Hebrew Popular Press, Catastrophe Stories, and the Instigation of Fear in Ottoman Palestine

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines the representation of catastrophe stories by Hebrew popular press and the instigation of fear and uncertainty in the local public sphere in Palestine in the beginning of the twentieth century. The particular case study of the Jerusalem popular Newspaper Ha-Zvi (The Dear) (1884–1914) is analyzed here. The paper was run by the Jewish intellectual Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and his son Itamar Ben-Avi. Their premise was utilizing popular journalism with disaster stories in order to enhance the readership and thus the utilization and the practice of the Hebrew language that was forgotten. The emotional strategy of fear had another function: the creation of a melodramatic spectacle which helped the Jewish reader to assimilate more easily secular and nationalist ideology. The instigation of fear also enabled the editors to transmit a deterministic vision to the readers: despite human raison, it was the blind fate that shaped the life of the individuals and the groups, the rich and the poor without distinction. This was the reason why journals like Ha-Zvi were accused of spreading “opium to masses” and diverting the attention of the people from their own interests to the world of spectacle and excitement.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Transformations in Media and Communication Research
EditorsNelson Costa, Christian Schwarzenegger
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NameGlobal Transformations in Media and Communication Research
ISSN (Print)2634-5978
ISSN (Electronic)2634-5986

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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