The Palestinian Perception of America after 9/11

  • Camille Mansour
Part of the The CERI Series in International Relations and Political Economy book series (CERI)


It is difficult to say anything new about Palestinian perceptions of America after 9/11; all what can be done is to rearrange, to categorize, to compare. One way to categorize is to say that Palestinians do not all have the same perception of America, and that it is necessary to distinguish between different Palestinian groups according to certain criteria. These would include socioeconomic class; political affiliation; whether people are from an urban environment, a village, or a refugee camp; whether they are long-time residents of the West Bank and Gaza, “returnees” arriving after the signing of the Oslo accords, or refugees living outside Palestine in Lebanon, Syria, or Jordan. I cannot pretend to be able to describe the perceptions of each group or sub-group, but perhaps such a systematic enquiry, while important as a research project, is not necessary for our purposes here. Rather, it seems to me that our purpose is determined by why we are interested in Palestinian perceptions, in other words, what is at stake as far as these perceptions are concerned. Since perceptions of the “other” are linked to perceptions of oneself (in many ways being a kind of self-affirmation), I think that the answer lies in what these perceptions say that is meaningful about future trends as seen by the perceiving actor (in this case, the Palestinians), about actions they might undertake, about the object perceived (in this case, America), and finally about how these images, mirror-images, and counter-images might affect the policies of the various actors (in this case, the United States, Israel, and the European and Arab countries).


Arab Country Gaza Strip Peace Process Clinton Administration Palestinian Authority 
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  1. 1.
    James J. Zogby, What Arabs Think: Values, Beliefs and Concerns (Utica, NY: Zogby International and Arab Thought Foundation, 2002), p. 63.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    British Council, Connecting Future Research: Palestinian Territories Summary Report (London: British Council, 2002), p. 2.Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    Olivier Roy, L’Islam mondialisé (Paris: Seuil, 2002), p. 33. The fact is that little has been heard about individual Palestinians being members of bin Laden’s Al Qaeda (see ibid., p. 23). So far, nobody (whether Palestinian Islamists, Israeli, or American spokespersons) has claimed a link between Palestinian Islamic organizations and Al Qaeda.Google Scholar
  4. 16.
    For field study validating the “anti-dominance” explanation over the “clash of civilizations” explanation, among a sample of students at the American University of Beirut, see: Jim Sidanius et al., Why Do They Hate Us? The Clash of Civilizations or the Politics of Dominance, New York: Russell Sage Foundation, Working Paper no. 187, 2002.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Tony Judt and Denis Lacorne 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Camille Mansour

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