Since the Arab uprisings began in late 2010, Palestine has seemed to recede to the margins of Arab discourse. The agenda has been understandably dominated by intensely urgent issues such as the war in Syria, domestic upheavals and uprisings, and the World Cup. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s quixotic efforts to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process captured little attention.
What did Palestine’s relatively declining place in Arab discourse really mean, though? For many analysts, especially in the West and Israel, it signaled a nail in the coffin of theories of linkage and the relevance of the Palestinian issue. For others, it was just a matter of the news cycle, since Palestine hadn’t had the mass demonstrations on the Tahrir Square model or the mass slaughter of Syria’s model.
The new round of violence between Israel and Gaza puts these competing hypotheses to the test: Has the Palestinian issue really lost its centrality to Arab identity or did it retain the latent power to galvanize Arab attention? As a simple, preliminary test, I searched the Twitter proxy service Topsy for all tweets in Arabic about Syria, Iraq and Gaza over the last month. The results are pretty striking...
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