Remarks by Consul General Ratney at the Consulate’s 2015 Reception Honoring Palestinian Journalists and Journalism

Good evening, I would like to welcome all of you here to this reception to honor Palestinian Journalists and the profession of journalism.  I would like to welcome Deputy Minister of Information Dr. Mhamoud Khalifa and Dr. Abdelnasser Al-Najah from the Journalists’ syndicate.

We also have a number of journalists who were able to join us from Gaza this evening and we are grateful that they could be here.

There are journalists here from Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank.  We also have a number of journalists from Gaza who were able to participate with us tonight.  We are happy to have you here.

When President Obama spoke earlier this month about the importance of journalism he said, “Journalists give all of us, as citizens, the chance to know the truth about our countries, ourselves, our governments.  That makes us better. It makes us stronger.  It gives voice to the voiceless, exposes injustice, and holds leaders accountable.”

For Palestinians, this is certainly true.  In fact, I would add that Palestinian journalists have special responsibilities.  Why? Because  the world care about what happens here – in fact despite all the crises elsewhere in the region, there is intense interest in what happens here.  Palestinian journalists should have a strong voice in reporting on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict – but that also brings responsibility.  The demand for accurate information requires Palestinian reporting to adhere to the highest standards of journalistic integrity.

In addition to the immense responsibility of reporting accurately on events to the rest of the world, Palestinian journalists also have an obligation to be the voice of citizens who expect accountability and protection when power is abused.  It is the journalists who uncover corruption; it is journalists who stand up for the poor; it is journalists who ensure that their governments represent the interests of the people and not the other way around.

In short, journalists have a difficult job; but it is a job that plays a key role in determining the future for Palestinians.  As the American Consul General, I will not always agree with everything you write.  But assuming it’s accurate, I will fight for your right to write it.

We at the U.S. Consulate General want to take this opportunity to thank you for the work that you have done; encourage you to keep reporting; and remind you to always to strive to achieve the highest levels of professionalism.

And finally, because this may be my last meeting with the Palestinian press corps, I’d like to say something about the enduring U.S. commitment to what remains a central goal for all of us – peace.  President Obama, after his meeting with GCC leaders, remarked that peace requires vision and courage and tough choices. Although the prospect of peace may sometimes seem distant, it is always important for us to keep in mind what’s right and what’s possible.

The world is watching and is eager to hear your story.