When Prophesy Always Fails: Israeli Press Coverage of the Arab Minority's Land Day Protests

Gadi Wolfsfeld, Eli Avraham, Issam Aburaiya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines how the Hebrew press in Israel covers the annual Land Day protest carried out by the Arab minority in that country. The protest is rooted in a 1976 incident in which six Arab citizens were killed in a clash over government confiscation of land. Across 21 years of coverage, the Hebrew press consistently has used the days leading up to the protest to exaggerate the threat posed by the protest despite the fact that little violence has ever taken place. Land Day has become an annual ritual of vilification. The struggle over media frames of collective action, it is argued, often entails a contest between challengers attempting to promote an injustice frame and the authorities who want to promote a law and order frame. News routines for covering minorities — especially ones with low levels of social legitimacy — ensure that such protests almost always will be seen as a threat to law and order. Based on in-depth interviews with both Arab and Jewish informants and a content analysis of news coverage, the research demonstrates how such routines make it almost impossible for Arab citizens to promote their own frames about Land Day.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-131
Number of pages17
JournalPolitical Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2000
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Gadi Wolfsfeld is Professor of Political Science and Communication, Eli Avraham is a Lecturer in Communication, and Issam Aburaiya is a doctoral candidate in Political Science, all at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The authors thank their research assistants, Rami Sahlhevet and Oren Livio, for their hard work, and the Israel Ministry of Science,which funded this study.


  • Arabs in Israel
  • Land Day
  • Media and protest
  • Media frames

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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