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Friday, September 30, 2005

 

"A Great Shame'

I opened up Palestine Report this afternoon to find out that is was closing down after eight years. Palestine Report is probably the best example of on line journalism in English from Palestine. A one year subscription cost fifty dollars and I always looked forward to the weekly issues, often reprinting stories here on this blog.

Ghassan Khatib, now the Interior Minister of the PA, was its one time editor. He was succeeded by Joharah Baker.

Some reflections from Palestine Report's journalists.

"The report has been part of my personal journey as well. In the eight years at Palestine Report, I married and had two children. Palestine Report has been my forum for telling our story – how we struggled to obtain birth certificates for our children from the Israeli interior ministry, how we are separated at Israel’s border crossings when traveling abroad and how life as a Palestinian West Banker in Jerusalem has sometimes become almost unbearable." Joharah Baker

I remember this story by Joharah and the specific details she conveyed regarding the bureaucratic nightmare that involved getting up in the wee hours of the morning, then standing in line for hours only to be turned away time and time again by an unconcerned government official because the person wanting the birth certificate was Palestinian. The stress is compounded because the certificate must be attained within a certain time period or the child would not be allowed to legally reside in Jerusalem.

I concur with Omar Karmi that it is "a great shame" that this publication can not stay afloat.

"The Palestine Report, under-funded, understaffed and overworked as it has been simply trying to keep up with the violence of the past few years, nevertheless always tried to present those stories that got lost amid the bombs and bulldozers. There was the 19-year-old athlete from Deir Al Balah whose talent and persistence took her from Gaza to Athens where she joyously bore the Palestinian flag at the 2004 Olympics opening ceremony and competed in the 800 meter race. There was the bravery of farmers in the West Bank, who would risk their lives to reap their olive harvests. There was the sheer pigheadedness of refugees in Rafah, forced to flee their houses in 1948, then again in 1971 and then in 2004, still building, teeth grinding, their fourth dwellings.

"It is a great shame that not more effort is exerted by the international community to encourage professionalism in the media and too much focus is devoted to outlandish joint media projects that often serve no other purpose than to provide slush funds for some individuals and ease the vaguely guilty liberal consciences of others. It is a great shame too that the value of serious and credible journalism, independent of any cause or agenda, is not appreciated either by the international community of Palestinian philanthropists, who unlike their Jewish counterparts that keep afloat publications like the Jerusalem Report, find no similar focus for their charity on the Palestinian side."

"It is hard for me to say goodbye to the Palestine Report at a time when the Palestinians are in desperate need of arming themselves with tools, language and skills to tell their story to the world. This is what was said during an international symposium on the Palestinian media this month. It is clear that those in charge of the symposium and the presidency have not heard of this unique media outlet, to which we are forced to bid farewell. It seems they are uninterested in the fact that closing down Palestine Report means closing a very contemporary media window." Atef Saad

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