The Palestinian media outlets broadcasted the prayer that made by the Palestinian and Israeli presidents at the Vatican on Monday June 8, as both received invitation by Pope Francis during his visit to Palestine and Israel earlier.
The both presidents of Palestine and Israel met in the first prayer ever with Pope Francis as part of his initiative to willful the hope and the desire of resuming the peace process in the Middle East.
Pope Francis’s visit to Palestine inevitably gained political, religious and media importance, since it is the first visit of its kind to the holy land after the upgrade of the Palestinian status at the UN into a nonmember observer state last September and the Vatican vote in favor of the Palestinian cause in the UN General Assembly.
The pre visit environment witnessed Palestinian official and private media high mobilization and heavy coverage, appeared evidently in the preparations and arrangements that preceded Pope’s visit and later his tour in Bethlehem, Ramallah and even the banned by Israel for the Palestinian journalists East Jerusalem.
The Palestinian media coverage to the Pope’s visit extended to his meeting with the Palestinian officials and Palestinian families harmed by the separation wall which divides Israel from the West Bank as well as Palestinian families whose lands were confiscated by Israel to expand the settlement of Maali Adumim “Abu Ghuneim mountain” in Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) praised the precious efforts and the greatest role of the Palestinian journalists and the Palestinian media institutions and their high efficiency during the media coverage of the Pope’s visit.
The Palestinian State TV channel appeared to use all material resources and human potential for achieving successful media coverage for the Pope’s first visit; it was directly broadcasting the visit, whereas the channels studios received Palestinian officials to share analysis and comments on the historical event of visit.
Khalil Shaheen, director of Masarat Center for political studies in Ramallah, pointed out that the Palestinian media coverage highlighted the political than the humanitarian aspects of Pope’s visit; where media outlets focused on the political analysis of the visit without dealing with its humanitarian aspects.
“The media coverage to the visit of Pope in Palestine was intensive due to its highly appreciated value for the Palestinian people who dealt with the visit both from the political and the humanitarian perspectives, as they believe that Pope’s visit calls for religious tolerance in a region teeming with conflicts and bloodshed, ” said Shaheen.
He added, “Media outlets committed a mistake by exaggerating in covering the political dimension of the Pope’s visit which almost appeared political than humanitarian, while it supposed to directing the attention of the Christian world to the Pope’s visit in Bethlehem and the Palestinian people’s daily sufferings of the Israeli occupation in the holy lands.”
Palestinian officials, meanwhile, described the visit of Pope Francis in Palestine as a successful, stressing on the significance of the Pope’s prayers at the separation wall at the entrance to the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
Palestinian Authority Tourism Minister, Rula Ma’ay’a in a meeting with Palestinian journalists in Bethlehem, said ” Pope’s historical visit in Palestine is a unique of its kind where the Pope along with large delegation of clerks arrived in Palestine and dealt with us as a state under occupation; which is a direct message to Israel an occupying power.”
The minister added, ”Pope’s visit in Palestine and his prayer at the wall both have very important dimensions on the local and the international levels. The visit of a number of delegations from pre 48 Palestine to Bethlehem as well as the prayer of the Pope at the wall gave the Palestinians the sense of solidarity and a major morale boost to fight for peace and justice.”
Department of Media in the Palestinian presidency revealed in a press statement that 1.000 journalists including Palestinian, Arab and foreign journalists belonging to local and international outlets covered the visit of Pope to Palestine after registering in advance at the presidential office.
The Palestinian authority offering the journalists with transport facilities and places to stay in during the coverage as a part of serious arrangements before the Pope’s visit.
Pope Francis of Vatican was visiting in Palestine accompanying by a delegation of 75 journalists from across the world; where among the journalists was Palestinian Journalist Imad Freij; the envoy of Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan (CCSM).
Father Refaat Bader, director of Catholic Center for Studies and Media (CCSM) said, “Pope’s visit to the holy lands attracted and gained the global attention.”
While the media outlets the entire world aired the Pope’s speech from the holy land, the Palestinian media outlets managed only to air the religious ceremony in Arabic while it failed to air it in other languages such as English and French.
Social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter also played an active role in covering Pope’s first visit in Palestine. Hashtags both in Arabic and English such as #PopeInPalestine were widely in use among social media activist and users.
The photo of Pope as he praying at the separation wall spread widely among the social media users along with news websites followed by positive comments and expressions as significant position towards this wall which impedes the Palestinians access to the essentials of civilian life and separates the Palestinian families and relatives.
The Palestinian media went through a significant experience of covering a visit of a significant religious figure as paying a historical visit in Palestine namely in Ramallah, Bethlehem and East Jerusalem thus leading a mission to influence the world public opinion towards the just cause of the Palestinian people.