Sex, Lies and DVDs: Propaganda in the Palestinian Territories

Sex, Lies and DVDs: Propaganda in the Palestinian Territories

JERUSALEM -- Ever since this June's open warfare between rival Palestinians of Fatah and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the accusations, recriminations, smears and hoaxes have been flying wildly in the Palestinian Territories. In addition to the violence that still pits supporters of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, against followers of the more secular Fatah, the parties have launched elaborate publicity campaigns to bolster their own side and discredit the other in the eyes of fellow Palestinians and the rest of the world.

One of the hoaxes, designed to make Fatah look more reliable to the West and to Israel, even made its way into the pages of the Washington Post. Others, targeting Palestinian audiences, play on that society's conservative social values and the already-tarnished reputations of long-standing political and paramilitary leaders. But perhaps the most dramatic of these efforts, a hoax that was uncovered before it got very far, sought to heighten fears that Hamas will turn Gaza, where it has ruled since overpowering Fatah last June, into a Taliban-style enclave of religious extremism.

Since Hamas took over Gaza, it is true that more women are wearing the Hijab, or Islamic veil. It is also true that there have been some attacks on Christian Palestinians, and that Internet cafes have been burned.

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