Rationalizing Extra-Judicial Executions: The Israli Press and the Legitimization of Abuse
International Journal of Human Rights, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp. 305-324, Autumn 2004
Posted: 26 Sep 2004 Last revised: 16 Feb 2014
Focusing on the representation of Israel's policy of extra-judicial executions, which is - according to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and a variety of Israeli and Palestinian rights groups - a blatant violation of human rights, this essay discloses how Israel's three major newspapers, Yedioth Ahronoth, Ma'ariv, and Ha'aretz have helped produce, disseminate and reinforce both the rationality and the morality of executions. The essay employs the insights of theorists like Michel Foucault and Hayden White to argue that the rationalization of the execution policy is achieved through what may be described as the discursive production of a pseudo judicial process. Its major thesis is that in their coverage of executions the Israeli newspapers create a narrative whose major goal is to exonerate the Israeli government from the accusation that it has committed an unlawful act. Echoing Max Weber, I show that ultimately the newspapers rationalize the government's actions in order to guarantee the legitimization of its authority. Yet, I go on to claim, in light of Foucault's lectures on bio-power and governmentality, that the rationality of executions is also produced to manage the life of Israeli citizens.
Keywords: Extra-Judicial Executions, Media, Foucault, Human Rights
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