Sunday

Gaza: This is not the story of Hamas. This is not the story of Israel.

So much has been written about Gaza. So much about the Israel-Palestine conflict. We grew up watching it on TV, reading it in news magazines and it doesn't catch our attention anymore - nothing has changed.

Its tiring to keep yourself updated about the conflict like its tiring to keep yourself updated about Kashmir. From books, news stories, academic papers, discussion groups, information flow is relentless and overwhelming - but nothing has changed.

We are reading about it again. Any news report I pick up on  Gaza crisis today might read the same as it read in 2008-09. We continue to read the same stories.

A very engaging post by Dr Rhonda Zaharan in the CPD Blog - 'Gaza in the First Person'  - looks into this problem of narrative very well. The whole context of the conflict, its perception and communication by parties involved - Hamas & the Israeli state - and the framing of it by international media.

Dr Zaharna states,
"Israel now vows to stop the rockets “once and for all.” I shudder at the political and moral implications of what this means, even if it were militarily possible to silence 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza. For me, this is about more than whose story wins."
She calls Gaza "a piece of of the world densely populated with human misery" and talks about how the siege of Gaza has become a prison for the 1.8 million people of Gaza. The "one-point-eight" whose stories we never hear. What is it like to dream, hope and imagine under a lifelong siege?

Gaza crisis is always framed in the context of Hamas, Israel and legacy of colonialism - while the world has changed tremendously.
Pic from: Roomee Times

There's a ban on storytelling about Gaza with numerous media restrictions, the latest being a ban by Israel on radio adverts listing names of children killed in Gaza. No wonder the stories are always the same.

One wonders how is it possible in a modern society to accept such regulations, how does an ally of the "greatest democracy on earth" deny freedom of expression to some. Especially when the Israeli state itself doesn't deny itself the right to an international public relations campaign to shape public opinion in its favor.

This isn't about the story of Hamas. This isn't about the story of Israel. 

This is about the story of one-point-eight, the conflict is about their future, their destinies. This is also about the the story of the people of Israel -"what do they want". I wonder if we hear their stories at all, if we ever will. I doubt if institutional media will ever be able to tell these stories given the context in which they operate.

I hope communication scholars like Dr Zaharna find ways of empowering the people of Gaza and also (why not?) the people of Israel to communicate their stories.

I am sure the world will listen as the narrative takes a new turn.



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