A few years ago, Palestinians turned on their televisions and watched Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announce, at long last, a peace deal with Israel—that is, Mahmoud Abbas the 13th, at a time 500 years in the future.
The satire was the work of Watan ala Watar, Palestine’s first-ever televised political satire show. A few years ago, in the course of researching our book, we visited the West Bank and met the comedians behind Watan ala Watar, Arabic for Homeland on a String. The trio had enjoyed a surprising amount of editorial freedom since they hit the airwaves in 2009, especially considering their weekly 15-minute show ran on state-run television. No one was off limits: Palestinian leaders, Israeli negotiators, Osama Bin Laden, Barack Obama. One skit featured an Islamist judge in Gaza making eyes at a male courtroom reporter.
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