Lecture tracks French media coverage changes to Palestine, Palestinian resistance

Birzeit University’s Media Department held a lecture explaining the changes found in the French media coverage of the Palestinian resistance. Held on October 22, 2019, the event featured Rajai Abu Daqqa, a journalist at the Ouest-France daily newspaper, and Nasser Abu Baker, chairman of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS).

Abu Daqqa talked about his experience in covering the Israeli aggression on Gaza in 2008 and noted that he was one of the few journalists working in international media agencies who were able to cover what was happening in Gaza. Abu Daqqa’s press articles and photos were distributed to more than 25 news agencies in France, which spread the Palestinian narrative and affected the public opinion. Palestinian media agencies, however, Abu Daqqa noted, are not considered reliable or credible resources to French media.

Regarding the image of Palestinians in the French press, Abu Daqqa pointed out that prior to the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, Palestinians were described as freedom fighters. After the accords were signed, and with the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Palestinians who engaged in any militarized actions were deemed military groups. After September 2001, the term freedom fighter disappeared entirely and was replaced with terrorist, Abu Daqqa added.

The Arab revolts have negatively impacted on the Palestinian cause, Abu Daqqa pointed out. He explained that Palestine has become part of the Middle Eastern problems, while its special context under the Israeli occupation is no longer taken into consideration.  

To spread the Palestinian narrative through media, Abu Daqqa advised media students to avoid lying and exaggeration when covering news, and to focus on facts, reality, and the use of legal concepts to describe events. He also encouraged students to emphasize humanitarian aspects and feature the experiences and testimonials of real persons to highlight the violations carried out by occupation agencies.

Abu Baker, in turn, emphasized the importance of networking with international media agencies that support and stand in solidarity with Palestinians.