Palestinians: Abbas Cracks Down on Media, World Looks Other Way
These groups [human rights, media, Western donor governments] see only what the Israeli authorities do. On the side of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, or Hamas in the Gaza Strip, they "see no evil." For Western governments, so long as the Palestinian Authority leadership says it is committed to the peace process with Israel, its leaders are allowed to rule as a dictatorship.
The Palestinian Authority also apparently does not want the outside world, especially international donors, to hear about the financial corruption or violations of freedom of the media. It seems to want criticism to be directed only toward Israel in the hope that this will invite international pressure on the Israelis and force them to accept at the negotiating able all of Abbas's demands .
The Palestinian Authority has resumed its security crackdown on Palestinian journalists and bloggers in the West Bank.
But the crackdown has thus far sparked protests only from Palestinian journalists.
Western governments that fund the Palestinian Authority continue to turn a blind eye to the breach of freedom of expression in the West Bank.
International human rights groups and organizations purporting to defend freedom of the media also continue to ignore the violations against freedom of expression under the Palestinian Authority.
These groups only see what the Israeli authorities do. On the side of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, or Hamas in the Gaza Strip, they "see no evil."
They know about the assaults on Palestinian journalists by Palestinian security forces. But they choose to bury their heads in the sand. It is more convenient and safer to criticize Israel than the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
For Western governments, so long as the Palestinian Authority leadership says it is committed to the peace process with Israel, its leaders are free to rule as a dictatorship.
Western diplomats based in Ramallah say they are fully aware of the anti-democratic measures taken by the Palestinian Authority. But, they add, these measures are an "internal Palestinian issue" that does not concern the international community.
The silence of the international community drove Palestinian journalists to announce that they have had enough and that the time has come to stage public protests against the crackdown.
Scores of journalists staged a protest outside the headquarters of the Palestinian government in Ramallah in protest against the arrest and assault on some of their colleagues by Palestinian security forces.
The journalists called for an end to the persecution of Palestinian journalists and held banners that asked, "Where is freedom of the media?" and, "No to repression and incarceration of journalists."
Palestinian journalists protesting in Ramallah against the arrest and assault of their colleagues by Palestinian security forces, Nov 14, 2013. (Image source: Screenshot of YouTube video by Wattan TV)
The protest, which was almost completely ignored by Western media outlets operating in the West Bank, came after two incidents in which Palestinian security officers arrested journalists.
In the first incident, Palestinian policemen raided the home of George Canawati, director of Bethlehem Radio 2000, and arrested him in what eyewitnesses described as a violent manner.
Canawati, a Christian from the town of Bet Sahour, near Bethlehem, was accused of "slander" for criticizing the commander of the Bethlehem Police, Col. Omar Shalabi, during his weekly radio program.
The following day, Canawati appeared in a Bethlehem court with a black eye and a ripped shirt. He was quoted as saying that the interrogators had physically assaulted him before and during his interrogation.
In the second incident, Palestinian security officers arrested Sami al-Saee, a reporter for the Wattan news website in the West Bank city of Tulkarem. The Palestinian Authority did not offer any explanation as to why al-Saee was arrested.
Hours after the Ramallah protest, Palestinian security officers raided the home of another journalist and blogger, Esmat Abdel Khalek, and confiscated documents and a laptop.
Abdel Khalek, who teaches journalism at a West Bank university, was arrested last year on suspicion of posting critical comments on her Facebook account about the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas.
No reason was given for the latest raid on her home in Ramallah, although Palestinian journalists said that it could be linked to her ongoing criticism of the Palestinian Authority leadership.
"It's harmful and shameful that we the Palestinian journalists are being arrested and intimidated by our Palestinian Authority," a group of Palestinian journalists wrote in a letter to their prime minister, Rami Hamdallah. "We call for an investigation into the arrest and humiliation of George Canawati, as well as the detention of Sami al-Saee for more than 12 hours in Tulkarem."
The Palestinian Authority apparently does not want journalists to report about issues that could reflect negatively on its leaders — possibly the reason why criticism of Palestinian leaders as often denounced by the Palestinian Authority as an act of "treason."
The latest clampdown on the media is aimed at deterring journalists from criticizing the Palestinian leadership; in the eyes of the Palestinian Authority, a journalist is supposed to serve as a spokesman for his president and government.
The Palestinian Authority also apparently does not want the outside world, especially international donors, to hear about the financial corruption and violations of freedom of the media. It wants criticism to be directed only toward Israel in the hope that this will invite international pressure on the Israelis and force them to accept at the negotiating table all of Abbas's demands.
Reader comments on this item
|Yeah right. [25 words]||Hass||Nov 20, 2013 01:12|
|Re: Palestinians: Abbas Cracks Down on Media, World Looks Other Way [74 words]||Mark Matthias||Nov 19, 2013 21:20|
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by Lawrence A. Franklin
There is no change in U.S policy toward Israel that will win any true allies in the Middle East, despite what Arab leaders claim. They often assert that if only we would solve the Palestinian-Israeli problem first, relations would improve. This is a tactic. These leaders employ it simply to divert Western officials from making demands on them, instead of on Israel. The reality is that most Arabs view the U.S., its European allies and Israel with ineradicable contempt.
by Alan M. Dershowitz
by Pierre Rehov
For terrorists, the death of innocent children is irrelevant. In a society that promotes martyrdom as the ultimate sign of success, the death of innocent children can sometimes even be seen as a public relations blessing.
In every action, intent is paramount. There should never be a moral equivalence painted between the deliberate killing of civilians, and a retaliation that tragically leads to casualties among civilians.
There is, however, one small difference: in the Middle East, reporters are threatened, except in Israel. Their choice becomes a simple one: promote the Palestinian point of view or stop working in the West Bank. Keep the eye of the camera dirty or lose your job. This show should not go on.
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"They have money and oil, but don't care about the Palestinians, even though we are Arabs and Muslims like them. What a Saudi or Qatari sheikh spends in one night in London, Paris or Las Vegas could solve the problem of tens of thousands of Palestinians." — Palestinian human rights activist.
"Some Arabs were hoping that Israel would rid them of Hamas." — Ashraf Salameh, Gaza City.
"Some of the Arab regimes are interested in getting rid of the resistance in order to remove the burden of the Palestinian cause, which threatens the stability of their regimes." — Mustafa al-Sawwaf, Palestinian political analyst.
"Most Arabs are busy these days with bloody battles waged by their leaders, who are struggling to survive. These battles are raging in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya and the Palestinian Authority." — Mohammed al-Musafer, columnist.
"The Arab leaders don't know what they want from the Gaza Strip. They don't even know what they want from Israel." — Yusef Rizka, Hamas official.
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European elites, who take pride in viewing the EU as a "postmodern" superpower, have long argued that military hard-power is illegitimate in the 21st century. Unfortunately for Europe, Russia (along with China and Iran) has not embraced the EU's fantastical soft-power worldview, in which "climate change" is now said to pose the greatest threat to European security.
For its part, the European Commission, the EU's administrative branch, which never misses an opportunity to boycott institutions in Israel, has issued only a standard statement on the shooting down of MH17 in Ukraine, which reads: "The European Union will continue to follow this issue very closely."
The EU has made only half-hearted attempts to develop alternatives to its dependency on Russian oil and gas.