Mediated Negotiations: A Case Study of a Transcultural Exchange between Lebanon and Israel
This article examines the strategies and practices by which the Israeli news media negotiated and (re)appropriated a Lebanese documentary that was produced in cooperation with a French company and was purchased and broadcast by an Israeli commercial channel. Using this transnational textual event, the article explores the dynamics, opportunities and pitfalls associated with transcultural exchanges that take place in a conflictual, translocal context, and the ways in which such exchanges are shaped by an interplay of material-institutional and discursive-symbolic dimensions. The article also provides a multi-layered framework for analyzing the broadcasting and journalistic practices surrounding such textual events, and establishes the relationship between appropriation and witnessing strategies. I show how the Israeli media—driven by commercial interests and applying complex forms of witnessing and appropriation—worked to sustain national myths and suppress the potentially disruptive aspects of the documentary, while at the same time exposing the weaknesses of these myths, as well as the limits of the State's power. Emerging from this case study is a complex picture of the multifaceted roles played by national news media in a transnational economy, and of the ways in which commercial media interests serve as both hegemonic and disruptive forces within the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict.