Did the Arab media forget the Palestinian cause?
Though busy covering the Arab Spring, ISIS and Yemen, the region’s press should not forget the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, says veteran politician
The Arab media should not overlook the Palestinian cause despite the bloody events elsewhere in the region, veteran politician Dr. Mustafa Barghouti told the Arab Media Forum (AMF) on Wednesday.
The Arab media has been busy covering the conflicts that have plagued much of the Middle East for the last few years, but the conflict with Israel still has a place on newspaper front pages and on TV screens, the Palestinian politician said.
“The Palestinian cause will remain the issue that unifies the Arab world and cannot be eliminated in the media,” said Barghouti, who is General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI), speaking at the forum in Dubai.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has long been the catalyst behind Arab nationalism, earning attention from the Arab media.
The outbreak of the so-called “Arab Spring” and its aftermath has however seen the region’s media outlets turn their attention to other regional issues, such as the atrocities committed by ISIS and the recent conflict in Yemen.
Questioning whether the media has forgotten about the Palestinian cause is therefore legitimate, said Barghouti.
The Palestinian issue is also being sidelined in the international media due to the “domination of the Israeli narrative”, he said.
“That is a struggle we have to go through to present the Palestinian narrative to the world media,” Barghouti told reporters after the AMF session, adding that challenging foreign media is not an easy task but not entirely unattainable.
But it is the Palestinians’ duty to keep their cause on the table, he emphasized. The regional media can be concerned with violence and killing – but sometimes overlooks more positive signs, he added.
“It is our duty as Palestinians to reflect a non-stereotypical image of what is happening in Palestine,” he said. “The Palestinian cause is no longer an Arab cause, it is now an international humanitarian cause.”
Speaking to Al Arabiya News, Barghouti said social media has become a “leeway” for Palestinians to not only know what is happening, but also convey to the world the reality on the ground.
Social media played a key role during the 50-day Israel-Gaza war in the summer of 2014, which left nearly 2,200 Palestinians dead, most of them civilians, and 73 in Israel, mostly soldiers.
But the coverage of Israel’s last attack on Palestinians in Gaza was “superficial, limited and partial,” Barghouti said.
“Social media not only played a positive role, but it was actually our leeway at times when international media failed completely in presenting the Palestinian issue,” said Barghouti.