January 15, 2006

Palestinian Poster Wars: Face Time


Let me present you with a ridiculous hypothesis.

What if I were to say that the Hamas candidates (lower photo) had a better chance of winning in the upcoming Palestinian parliamentary elections because they are more individually identifiable and less identified with the past than the Fatah candidates above.

(In the Fatah shot, the candidates come off as relatively small, background figures in comparison to their icons, Yassir Arafat and Marwan Barghouti, to whom they remain dependent for stature and propping up.  In contrast, the Hamas figures front a banner of their own iconic leader — the martyred Sheik Ahmed Yassin — but make do without borrowing from his stature … or being dragged down by his polarizing effects.)


Sounds thoroughly over-determined by two random images, right?

On the other hand, having looked through a couple hundred newswire
images relating to the upcoming vote, maybe the hypothesis has
something to it.  In an admittedly cursory YahooNews survey from a few days ago, I was able to find seven
photos of named Hamas candidate depicted either in person or on a
campaign poster (without the accompanying image of a Hamas "father
figure" such as Sheik Yassin).  I also found four photos or posters of a named independent
Palestinian candidates (also displayed without addition of any well
known or historical party figure).  However, I couldn’t find one photo or poster image of a named Fatah candidate that didn’t also include the image of Arafat (or the jailed Marwan Barghouti).

Of course, such results — based on images compiled by Western editors
for a primarily Western audience — might be the result of random
factors.  It might also say something about the ubiquity and popularity
of an icon such as Yassir Arafat.

On the other hand, perhaps it does demonstrate that
Fatah, which has thoroughly dominated the Palestinian Parliament to
date, suddenly lacks the kind of personalities, platform, credibility
or popularity to convey a contemporary face (or set of faces) to the

(image 1: Adel Hana/A.P.
January 6, 2006.  Gaza City.  Via YahooNews.  image 2; Suhaib
Salem/Reuters.  January 3, 2006.  Gaza.  Via YahooNews.)

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Michael Shaw
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