Media Representations Of Judaism And Islam

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email: cgohm@netrover.comtitle: Media Representations of Judaism and IslamIn this century there have been countless conflicts involving the people of Judaism and those of Islam. The Holocaust in World War II, the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the hostilities of the Palestinians towards the Israelites are all examples of such conflict. The media is especially involved in the portrayal of these two nations, as the events that go on in the Near-East have many sympathizers. The media, especially the local Toronto Star, feeds off of the Jew/Muslim predicament. This representation is totally contrary to the historical view of these two religions. According to academic texts, both nations are peaceful and down-to-earth. However, as will be seen, the media does nothing to support these ideals. Jews and Muslims, these words are common in both newspapers and tabloid articles. They are abundant in nature, but the one common theme for both parties is political instability. The governments for each society are both in turmoil, fearing revolt and the violence that stems from it. The main issue being addressed is the fight over complete land ownership in Israel; the Jewish control of the Gaza Strip and West Bank and the "Palestinian demand for an independent state" (Toronto Star, January 27, 1997; A11), has only added to the tension between the two parties. One perspective from the articles is that the Jews are asking for too much and giving little in return. The opposition Labor party in Israel said, "We in the Labor have given up the dream of rolling back the settlements" (Toronto Star, January 27, 1997; A11). Israel wants to lay claim to the Gaza strip and West Bank and their only offering to the people of Palestine is to re-instate Palestinian jobs. This is evident in The Toronto Star when it states,Israel plans to deport tons of thousands of foreign workers this year and reinstate 45,000 Palestinian laborers whose jobs they took... (Toronto Star, January 22, 1997; A15). This indifference between give and take on Israel's part has re-ignited the hatred felt towards them by Muslims. This is seen when Sheikh Mohammed Tantawi said,Jews are arrogant, they believe they are above all other human races. They committed injustices against the prophet Jesus and his mother (Toronto Star, January 26, 1997; F1, F5). The Mufti of Egypt believes that "Jews have no historical claim to Jerusalem" (Toronto Star, January 26, 1997; F!, F5). The anger towards Jews has heightened recently with progessional unions forbidding their members to deal with Israel and with "brazenly anti-Semitic caricatures cropping up recently in newspaper cartoons" (Toronto Star, January 26, 1997; F1, F5). Another perspective prevalent in many Muslim based articles is the violence stemming from revolt. In four of the six Muslim-based articles, violence was the main theme of the story. In Algeria, "the violence was the worst in what has been a bloody 1997 in the North African country, where a five-year Islamic insurgency has killed at least 60,000" (Toronto Star, Jan 20, 1997; A3). Algeria is facing a gruesome revolt in which Muslim militants want to overthrow the present government in order to give rise to Islamic law. Overall, these articles are fair without any biases, since they are just news coverages and not editorials. The articles tell the truth and neglect any opinions the journalist might have. They are considerate to the dilemma facing both nations but still treat human mortalities as just statistics rather than tragedies of society. Even though in most cases journalists are fair and just in their articles, they still over-exploit the middle-east conflict which disrupts peace talks between Israel and Palestine. The Toronto Star depicts the religions of Judaism and Islam in a very distinct way, while the portrayal in the World Religions text is radically opposite. According to the textbook Jewish and Muslim populations are relatively peaceful, while the Toronto Star describes both as being greedy and violent. One interesting point about the depiction of Jews is their apparent greedy nature; wanting too much and giving nothing in return. As it says in World Religions, "Judaism has spawned two subsequent world religions, each enormously larger and more politically powerful than Judaism has been" (Oxtoby, pg 15). Jewish culture has given much to the Muslims, including the fundamental of their religion! Also, according to the text, "Christians and Muslims readily acknowledge a debt to ancient Judaism for religious ideas and practices" (Oxtoby, pg 16). The vehement words of Sheikh Mohammed Tantawi involve none of the respect that should be awarded the Jews in recognition of such a debt. The total population of the Jews on Earth is approximately 14 million, 1 to 2 percent of the size of Christian and Muslim societies. One would

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