with a standard deviation of 4.5 percent. In contrast, American sympathy for Israel (Fig. 5) had an average of 48 percent with a standard deviation of 8 percent. Thus the American public has shown much more sympathy for the Israelis than for the Palestinians. Policy agenda. On the American policy agenda, our analysis explored the time dependent frequencies of surveys on sympathy for Palestinians versus that for Arab nations (RQ3). The data for Figs. 4 and 5 show that only 6 of the 58 polls from March 1977 through March 1988 were about sympathy for Palestinians with the balance being about Arab nations. Thus the American policy agenda in that time period was concentrated on state-to-state issues. From April 1988 to through April 1992, the American decision making agenda was in transition

Authors: Fan, David. and Weimann, Gabriel.
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Fan-Page 10
Media agenda. Our first research question (RQ1) was about the ability of Palestinians
and Israelis to place their ideas in the American media with the indicator being the extent to
which they were both quoted and quoted first in the U.S. press from January 1977 through May
2002. For context, a plot was first made of the total volume of stories discussing both
Palestinians and Israelis in the American press (Fig. 1). Peaks in AP coverage are easily
explained by looking at the Mid-Eastern chronology of events. In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon,
following a series of attacks on Israeli towns and communities near the Lebanese border. This
invasion in 1982 started as a small-scale operation (labeled “Operation Peace in Galilee”), and
was meant not to go beyond 40 kilometers. However, the fighting soon escalated into a war with
the Israeli presence in Southern Lebanon lasting 18 years. In 1988, Israel suffered a series of
terrorist attacks when Palestinians in the occupied territories conducted violent demonstrations
and disturbances. Finally, elections in Israel ended with the victory of the right-wing Likud
party (led by Itzhak Shamir) and the defeat of the Labor party (led by Shimon Peres). The year
2000 marked the beginning of the Intifada including a wave of terrorism.

To address RQ1 about the relative quantity of quotes by Israelis and Palestinians, the percent
coverage of Israeli and Palestinian speakers was calculated for all stories with Israelis speaking
first among the total of all stories with either Israelis or Palestinians speaking first. The
equivalent percentages were constructed for any speaker of the two sides, regardless of whether
the speaker was found first in the story. The data were aggregated for periods of a quarter year.

Overall, AP coverage favored the Israelis (Table 1) who appeared in 70.8% of the stories as
compared to 55.5% of the AP items with a Palestinian speaker. Furthermore, Israeli speakers
were first in 47.5% of the items while Palestinian spoke first only in 29.9% of the AP stories (all
these differences are statistically significant). However, the analysis reveals interesting changes
over time: aside from temporary fluctuations, the percentage of AP stories with Israelis speaking
first showed a general decrease (Figs. 2 and 3). The decline was quantified by aggregating the
stories in the first decade of the data from 1977 to 1986 to show that Israelis spoke first in 71.6%
of the AP items, two and half times as much as Palestinians (Table 1). After all news sources
became available in July 1994, Israelis were only quoted first in 54 percent of the stories. Thus
Israelis still had the advantage but by a much smaller margin.
Public agenda.
A time trend of the public agenda could be constructed for a survey
question repeated over time on sympathy for the Palestinians versus the Israelis (RA2). The
percentage of Americans sympathetic to the Palestinians in 53 polls remained largely unchanged
from 1977 to 2002 (Fig. 4) at an average of 14 percent with a standard deviation of 4.5 percent.
In contrast, American sympathy for Israel (Fig. 5) had an average of 48 percent with a standard
deviation of 8 percent. Thus the American public has shown much more sympathy for the
Israelis than for the Palestinians.
Policy agenda.
On the American policy agenda, our analysis explored the time
dependent frequencies of surveys on sympathy for Palestinians versus that for Arab nations
(RQ3). The data for Figs. 4 and 5 show that only 6 of the 58 polls from March 1977 through
March 1988 were about sympathy for Palestinians with the balance being about Arab nations.
Thus the American policy agenda in that time period was concentrated on state-to-state issues.
From April 1988 to through April 1992, the American decision making agenda was in transition


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