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Voices from Exile

A short history of Palestinian radio

Jerusalem24 –Communities living in diaspora or exile have always been part of humanities’ recorded history. However, it wasn’t until the twentieth century that these groups had some way of keeping their hopes for a return to their homelands alive.

Radio was especially useful to groups living in exile because under the right circumstances, it can be used not only to reach other members of the exiled group; but also, those remaining in the homeland.

Palestinians themselves were no strangers to radio broadcasts.

In March of 1936, the Palestine Broadcasting Service began radio broadcasts from Ramallah while having offices located near the center of Jerusalem. The service was state-owned and run by the British mandate of Palestine. Its broadcast ended with the end of the British Mandate in 1948.  It broadcast programs in Arabic, Hebrew, and English. Its news broadcasts were heavily censored.

Following the Nakba and subsequent dispossession of Palestinians, there would be no Palestinian radio for decades.

On January 1st, 1988 less than a month after the outbreak of the intifada, Al-Quds Radio began broadcasting. Its reception within the occupied territories prompted Israeli radio stations to take note that it was the first time the Palestinians had a broadcast this powerful.

In the beginning, it was mistakenly believed that the broadcast originated from Sidon in southern Lebanon. However, by the second week, it was confirmed that Al-Quds was operating from southern Syria.

The station broadcasted pronouncements and statements from various Palestinian factions.

After the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (or Palestinian Public Broadcasting Corporation) was established in 1994. In addition to a television station, there was a subsidiary radio station known as the Voice of Palestine.

Before the 1993 Oslo Accords, the station was originally known as the Voice of the Palestinian Revolution. It was launched in October 1998. The original experimental broadcasts included Music programs, songs, and news bulletins. There were also programs on health, culture, and sports as well.

After the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000, successive Israeli Air Strike destroyed the broadcasting equipment, taking the Voice of Palestine off the air. As of today, the radio service broadcasts on shortwave.

Palestine has come a long way since the first radio station. Today scores of Palestinian radio stations broadcast all over the occupied territories. The airwaves are filled with cultural programs, news bulletins, and more.

All of them making noise, calling out to Palestinians around the world in hopes of one day they will come home.

Mohammad Hamayel

Ramallah based journalist, Mohammad graduated from Al-Quds University with a B.A. in Media and Television. He has covered the 2015 Jerusalem Intifada as well as the Great March of Return for international media outlets. currently an editor/presenter at Jerusalem24. A UN alumni and a follower of global events and politics, especially American affairs.

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