Israel’s leading news outlets included not a single Arab panelist on Election Day. The other stations didn’t fare much better.
By Oren Persico
Israel’s top-rated news channel did not include a single Arab speaker on Election Day last week, according to the “Representation Index,” a joint initiative of the Israeli NGO Sikkuy and Ifat Media Information, which provides quantitative and qualitative analysis of Arab citizens of Israel who are interviewed on leading news and current affairs programs.
Israel’s largest news companies — Channel 12, Channel 13, and Kan, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, respectively — established special makeshift studios across Jerusalem in the lead-up to last week’s national election. Not a single panel included an Arab speaker on primetime, neither on Election Day nor the day after. While Kan and Channel 13 did include a small number Arab speakers throughout the day, not a single Arab voice could be found on Channel 12.
The low voter turnout among Palestinian citizens of Israel was a central issue in these elections, yet the panelists who were granted airtime to discuss the issue were for the most part Jewish Israelis, according to Ifat Media Information. When Arab panelists did appear on television, it was during hours with relatively few viewers. It should be noted that only speakers who were physically present at the studios were counted in this analysis. There were a number of Arabs who participated in discussions from the field.
On Election Day, Kan’s studio, built across from the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, included a total of 63 panelists, among them only five Arabs (eight percent): former MK Taleb el-Sana, Bar-Ilan University researcher Waseem Younis, journalist Safaa Farhat, writer and tech specialist Afif Abu Much, and researcher Salim Bariq from the Open University.
Channel 13 included 107 panelists on the day of and the day after the elections, of which only six (six percent) were Arabs: Safaa Farhat, MK Jamal Zahalka, first-time voter Zaki Shyuahna of Sakhnin, journalist Sanaa Hamoud, Afif Abu Much, and former MK Zouheir Bahloul.Read More