We often see Palestinians in only one of two ways – in one perception, they’re depicted as resilient individuals driven by heroism, a perspective commonly favoured in Arab circles, even though it dehumanises them.
In the second, they’re mere victims, stripped of their cause and aspirations to resist the brutality imposed upon them, which aligns more closely with Western perspectives, albeit on the more sympathetic end of the spectrum.
In a popular Arabic TV series, there was a Palestinian character who was introduced seemingly without reason. Whenever her nationality was mentioned, everyone around her would become distressed, reduced to sorrow. One character would constantly shed tears in her presence.
Even on her wedding day, the mood was gloomy. Amid her muted celebration, Fairouz’s poignant song, Zahrat al-Mada’en, played, emphasising the heavy-handed sombreness of her forlorn existence, which revolved around her unwavering commitment to her cause.
The series in question was prominent in the early nineties, more than four decades after the Nakba of 1948. But despite the passage of time, our perceptions of Palestinians haven’t evolved; Palestinians remain superficially categorised as either resolute in their determination or as victims – or, when deviating from these expectations, as opportunists.