Friday, December 31, 2010

Repression in the Palestinian Territories Escalates

What the politically correct liberal media don’t talk about
Dissent among Palestinians against Palestinian National Authority policies is not tolerated and is often met with repression and brutal force, according to Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim journalist writing for the Hudson Institute.
It is no secret that terrorist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, uses repressive measures to quash opposition. But the Palestinian Authority has been held up by the international liberal media as the antithesis of the supposedly brutal Israeli security forces. The truth, however, is that the PA is conducting a campaign using violence and intimidation to silence critics and opposition figures—and journalists who would report objectively.
Abu Toameh reports that on a number of occasions over the past two years, Palestinians who have publicly protested against policies of the PA have been assaulted and beaten by Palestinian policemen. Some who have been held in Palestinian prisons or detention camps in the West Bank have said they have been tortured, and hundreds are being held without trial. Abu Toameh reports:
Even Palestinian government employees are now complaining about the iron-fist policy of [PA President Mahmoud] Abbas and [PA Prime Minister Salam] Fayyad. In recent weeks, several employees said they received warnings from the Palestinian security services and senior Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah not to meet with “Jewish correspondents” or any other foreign journalist suspected of being “pro-Israel.”
In May 2008, the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group released a report titled “Palestinian Authority Political Arrests, Illegal Detainment, and Torture,” which detailed extra-judicial brutality under the leadership of Abbas, and Yasser Arafat before him. “In the last 14 years, the Palestinian Authority has committed a disturbing trend of human rights violations against the Palestinian people,” the report read, adding that over the previous 10 months, “there has been an escalation in political arrests, illegal detentions, and torture committed by the Fatah government in the West Bank.”
Only a quarter of Palestinians in the West Bank believe they can criticize the Palestinian Authority, a recent public opinion poll carried out by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found. There is also a lack of media freedom in the West Bank, evidenced by the fact that the three major newspapers are controlled by the Palestinian government. Abu Toameh reported in October that, in a further restriction of media freedom,
the Palestinian Authority government has announced that journalists who wish to report “accurately” on Palestinian life are urged to do so directly with Palestinians.

The Palestinian government’s decision is aimed at sending a warning to journalists who dare to report anything that may reflect negatively on its reputation.

It is not clear why representatives of the foreign media have not protested against the new restrictions directed against them.

The Western-funded Palestinian government is actually telling foreign journalists that from now on they should report only on matters that shed a positive light on the Palestinian Authority and its leaders.

By insisting that foreign journalists arrange their visits to the Palestinian territories only through Palestinians, the Palestinian government is proving that its attitude toward freedom of the media is not much different than that of Hamas, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Bashar Assad.
The PA’s new measure came in response to a plan by the Jerusalem-based Media Central organization to arrange a visit to Jericho for Israel-based foreign journalists.
Fawaz Turki, a Palestinian author based in Washington, writes in an article for Gulf News: “[H]ere’s the painful truth: An independent Palestine, as envisioned by the current leadership—a handful of men with a powerful security force whose intrusion into citizens’ daily lives and violent repression of these citizens’ right to free speech is well-documented—will more than likely pan out as a police state.”
In addition to the suppression of independent thought in the media and academia, says Turki, the PA’s minister for religious affairs now dictates the messages given in mosques across the West Bank each week. In recent months, Mahmoud Habbash has been “sending e-mail missives to the 1,800 mosques across the West Bank dictating, word for word, the Friday sermon that every imam should deliver to his congregation.” This policy is enforced in a “grotesquely authoritarian manner,” says Turki, with uncooperative imams being either incarcerated or terminated.
Much of this repression comes as a result of the power struggle between the PA and Hamas. Indeed, the Palestinian people have always been the losers in the power games of Palestinian leaders—whether their aim is to destroy Israel or to maintain their own positions.
From the time of Yasser Arafat’s decades-long dictatorial rule, Palestinian leaders have consistently kept down their own people, essentially using them as a weapon against Israel in the court of public opinion. This is despite the PA being among the world’s leading per capita recipients of international funding—much of which has been siphoned off for corrupt officials.
But, as Jonathan S. Tobin wrote for Commentary earlier this year, “there remains little interest on the part of the media in exposing Palestinian misdeeds, besides which Israel’s foibles appear quite insignificant.” Tobin referred to the imprisonment in August of seven Palestinian academics by the PA, a story which apparently only one Western correspondent reported.
That much of this oppression is aimed at Fatah’s main political opponent Hamas does not change the fact that Western media give the PA a free pass on the use of brutality and repression of freedoms while condemning Israel continually for its actions against its terrorist enemies.
The true underlying reason why the Jews can never do anything right according to general international opinion is a fascinating study, tracing back thousands of years.