Sunday, 29 January 2012

PSC's Impact on Public Opinion

Imagine that the PSC was a significant organisation, taken seriously and respected as an important voice in the pro-Palestinian camp. Would it be reasonable to assume that its opinion would be sought on the topic of the Arab-Israeli conflict? Might its senior members be invited to contribute to the debate? Would the media report some of its activities?

Judging by what I found when I looked, the PSC is virtually ignored by the mainstream press. Even the Guardian.

In the last 10 years the Guardian have published over 7,500 items on Palestine and 35,000 on Israel. During the same period it has printed a whopping 109 items mentioning the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Here's a closer look at them.

56 are letters, of which 2 just mention the PSC in passing and 3 are signed by someone who is a committee member of a local branch. 16 are letters with numerous signatures including some from the PSC. They can claim credit, though, for 7 letters whose signatories are either exclusively PSC or were almost certainly gathered by them. There are a further 28 letters signed by someone from the national PSC, virtually all of which are from Betty Hunter.

Of the 53 non-letters 26 are news articles and 14 are comment pieces. The rest are a mixture of local news reports (7), profiles (1), obituaries (1), diary entries (2) and running stories (2).

The news articles break down as follows. 6 mention the PSC in passing, 2 report in negative terms about an activity of the PSC, 1 in neutral terms, 1 is about their interruption of the proms and 2 are references to them inviting the anti-Semitic Raed Salah. In 14 other articles a quote is provided by the PSC, though 5 of these are quotes from Sarah Colborne about her being on the Mavi Marmara and in all likelihood would have been given without the PSC existing.

What is more interesting is the comments pieces. 5 of the 14 only mention it in passing. The other 9 are all hostile or negative towards the PSC. So far as I can tell, no member of the national PSC has been a contributor to CiF.

Perhaps the importance of the PSC to the UK's discourse is best summed up by the following two comments on the live coverage of the Mavi Marmara incident.
A source from the Free Gaza Movement has told the Guardian that 19 people are believed dead.
There were 27 Britons on board the ships, the contact says, including Sarah Colvin from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Ben Folley has emailed to point out that I've erred in my 10.38am post, naming a couple of Britons on board. Sarah Colvin should read Sarah Colborne – she is director of campaigns at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign
When the journalist for the definitely anti-Israel Guardian who is live blogging a major event doesn't even recognise the name of the Director of the PSC - perhaps its fair to suggest that they're not that important really.

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