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It’s All about Tom And Jerry, Amr Khaled and 
Iqra, Not Hamas’s Mickey Mouse: Palestinian Children’s Cultural Practices around the Television Set

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
Author: Yael Warshel1
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Interest in the effect of martyrdom television programming on Palestinian children’s culture culminated in 2007, after Hamas’s Al-Aqsa television station tried to promote its political platform with the aid of a Mickey Mouse look-alike character in The Pioneers of Tomorrow. Critics of this television program assumed that martyrdom programs must have a major impact on Palestinian children. Although this assertion may seem reasonable, it is not supported by my research exploring how Palestinian children use television amidst a cultural context pervaded by ongoing conflict. My analysis reveals, among other important findings, that Palestinian children do not watch martyrdom programs. Thus, somewhat unexpectedly and contrary to concerns voiced about Palestinian martyrdom programming, Palestinian children have not been tuning in. Above all else, Palestinian children negotiate the available options by choosing to tune into global, rather than local Palestinian television content. The television program they consume the most is Tom and Jerry. Their parents, on the other hand, prefer that they watch religious programming, including that which airs on Iqra, and that which is hosted by modernist Muslim televangelist Amr Khaled. Nevertheless, family practices around the television set indicate, ultimately, that these children, not their parents, decide what to consume. My findings are based on survey analysis of Palestinian children’s television consumption decisions, surveys of their parents’ opinions about these decisions, my viewing of related television programs, and ethnographic analysis of related family practices around the television set. I conducted my analysis during a period of two and a half years with over 400 Palestinians in the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

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