Do better on Palestine, media workers say

May 18, 2021
Photo: Mahmoud Illean

In the past fortnight, the world has been appalled at Israeli settler organisations threatening Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem with forced expulsions and assaulting worshippers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam.

As Israeli vigilante mobs attack Palestinians, the Benjamin Netanyahu government has unleashed a new, brutal war against the besieged population of Gaza.

We note that, 73 years after the Nakba, the 1948 forced expulsion by Israel of 750,000 Palestinians, both Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem have declared that Israel maintains an apartheid regime against Palestinians. HRW is calling for targeted sanctions against complicit, Israeli individuals.

We also note the important statement by the International Federation of Journalists about Israel deliberately targeting the media, including by destroying the Al-Jawhara tower in Gaza (known by the IDF to be housing 13 media institutions and NGOs).

We recognise a growing dissatisfaction, both in this country and elsewhere, with the media’s treatment of Palestine.

As journalists, reporters and other media workers, we know that the media can do better. Many of us are seeking change but lack sufficient power in our organisations to push back against the status quo.

We believe that the coverage of Palestine must be improved, that it should no longer prioritise the same discredited spokespeople and tired narratives, and that new voices are urgently needed.

To that end, we call on editors and publishers to:

  • Consciously and deliberately make space for Palestinian perspectives, prioritising the voices of those most affected by the violence;
  • Avoid the “both siderism” that equates the victims of a military occupation with its instigators;
  • Reject frameworks that rely on passive formulations and weasel words (clashes) to obscure the reality of a violence disproportionately endured by Palestinians; and
  • Respect the rights of journalists and media workers to publicly and openly express personal solidarity with the Palestinian cause without penalty in their professional lives.

[This open letter was released on May 14. You can sign the letter here.]

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