Snapchat’s #WestBankLive – nice try, but still not good enough

Palestine finally got a chance to be featured on Snapchat when the West Bank Live story went up on Thursday – but is it problematic in its own right? AAISHA DADI PATEL weighs in.

After the uproar earlier this week over Snapchat’s decision to feature Tel Aviv as a part of its Live feature – which depicts daily life in cities around the world – the social-media platform responded to users who demanded to see the Palestinian side of life by featuring a West Bank Live story on Thursday.

The story was generally well-received, with Palestinians sharing elements of their culture and daily lives.

But there were criticisms about what was filtered out, and about the fact that the city didn’t get a flag recognising its country.

However, the story did contribute towards giving a legitimate glimpse into life in Palestine.

WEst Bank 3But the feature was still open to criticism. Palestine consists of the West Bank and Gaza, two distinct pieces areas of land, separated by Israel and the occupation, and the Live story focused on only one of these.  

Users complained that while West Bank Live went some way to show the hardships of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, it didn’t show Gaza, the part of Palestine that suffered the bombing that destroyed 18,000 homes and killed more than 2,000 people, mostly civilians, during Operation Protective Edge last year.

Hey @Snapchat, I demand a #GazaLive story. Yallah, get on it. — F. (@Palestinianism) July 9, 2015

In its own way, as with Tel Aviv Live, it’s also a whitewash of the Arab-Israeli conflict. West Bank Live, which among other things featured Palestine through shots of the Nativity Church, where Jesus is said to have been born, and of people making falafel, also took the focus off of Gaza City, which is arguably most affected by Israel’s occupation.

As with most things in the Middle East, this pair of Live stories could have been seen as a win win – or a lose lose for those seeking to legitimise their state.