The Orientalist bias is right there in the first paragraph of the New York Times report about Rashida Tlaib’s grandmother, who was waiting in occupied Palestine for a visit from the congresswoman that may now never come. Reporter Isabel Kershner described Muftiya Tlaib as
a 90-year-old woman [who] ran a string of wooden prayer beads through her gnarled figures on Friday, silently reciting the 99 names of Allah. . .
“Allah” is the Arabic word for “God.” Why not translate it? When the Times reports on people in France or Spain, they are not described as praying to “Dieu” or “Dios.” What’s more, the Times would never have a Jewish Israeli worshipping “Yahweh.”
This is basic Orientalism: Arabs, Palestinians, Muslims — they are fundamentally different from the rest of us. Even the “God” they worship is not quite the same — but a mysterious, exotic, foreign-sounding entity. This is how the press other-izes Arabs.
The implied subtext is: You can’t trust them, they don’t behave in the same way that the rest of us do. When they resist Israel’s occupation and theft of their land, they are motivated by some primitive, irrational force, beyond our ability to understand. So you don’t really need to reason or negotiate with them. In fact, you probably can’t.