Palestine – Media History – Script (en)

Translation and Subtitles: Abir Kopty – Freie Universität Berlin

Palestine is one of the first Arab counrtries that had printing in 1830, which was the pretext to the emergence of the Press. It was the 5th Arab state which had print media.

The media in Palestine emerged in 1876, when the first newspaper was printed under the Ottoman Empire, and it was called “al-Quds al-Sharif”.

After the Ottoman constitution was announced, in 1908, and till the WWI started, there was thirty-six Palestinian newspapers.

In 1936, the first Palestinian Radio was established and called “Huna al-Quds”. The first TV broadcast started only in 1994 from Gaza.

The Palestinian print media started in early times during the Ottoman rule of Palestine in 1876. This continued until the WWI in 1914. The end of the Ottoman rule altered the political reality in Palestine and resulted in the halt of all newspapers.

In 1919, the papers returned to life with the British Mandate. During the mandate, between 1919 until 1948, different cultural, political and social newspapers were developed and advanced to reach a number of 241 newspapers.

Also, that period witnessed the beginning of the Palestinian radio broadcasting. The British Authorities operated the Near East Broadcasting Station, which was airing from Jaffa (before that it was in Jenin). There was also “Huna al-Quds” from Jerusalem, which was a kind of Arabic chapter of British Radio. It was headed by the prominent Palestinian poet, Ibrahim Toukan, who managed to bring together many artists, intellectuals and politicians and turn this into a national and cultural platform.

The development  of the media in Palestine continued until the establishment of the Israeli state – the “Nakba” in 1948, where all the 241 newspapers ceased to exist and Huna al-Quds Radio Station closed. This was also regarded as a “Nakba” to the Palestinian media.

Due to the new political reality after 1948, a new media model emerged that was driven by political parties to defy the new reality under the Israeli Occupation.  One of the most significant newspapers, which still exist until today, was the communist party’s newspaper, published in the areas of 1948. In West Bank and Gaza, a similar model emerged when political parties and movements started to publish their political stands or to mobilize nationally, either through other newspapers or by establishing their own partisan newspapers after taking the permissions from the ruling authorities in West Bank or Gaza, like al-Quds newspaper, which still exists today.

In 1967, Israeli Authorities occupied the rest of Palestinian land and the media stopped again because of its new political reality with a new ruling authority. However, al-Quds Newspaper relaunched again and other newspapers were publishing during these times but they were predominantly partisan and underground. After 1967, the role of the partisan newspapers has changed significantly in Palestine. They were published underground and played an important role to mobilize the public opinion.

This continued till the Oslo Accord was signed in 1993 and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. With the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, the media reality in Palestine has fundamentally transformed. New newspapers were founded, including a new official newspaper such as al-Hayat al-Jadida and independent newspapers such as al-Ayyam, considered close to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). There were other partisan newspapers that belong to Islamic currents. These currents were something new for the political life in Palestine, and they started to emerge at the end of the 1980s. After the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, these currents managed to get licenses to publish newspapers in the nature of Political-Islam.

Private TV broadcast has also emerged. These channels were transmitting on a local frequency around their cities. Almost every Palestinian city in the West Bank had at least one local TV station that covered its local news.

This developed took place until the emergence of the satellite channels. Beside the official Palestinian channel, Palestine TV, there are independent channels such as Maan, and social and entertainment channels such as al-Falstiniah, and specialized channels such as An-Najah of the An-Najah University and al-Quds Education channel. There are also partisan channels such as Palestine Today which belongs to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement, al-Aqsa and al-Quds of Hamas movement, and al-Awda that belongs to Fatah movement.

While the print media, especially the partisan, started to fade, the satellite media started to rise which included partisan, independent, commercial and official.