Arab Media Focuses on Hezbollah-Israel Fighting
DON GONYEA, host:
Many in the Arab world have spent these past two weeks monitoring the military conflict between Israel and Hezbollah militants. Television stations in Beirut are broadcasting minute to minute updates, and Arabic news channels have focused almost exclusively on the fighting.
Ramez Maluf is a professor of journalism at the Lebanese American University in Beirut. He joins me now to discuss media coverage of this conflict. Professor Maluf, greetings.
Professor RAMEZ MALUF (Professor of Journalism, Lebanese American University, Beirut): Hello there.
GONYEA: So is the coverage of this conflict in the local media there different from what we've seen in the past?
Prof. MALUF: The Hezbollah station, Al-Manar, which is normally not an all-news channel, is dedicating all of its 24-hours to covering the conflict. And I think what's very interesting is that despite the heavy bombing, and I assume the attempt by the Israelis to quiet that station, the station continues to broadcast and continues to present Hezbollah, their point of views, and rallies in favor of Hezbollah.
GONYEA: You mentioned the Hezbollah station. If we look beyond that to other stations as well, is there a variety of points of view and political debate being presented?
Prof. MALUF: There are a variety of points of views, yes, indeed. Not on Al-Manar, which is the Hezbollah station, but on other stations the debate is quite open.
In the first few days, the debate was more intense, and the questions that were being asked was, should Hezbollah have done this? Was this a good timing? Do we need an armed militia in Lebanon? Et cetera, et cetera. But as the conflict continues, that debate is more and more in the background because now people perceive the war as an assault on the whole country rather than just on Hezbollah.
GONYEA: Well, even if there's that broad criticism of Israel, is there public support for Hezbollah?
Prof. MALUF: A lot of public support. I mean, you know, in countries where the democratic process is new, it's always hard to tell what people really think because sometimes they don't know what they think. But, were I to just, on the face of it, evaluate the support for Hezbollah, I would say that there's a lot of support for Hezbollah.
Remember that this is probably the last line of defense against Israel in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and so giving up Hezbollah has tremendous implications across the Arab world.
GONYEA: Just one more thing. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was in Beirut yesterday. How was her visit received?
Prof. MALUF: With apprehension. People already knew that she wasn't going to be doing anything much, because they had already received signals of what the American administration was thinking. So her visit was not, you know, looked at as a turning point in the conflict or anything. People took it for what it was, which is Condoleezza Rice talking to local politicians to see what they thought, rather than the other way around.
GONYEA: Ramez Maluf is a professor of journalism at the Lebanese American University in Beirut. Thanks for joining us.
Prof. MALUF: My pleasure.
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