Bloggin’ Banat

two arab-american chicks takin’ over the blogosphere

Palestinian Reality in Atlanta? June 16, 2009

Block PartyNo, definitely not.  In an absurd move, CBS has walled off an entire neighborhood in Atlanta to force the neighbors to spend time with each other.  It’s all for a new reality show tentatively called “Block Party.”

The image of the wall built for this show looks very similar to Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank.  Of course, life in Palestine, particularly in areas like, Gaza, Ni’lin and the Aida Refugee Camp is anything but a block party.

The details on the specifics of this show are not clear except that the families “will be trapped inside the 20′ maximum security-looking wall for about three weeks for a cash prize.”

I find it insulting to have an entertainment show with a premise built around a crippling and devastating reality faced by an entire population of Palestinians.  While these contestants will be confined behind this wall for three weeks and possibly end up with money for the sake of entertainment, Palestinians have been confined for years within Israel’s illegal wall with no end in sight.

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Jordan Wins First Emmy. Will Other Arab Countries Follow? November 25, 2008

The country of Jordan won an International Emmy Tuesday in a newly established telenovela category.  It was for the 2007 series Al-Igtiyah (The Invasion).  I’m sure the millions of Arabs who were glued to their televisions watching the Syrian series Bab el Hara (Door to the Neighborhood) are disappointed to hear that it wasn’t the one that won.  Seriously though, I find this noteworthy for a few reasons. First of all, for an Arab country to win an Emmy is pretty cool. It’s also appealing that it’s about a love story taking place during the Israeli invasion of Jenin in 2002.  And, to have an Arab series beat out two Latin American (Argentina, Brazil) and Russian ones in this category is pretty exceptional.


What I find disturbing however, is that according to a production source, the series was shown only on the LBC satellite channel because  the “other networks decided to ignore the series because of sensitivities related to Israel.”  What does it say when an international organization recognizes the work from an Arab country that Arab audiences don’t even get a chance to see?  The same could be said of the film Paradise Now.  It won numerous prestigious international awards, including the Golden Globe, but was largely unseen and not recognized in the Arab world (none of the awards Paradise Now was nominated for were from Arab countries).  That’s just sad.

Unfortunately, Palestinians themselves aren’t immune to this kind of thing either.  Earlier this year, the Palestine Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) decided to pull the plug at the last minute on a homegrown Palestinian series called Matabb (Speed Bumps), about everyday life in Ramallah, because one PBC official thought that a scene in an episode described the PLO as corrupt. The producers rebutted that claim and the series was eventually aired.

Arab governments need to get over their “sensitivity” issues and embrace so-called controversial and non-traditional topics. There is a desire for it.  And what these broadcasters may view as controversial, the Arab public generally doesn’t.  If Arab broadcasters are willing to go there and air this kind of fresh material I am sure Arab viewers are willing to watch.  And that could lead to more global appeal and recognition in the future.

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