Gaza in Context: A Collaborative Teach-In Series — Session 11
Media and the War on Gaza
Amahl A. Bishara
Teach-In Session 11
Most Israeli attacks against Palestinian life in recent decades have been coupled with parallel media wars which obfuscate realities, deviate attention from their impact on the lives of civilians, create smokescreens for mainstream reporting, and weaponize antisemitism against all who dare criticize the IDF's conduct of these bloody operations. While the current war on Gaza is not an exception, it is an escalation of the patterns witnessed in previous Israeli military actions. In this teach-in, speakers will address the media's role in shaping Western public opinion of the war and how it has become a battleground for the Israeli state and military. They will discuss the maelstrom of conflicting messages, misinformation, disinformation, doublespeak, gate-keeping, silencing, intimidation, fabrication, and most shockingly the targeted killing of journalists and their families by the Israeli military. They will also address how social media have become active players in the conflict by censoring, shadowbanning, biasing against, and suspending users critical of Israel's attack to silence Palestinian voices. In this teach-in, the panelists will speak to the dynamics of media practices in this war as well as the similarities and differences from previous Israeli wars on Palestinians.
Gaza in Context Collaborative Teach-In Series
We are together experiencing a catastrophic unfolding of history as Gaza endures a massive invasion of potentially genocidal proportions. This follows an incessant bombardment of a population increasingly bereft of the necessities of living in response to the Hamas attack in Israel on October 7. The context within which this takes place includes a well-coordinated campaign of misinformation and the unearthing of a multitude of essentialist and reductionist discursive tropes that dehumanize Palestinians as the culprits, despite a context of structural subjugation and Apartheid, now a matter of consensus in the human rights movement.
The co-organizers below are convening weekly teach-ins and conversations on a host of issues that introduce our common university communities, educators, researchers, and students to the history and present of Gaza, in context.
Co-Organizers: Arab Studies Institute, Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, George Mason University’s Middle East and Islamic Studies Program, Rutgers Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Birzeit University Museum, Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Brown University’s Center for Middle East Studies, University of Chicago’s Center for Contemporary Theory, Brown University’s New Directions in Palestinian Studies, Georgetown University’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies, Georgetown University-Qatar, American University of Cairo’s Alternative Policy Studies, Middle East Studies Association’s Global Academy, University of Chicago’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, CUNY’s Middle East and Middle Eastern American Center, University of Illinois Chicago’s Arab american cultural Center, George Mason University’s AbuSulayman’s Center for Global Islamic Studies, University of Illinois Chicago’s Critical Middle East Studies Working Group, George Washington University’s Institute for Middle East Studies, Columbia University’s Center for Palestine Studies, New York University’s Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies
Amahl A. Bishara is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Tufts University and an affiliated faculty of the Department of Studies in Race, Colonialism and Diaspora. She is the author of Crossing A Line: Laws, Violence, and Roadblocks to Palestinian Political Expression (Stanford, 2022) and Back Stories: U.S. News Production and Palestinian Politics (Stanford, 2013), an ethnography of the production of U.S. news during the second Palestinian intifada. Bishara's research revolves around media, settler colonialism, expressivity, and place. She also directed or co-directed the documentaries Across Oceans, Among Colleagues (2002), Degrees of Incarceration (2011), and Take My Pictures For Me (2016). Working with youth at Lajee Center in Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem, she has co-produced two bi-lingual children’s books, The Boy and the Wall and The Aida Camp Alphabet.
Dina Matar is a Professor of Political Communication and Arab Media at the Centre for Global Media and Communication at SOAS University of London. She is the chair of the Centre for Palestine Studies, the Director of the Centre for Global Media and Communication in the School of Law, and the Chair of the SOAS Academic Assembly. Matar is a founding editor of the Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication and the editor of the Media, War and Conflict journal. Matar holds a MSc in Comparative Politics as well as a PhD in Media and Communications from the London School of Economics. She has conducted research in the Arab World, particularly Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Before becoming an academic, Matar worked as a foreign correspondent covering the Middle East and then an editor working on the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Her primary research interest is the intersection of communication and politics with a focus on the marginal and the oppressed as well as the relationship between structure and power in the Middle East. Her work and teaching are interdisciplinary, drawing on culture and media studies, politics, visual cultures, Islamist politics, oral history, area studies, diasporas, memory cultures and gendering communication. Matar's works include the edited volumes Gaza as Metaphor (Hurst, 2016) with Helga Tawil-Souri and Narrating Conflict in the Middle East: Discourse, Image and Communications Practices in Lebanon and Palestine (IB Tauris, 2013) with Zahera Harb. She is the author of two monographs. The first is What it Means to Be Palestinian (IB Tauris, 2010) which has gone on to become an award-winning animated movie. The second is The Hizbullah Phenomenon: Politics and Communication (OUP, 2014).
Adel Iskandar is an Associate Professor of Global Communication and Director of the Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies (CCMS) at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. He is the author, coauthor, and editor of several works including Egypt In Flux: Essays on an Unfinished Revolution (AUCP/OUP), Al-Jazeera: The Story of the Network that is Rattling Governments and Redefining Modern Journalism (Basic Books), Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representation (University of California Press), Mediating the Arab Uprisings (Tadween Publishing), and Media Evolution on the Eve of the Arab Spring (Palgrave Macmillan). Iskandar's work deals with media, identity and politics and has lectured extensively on these topics at universities worldwide. He is a co-editor of Jadaliyya.
Bassam Haddad is Founding Director of the Middle East and Islamic Studies Program and Associate Professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. He is the author of Business Networks in Syria: The Political Economy of Authoritarian Resilience (Stanford University Press, 2011) and co-editor of A Critical Political Economy of the Middle East (Stanford University Press, 2021). Bassam is Co-Founder/Editor of Jadaliyya Ezine and Executive Director of the Arab Studies Institute. He serves as Founding Editor of the Arab Studies Journal and the Knowledge Production Project. He is co-producer/director of the award-winning documentary film, About Baghdad, and director of the acclaimed series Arabs and Terrorism. Bassam serves on the Board of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences and is Executive Producer of Status Audio Magazine and Director of the Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI). He received MESA's Jere L. Bacharach Service Award in 2017 for his service to the profession. Currently, Bassam is working on his second Syria book titled Understanding the Syrian Calamity: Regime, Opposition, Outsiders (forthcoming, Stanford University Press).