Wednesday, June 25, 2014

This Week in Palestine promotes the Palestinian cultural image as an expression of embodied experience, a mode of communication, and a form for understanding our society, history, ecology, and ultimately ourselves... Taking a very close look at Palestinian public diplomacy and promoting Palestine.


Promoting Palestine
A couple of nights ago I was having difficulty sleeping, so I decided to casually browse through Facebook. The first status that jumped out at me was that of a Facebook friend who had left Palestine a decade or maybe more ago. It said something along the lines of how happy she is that her children are not being brought up in a racist Arabic society. I could not take it, so I responded. I had to. I had lived in the United States for eleven years, and what I had often found most infuriating was the Palestinians’ inability to promote and advertise themselves. In fact, we turn quickly to self-defamation. If our streets are demonstration battlefields filled with tear gas grenades and rocks, then the world is our PR battlefield filled with all types of stereotype missiles. When I was living in the States, it felt like we were losing. These days, however, I think we’re doing better, though we still have a long way to go.

This issue is meant to be a microscopic examination of the advertising industry in Palestine, along with a very close look at the idea of macroscopically branding Palestine; I mean taking a very close look at Palestinian public diplomacy and promoting Palestine. I am told that using the term “branding Palestine” is no longer appropriate. In this issue we have a heavyweight academic honing in on the subject, and she maps out the field quite well for us. We also look at advertising campaigns and the status of radio in Palestine, and we have an excellent piece on Palestinian online content and why Google does not seem to know us well.

A theme such as this is difficult to synthesise into an issue with an editorial section, a limelight section, and, of course, advertorials, but we’ve tried to do just that, and I hope we’ve succeeded. As usual, you, our reader, are the final judge. Be sure to read our Personality of the Month, a very prominent young media specialist is featured.

Riyam Kafri-AbuLaban

Content Editor

Photo by Emad Badwan.
Photo by George Azar.
Sea of Acre. Photo by Ahed Izhiman.
Hebron Mountains. Photo by Ahed Izhiman.
 Image, Word, and Text Promoting Palestinian Cultural Identity
By Ali Qleibo

This Week in Palestine promotes the Palestinian cultural image as an expression of embodied experience, a mode of communication, and a form for understanding our society, history, ecology, and ultimately ourselves. Under its umbrella the magazine embraces a variety of perspectives from diverse authors in whose texts one may examine the intricacies of narrative identity construction. Using verbal and pictorial, linguistic and visual, scientific and literary texts, the diverse articles demonstrate how the construction of selves, memories, and life-worlds are interwoven in one narrative fabric that promotes, codifies, systematises, and promotes Palestinian identity. In their totality these narratives give an account of the fundamental capabilities and vulnerabilities that Palestinians display in the activities that make up their lives.

Over the past fifteen years TWIP has been inviting its readers to explore explicit fundamental issues such as gender, folk customs, memory, communication, economics, history, and a great diversity of cultural expressions in Palestine. Together with the glossy advertisements of restaurants, cultural events, hotels, banks, and diplomatic offices, the monthly periodical has come to provide a wide panorama of Palestine and Palestinian society at a crucial moment of transition. Avoiding political clich├ęs and slogans, the magazine has undertaken the task of unravelling the socio-economic cultural underpinnings of the on-going democratisation and modernisation of Palestine under Israeli occupation. Each monthly publication has a theme and invites specialists, politicians, economists, psychologists, educators, anthropologists, and local experts to contribute articles. The changing monthly theme allows a host of Palestinian academics and experts to review the foundations of contemporary Palestinian cultural identity.

TWIP favours essays with a personal flavour - and illustrated with photographs whenever possible - that provide an insider’s insight into Palestinian culture. Anthropological theory, historical details, political innuendos, and economic vision, in addition to personal commentaries and observations, enrich the varied accounts as proffered by specialists from diverse fields. 

TWIP offers the space wherein scholars, economists, anthropologists, politicians, experts from various fields, and researchers contribute articles that present and update past and current Palestinian experiences. In their totality these narratives construct, forge, and promote the contemporary Palestinian image nationally and internationally.

TWIP presents a dynamic exploration of Palestinian identity that interpolates the written narrative with visual imagery. Its design and layout juxtapose the literary and artistic sides - both word and image - to construct a positive and viable Palestinian identity. The result is two parallel narratives: the literary expository level and the reflexive photographic image. Both word and image form an inextricably linked unit. In the process each monthly issue emerges as a narrative vista, rich with contributions based on experience and personal research into the modern Palestinian experiential reality. Such an effort to bridge the gap between text and image is a challenge that the TWIP team face on a monthly basis. The product, the monthly TWIP, is a multi-textual narrative that stands at a point of axis between objective science, humanist literature, and art, in which word and image promote Palestine and the Palestinians.

The relation of the image to the written text is complex; the photograph has a referential power independent from that of the word. The photograph tears the veil of words. Through the photographs the reader is invited to examine surface details. The generic stereotype is displaced by the tangible image. The people, the landscape, and the social space are represented concretely. Through the depiction of detail the dynamic organisation of space is revealed. Moreover, the immediacy of the photo adds human pathos to the otherwise impersonal literary impression. In lieu of the elusive image of the highly politicised Palestinian as victim or hero, the photograph confirms Palestinian humanity within a social, ecological, and political context.

The repertoire of images employed is quite varied. The collection includes the conventional documentary genre in which the still photograph illustrates and remains, in a sense, subservient to the written word. However, the repertoire of photographs forms an independent text parallel to the literary narrative. Many are visual compositions that are photo specific. These photographs include the artistic mode that records the subjective elusive mood of the place and the moment.

Other photos capture individuals or groups in the course of their activities - in the market, at home, in the fields, at weddings, at the church, mosque, etc. Additional photos indicate the passing of the seasons, the changing landscape from spring to winter, the shifting light; in short, the ecological context with attention varying from the particular social detail to the overall dynamic organisation of space.

The photographs, anecdotes, and advertisements interlace to transport the reader/viewer into a personal encounter with everyday Palestinian life. Both photograph and word are expertly braided together to project the image of Palestinians the way we like to see ourselves and the way we like to be seen. The contrapuntal format of the articles, between social science, humanist literature, economics, and art underlies its objective - namely, to humanise the personal and collective levels of Palestinian identity.

TWIP has come to assume its current prominence by providing insiders’ insight into social, ethnographic, economic, political, literary, and artistic Palestinian cultural expressions in English. By providing an adroit mixture of both entertainment and knowledge of Palestinian culture, the magazine has forged a new genre of literature that stands midway between uncompromising academic work and reader-friendly articles.

Objective yet reflexive, the magazine provides narrative space for negative as well as positive trends and practices on the institutional, social, political, cultural, and individual levels. Certain subjects are blatantly avoided, namely, probing into thorny religious issues such as secularism, fundamentalism, the production of sexual desire, child abuse, prostitution, incest, homosexuality, divorce, political corruption, and questioning basic issues such as the validity of the 1948 Taqsim in the modern guise of “the two-state solution.” A self-imposed censorship blocks the deployment of socially censured discourses. Between shy silences and the traditional Arabic concept of opprobrium, the magazine seeks to give expression to what is collectively acceptable. TWIP does not question the status quo. The overlooked objects of writings, the “oversights,” and the systemic lacunae in the discourse of TWIP overlap with what are deemed worthy topics of writing to impart a unique identity to the magazine. Beyond the image and word, a deep sense of nationalism and commitment underlies this cultural venture. It is hoped that in the future these subjects will be broached.

TWIP is a mirror image of Palestinians with all our contradictions. In fact, Palestinians identify with TWIP because it is the image we like to reflect to the world about ourselves. By the same token the topics of Palestinians and how we live have become easily accessible through the Internet. To know the Palestinians one simply turns to TWIP online. Over the years, the magazine has rightfully come to assume its position as the major disseminator and promoter of Palestinian identity: TWIP has become a Palestinian icon.

Dr. Ali Qleibo is an anthropologist, author, and artist. A specialist in the social history of Jerusalem and Palestinian peasant culture, he is the author of Before the Mountains Disappear, Jerusalem in the Heart, and Surviving the Wall, an ethnographic chronicle of contemporary Palestinians and their roots in ancient Semitic civilisations. Dr. Qleibo lectures at Al-Quds University. He can be reached at

Name: Palestine, Filastin, Canaan, Holy Land, etc.
Boundaries: sea to river
Capital: Jerusalem
Topography: coast, mountains, Jordan Valley, and desert
Climate: moderate
Altitude: 1,200 m above sea level to 400 m below sea level
History: one million years
Population: 10 million
Language: first alphabet to Arabic
Religion: monotheistic
Culture: diverse
World Heritage: Jerusalem and Bethlehem
National Poet: Mahmoud Darwish
Political System: constitutional, democratic
Nakba: 66 years
Refugees: 58 camps
Military Occupation: since 1967
Separation Wall: 770 km
Checkpoints: 600+
Flora: 10 million olive trees, citrus trees, figs, and vineyards
Cuisine: maqluba, mansaf, musakhan, and khubeiza
Breakfast: olive oil and za’atar
Sweets: kanafeh
Snack: falafel
National Hope: freedom
Dead Sea. Photo by Hayel Baraat.
Jerusalem. Photo by Tarek Bakri
Photo by Shareef Sarhan.
Photo from Palestine Image Bank.

Palestine Youth Orchestra in Greece. Photo courtesy of ESNCM.
Photo by Emile Ashrawi.
Photo by Tarek Bakri.
Photo by Elias Halabi.
Photo by Emile Ashrawi.
Detail from Helen Zughaib’s “Another Wall.”
Photo by Emile Ashrawi.

Book of the Month
Olives, Lemons & Za’atar The Best Middle Eastern Home Cooking

Look Inside (& maybe buy)
Olives, Lemons & Za'atar: The Best Middle Eastern Home Cooking Hardcoverby Rawia Bishara


No comments:

Post a Comment