The Voice of Silence: Patterns of Digital Participation Among Palestinian Women in East Jerusalem

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

The Voice of Silence: Patterns of Digital Participation Among Palestinian Women in East Jerusalem


  • Maya de Vries Department of Communication and Journalism, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
  • Maya Majlaton Department of Communication and Journalism, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel


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Abstract:  Facebook is one of the world’s largest social networks, with more than 2,7 billion active users globally. It is also one of the most dominant platforms and one of the platforms most commonly used by Arabs. However, connecting via Facebook and sharing content cannot be taken for granted. While many studies have focused on the role played by networked platforms in empowering women in the Arab world in general and on feminist movements in the Arab Spring, few have explored Palestinian women’s use of Facebook. During and after the Arab Spring, social media was used as a tool for freedom of expression in the Arab world. However, Palestinians in East Jerusalem using social media witnessed a decrease in freedom of expression, especially after the Gaza war in 2014. This article focuses on the Facebook usage patterns and political participation of young adult Palestinian women living in the contested space of East Jerusalem. These women live under dynamic power struggles as they belong to a traditionally conservative society, live within a situation of intractable conflict, and are under state control as a minority group. Qualitative thematic analysis of 13 in-depth interviews reveals three patterns of usage, all related to monitoring: state monitoring, kinship monitoring, and self-monitoring. The article conceptualises these online behaviours as “participation avoidance,” a term describing users’ (non-)communicative practices in which the mundane choices of when, why, and how to participate also mirror users’ choices of when, why, and how to avoid.

Keywords:  Facebook; Israeli-Palestinian conflict; Jerusalem; participation; women

Published:   17 December 2021


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v9i4.4391


© Maya de Vries, Maya Majlaton. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.