Despite media narrative, Palestinians are far from ‘woke’

Palestinians, it seems, are not quite the peace and social justice warriors of media lore. They are arguably 'far-right', and certainly far from 'woke'.

Here’s the headline accompanying a Dec. 25th Independent article about Palestinian reaction to upcoming Israeli elections, written by their Mid-East correspondent Bel Trew.

At first glance, the headline likely wouldn’t seem controversial.  However, if you reflect upon the assumption of the text, you can see an illustration of a larger pattern of media bias in their coverage the region.  The headline is culled from a paragraph in which a Palestinian Christian named Sami laments the prospects for peace and a two-state solution if another Likud government is formed – a government the Indy reporter described as “the most right-wing” in Israeli history.

Leaving aside the question of whether the current government is indeed “the most right-wing in history”, this framing, which permeates the article, sets up a dichotomy between putatively ‘far-right’ Israelis – in the context of a media which normally uses the word “right” as a pejorative – and, presumably, the more ‘progressive’ Palestinians who “fear” Israel’s dangerous rightward lurch.

Though this political contrast is the subtext of the article, Trew never explicitly assigns an ideology to the Palestinians, which is consistent with the manner in which reporters refrain from analysing the ideology of Palestinians and their leaders – an omission nurtured by the tendency to view Palestinians as victims only, devoid of agency.  The media frame the conflict almost exclusively in terms of what Israel does or doesn’t do, which denies news consumers a fuller understanding of the conflict.

If journalists were to take Palestinian views and decisions seriously, their readers would see that Palestinians and their leaders are far more ‘right-wing’ than Israelis and their leaders on matters ranging from the treatment of women, support for violence and attitudes towards minorities. Polls from Pew Global and Anti-Defamation League (in 2013 and 2014) reveal the following:

  • 40% of Palestinians think suicide bombing is sometimes justified.
  • 89% of Palestinians think homosexuality is immoral.
  • 89% of Palestinians think women must always “obey” their husband.
  • 89% of Palestinians favor the imposition of sharia law into their society.
  • 45% of Palestinians think honour killings are sometimes justifiable.
  • 93% of Palestinians hold antisemitic views.

Palestinians, it seems, are not quite the peace and social justice warriors of media lore. They are arguably ‘far-right’, and certainly far from ‘woke’.

Whatever the outcome of the upcoming Israeli elections, we suggest taking with a grain of salt ideological characterisations of the new coalition, and treating with even a greater degree of skepticism idealised depictions of Palestinians that serve to reinforce the desired media narrative, yet have little if any relationship to reality.

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