Critiquing Al Jazeera’s Palestine Visuals
By Ahmad Karakira
Israel’s colonial plan of occupying as much Palestinian land as possible is ongoing, as Palestinians are systematically losing their property under the pretext of Israeli laws.
Days before Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister, was supposed to announce the annexation of the Northern Dead Sea and Jordan Valley, Mohammed Haddad from Al Jazeera produced numerous visuals explaining the Israeli annexations of Palestinian land.
Starting from year 1917 and the British Mandate on Palestine, passing through the Nakba, and observing the constant occupation of Palestinian land, Haddad offered different visuals about Palestine and Israeli violations, as well as former US President Trump’s vision of the “Deal of the Century,” all to be critiqued.
To begin with, Haddad created a visual showing how UN members voted on the 1947 UN partition plan of Palestine, explaining through a map the land percentages that Palestinians, Jews, and the international mandate will get. What Haddad might have missed is visualizing the UN votes on the partition plan, as he only placed a long list of the countries who voted in small grey text without preattentive attributes.
Instead, the suggested alternative is producing a world map that visualizes the countries that voted with and against the partition plan, as well as the countries that did not vote on it. In his book, Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals, published in 2015, Knaflic stressed the importance of a clear text size as it affects the attention and the ability of the audience to remember the information given.
The year 1948 was decisive for Palestinians and Arabs, as in this year, the Nakba or the catastrophe happened when Zionist militias ethnically cleansed Palestinians and expelled them form their homeland. As a result, many Palestinians were forced to become refugees and were scattered all over the world in camps and other regions. In his visuals, using a pie chart, Haddad showed the distribution of the Palestinians around the world in percent. As , Knaflic mentioned in his book, it is recommended to avoid using pie charts and preferably find other alternative visuals because pie charts are uneasy to read.
The problem with pie charts is that they tend to create illusions for the audience with its huge and small slices or portions, especially when percentages are very close and similar. The suggested alternative to visualize the distribution of Palestinians around the world is through a bar graph that shows each region and the population of Palestinians there.
In the same context, Haddad from Al Jazeera, produced a map that shows the location of official UNRWA Palestinian refugee camps and the total number of refugees living in them. However, what this visual lacks is a clickable map that shows Palestine, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon, the names of the camps found there, and the population of the camp in each region.
Since there are 58 official UNRWA refugee camps with various populations and locations, the alternative is creating a basic scatter plot, where each dot holds the name of the camp, its location, and its population.
In conclusion, Haddad’s visuals are informative about the ongoing Israeli human rights violations and the annexations of the Palestinian land. The visuals only lacked few details such as more visualization and preattentative that would help audience understand, remember, and pay attention to the important details about the Palestinian cause.
The critique done would help in exploratory analysis, or as Knaflic called understanding what to showcase for the audience, especially if part of the audience was unfamiliar with the Palestinian cause and probably brainwashed by the Zionist narrative.
Knaflic, C. N. (2015). Storytelling with data: A data visualization guide for business professionals. John Wiley & Sons.