Two years ago this week, we launched The Electronic Intifada (EI) to provide a critical alternative to mainstream media depictions of Palestine and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Believing that fair, accurate, and inquisitive media are indispensible in a democratic society, we hoped this site would become a part of the basic tool-kit of defenders of democracy, justice and human rights throughout the world. Two years later, EI is that and so much more.
As we look back at selected milestones on this anniversary, we note how The Electronic Intifada has rapidly evolved from a media-monitoring resource to a respected supplementary news portal widely acclaimed for its fresh approach, incisive analyses, unique features, and sometimes wit. Two years ago, we did not imagine that a single-issue online publication such as The Electronic Intifada would attract over a quarter of a million visits each month from a broad readership on every continent, and be widely cited as a source in the mainstream media.
With the increasing repression and suffering in Palestine, coupled with the threat of a dangerous war in Iraq, we do not intend to rest on our laurels as we mark our second anniversary. A great deal of work lies ahead of us.
Israel’s new government contains parties that openly espouse the expulsion of all the Palestinians from their homeland. This is merely the verbal expression of policies on the ground whose transparent intent has been to try squeeze the Palestinian population into surrender or flight. Ariel Sharon has pointedly refused to repudiate the policy of “transfer.” Palestinians understandably fear that Israel might exploit the chaos of a war with Iraq or its aftermath to begin to implement such a plan.
These are crucial days, days that will determine the trajectory of the Middle East’s future in profound ways. More than regimes will be changed in the coming months. Life chances of the region’s most vulnerable—women, children, and the elderly—will certainly change for the worse. We, in response, must change our tactics and increase our efforts to safeguard human rights and uphold international law. EI and affiliated websites will be part of that effort in whatever modest way we can contribute.
On this, our second anniversary, The Electronic Intifada would like to recognize the growing power of a global democratic society of informed, concerned, and activist individuals and groups. As the New York Times noted in a 16 February 2003 editorial the day after the largest global anti-war demonstrations in human history: “There are two superpowers in the world again: the US and global public opinion.”
It is EI’s aim — and duty — to be part of this emerging democratic superpower by disseminating information blocked or ignored by the mainstream media, by analyzing dimensions and corners of policy that mainstream media are hesitant to touch, and by offering moving daily reminders, through our Diaries, Op Eds and Arts features, of the humanity of the millions of people politicians and news anchors so frequently, and callously, dismiss as “collateral damage.”
In The Independent, acclaimed war correspondent Robert Fisk reported that mainstream media outlets will collaborate with US military forces in censoring news from the Iraqi battlefield (“A new CNN system of ‘script approval’ suggests the Pentagon will have nothing to worry about”). While Fisk is right to express grave concern at this reality, there is a feeling communicated by the report that there is no hope. We founded EI precisely because we do have hope, and seek to build something new out of that hope: a multimedia project that we believe will positively change the grim realities that daily sow despair about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in millions of human hearts around the world.
We founded EI because we believe that the majority of people in this world are reasonable and humane, and that, if properly informed of the realities of the plight of Palestinians trapped under a violent military occupation, their response and the resulting pressure would encourage governments to persuade Israel to conform with the norms of international law.
EI, as an online publication, was the most cost-effective way to achieve this goal. Current research into online news trends fully supports the notion that EI is a sound investment for anyone wishing to positively impact this entrenched conflict and encourage resolution through information dissemination and education.
There are limits to governments’ brutality and corporate media’s misinformation efforts. Some of those limits begin here, on this site, and on sites like Electronic Iraq, which we recently launched in coordination with Voices in the Wilderness to ensure that the voices of Iraqis and Americans opposed to their respective governments’ unjust and inhumane policies can break through militarily imposed media blackouts and official attempts to rewrite history.
Since 2001, we have learned that holding the media accountable with criticism is essential but insufficient. Two years has taught us the necessity of becoming the media we want to see. If this is the kind of media you want to see, then spread the word, support our work, and offer your time and talents.
Thank you for your continued support for The Electronic Intifada,