Palestine's Web 2.0

(National Interest) Jonathan Schanzer and Mark Dubowitz - In April 2010, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) commissioned ConStrat to study online Palestinian political sentiment. For nine weeks, ConStrat culled thousands of Arabic language posts from social media sites. We found that although the Palestinian web landscape is not devoid of users with moderate to liberal views, it is dominated by radicalism. Among radicalized users, a small but distinct group of Salafists view conflict with Israel as a religious duty, viewing jihad as the only answer. In addition, on Hamas' most popular discussion sites, a majority continue to support violence against Israel. While U.S. media has lauded Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's efforts to reform the West Bank, online forums indicate that Palestinians are not impressed. Some forums declared Fayyad a puppet of the West, while others claimed that his government is constitutionally illegitimate. Finally, our data showed that a majority of Palestinians do not support regional peace efforts. Discussion of peace talks was overwhelmingly negative and the social media environment suggests little support for a new peace initiative. As our study showed, now may not be an ideal time to push for a final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

2010-10-19 11:31:40

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