Some 800 international journalists and students came together in Istanbul, Turkey, today to take part in the first day of a media training and awareness programme to create awareness of the Palestinian cause in the news.
Participants, who came from across the world, took part in workshops, discussions and panel talks as part of the Palestine International Forum’s Tawasol 3 programme entitled “Palestine addressing the world“.
Workshops covered a number of topics including “What mechanisms can help develop the media discourse on Palestine?”, “Strategies to confront the discriminatory discourse of Israel” and “Addressing normalisation in the Arab world”.
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was honoured at the event on a panel in which he was due to take part on the topic of “Developing the global media discourse on Palestine”. Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, senior Saudi officials are thought to be behind the premeditated attack.
Speaking on the panel, Chief Editor of the Anadolu Agency Metin Mutanoglu encouraged attendees that the Palestinian cause was now getting in to the news. “The Palestinian cause, as a humanitarian cause, has excelled in getting global attention.”
Researcher in Media Issues Omar Abu Arqoub said Israel’s efforts to increase normalisation across the Arab world is an effort to separate the Palestinians from their brothers in the Middle East to isolate the cause. It also makes people doubt the narratives they hear and question if perhaps the Israeli story is the real one.
In covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Abu Arqoub continued, journalists should be specific and clear to say “Israeli occupation soldier kills Palestinian” and not simply report that “Palestinian killed” to ensure the audience is kept aware of who atrocities are committed by.
“Since the occupation began to disseminate its narrative in Arabic it removed the barriers between you and it, you have become the barrier to stop the occupation from affecting you,” he warned.
“There are those who say it’s important to listen to both sides however even in international law there are those that take priority, having both discourses isn’t always necessary,” Abu Arqoub stressed in released to media groups’ claims that they must give the occupation equal airtime as they do to the plight of Palestinians.
“I don’t understand why media are so cautious when they use the word ‘zionists’,” political commentator Malik Ayub Sumbal said, adding: “do they not know that Palestine is occupied?”
The day ended with three awards being given to creative projects on the topic of Palestine. Four-hundred entries were submitted for the first Creative Media Awards which were named after slain Palestinian artist Naji Al-Ali. The ten shortlisted works included games, feature films and short films of only one minute.
A game called “War Shadows” won the Bronze Award, while slain Palestinian photojournalist Yaser Murtaja‘s “Between two border crossings” received the Silver Award as the crowd rose and paid their respects to him with a standing ovation. Murtaja was shot and killed by Israeli occupation forces in the besieged Gaza Strip as he was filming the “Great March of Return” on 6 April.
The Gold Award was handed to Dima Abu Ghosh’s film “Imwes: Retrieving memories”.