Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Palestenian Authority Cat Gets Farfur's Tongue

It is unclear how long Tomorrow's Pioneers, the al-Aqsa children's television program featuring Farfur, an "appropriation" of Mickey Mouse, was on the air. The SPIEGEL ONLINE story that I previously cited simply reported that it "airs each Friday." However, once news of Farfur hit the international media, the Palestinian Authority reacted almost immediately to suspend his program. According to Associated Press writer Mohammed Daraghmeh, "Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti [whom I believe is a member of Fatah] said the character - a giant black-and-white rodent with a high-pitched voice - represented a 'mistaken approach' to the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation." (Fatah, by the way, has its own television station, the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation.)

This is unlikely to be the end of the story. If anything, it indicates that the separation between Fatah and Hamas is as wide as ever, whatever attempts have been made to form a "unity government." Of course here in the United States we are used to different television channels representing different (often extreme) points of view; and we know that each of those channels is sustained by having its own substantial viewing audience. However, the question that remains in Gaza is whether or not Farfur's approach was "mistaken" or just violently opposed to the views of the Information Minister. If this sort of thing were to happen in the United States, it would probably not be resolved until it had been addressed by our judiciary system. In Palestine, on the other hand, it is unclear whether the legal foundation for judicial decisions is firm enough yet, meaning that this latest instantiation of an ideological disagreement between Fatah and Hamas could go the way of past disagreements (and serve both parties just as poorly as in those past disagreements).

In other words Farfur is only a symptom, however distasteful, of a disease that may yet be fatal to Palestinian nationalism: the failure to develop a system of governance that will satisfy both the Palestinian public and the global community to which Palestine strives to belong. This is not to recommend that nations with greater governmental experience should be applying that experience in the form of suggestions to the Palestinian authority. The United States had no such assistance and still managed to come up with a relatively robust solution. On the other hand it does seem as if those other nations, whether they represent the Western or the Islamic world, seem so nervous about the future of Palestine that they cannot help but "get in the way," concerned about whether their own interests are in jeopardy. Most likely, however, "getting in the way" is the worst thing to do; but, in a world where everything is now happening at "Internet speed," it is virtually impossible to counsel patience in the face of critical events.

No comments: