Posted by: sean | May 5, 2008

Nakba use in the Times

The previous post got me to wondering how often the word Nakba had been used in American newspapers and when, so I did a Lexis Nexis search, which showed that the Times has only printed the word in 34 articles, the first of which appeared in 1998 in an article about Israel’s 50th anniversary. A double check of the NYT online archives, however, showed two other articles that didn’t appear in the Lexis Nexis search (they seem to only have abstracts for pre-1981 articles): one from 1973 on Sadat and another from 1970 on occupied Ramallah.

Here’s a quickly drawn up chart that tracks the use of the word in coverage by the New York Times:


This shows that up until the 50th anniversary of the Nakba, the Times had referred to it but twice. I have a feeling that before the year is over, 2008 will beat out 2007 for the number of times the term is employed.

It’s unclear to me what exactly has caused the general tide of public opinion to start moving (slowly but surely) away from Israeli occupation in the US. (Or perhaps I’m being optimistic and am projecting?) But I get the feeling that there’s a  shift happening in American public opinion that will hopefully be reflected by more fair-minded media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


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