Narratives used to portray in-group terrorists: A comparative analysis of the Israeli and Norwegian press

Tal Samuel-Azran, Amit Lavie-Dinur, Yuval Karniel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Studies of US and UK media reveal that the press adheres to a dichotomous religion-based us/them worldview that portrays Muslims as terrorists but 'repairs' the image of Jews and Christians as criminals, creating concerns that the Western media promotes a clash-of-civilizations thinking pattern. To examine whether this pattern is representative of other Western democracies, the authors analyzed Israeli press coverage of Jewish settlers' attacks against Palestinians (N = 134) and Norwegian press coverage of Anders Breivik's 2011 attacks (N = 223). Content analysis reveals that the Israeli and Norwegian media labeled all the perpetrators 'terrorists', the attacks 'terror', and the motivation as 'ideology' rather than solely mental. The perpetrators - all subscribing to right-wing ideology - were not vindicated despite being Jewish or Christian. Beyond weakening the clash-of-civilizations notion that terrorism discourse in the West is necessarily religion-related, the findings highlight that the US press was ironically more eager than the Israeli media to 'repair' the image of Jewish perpetrators. The authors discuss the implications of our findings and suggest directions for future studies of biases in terrorism discourse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-19
Number of pages17
JournalMedia, War and Conflict
Issue number1
StatePublished - 9 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Breivik
  • Israel
  • Nathan-Zada
  • Norway
  • Perlman
  • Teittel
  • democracy
  • discourse
  • multi-party
  • narrative
  • settlers
  • terror
  • two-party

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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