Toronto (Jun. 30)
A Canadian media expert charged this week that the negative image of Arabs on Canadian television and newspapers was largely due to extensive Jewish control of the media in the United States on which Canadian editors are heavily dependent, and on the political clout of the “New York-Washington Jewish lobbies” which “make the pro-life and anti-gun control lobbies together look like amateur night.”
The expert, Marie Choquet, an Ottawa communications consultant, made her remarks to some 60 academicians, diplomats and businessmen from Canada and a dozen Arab countries attending a three day conference organized by the University of Calgary in conjunction with the International Association of Middle East Studies and the Union of Arab Historians.
A spokesman for the Canadian Jewish Congress office in Montreal, asked by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency for comment said, “we know that such charges from the basis for right-wing anti-Semitic propaganda,” adding that it could be seen as “a form of incitement to hatred.” The spokesman said that, on the whole, the Canadian media attitude on on Middle East issues was “balanced.” The spokesman said that it was unfortunate that “credible” and respected individuals made accusations of that sort.
Ms. Choquet also warned that Arabs themselves bear part of the blame, particularly the appearance of Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat who was associated with terrorism that North Americans abhor. “The beard, the clothes, the hair, all contribute to make him remain an image of violence,” she said.
Choquet said that in the case of the Arabs, television has created two “masks and illusions.” One, she said is the “rather primitive and almost illiterate terrorist” and the other is “that of an irresponsible and corrupt billionaire.”
She said the distortion was aggravated by the fact that only U.S. television networks could afford to maintain permanent crews in many of the world’s “hot spots” including the Middle East. The selection of film clips is up to individual news editors, many of whom are Jewish, she said. She added that the major television production centers, New York and Los Angeles, are “carefully and consistently massaged” by what Choquet called the well-organized, well disciplined Jewish community of the entertainment world and, to some degree, the business world. Canada, she said relies heavily on U.S. “visuals.”
She observed that it was the nature of the television media to present simplified images which overshadow substance. But she also faulted the Canadian media for poor coverage of international news events because of the ignorance of reporters and editors. As a result, she said, the Arab cause is losing the public relations war with the pro-Israel elements.