There has been a significant growth in the pro-Palestinian views on alternative and social media, noted some experts at a panel discussion organised Monday in Doha by the Middle East Council on Global Affairs.
With the Israeli-Palestinian conflict crossing over 100 days, the discussion titled ‘Shaping Public Opinion on Gaza: Disinformation, Propaganda and Alternative Narratives,’ highlighted how social media and alternative platforms have been effectively supporting the pro-Palestine views and how many of the mainstream media are using disinformation and misinformation as well as propaganda to give a wrong picture about the realities on the ground in Palestine.
Opening the conversation, Dima Khatib, managing director AJ+ Channels, said: “There has been a 277% growth in our audience engagement on Palestine since October 7 until January 13. We have published 11,579 videos until Sunday in four different languages. We had made link between the 'Black Lives Matter' movement in the US and the Palestinian movement in 2016. That gave our audience the chance to understand the story of Palestine despite all the narrative that come to deny that perspective.
“AJ+ has the Palestine DNA and we have treated Palestine as a core issue throughout our programmes. We had already introduced our audience to the dehumanisation of Palestinians. We also had made sure that the entire Palestine history is disclosed to the public so that people could understand the real nature of the conflict and the reasons behind it,” Khatib explained.
Playing several videos that were used to counter the anti-Palestine narrative, Khatib said that the alternative narratives were successful in conveying the true sense on the ground and made sure that the Palestinian story reached across the globe.
Showing the video of a father carrying his son and running through the battlefield, she said that it had a huge impact on the world to understand the real picture of the ground realities in Gaza. “ With such engagement, we could see that Arab audience were really interested to know what the Israelis were going through. I had never seen such responses and appetite from the Arab audience to understand what Israelis think and how they react to it,” she noted.
Khatib also highlighted that alternative media gave the voice to the Palestinians with TikTok leading the pack with the highest pro-Palestinian content followed by YouTube.
Ibrahim Abusharif, associate professor at Northwestern University in Qatar and a panelist in the discussion, said that western media has been using certain terms in very selective way such as ‘terrorism’ associated with certain sections of the society.
“Words definitely matter and context also matters equally. Lack of contextualisation leads to misinformation and destroys the right picture of the event. Therefore, in many of the mainstream media, you don’t get the right information and there has been many discrepancies. During the current Palestine conflict the grip of Western media has been loosened and there has been a greater shift towards the alternative media,” said Abusharif.
Another panelist, Marc Owen Jones, non-resident senior fellow, Middle East Council on Global Affairs, noted that misinformation and disinformation have been widely used by pro-Israeli sources to discredit the Palestinian movement citing the example of a manipulated video, in which a nurse pretending to be a Palestinian, blaming Hamas for not allowing people to go out of Al Shifa Hospital.
“ Often we cannot prove the intent behind such videos as we don’t know the people who have come out with such content. However, such content is produced with the deliberate intent to spread false information to cause harm to others. Another aspect is the propaganda with the aim to dehumnaise Palestinians as if Palestinian lives do not matter,” he added.
The discussion was moderated by Sahar Khamis, nonresident senior fellow at Middle East Council on Global Affairs.