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Honouring Journalists in Palestine

In support of anti-oppressive journalism

In the 101 days since Israel began its military assault on Gaza, many of us have relied on the work of Palestinian journalists to understand what’s really happening on the ground. For people of conscience concerned about the genocide in Gaza, checking the pages of journalists such as Motaz Azaiza, Bisan, Wael Al-Dahdouh, and many more to see the latest updates has become a daily routine. Since the recent escalation of Israel’s violence, these journalists have steadfastly documented not only the horrors experienced every day by Gazans, but also their incredible resilience in the face of a genocidal military campaign. When addressing the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on behalf of South Africa, lawyer Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh described this as “the first genocide in history where [the] victims are broadcasting their own destruction in real time.” However, documenting Israel’s genocide against their people means that Palestinian journalists and their families have become targets of Israeli attacks, and in many cases have been murdered for their work, despite international law prohibiting the targeting of journalists.

At the time of writing, the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) estimates that at least 79 journalists and media workers have been killed by the IDF, with several more reported missing, injured, or arrested. While most of these journalists are Palestinians, many from Israel, Lebanon, and other countries also count among the dead. Furthermore, CPJ describes the last three months as “the deadliest period for journalists since CPJ began gathering data in 1992.” However, many journalists in Gaza have opted to stay, despite immense safety risks, to document Israel’s crimes against their people for the world to see.

Palestinian journalists have made it clear that they are sharing these stories so that the world can bear witness to the horrors experienced by Palestinians and take action to stop this genocide. In this, the international community has made little progress. Despite mass protests taking place around the world and several countries supporting South Africa’s genocide case at the ICJ, Israel continues to receive support from most Western countries, including Canada and the United States, to pursue its genocide in Palestine.

Palestinian journalists have frequently expressed outrage that despite their advocacy, the genocide has continued for more than 100 days. “I survived death multiple times, and put myself in danger to show you the situation on the ground, and I believe that’s enough for now,” wrote journalist Ismail al Dahdouh in an Instagram post announcing the end of his coverage. “As one of my colleagues said, ‘seeking refuge within family is a better option than seeking coverage for a world that doesn’t know the meaning of humanity and compassion.’”

Al Dahdouh’s concern for his family is well-founded. Israel’s targeting of Palestinian journalists extends not only to the journalists themselves but also to their families. Al Jazeera bureau chief Wael Al-Dahdouh received the news that several of his family members – including his wife, son, daughter, and grandson – were killed in an airstrike while live on air. Last week, his son Hamza, another Al Jazeera journalist, was martyred when the IDF struck the car he was travelling in with freelance journalist Mustafa Thuraya.

As student journalists, we know that journalism can be a powerful tool to hold our institutions accountable and expose their wrongdoings. Israel’s targeting of the Palestinian journalists showing the reality of the occupation to the world further emphasizes the importance of these journalists’ work in countering narratives that dehumanize Palestinians and justify the occupation. In particular, as editors of the Daily, a publication with an anti-oppressive mandate, we believe that it is our obligation to stand in solidarity with Palestinian journalists and to condemn in the strongest terms Israel’s attempts to silence them.

As we honour the bravery of Palestinian journalists, we must also call out the Canadian journalists and publications whose coverage has served to minimize the atrocities committed against the Palestinian people and to sanitize the actions of the Israeli state. Analysis by The Breach showed that large Canadian publications, such as the CBC, The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, and the National Post avoid using emotionally evocative language when describing the killing of Palestinians, despite using that language when discussing the October 7 massacre committed by Hamas. The CBC has confirmed that this choice of language is intentional, claiming that the difference in language is used because Israel kills Palestinians “remotely.” Palestinian journalists, such as Yara Jamal of CTV Atlantic and Zahraa al-Akhrass of Global News, have also been fired from Canadian news organizations.

In our Statement of Principles, we recognize that “all events and issues are inherently political, involving relations of social and economic power and privilege.” We know that the way we choose to frame an issue is a political choice that shapes how our readers may view the world. Too often, news organizations reinforce oppressive power structures and obfuscate injustices committed against marginalized groups under the guise of neutrality. But Palestinian journalists have shown us how journalism can be used to challenge, rather than uphold, traditional power structures. Current and future media workers must set the standards for ethical, responsible journalism that questions systems of power and uplifts marginalized voices.

As journalists in Palestine continue to be targeted, it’s important for us to continue to engage with them in any way we can and spread the stories they are sharing. To ensure that their efforts are not in vain, continue to protest, boycott, and pressure your elected representatives to hold Israel accountable by calling for an immediate ceasefire, imposing a two-way arms embargo on Israel, and supporting South Africa’s case at the ICJ.