Palestine is a red line for The New Arab's journalists
This article is part of The New Arab’s States of Journalism series, a sustained exploration of freedom, repression, and accountability in MENA and global media landscapes. Read more of the series’ articles here.
Palestine is a red line for billions across the world. The right to return is non-negotiable and the ongoing battle to be able to live in peace and free from the aggression of occupiers is immutable until it is achieved.
Activists organise, march and chant while they are millions of miles away from Palestine, but their hearts are in Jerusalem, Gaza, Jenin and every other inch of the country that is faltering before humanity’s eyes.
"Journalism in the English language has not historically reflected the popular passion for justice and freedom for Palestine"
However, journalism in the English language has not historically reflected the popular passion for justice and freedom for Palestine.
Spikes in conflict have been reported without the decades of context that created the melting point for it to even take place. In more malicious cases, Palestinians are brought to speak their truth under a very subtle subtext of gaslighting that only those who fully understand the situation are able to pick up on.
This can look like Palestinians being interrupted when talking about Israeli attacks on Gaza to be asked about their opinion of Hamas or being asked about their opinion of the Two-State Solution in the midst of raising awareness on the rise of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Ironically, building settlements is an Israeli policy that diminishes the prospects of the formation of an independent Palestinian state, let alone working towards the Two-State Solution.
Growing up as a British Palestinian meant grappling with both worlds with much confusion. The arguments for Palestine were perfectly articulated in Arabic which was too difficult for me to understand.
"Instead of learning about Palestine from the news, I took to history books, family stories and embarked upon the seemingly impossible journey of strengthening my Arabic to diversify the media I absorbed"
I knew the rationale existed, but I had little access to it. Though, in my first language, English, there was little diversity in the Palestine-Israel discourse for me to form informed decisions and defend them. Instead of learning about Palestine from the news, I took to history books, family stories and embarked upon the seemingly impossible journey of strengthening my Arabic to diversify the media I absorbed.
In my case, my struggle was a blessing in disguise because it pushed me to journalism so I could write stories with the knowledge and context that was missing in the mainstream English-language press. This is exactly what The New Arab aims for with its Palestine coverage.
From the news desk to cultural features, our Palestine coverage is impeccably thought out. Writers are experts in their field and are given the freedom to write about Palestine in any capacity, as long as it is accurate and honest and the wider context of each story is respected.
Truth in the face of consequences
Speaking about Palestine does not come without consequences. Just over two months ago, one of the most iconic Palestinian reporters, Shireen Abu Akleh, was killed by an occupying Israeli soldier whilst covering a raid on a refugee camp near the occupied West Bank city of Jenin. She was in full press gear and was shot below her ear.
Shireen was deliberately killed and it was obvious from the moment it happened. We had reporters and eyewitnesses confirm this to us in the newsroom, so we were confident in describing her death as a deliberate killing before even needing multiple external investigations to prove this. Why wait for a politicised report to confirm what happened before our eyes?
"Shireen was deliberately killed and it was obvious from the moment it happened"
Honest coverage of Abu Akleh’s murder raised many questions about Israel’s treatment of Palestinian journalists and even respect for international law, considering that it is illegal for states to target press workers. It also allowed the right questions to be asked when the US State Department released a report ignoring and contradicting evidence by saying she was killed “unintentionally” by an Israeli bullet.
Last spring and summer, Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and within Israel rose up in the name of Jerusalem. Israel had tried to expel Palestinians from two neighbourhoods: Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, under dubious legal claims. This triggered one of the biggest national and global campaigns in modern Palestinian history.
While this happened, social media became a bastion of truth and primary information from the ground. However, viral hashtags were censored, posts were deleted and accounts were blocked. This meant that journalists had to work harder than ever to report with accuracy and integrity, but in real-time to keep up with the modern speed of the flow of information.
At The New Arab, it was important to emphasise that the Palestinians in the two East Jerusalem neighbourhoods were not being “evicted”, as if Israel’s illegal occupation gives it a landlord-style legal authority to force Palestinians out of their homes. They were being expelled as part of a wider policy to remove Palestinian presence from the holy city — something no Palestinian would accept.
When we covered Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza in May 2021, which left 256 Palestinians and 13 Israelis killed, we refused to shy away from the wider context of siege, collective punishment, and the humanitarian implications of bombing an open-air prison, which is comprised of 70 percent refugees who are descendants of those who escaped their hometowns during the Nakba – the mass exodus that led to the creation of Israel.
"At The New Arab, it was important to emphasise that the Palestinians in the two East Jerusalem neighbourhoods were not being 'evicted', as if Israel’s illegal occupation gives it a landlord-style legal authority to force Palestinians out of their homes"
At the same time, there was a Palestinian uprising inside Israel. Along with refusing to erase their Palestinian identity by referring to them as “Israeli Arabs”, we explain that they are survivors of the Nakba, which continues to bring systemic discrimination, land theft, and apartheid to civilians.
The uprising in the Palestinian-populated city of Lod inside Israel took place during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan in 2021. Palestinians were in awe of the way they came full circle, considering the massacre of Lod during the Nakba took place in Ramadan of 1948.
The uprising was so despised that it led to Palestinians being lynched by far-right Israelis. It showed not only that the Nakba is an ongoing disaster that continues to affect Palestinians, but it sent a message to the world that the integrity of a just cause will never die, regardless of the consequences people may face.
Justice is professional
Palestinians don’t need propaganda to convince people that their cause is just, all they need is people reporting on the situation with honesty and integrity, whilst having their voices heard in the process. The ongoing struggle speaks for itself, but it needs a platform that will allow it to use its voice.
Professional journalism means covering a story with honesty and integrity, but covering Palestine in this way in the English language is unfortunately rare.
When we cover Palestine by sticking to even the most basic ethics of journalism, we find ourselves breaking barriers, cutting through censorship, and amplifying the already self-sufficient voices that are refusing to surrender to defeat. All of this is done without an agenda of hate or compromising our belief that everyone deserves to be protected.
We have consistently reported on Palestine while maintaining that the solution is justice and freedom for all and refused to tolerate anti-Semitism in Palestine’s name by consistently condemning it and calling it out as and when it takes place and inviting both Arab and Jewish voices alike.
Palestine is a universal non-negotiable and so is ethical journalism for The New Arab. Being on the right side of history means there is no battle between Palestine and journalistic integrity, all it means is reporting facts and refusing to succumb to mainstream “neutrality.”
For this reason, we don’t report on Palestine, we report Palestine.
Diana Alghoul is a British-Palestinian journalist at The New Arab who is mainly involved in news and feature writing. Her main areas of focus are the Palestine-Israel conflict, women's rights, culture, Muslims in the Western world and food.