Tuesday, October 25, 2005
The image of resistance in the Palestinian media
The image of resistance in the Palestinian media and the need for improvement
The Palestinian arena recently witnessed accelerated efforts by various parties to crystallize their strategies and visions on all levels of the Palestinian national action to harmonize them with the tremendous political changes in the Palestinian arena, most important of which is the Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip.
The fact that the media role in every society is crucial to enhance the political stand and vision of that society makes the Palestinian information action occupy a leading place in the Palestinian national agenda, especially in the next stage, since it always works in the heart of the events and their subsequent developments, and interacts with the Palestinian people's national struggle or the "resistance."
Role of the Palestinian media in the Aqsa intifada
Dr. Fareed Abu Dhaheer, a lecturer at the department of journalism at the Najah University in Nablus city, opined that the Palestinian media during the 5-year-old intifada had played an important role but in a way that didn't match with the intensity of those events.
He explained his opinion, saying, "The Palestinian media was indeed serious in covering all details of the intifada. However, the official tincture most of the time, prevailed on that coverage as the PA officials concentrated on certain angles they considered as priority for them, but which weren't necessarily a priority for the Palestinian issue.
Any observer of the Palestinian official media would reach the same conclusion as Dr. Abu Dhaheer, as the Palestinian official media apparatuses concentrated on the reactions on an event rather than focusing on the event itself. If a resistance attack was carried out by a Palestinian resistance faction, the official Palestinian media would rush to cover and focus on the volley of the condemnation statements issued by the PA on this attack without mentioning anything on statements issued by the faction claiming responsibility for the operation and explaining reasons behind its act, which usually come in response to the Israeli aggressions against the Palestinian people and their holy shrines. Thus, deliberately or accidentally such coverage weakens the value of those popular resistance acts and lessens political exploitation of them (marketing them as "national struggle actions" in the international arena).
In the same context, researcher Nehad Khanfar, affirmed that the PA had failed to exploit its available capabilities to present the Palestinian resistance as a struggle for liberation before the world, which negatively affected the resistance and paved the way for some to label it as "terrorism."
One can easily discover the weak defensive position the Palestinian official media resorted to. It always tried to isolate the Palestinian resistance factions and throw the responsibility on them, alleging they were trying to spare the whole Palestinian people from shouldering the responsibility; in addition to that the same media portrayed the Israeli casualties as "victims" equal to the Palestinian martyrs. It had even gone beyond that when it attributed the latest Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip to Israeli political tactics and not as a result of the heroic Palestinian resistance over the past five years. It always tried to present the Palestinian resistance weapons as part of the security mess overwhelming the Palestinian territories and described them as "piles of metals" that don't harm the occupation.
The other side of the picture
In the opposite side, we can notice the huge attention the "Zionist government" pays to the media as a sharp weapon, the influence of which could, sometimes, supersede their war machinery and arsenal's effect.
Rema al-Wazni, a researcher in the PA's information office in Ramallah, talked about the role of the Israeli media in the battle with the Palestinians, saying, "The Israeli media succeeded in portraying the tearful Israeli settlers resisting the evacuation of their settlements, as if it was their own lands, and clashing with Israeli soldiers forcing them out of it. But no one had talked about the Palestinian ordeals over the 38 years of occupation and aggressive settlers' practices against them."
The Israeli occupation was very much aware of the importance of sidelining the supportive media away from the Palestinian struggle. They had derived lessons from their disgraced pullout from south Lebanon when the Hizbullah-owned Manar TV channel played a vital role in recruiting the Lebanese local opinion, and then the international opinion onto their side during the battle. This was obvious when the Israeli top military commanders acknowledged: "The media of Hizbullah had defeated us."
On the other hand, the Palestinian official media concentrated on showing the humanitarian side of the picture as it portrayed the Palestinian people as a poor, weak, and oppressed people soliciting the help from the international community to protect them and financially aid them to rebuild what the occupation had destroyed.
Journalist Khaled Ma'ali, opined that the Zionists had succeeded in mastering the art of "false information" as they exhibited the Gaza Strip settlers as if they were legal owners of the lands and giving painful concessions to the Palestinians; while the Palestinian official media failed to smartly counter the Israeli media and provide the whole world with the truth."The truth is that the Palestinian people are the real owners of those lands, which were usurped by those settlers."
The resistance media
The feeble and lousy Palestinian official media has greatly contributed to crystallizing and developing what later came to be known as "the resistance information," which journalist Suhail Khalaf opined that many of the Palestinian factions had realized the essential role of the media in this long battle and started to provide media coverage to their activities and statements.
He opined that the resistance factions had accomplished a good step in this regard as they evolved from writing on walls and calling through loudspeakers to issuing statements and bulletins, and later progressed into creating their own websites on the internet to explain their stands and display their armed operations against the Israelis, accomplishing, by this, a crucial step.
Abu Dhaheer agreed on that crucial step in the resistance information capabilities, but opined that the resistance factions weren't able yet to establish an alternative to the Palestinian official media to truly reflect the resistance position.
Abu Dhaheer affirmed that the Palestinian factions' disagreement on priorities and visions had greatly limited the influence of the Palestinian resistance as they failed to agree on a united information strategy. He said "I don't believe that the Palestinian resistance factions possess information strategies, although they have their own visions based on their beliefs and principles. In general, we can say that there is a serious problem on the Palestinian information level and on the Arab and Muslim media levels, as well, with regards to the media planning techniques and drawing of strategies."
With the insufficient international, Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian media coverage of the Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip and their inability to rise to the events' levels, many media observers affirmed that this experiment must be a good lesson to the Palestinians to draw a united information policy delineated by national priorities.
Abu Dhaheer believes that the Palestinian factions must focus on common goals and unanimously-agreed issues among themselves, and this would urge them to rearrange their internal home otherwise disputes would persist and derail the Palestinian question.
For his part, Khaled Ma'ali opined that the resistance media must focus its attention on four main arenas for the next stage viz:
First- The Palestinian arena: the information discourse must focus here on the readiness to overcome all difficulties regardless of their enormity or the needed sacrifices to overcome them and alley itself from internal disputes as much as possible.
Second- The Arab world arena: The resistances media must try recruit the Arab opinion in its favor and involve the Arab people in the battle in all its forms. It should also encourage them to extend the financial and logistic support needed by the Palestinian people, and to actively reject normalization with the "Zionist enemy."
Third- The Muslim world arena: the resistance media must focus here on the holiness of the Aqsa Mosque and its sacred position in Islam, explaining that it does not belong exclusively to the Palestinian people, but, rather to the whole 1.5 billion Muslims world-wide to attract and involve them in the battle to liberate the Aqsa Mosque instead of just watching the sacrifices of the Palestinian people.
Fourth- The European and American arena- This is a very important arena to invade, especially with the favorable European opinion of 60% believing that Israel was the source of all problems in the world. We must unmask the real face of the Israeli occupation before the European and American citizens by showing their "savage" practices against innocent Palestinian children and civilians, taking into consideration the way the West thinks. We must show that the Palestinian resistance is legal and sanctioned by all international laws and conventions based on the fact that "every occupied people have the right to resist the occupation with the means they have and the international community must help them get rid of that occupation."
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