Journalists gather in Istanbul to launch major media offensive in support of Palestine

The Tawasol 3 conference in Istanbul

Hundreds of journalists, academics and activists from around the world have gathered in the Turkish capital, Istanbul, to coordinate their efforts to support the Palestinian cause.

With Zionist propaganda distorting the reality of events in Palestine in the mainstream media as well as aggressively targeting pro Palestinians, the Tawasol 3 conference, organised by the Palestine International Forum for Media and Communication, aimed to put forward the Palestinian narrative and counter the Israeli one.

Around 700 journalists from 60 nations attended the conference which had three goals – to create awareness of the Palestinian cause, to inspire media activists to support the cause, and to create a networking platform for pro Palestinian media professionals.

Giving the opening speech at the conference on Saturday, the Palestine International Forum’s Secretary General Hisham Qashem said: “Since we launched five years ago we have been working in cooperation with our friends around the world to increase the media presence on the Palestinian issue and the awareness of people about it, and to counter the continuing attempts to distort the truth by the Zionist media and its helpers.”

Qashem denounced ongoing Israeli violations against journalists in the Palestinian territories, the latest of which was the bombing of the headquarters of Al-Aqsa television in Gaza. Earlier this week, Israeli warplanes fired at least 10 missiles at the Hamas-affiliated outlet.

Luisa Morgantini, a member of the European Parliament, said she was ashamed at the attitude of European governments towards the Israel-Palestine issue.

“Yes, they denounce crimes and violations practised by the Israeli state against the Palestinian population but they never act in a real way to stop the violations,” she said. “And the way the media are treating the Palestinian situation is biased every day.”

The journalist and author Ben White said the Palestinians’ experience of day-to-day Israeli violence, occupation and Apartheid has virtually disappeared from western media coverage of Palestine.

“This is by and large unreported – the daily arrests rates, the convictions in military courts of Palestinians, the torture of Palestinian prisoners, the confiscation of Palestinian land, demolition of homes, the attacks by settlers, the use of up to lethal violence against Palestinian demonstrators. These days to day occurrences don’t tend to make it into the media.”

Shafeeq Al Ghabra, a professor at Kuwait University and a political analyst and writer, said that the even though the struggle will be a long one, the Palestinians are winning.

“Palestinians are struggling for a voice and to express themselves so the media has to give  voice to their struggle against Apartheid. For example, the media must talk about the appropriation of land, the violations against Christian and Muslim holy sites. There is an ethnic cleansing taking place. The challenge for the media and all those who seek justice is to tell the story of the day-to-day struggle of the Palestinians.”

But Palestinian-American author and journalist Ramzy Baroud said that it is time that Palestinians changed their narrative from one of the “peace process” and “victimhood” to one of “resistance.”

He said: “The reason why we are losing is for 25 years we have been so distracted and invested in this silly narrative that is the so-called Oslo peace process. We have been handed a discourse and told that we cannot deviate from this discourse – the two state solution and negotiations etc. If any Palestinian dares from this discourse you are a radical or a terrorists or a terrorist sympathiser. So we are stuck there. But resistance is a true narrative and has been our narrative for the last 100 years.”

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