Author Identifiers

Mayyada M. A. Mhanna

ORCID: 0000-0003-3572-5792

Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Arts and Humanities

First Advisor

Associate Professor Debbie Rodan

Second Advisor

Dr George Karpathakis

Abstract

Despite the many current conflicts in the Middle East and the world, the Israeli- Palestinian conflict is still one of the most significant conflicts of the modern era. The reasons for this include the history and violence of this conflict and the lack of practical solutions for it. The significance of this conflict is reflected in its prevalence in many disciplines, such as political science and media studies. Related literature shows that Australian media coverage of this conflict has not been investigated thoroughly. Hence, this study attempts to bridge this gap in literature, aiming to identify how Australian media portray the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A sample of mainstream Australian print and online media was analysed. The sample included News Corp media (The Australian, the Herald Sun and news.com.au), Fairfax newspapers (The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald) and two news websites, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Crikey. This study draws on Entman’s (1993, 2002) concept of framing as a crucial technique used to shape an event or issue, reflecting the power embedded in media texts. The Australian media corpora (consisting of 862,093 words) were created by uploading 1,201 news articles to online linguistic tool, Sketch Engine. These news articles, published in the sample of Australian media from January 2014 to June 2015, were examined using corpus-based analysis. By using critical discourse analysis (CDA), a small sample of the data was analysed to investigate the Australian media portrayal of the Israeli war on Gaza during July and August 2014.

The study shows that conflict and responsibility frames were more prominent than other frames, such as human interest and victim frames. This is due to the Australian media’s reliance on officials’ voices. These media relied on Israeli voices over Palestinian voices, and United States (US) voices over Australian voices. Consequently, by avoiding words such as occupation, resistance, victim and massacre, Australian media representations of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reflect power of voices within media discourses.

The Australian media tended to legitimise Israeli attacks on Gaza and to delegitimise Hamas’s rocket attacks on Israel. This emerged through highlighting Israel’s right of defence, representing Israeli attacks on Gaza as a retaliation to Palestinian rockets, and foregrounding Palestinians and suppressing or backgrounding Israel as actors. The justification of Israeli actions resulted from media reliance on Israeli and pro-Israeli sources and voices. This justification was also relevant to acknowledging Israel as a state, Palestinians as stateless people and Hamas as a terrorist organisation and a nonstate actor.

This study found that both Israeli and Palestinian casualties were represented in terms of numbers or statistics, and occasionally individualised. The human interest frame was only used to portray casualties when particular voices were used. Hence, this study demonstrates the need for more in-depth and humanistic coverage and contextual information about the conflict in Australian media.

Available for download on Sunday, April 04, 2021

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