Open letter: On NZ news media and ‘faceless, nameless’ Palestinians

"Nameless, faceless Palestinians" . . . Israeli air strikes on Gaza killed renowned Palestinian writer, poet, and professor Refaat Alareer and six members of his family on 6 December 2003. In his writing, Alareer captured the stories of a resilient community and advocated for the rights of Palestinians. Image: Al Jazeera screenshot APR

Pacific Media Watch

This unpublished “heartfelt” letter sent to The Press this week criticising its April 6 editorial about a “turning point” in the deadly war on Gaza by Earthwise co-presenter Lois Griffiths is published here in the public interest.

Dear editor,

Historian Howard Zinn stressed the importance of historical background if one wants to understand today’s world. The past cannot be changed. But learning about the past makes it easier to understand the present and how to strive for a better future.

Every Gaza war article, including the [6 April 2024] Press editorial “A turning Point in Gaza”, begins with Hamas attacking Israel last October and then Israel retaliating. No historical background is needed.

Yet UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that “October 07 did not happen in a vacuum”.

Maybe, just maybe, he reads history. Maybe he is thinking of the Nakba of 1948, the regular Israel bombing campaigns with names like “Operation Cast Lead”.

If Israel has the right to retaliate, maybe Palestinians do too?

The same Press article refers to “Western media and its consumers” not being able to identify with “faceless, nameless Palestinians” .

Palestinians aren’t “faceless or nameless”. I’ve read about and seen pictures of some of the Palestinian journalists targeted. Refaat Alareer, a well-loved Gazan academic, writer, and story-teller, was targeted.

Our commitment to humanity challenges us to follow Howard Zinn’s advice and believe that another, kinder, world is possible.

Quoting Bethlehem Lutheran Pastor Munther Isaac, “Gaza today has become the moral compass of the world.”

Lois Griffiths

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