Pens and Swords

Pens and Swords book cover

Pens and Swords: How the American Mainstream Media Report the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

In Pens and Swords, Marda Dunsky, examines American mainstream news coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By examining hundreds of reports published in newspapers and newsmagazines and broadcast on network and cable TV and radio over a four-year period, Dunsky offers fresh insight into how media framing affects the public’s and policymakers’ understandings of this decades-old conflict, which is central to U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Dunsky concludes that the coverage, over time and across platforms, all but omits reporting and analysis of key aspects of the conflict: how U.S. policy has affected its trajectory for the last 40 years; and how international law and consensus address the issues that embody its demography and geography: the Palestinian refugee issue and Israel’s settlement and annexation policies in the occupied territories. To lay the groundwork for her analysis, Dunsky presents the very type of contextual information that is largely absent from the reporting itself.

The book also addresses how U.S.-based, pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups apply pressure to media organizations; and it features a chapter of interviews with 15 journalists who reported the story from Jerusalem for major American news outlets between 1985 and 2002. The final chapter offers a formula for how working journalists can change their approach to covering the conflict.

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