Al Quds, a Palestinian newspaper based in eastern Jerusalem, has bucked norms by publishing announcements by the Israeli Civil Administration. The paper also raised ire for a 2016 interview with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. That’s why the paper is taking heat from Palestinians who oppose anything that smacks of “normalizing” Israeli-Palestinian relations.
Their logic is that Israeli-Palestinian activities on the political, economic and social levels legitimizes “the occupation.”
It’s telling that some of the biggest anti-normalization critics of Al Quds are actually Palestinian journalists.
— Ma'an News Agency (@MaanNewsAgency) March 6, 2017
That’s the backstory for a Maan News report that dozens of Palestinian journalists demonstrated against the paper outside the offices of Palestinian Journalists’ Union in the West Bank town of al-Birah, which is near Ramallah.
Head of the union of Palestinian writers Murad Sudani delivered a speech on behalf of writers unions and federations affiliated to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), confirming their rejection of al-Quds newspaper’s “approach and insistence” to “continue to promote the Israeli narrative and settlements.”
“All unions and federations,” Sudani said, “are unanimously against normalization and we will continue to fight all its aspects.” He went on to urge al-Quds newspaper to “apologize to the Palestinian people and to journalists.”
Similarly, a representative of the Palestinian journalists movement bureau Abd al-Karim Abu Arqub highlighted that all journalists support their union in its efforts to “fight normalization with occupation, and to fight plans to use Palestinian media outlets as a platform serving occupation.”
The anti-normalization movement is very powerful in Palestinian society. It opposes everything and anything that “normalizes” Israeli-Palestinian relations, hounding everyone from
- grass roots peace groups
- feel-good political delegations
- Palestinian academics
- Haaretz columnist Amira Hass
- other gatherings like poetry readings and interfaith iftar meals
- even soccer star Lionel Messi and his team, FC Barcelona
The anti-normalization campaign has already spread to the West, where its logic fuels the increasingly common violent disruptions of pro-Israel events on campuses.
Unfortunately, anti-normalization’s underlying logic is counterproductive to peace efforts. Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin summed up why:
The main problem with the logic of the campaign is that Israel’s control over Palestinian territories will never end without an Israeli-Palestinian agreement and no such agreement is possible without Israel and the Palestinians negotiating and reaching an agreement to end the conflict.
As a matter of routine, news services employ both Israeli and Palestinian writers, photographers, cameramen, producers and others to help create their stories. They’re often referred to collectively as “stringers.”
The Palestinian journalists demonstrating outside their union office raise a few questions. How many of them were employed by the Western media? How much does their worldview impact the work they do for US, British, Australian, Canadian, South African and international news services? What does this mean for the news you see? Was their protest worth wider Western media attention?
And if Palestinian journalists themselves are the story, who would cover them?
In this video, current and former journalists Mark Lavie, Adi Schwartz, Haviv Rettig Gur and Michele Chabin discuss the influence of Palestinian stringers and other issues of media transparency.
And let’s all agree to be normal.
Featured image: vectors by Vecteezy;
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