The Unspoken Reality: German Media and Palestinian Media Users – Script (en)

Antonia Novak, Bruna De Cristofaro & Nana Dolidze

Palestine, the heart of the ancient world, lies in the southwest of Asia on the southern part of the Mediterranean Eastern Coast. Villages, cities and little towns within the West Bank and Gaza Strip have a unique history and are beautifully located. Despite this beauty, there is the sad reality of ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel, which makes life hard for citizens.

The Palestinian territories are divided into the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The Gaza Strip is administered by the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas, while its borders are controlled by Israel. The West Bank is also administered in some places by the Palestinian National Authority, while others are controlled by Israel.

Palestine’s geographic and political division is mostly the result of the still ongoing, Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Having erupted as a series of wars in 1948, this conflict is driven by the two sides’ competing claims to the land. In 1948, after Israel’s declaration of independence, over 750,000 Palestinians left the occupied territories and became refugees. Today, the number of Palestinian refugees has increased to 5 million, as estimated by the UNRWA. More than 1.5 million Palestinian refugees live in 58 recognized Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. A large portion of Palestinians living outside their region are located around the world. This mass dispersion is known as the Palestinian diaspora.

Of Palestinians living in the European Union, Germany’s capital of Berlin has the largest community, which numbers about 30,000.

A lot of Palestinians living in Berlin, such as Junis, Beatrice and Qassem, use German media as their main source of information about Palestine.  But how does it feel to read about their own story, the narrative of their parents and grandparents, through the German media?

Junis, student at Freie Universität Berlin

When it comes to get informed about Palestine I, first of all, use my mobile phone. Well I know I must pay attention, because one should take German media sources about Palestine with a grain of salt. They are namely one-sided. What is missing in German media is the Palestinian side. 

Beatrice, student in Berlin

it is because of lack of information, I think, that the population in Germany is not well informed about the situation in Palestine. My friends for example hardly know what’s happening there and why it is happening.

Qassem, child doctor and founder of Palästina Spricht

so, it is easier, just to support Israel, whatever they do than really talking about the drama of the Holocaust and how come that, it happened and whole Europe and at all the European Anti-Semitism. I used to read much in German, because you wanna know the society, you wanna know how they think, what they think about Palestine and Palestinians, and it is always… at the beginning you are really upset and with the time you get cynical because it is really like kind of a pattern which is not really changing.

Do they recognize themselves in what they hear and read?

Junis, student at Freie Universität Berlin

The main problem when it comes to report the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that each criticism to Israel is considered anti-Semitism. But this is totally false. My criticism to Israel, a country, does not mean that I find a whole religious community wrong, or that I even hate it. German media seem to have a double morality. They proclaim the importance of human rights, but they give no consideration to the human rights of Palestinians. This makes me, as a German, bring the whole German media into question. Is it really true what they say? 

Beatrice, student in Berlin

sometimes, if I am lucky, people are neutral and say: “yes, both sides are suffering”. But mostly only Palestinians are portrayed as terrorist. I wish the German media could stay more neutral than they are now.

Qassem, child doctor and founder of Palästina Spricht

where I see myself in German media? I would say, I don’t see myself at all, it’s like the Palestinians are not existing, the Palestinian narrative is not existing in the German Media. I wish that actually German journalists just go once to Palestine. See the check points, see the daily, the torture which the people go through, on a daily base in West Bank. Go to Gaza.

How does the framework of reporting represent them?

Junis, student at Freie Universität Berlin

Reporting about Palestine is something about the whole conflict in twenty seconds through which people build their opinion, but it cannot work like this.

Beatrice, student in Berlin

We believe that there is freedom of speech in Germany. But is it true? When there is a demonstration for Palestine in Germany, the media and journalists are talking only about negative aspects of it. And every time when I participate in a demonstration and say something good about Palestinians, I am directly accused for other things too that are absolutely not right. Like being an Anti-Semitist for example. In my opinion, this conflict is in the media often portrayed as a religious conflict between Jews and Muslims, even when it is not based on religion at all, it is not a religious conflict, it has a different underlying causes. 

But could a journalist find explanations for our interviewers’ open questions and statements? We asked Nick Spicer, correspondent for Al-Jazeera in Germany.

Nick Spicer, foreign correspondent for Al Jazeera, broadcaster and media trainer at Deutsche Welle

Of course there is, it’s massive, and it’s not just an editorial, you know German media I think is as a whole is quite pro-Israel and Al Jazeera is pro-Palestinian. Al Jazeera was the only broadcaster that had people there because they have the constant commitment to having somebody in Gaza all the time. What it is, is a question of deployment. When you decide to have reporters in Gaza during operation cast lead and the reporting on the phosphorous bombs falling on schools where people are hiding out, then yeah, then you’re letting the world know about something they’re not going to hear from the German media because the German media has taken a decision to not send anybody there. And it’s not well enough to be in the capital of the country, that is essentially colonizing the other country to be able to talk about the colonized country or the country that is occupied under international laws it’s described as being occupied, colonized is a too strong word.

When it comes to Palestine I think the Germans who are reporting they are mainly in Israel and occasionally making excursions into  Palestinians. They are dealing with the great feeling of guilt over the second world war and their education in the German education system starting from primary school which is drilled home the terribleness of a holocaust and that is the starting point for the way Germans work in Palestine and Israel. And you can certainly say, there is a 100 minutes given to the Israeli side and only 20 minutes given to the Palestinian side on the “Tagesschau” over a month and that’s fine that’s incontestable. But how people actually interpret it and whether they are  skeptical about the stories that needs to be researched. 

Adopting the right frames for covering news about Palestine is no easy job for German media. Due to the lack of journalists in the occupied territories, the time media dedicates to the reports about Gaza and West Bank and the historical background of Germany itself may have an impact on it. According to our Palestinian interviewees, the way German media report is one-sided. This arouses an image of Palestine in the media they don’t agree with.



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