Translation and Subtitles: Abir Kopty – Freie Universität Berlin
The Media is naturally influenced by the environment it functions within. The Palestinian Media is unique in that respect as it functions under the Israeli occupation which works to block it from conveying the truth.
The experience in Palestine is very unique, since Palestine was never an independent state, and therefore was denied the opportunity to keep up with other countries and to consolidate its media as a state.
There are many precedents related to the Palestinian media. For example, in 1908, there was a Palestinian newspaper that published a women section, this was unique comparing to the surrounding countries. The lady who used to write this section was Sathej Nassar, and she was the first woman to be jailed by the British Mandate for six months.
Her husband, Badea Nassar, who is also the publisher of the newspaper “al-Carmel” wrote to her: “If history will not remember me for publishing “al-Carmel” magazine, it will remember me for being the husband of the first lady arrested by the British Mandate.”
She was arrested for her journalistic work.
This is one precedent, there are others, for example in the radio sphere, even though Palestine has never been an independent state, the radio station “Huna al-Quds” was the second radio in the Arab World, and in the radio there was a host called Fatimah Albudairi, who was the third female radio presenter in the Arab world.
I think these precedents in the Palestinian media are important, but it was disturbed by the British Mandate, then by the Nakba, and later disturbed too by the Naksah (in 1967). But Palestinians maintained a strong media presence through other Arab radio stations.
On the level of visual arts, there were some minor precedents, such as having the first Arab women as a photographer, her name was “Karimah Abboud”, we can find today some of her art work in Nazareth. There was also “Sulafah Jadallah” who was the first Arab woman who studied film making and the first film director and camera woman who was documenting warfare. She documented the battles of Black September.
Because Palestinians are living under occupation, this issue occupies the majority of the media coverage. That includes Political news, news from the field about the attacks of the occupation on the Palestinian people. This is valid to all types of media, print, audio, visual or electronic.
However, this does not mean that other aspects, such as local news or economy are not covered. “al-Hayat al-Jadida” is distinguished by its investigative reports on economy. Other outlets have other specialized coverage. But the occupation practices, the oppression of the Palestinian people, is dominant in the journalists’ work and the nature of media coverage and message. The journalist is not isolated from the people, he is also targeted. He is present behind the camera but in many cases present also in front of the camera as a victim.
To compare the Palestinian media reality with another media reality, we need to remove “media” and say political reality, social reality, cultural reality. These realities will immediately get to the media, not the media in the traditional concept, but as a parameter for the existential and cultural conditions and the consciousness movement condition.
Eventually the media reproduces the movement of consciousness as a simulated covenant or linguistic covenant, and this movement of the consciousness is not a positive nor negative thing. It is just a concept of how things are formed, how people view themselves politically. You will see for example that in some contexts, the sectarian aspect is strong, because it’s a social aspect. In our context, the political-factional aspect is strongly present, because factions recreated “sects”. In other contexts, their will the conflict between corporations/companies that is present, in a liberal-capitalist nature.
Replacing companies by factions, or sects, asserts that the media works within the same structure. In the corporations’ context for example, you will find the advertisement as dominant, say the paradigm of Pepsi and CocaCola. In the sectarian context, you will identify to which sect the channel belongs as soon as you see its logo. In Palestine, you will identify to which faction the channel belongs as soon as you watch the news or view a slogan.
The crisis of the Arab media lies in the transformation from a historical mission that should have matured, to a service mission. This media transformed the political, the cultural and the consumer affairs into similar concepts.
However, the Palestinian case is distinguished due to the conflict with the occupation. This is the only aspect that differs the Palestinians from the rest of the Arab world.
Unfortunately, if you make a qualitative and quantitative study on the Palestinian media discourse, you will find that more than the half reflects the internal political and social discourse, perhaps more than the conflict with the occupation.
This culminated in the Palestinian internal conflict that developed into division, militarized and violent confrontation. Today, you can notice that in the context of the occupation, the media does not focus on core issue, such as the borders or Jerusalem or refugees. It focuses on the Authority’s priorities, whether in the West Bank or Gaza. The catastrophe here, is that our media is practicing what can be called political money laundry or political reality whitewashing.