Middle East Studies

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Media Politics and Democracy in Palestine

Political Culture, Pluralism, and the Palestinian Authority

Author Text to Follow

This book examines the Palestinian process of state formation and the prospects for democracy in a future Palestinian state through a discussion of the roles played by the diverse civil institutions that exist outside the framework of the dominant Palestinian Authority political and social structure and, specifically, the various publications that each institution or movement produces.

In opposition to the PA, liberal as well as Islamic social forces promote policies of protest and resistance, through media tools, against the authoritarian policies of the PA. The media is viewed as a public sphere in which these forces compete. Media institutions play an important role in setting the parameters of communication in processes of state building: promoting public debate and forming public spheres influence the modes of state–civil society relations. Combining concepts of political communication with social movement theory, the author examines the extent to which public opinion plays a role in determining the character of the political regime. The rising tension between the Palestinian Authority’s attempts to deepen its control over society and the reaction to this development by opposition groups informs the analysis of each civil institution: the role of NGOs, the Islamic movement, the women’s movement and Palestinian feminism, and the liberal-democratic intellectual elite, are all assessed through their media institutions and communication policies, to reveal the character of the emerging Palestinian public sphere. The book also develops the concept of a “media regime” in Palestinian areas, and includes models of communication and media theory, along with Palestinian case studies, that will prove invaluable to both students of the Middle East and media studies scholars.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-039-2
Hardback Price: £47.50 / $67.50
Release Date: April 2005
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-913-5
Paperback Price: £25.00 / $34.95
Release Date: December 2017
Page Extent / Format: 224 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No


List of Abbreviations

Introduction: State Formation, Symbolic Power and Political Hegemony

1 Institutionalizing the Political System and the Politics of Control

2 Deconstructing Autocracy: NGOs and the Politics of Contention

3 The Constitutive National Press: Mechanisms of the Palestinian Media Regime

4 The Deconstruction of Gender Regime: The Women's Movements and the Predicament of Equal Citizenship

5 Framing Authenticity: Religious Discourse and the Islamist Media

Conclusion: Occupation, State Formation and Democratic Prospects


This is a book fraught with contradictions. The reports of the creative and imaginative responses to the occupation and the struggle for statehood by the Palestinian civil society are encouraging. Yet, the fragile sovereignty and the daily threats of Israeli incursion and violence trump the hopefulness and support the case for armed resistance from Hamas and others… The author demonstrates that there is a democratic and pluralistic complexity to the Palestinian population which is foundational to a viable political state. There are already significant social movements that will hinder authoritarian rule, from either the religious or the secular elites. The challenge is how durable they will remain in the face of the overwhelming power and interference of the Israeli Occupation.
Digest of Middle East Studies

Standing on a foundation of political communication theory and media studies, Jamal adroitly examines the interplay of these (often clashing) forces. Jamal shows that the agenda set by government elites is not the only influence along the march toward a democratic society. Indeed, it is the strength and influence of forces outside this fledgling government that attempt to give it a conscience and the courage to do the right thing by its people. Most refreshing is Jamal’s unapologetic and straightforward analysis of the Palestinian Authority in the grip of the late Chairman Yasir ‘Arafat. It is on this point that Jamal demonstrates the glaring necessity for strong social movements that will give the Palestinian public, through social organizations, the press, women’s rights, and moderate religious influence, a backbone and sturdy legs on which to stand. Media Politics and Democracy in Palestine is an important contribution to the body of political writings on the Middle East and Palestine. It also serves the journalistic community – students of journalism and communications and those already writing and producing stories about the Middle East for television, newspapers, radio, and the Web worldwide. This book is a welcome, indeed much needed reference tool for journalists, who, relying on the immediacy of the electronic media, find themselves hastening to do their work but often at the cost of neglecting to understand the subjects and people they cover.
Middle East Journal

Amal Jamal’s penetrating critique of the political system that is emerging since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994 emphasizes the struggle by important social movements to achieve autonomy, curb the authoritarian tendencies of the elite, and counter the overwhelming power wielded by Israel. He provides a nuanced analysis of the roles of the media, NGOs, the women’s movement, and the Islamists in this ongoing struggle to define and enlarge the public sphere.
Ann M. Lesch, Professor of Political Science and Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, American University in Cairo, and author of Political Perceptions of the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza Strip

An impressive, thoughtful, and well-documented study of the complexities of Palestinian politics in the last decade. It is a pioneering study reflecting on the plural character of the Palestinian public sphere and the attempts of social movements and the media to influence the process of state-building.
Prof. Shaul Mishal (Department of Political Science, Tel Aviv University), co-author of Investment in Peace: The Politics of Economic Cooperation between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians

The most informative part of the book deals with the women’s movement and its advocacy for equal rights in the national public life... the examination of the model parliament set up by the secular women’s movement and the discourse analysis of its publication are interesting and informative.
Journal of Palestine Studies

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