Sharif Hikmat Nashashibi, is chairman and co-founder of Arab Media Watch, an independent, non-profitwatchdog set up in 2000 to strive for objective coverage of Arab issues in the British media. Sharif has an MA in International Journalism, and has worked and trained at several major news organizations and international institutions, such as the UN in Palestine. Originally from Jerusalem, his father became a refugee in 1948.
In the seven years that I have been monitoring British media coverage of Arab issues, I can confidently say that Palestinian refugees constitute the most maligned, misunderstood and under-reported aspect of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This is not only unfortunate but baffling, given its centrality to a just and lasting solution. The refugee issue is maligned because certain proprietors, editors and journalists embrace Israel’s viewpoint; it is misunderstood because it is viciously targeted by a pro-Israel lobby that does not face a similarly strong pro-Palestinian, and particularly pro-refugee lobby (sadly, the two are not synonymous); and it is under-reported because, as a problem that will be 60 (yes, 60) years old next year, it has long ceased to be ‘newsworthy’.