The New Regressive Leftist Media
This book is the first comprehensive research conducted on the pan-Arab TV station al-Mayadeen – an important representative of the post-2011 generation of Arab satellite news media. Likewise, it is an investigation of a growing political trend and ideological discourse in the Arab world, which the book identifies as The New Regressive Left. The book sheds light on overlooked parts of the Arab population, which neither identified with the vision of the young activists initiating the uprisings, nor with the ambition of the growing Islamist tendency that followed. Rather it voices a grouping of Shia Muslims, religious minorities, parts of the Arab Left, secular cultural producers, and supports of the resistance movements brought together by their shared fear of the future.
Drawing on a wide variety of programmes from the station’s first four years and on interviews with staff members, the book captures how a TV station can play a role in the production of ideology through e.g. its composition of programmes, collaborations, events, iconization of cultural figures, choice of aesthetics, as well as through its recycling of cultural heritage and already existing ideological concepts. Overall, four ideological core concepts emerges, namely: the support of the resistance, the rejection of Sunni Islamism, the acceptance of authoritarianism, and the challenging of neoliberalism. Taking seriously a media outlet such as al-Mayadeen and the worldview driving an ideological discourse such as The New Regressive Left seems more acute than ever if we want to grasp the developments in a post-2011 Arab world.
4. Celebrating the Muqawama through Words, Images and Songs: The Case of Palestine
Palestine is a topic that is ever present at al-Mayadeen – in the news stream and programmes, in the topics being discussed, and through the guests being invited.1 When al-Mayadeen argues for bringing Palestine back to the top of the political agenda, the underlying argument propagated is that the past years of Arab uprisings have led to confusion, a loss of focus and an abandonment of the fundamental issue for the Arab world. However, al-Mayadeen does not only give Palestine and the resistance to Israeli occupation a high priority. The station has, from its earliest days, consciously aimed at promoting a particular image of the Palestinians as active and heroic rather than passive or victimised – whether as a soldier in combat or an intellectual engaged in art and culture. In this chapter, I move deeper into the role of muqawama at al-Mayadeen, as this constitutes one of the four main ideological pillars or core concepts of the cross-ideological alliance that is coming into existence at the station. I investigate al-Mayadeen’s approach to Palestine and al-Mayadeen’s strategy to counteract the mainstream narrative of victimhood by telling a more heroic story of the Palestinians – a narrative that constitutes an important element of the ideological discourse of The New Regressive Left.
Al-Mayadeen’s focus on Palestine is not a new phenomenon; rather, the station builds on a well-known practice in the Arab world of evoking the Palestinian cause as a promotional strategy that can unite the public. For nearly 70 years, the struggle...
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