Oct 28 2008
Palestinian academic Daoud Kuttab warned Monday that while the digital era has seen greater media freedom in the Arab world, Hamas and Fatah are using technology in a negative way in their battle for supremacy in the Palestinian territories.
Kuttab, who was speaking at a conference marking the 10th anniversary of the Peres Center for Peace, cited Al-Qaida as an example of extremists taking advantage of the digital age to disseminate their message, but also Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah, who he said are “using the Internet sometimes in a very nasty way.”
The Princeton professor did, however, laud the role the digital era has played in wresting control of the media from Arab governments and democratizing political commentary.
Technological advances have brought a “real revolution in the way pictures, images and word are transmitted in the Arab world,” Kuttab told the audience at the debate in Tel Aviv.
He stressed that the media now has more credibility in the Arab world, and that “people have more choices in the media they watch.” He warned however, that the vacuum in media control left by governments has often been filled by “big business” such as the rich Saudi families, who are still “quite close to the government.”
Another panelist at the discussion, renowned American journalist Judith Miller, gave a more concrete example of how the digital era has built bridges between Israelis and Palestinians.
Miller gave the example of Israeli and Palestinian women journalists “who had common problems, who had the means to support each other.” These women, she said, had come together online to form a women’s media network.
She was referring to Wo.Me.N.”, whose formation was the result of a meeting held by the Peres Center and the International Peace and Cooperation Center for women journalists from both sides.