At the outbreak of the Second Intifada in September 2000, The Palestinian Nongovernmental Organization Network (PNGO) perceived a lack of the Palestinian narrative in the mainstream media. This lack was attributed to the fact that very little advocacy was being carried out on behalf of the Palestinians; and whatever advocacy work Palestinians carried out did not address the foreign audience in the best manner possible.
PNGO felt that if people understood the issues of the crisis, heard what the Palestinians had to say, and realized there was ‘another side’ to the story, eventually public opinion might be influenced and people overseas could be mobilized to put pressure on their governments and representatives – and this way pressure could be brought to bear on Israel – to end the occupation and open the road to a just and durable peace.
PNGO delegated to the Health Development Information and Policy Institute the responsibility of disseminating information and unified messages from Palestinian civil society to the foreign press about local developments. We did so by creating The Palestine Monitor.
Discussions between a number of networks, including Palestinian NGOs, solidarity groups in the United States, and European NGO networks, informed the foundations of the Palestine Monitor, in addition to what was obviously missing from international media. It was clear that such services were needed; the existing structures were disseminating information, but there was a lack of alternative viewpoints on the current socio-political situation in Palestine as well as a lack of a concerted and sustained strategy and unified approach to the central issues.
The quality of information that existed on the situation also posed problems – there was a lot of information but very little of it was packaged in a way that was meaningful, accessible, user-friendly, and targeted to a foreign audience. And the information that did exist was insufficient in its analysis.
Since its establishment, The Palestine Monitor has addressed many of the shortcomings by providing to the press and other target groups a timely response to events happening on the ground from the Palestinian perspective, as well as providing them with news and information as events happen.