New Media and Political Change: The Case of the Two Palestinian Intifadas
Title: New Media and Political Change: The Case of the Two Palestinian Intifadas
Author: BISHARA, Amahl
Series/Report no.: EUI RSCAS; 2009/21; Mediterranean Programme Series
The media environment of Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories has developed extensively in the last twenty years, in ways that might seem to present Palestinians with enriched opportunities for public debate. Yet, examining the political contexts of media development with a focus on the periods of the first and second Intifadas reveals that the contemporary media environment is not necessarily more conducive to democratic change. Since 1948, Palestinians have assembled their media world out of other states’ media, and a diverse collection of small and large media. This act of assemblage has had as a goal the assembling of Palestinians into a sovereign polity. During the first Intifada, Palestinians had no broadcast media and Israel severely censored Palestinian newspapers. In the context of the popular uprising, Palestinian activists relied on small media like graffiti to evade Israeli restrictions. During the Oslo period, the Palestinian Authority (PA) established official Palestinian broadcast media. Palestinian entrepreneurs opened radio and television stations, and Internet news sites. However, the apparent potential of this new media landscape did not come to fruition. During the second Intifada, PA restrictions on the press continued and Israeli violence against the press intensified. In this Intifada, which lacked a unified leadership or consistently popular participation, small and new media enabled networks of care and connection, but they were not widely effective tools for political organizing. Moreover, even local media like graffiti were oriented around Western audiences and producers in key locations. Thus this paper argues that technological advances must be evaluated in their political contexts.
Subject: Democratization; Palestinian Authority; Intifada; political movements; new media; technology; media; graffiti; globalization; censorship
Type of Access: openAccess