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"This Is Jerusalem Calling"

"This Is Jerusalem Calling": State Radio in Mandate Palestine

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  • Book Info
    "This Is Jerusalem Calling"
    Book Description:

    Modeled after the BBC, the Palestine Broadcasting Service was launched in 1936 to serve as the national radio station of Mandate Palestine, playing a pivotal role in shaping the culture of the emerging middle class in the region. Despite its significance, the PBS has become nearly forgotten by scholars of twentieth-century Middle Eastern studies. Drawn extensively from British and Israeli archival sources,"This Is Jerusalem Calling"traces the compelling history of the PBS's twelve years of operation, illuminating crucial aspects of a period when Jewish and Arab national movements simultaneously took form.

    Andrea L. Stanton describes the ways in which the mandate government used broadcasting to cater to varied audiences, including rural Arab listeners, in an attempt to promote a "modern" vision of Arab Palestine as an urbane, politically sophisticated region. In addition to programming designed for the education of the peasantry, religious broadcasting was created to appeal to all three main faith communities in Palestine, which ultimately may have had a disintegrating, separatist effect. Stanton's research brings to light the manifestation of Britain's attempts to prepare its mandate state for self-governance while supporting the aims of Zionists. While the PBS did not create the conflict between Arab Palestinians and Zionists, the service reflected, articulated, and magnified such tensions during an era when radio broadcasting was becoming a key communication tool for emerging national identities around the globe.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-74750-0
    Subjects: Performing Arts, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Tuning in to Palestine’s Radio History
    (pp. 1-28)

    On the penultimate day of March 1936, as Palestine was moving from the pale gray of winter into the lush green of spring, the Palestine Broadcasting Service (PBS) began radio broadcasts from a new transmitter in Ramallah. The mandate state was well into its second decade, with the contours of British governance and Arab and Zionist contestation firmly and clearly established. The territory of Palestine—mentioned in the Bible, central to the three Abrahamic faiths, and ruled by the Ottoman Empire for centuries as part of its “Arab provinces”—was given after World War I to Great Britain to govern...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Selling Radio, Selling Radios: Advertising Sets in Mandate Palestine
    (pp. 29-75)

    In order to answer the question why radio merits study as a historical subject it is necessary to resuscitate an awareness of the strangeness of radio—an awareness that has been lost in the seven decades since its widespread introduction throughout the world. “Radio” refers both to the object and to the broadcasting phenomena accessible through it. In earlier decades the two were often but not always distinguished by employing the termradio setfor the object;alat al-idhaʿawas used in Arabic. (These may seem obvious points—after all, the same blurring occurs with the wordtelevision. But the language...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Peasants into Palestinians: Rural and School Broadcasting
    (pp. 76-122)

    In the wake of the 1936 general strike, some in the Arab community viewed the PBS with suspicion. Listeners of all communities criticized the station for its censored news broadcasts—a censorship more stringent than that enforced on Palestinian newspapers or on the BBC’s Arabic broadcasts. Yet Palestinians continued to tune in, and by 1938 the station was building a local audience. The willingness of prominent Palestinians to join the station administration—including the well-known poet and nationalist Ibrahim Tuqan, who served as its first Arabic section subdirector—contributed to its credibility as a local institution. Listeners were also attracted...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Broadcasting a Nationalist Modernity: The PBS Arabic Section
    (pp. 123-151)

    This chapter examines the changes that World War II brought to the Palestine Broadcasting Service: tightening of home and mandate government controls over the station, including closer censor scrutiny over what was broadcast on air and the requisitioning of broadcasting hours for Allied programming. Despite the reassertion of government prerogative over the station and its broadcasts, the PBS Arabic section conveyed the message of Arab Palestinian progress most strongly during this period. These messages of progress centered on the educated, “modern” women who were guest broadcasters, reflecting the nationalist modern vision of ʿAjaj Nuwayhid, who led the Arabic section during...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Putting Religion on the Radio
    (pp. 152-167)

    Much of the PBS’s programming focused on cultural programs, which largely meant music and talks. Yet religion also played a crucial role—in entertainment programming and as its own broadcasting category. For the mandate government, a British Protestant institution attempting to govern Palestine’s internally diverse Muslim, Jewish, and Christian populations, the state’s relationship with religious institutions and practices required careful negotiation. To legitimize its presence, both within Palestine and before the League of Nations Mandate Commission, the mandate government followed Ottoman legal precedents on many issues, including religious ones.¹ But there were some areas of governance for which no Ottoman...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Claiming the PBS: Whose National Radio?
    (pp. 168-194)

    ʿAjaj Nuwayhid and Ibrahim Tuqan found that working oppositionally within the colonial structure of the British mandate allowed them to use the PBS as a means of supporting a nationalist modernity for Arab Palestine. However, this was only one possible Arab community response to the station. When the station was first established, it was by no means certain that Palestine’s Arab community would accept, respond to, and even identify with the station. After all, from all external appearances the PBS was a “colonial institution,” created and controlled by the colonialesque mandate British state. According to Frantz Fanon, one of the...

  10. CONCLUSION: The Multiple Afterlives of the PBS
    (pp. 195-200)

    The mandate for Palestine officially ended at midnight on May 15, 1948. What did this mean for the Palestine Broadcasting Service? Like other government institutions, it had a postmandate plan intended to provide administrative continuity and uninterrupted service—a plan soon overtaken by events. The station’s footprint remained: the buildings and transmitter were still there and continued to broadcast on the same frequency, but the station’s name, identity, and personnel changed. Physically, the station split: the broadcasting house, located in West Jerusalem, ended up in Israeli hands; the Ramallah transmitter, which had been taken by the Arab Legion, came under...

  11. TIMELINE The PBS and Mandate Palestine
    (pp. 201-202)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 203-234)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 235-246)
  14. Index
    (pp. 247-258)