Afif Safieh

An English-language weekly magazine to be published in Jerusalem Introduction


Afif Safieh - the Palestinian General Delegate to the United Kingdom - is planning to return to Jerusalem, his hometown, in the middle of next yean He initiated the process of family reunification in November 1994. Once back in Jerusalem, he intends to start an English weekly that will cover political and - economic current affairs - news and analysis - feature stories as well as cultural and social issues. This new weekly is intended to become a unique forum for Palestinians to debate issues, a vehicle of communication between the "Palestinians of the inside" and the diaspora communities as well as the link between Palestinian society and the outside world. Totally independent, this weekly will mirror Palestinian pluralism.


This English weekly will aim at reaching five different audiences: Locally (1) The English-speaking Palestinian intelligentsia, decision-makers, the civil servants, the business community as well as the academic community. (2) The foreign community in Palestine/Israel: diplomats, consulates, journalists, United Nations personnel, Non Govemmental volunteers, churches, tourists etc. (3) Israeli institutions and individuals who are interested in trends and evolutions within Palestinian society.


(4) Middle East research centres in universities around the world, Non Governmental Organisations interested in third world issues and the Middle East, the solidarity network in every country and every city etc.

(5) The Palestinian diaspora around the world, Arab diaspora communities and many Jews interested in a Palestinian point of view.

Strategy for Promotion

There is a market in Palestine, Israel and Jordan through the various distribution networks available for around 5,000 copies. Over 100,000 addresses, from Scandinavia to Australia, all Palestine-related, have been assembled from a variety of mailing lists. A supplementary mailing list is also being compiled from the Chambers of Commerce of Western enterprises dealing with the Arab world. The objective is to irrigate this network with promotional issues hoping to get 7 percent positive responses. Given the nature of these mailing lists, 7,000 subscribers from such a promotion campaign is not an over-ambitious goal. From the very first week onwards 10,000 copies will be printed of each issue: 3,000 for the local market and 7,000 for promotion and/or subscribers.

The quality and diversity of such a readership should attract a wide range of advertisers. The fact that the Middle East is undergoing profound transformations at a great pace, together with the fact that Palestinian society is in the process of institution - building and, hopefully, State building will be seen as added incentives for the construction, modern office equipment, and tourist industries, as well as for banks, insurance companies ete to choose "ne Palestinian" as their advertising and publicity conduit towards potential clients.

The Team

In addition to a deputy editor, four writers/journalists will be based in Jerusalem. At least one will be an economist by training. To ensure efficient and professional management of the institution, five management staff will be required who will provide subscription services, marketing and distribution, advertising and secretarial assistance. The weekly will also have foreign-based American, European and Israeli correspondents. "The Palestinian" will contain 40 pages plus cover. It will aim to be global in its coverage and distribution. The project of launching this English-language weekly has triggered immense support within the intellectual Palestinian community. Six external contributors will be invited each week to address a variety of issues relevant to the debates of the moment. The world has heard of Palestinian talent and sophistication. THIS WEEKLY WILL PROVE IT. "The Palestinian" will mobilise the best brains and will make use of their expertise to raise the awareness of both decision-makers and public opinion. It win also aim to inform, give cohesion and a sense of purpose for the Palestinian diaspora communities in the United States and elsewhere. It will endeavour to raise the level of public debate by injecting new ideas and introducing new approaches. Agitators of ideas will be an accusation for which we will willingly plead guilty.

Possible Extensions

A successful weekly is a powerful vehicle that can help promote cultural events because of the visibility it provides and the coverage it ensures. The weekly will seek to co-operate with the British Council and the Centre Culturel Francais to organise film festivals with the participation of film directors and the leading actors. It will sponsor local theatrical groups, singers or Olympic standard athletes.

"The Palestinian" monthly lecture could become a highly appreciated Rendezvous with distinguished visiting speakers.

After the initial six months needed for the launch, the weekly will consider starting a publishing house so that interesting manuscripts can find their way to the readers, local and foreign, without the usual difficult quest for a publisher who often hesitates confronted with what might be too controversial a subject. As a modern and dynamic institution, this English weekly magazine will contribute significantly to the much-needed revitalisation of the political and cultural life in Arab Jerusalem and beyond. During the last decades, Arab Jerusalem - Moslem and Christian was plunged into historical decline. Ibis magazine will one be of many initiatives needed to help Jerusalem regain its political and intellectual centrality.

History - as always - is in the making. The difference now is that "The Palestinian" will be part of it.

London December 1994