Dear Western media, Palestinians took over your coverage
Here's the part where Palestinians have had enough of the Western media coverage.
The Israeli narrative always seems to have the upper hand when it comes to reaching the public through Western media outlets.
The Palestinian narrative, however, always seemed to be linked to the Israeli one.
"Israeli-Palestinian conflict", "Palestinians and Israelis", and "Israeli-Palestinian relations.” This is what you'll come across upon searching and reading Western media's news.
The part that was missing in the Western media's coverage during the Seif Al-Quds battle was acknowledging and admitting that there are the aggressors and the victims, the occupiers and the occupied.
Does the Palestinian cause really need balanced journalism?
During the Israeli aggression on Gaza in 2021, The New York Times, CNN, AP, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Reuters, and many other media outlets began reporting while putting both the Palestinians and Israeli in the same category.
The NYT in 2021 faced backlash after publishing an ad in the newspaper that falsely accused Gigi and Bella Hadid, along with Dua Lipa as "anti-Semitic", for standing in solidarity with the Palestinians during its war on the Strip that killed over 200 people, including 66 children.
Killing 200 people is not equivalent to throwing stones at Israeli occupation forces while they are arresting innocent civilians.
How can a media outlet even compare an innocent civilian in Gaza Strip to "Israel's" full authority to expel people from their homes and demolish them, attack, assault, kill, and bomb Palestinians?
Here's where Palestinian youth have had enough
When these media outlets failed the Palestinians, especially during Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood events, they decided to snatch the cameras for themselves and press play.
"Israeli propaganda is truly powerful, I witnessed this, especially in the West, Israel is the victim and we Palestinians are the aggressors," Mariam Afifi, 27, a Palestinian musician and contrabassist with the Palestine Youth Orchestra told Al Mayadeen English.
Palestinians no longer relied on the Western media to talk about their struggle. They found in social media power that no other media outlet has.
"For the first time, we had so many social media platforms where we can speak up about our struggle to the world."
Mariam says that Palestinians are using social media platforms in order to "reverse the status quo where Israel is portrayed as the victim in some of the West's media outlets."
Mariam became a powerful new voice and symbol of Palestinian youth activism after footage of her being dragged by her Hijab and arrested by Israeli occupation forces during the events in Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood.
What really made this video go viral is not the Israeli brutal attack on the girl, but the smile of resistance that she drew on her face while being arrested.
Talking about her experience, Mariam told Al Mayadeen English that she never actually liked being on camera for the whole world to see, but she thought to herself "maybe it's now where my role [in the Palestinian cause] starts."
Mariam says that she tries to keep her Instagram account "as less personal as possible," because she feels that "it's her duty to use this platform to spread our narrative, voices, and struggle."
The young activist talks about when they started to organize sit-ins in Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood, "we would sometimes be only 10."
She talks about how this whole solidarity campaign began on Clubhouse, which is a social audio app where users can communicate in audio in chat rooms.
"#SaveSheikhJarrah", started on one of the chat rooms in Clubhouse, and made it go viral.
Mariam gave all the credit to Muna and her brother, Mohammad El-Kurd, who drew the national and international media attention to the illegal and forced evictions of eight Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood.
Let's talk reach
This is the first war on Gaza that has been heavily documented on social media platforms. Thousands of Gaza residents found their numbers of followers skyrocketing during the Israeli aggression as they started reporting and posting videos and pictures from the bombarded Gaza.
As the aggression went on, Palestinian activists started to notice that their pro-Palestine content was either removed, hidden, or is unreachable anymore for some users.
Twitter and TikTok were considered the go-to platforms for Palestinian activists since they don’t impose heavy censorship on pro-Palestinian content.
During the war on Gaza, Twitter became a space where regular people started to share their opinions, updates on the matter, and personal feelings.
Read more: Instagram doesn’t want you to see Israeli occupation forces assaulting, detaining, and killing Palestinians
The creator of the page Eye on Palestine Moutasim Mosleh told Al Mayadeen English that Twitter was "more comfortable to share news and videos to."
Talking about his page performance during the aggression on Gaza and Sheikh Jarrah events, he said that the simple access of having a social media platform made a huge shift for the Palestinian content.
"It became possible to tell the world about the Palestinian narrative," Moutasim said.
The page Eye on Palestine publishes and posts everything Palestine-related, from updates, news, or even just simple pictures from the country.
According to Moutasim, the page followers during Seif Al-Quds Battle increased to more than 1 million followers.
During that time, 32 million users were able to reach the page, with more than 200 million impressions.
According to Moutasim, many celebrities like Bella Hadid and Mohammad Hadid shared the page’s content.
The page owners were very careful when it came to publishing any content during the war on Gaza, the admins would choose pictures or videos that would keep them on the safe side when it came to Instagram and Facebook censoring pro-Palestine content.
"There are other things that truly affected our page, and that is the page's visibility to people, they weren't able to find us upon searching for our page's name, in addition to having troubles with the follow button to some users, and most importantly, live viewers fell dramatically during that period."
Moutasim explains that the page would have 2 million followers but Instagram live would only get 500, or 200 viewers.
"We were able to show the real, ugly picture of 'Israel', in which they pay millions to keep clean," Moutasim says regarding the role of social media during Seif Al-Quds coverage, he explains how many people became interested and wanted to know more about occupied Palestine, it's history, it's people.
Social media did not just bring people from all over the world together to stand for a cause, but most importantly, it brought Palestinians, who are living in Palestine all together.
What "Israel" has been working on for a very long time is to divide and isolate Palestinian lands and the Palestinian people as well.
"Israel" has been trying to make Al-Quds, the occupied West Bank, the 1948 Palestinian territories, and the Gaza strip, isolated lands. The Israeli occupation along with its propaganda has been isolating the people living in the Gaza Strip for example, from the people living in occupied Al-Quds.
This is where social media failed the Israelis, during the Seif Al-Quds Battle, Palestinians from Al-Quds stood in solidarity with the people of Gaza, and Palestine went into a historical general strike: From occupied Al-Quds to the 1948 occupied territories, till the occupied West Bank, to condemn Israeli aggression on Gaza Strip.
Palestinians have declared a General Strike in every inch of occupied #Palestine, from the river to the sea, in solidarity with the innocent souls in #Gaza that are being massacred by the Israeli terror war machine.#GeneralStrike #GazaUnderAttack pic.twitter.com/efNTh54W5r— Quds News Network (@QudsNen) May 18, 2021
Palestinians, from their river to the sea, were able to know what the Palestinians living behind the Apartheid wall were feeling, thinking, and experiencing, and that's just by a click of a button, a share, a like, or even a retweet.
Palestinians, through social media platforms, were able to reach the public, despite these platforms' censorship. Just imagine how far the Palestinian voice would reach if it wasn't for the censorship of these platforms.