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Genocide in Palestine: Journalists Need to Decolonise the Mainstream Narrative

This is a message to journalists in the mainstream media, to journalists with a conscience. It’s something that I have always wanted to write.

The world is witnessing another stage of Israel’s ethnic cleansing and mass slaughter of Palestinians in the ongoing war in Gaza, which the international media is calling deceitfully a “conflict”. At least 6,546 Palestinians have been killed at the time of writing (they didn’t just “die”), 70 per cent of whom were children (2,704), women (1,584) and the elderly (295). More than 17,400 people have been wounded; more than 1,600 people are missing, presumed to be under the rubble of destroyed buildings; and 70 per cent of the population of the Gaza Strip have been displaced.

We journalists have a professional duty to resist the deceitful narrative which equates the colonialist oppressors with the oppressed, colonised people. This can be done in various ways and places: in the field, in the newsroom, on air, in editorial meetings, via emails, in the terminology and our choice of words, images and footage used; in our sources; and by explaining the context and the history of the occupation and the suffering of families under Israel’s apartheid regime.

You may have tried hard to do this and failed, and you cannot make even one per cent change; if you are forced to be silent; if you are pressured to become complicit in twisting the truth; or if you have been marginalised to become just a number, a journalist with no contribution to an accurate narrative. If you are a victim of any one of these things, then you need to think seriously about your career choices and your employer so that you don’t become a bullet in the mainstream media machine gun which can and does manufacture the public’s consent for supporting massacres.

You are a journalist with a mission to convey the truth and stand up for justice; you are not a tool in the occupation army’s propaganda machine. However, you be that tool by your shameful silence — silence is complicity, not neutrality — at a time when you are most needed to speak up.

I have never regretted leaving the BBC after its news coverage of Israel’s 2014 war in Gaza, when 551 children and 299 women were murdered, and the scale of human loss, devastation and displacement was catastrophic and unparalleled since 1967, according to UNRWA. People have forgotten that massacre as they forgot others, but Palestinians who are living with its aftermath can never forget.

Now, the so-called international community is giving the green light to another neo-colonial project accompanied by war crimes in Palestine. The dehumanisation of Palestinians in media discourse and political rhetoric doesn’t just have an impact on their lives, but also intersects with the Islamophobic and neo-orientalist discourse about Arabs and Muslims worldwide, which demonises them and leads to a spike in hate crimes.

For journalists to make a change, we all really need to decolonise our mindsets first. Only then will we be able to decolonise the mainstream narrative.

Source : MEMO