Dispatch from Gaza: Why Palestinians should speak to Israeli media

When Hamas banned Palestinians in Gaza from working with Israeli media, I understood why, but could not stay silent. If we Gazans stay silent, a large part of the truth will be lost, and I don’t want the truth to be lost.

By Abeer Ayyoub

Since Operation Protective Edge started earlier last week, I haven’t stopped receiving calls from Israeli television and radios channels asking me to go on air to talk about the current situation in Gaza. I never thought twice about accepting all of these offers because I believe it’s my responsibility to speak up and reach the Israeli audience’s ears.

Yet in each of the interviews, the first question was : isn’t it dangerous for you to be speaking to Israeli media using your real name? Well, no one said it’s not. Contacting Israelis is always sensitive and even unacceptable in Gaza, even when it comes to the governmental side. Hamas has banned local journalists in Gaza from dealing with Israeli media for reasons that have to do with security, along with some other reasons.

I always understood this point of view, yet never adopted it. Why should I fear talking to the second side of the conflict about the first side of the conflict to which I belong ? Why would I be anonymous while I’m spreading word of the suffering 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza are facing? How can being silent and just boycotting the Israeli media be good for Palestinians anyway?

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I understand it’s a bit risky, and very challenging. People in Gaza take issue with dealing with anyone who lives behind the Erez border terminal. Maybe before 2000, when the Second Intifada erupted and the two territories became totally isolated, were people able to understand the second part a bit more. But ever since, the two people in the two territories began thinking of each other as aliens.

I always take issue when people pointing fingers at me for engaging with the Israeli media, yet I never tire of defending what I believe in. Speaking with the Israeli media has nothing to do with my political views. On the contrary, I believe that the Palestinian voice cannot be excluded from the Israeli narrative; otherwise, a large part of the truth will be lost, and I don’t want the truth to be lost.

However, I always try to be independent as much as I can in my coverage. I always report on what and how people in both sides are thinking. I try to more closely know and understand the Israeli mentality so I can make them hear me more clearly. Unfortunately, people in Israel are being misled by their right-wing media. Instead of passively advancing the Israeli narrative by staying silent, we should participate in a discourse in which we have a right to take part.

I am glad that I studied English and that I’m now studying Hebrew because being in an abandoned strip of land like Gaza has a way of forcing you to shout what you have to say, loud and clear. You need to reach the same places you are being kicked out of. You can’t win somebody over by not speaking to them.

Abeer Ayyoub, 26, studied English literature at the Islamic University of Gaza. She is a journalist who covered the last war on Gaza and has recently covered various internal issues. She has written pieces online in English for Al Jazeera, Haaretz, Al Monitor and other publications. Follow her on Twitter: @AbeerAyyoub.

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