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Khaled Abu Toameh: How to help the Palestinians

An excerpt from another great piece by Khaled Abu Toameh. Unfortunately, for many people “pro-Palestinian” necessarily means “anti-Israel” and vice versa. In my experience, two kinds of people usually make such mistakes:
1) uneducated (of whom surprisingly large number are reporters, editors and politicians), and
2) malicious, who often know how to manipulate the first kind.
Unfortunately, when subject turns to the Middle East, often emotions take priority to facts.

How To Help the Palestinians by Khaled Abu Toameh (Hudson NY)

The leaders of the Palestinian Authority do not want the international community to hear anything about massive abuse of human rights and intimidation of journalists that its security forces are practicing almost on a daily basis in the West Bank.

They want the US and the rest of the world to continue believing that peace will prevail tomorrow morning only if Israel stops construction in the settlements and removes a number of empty caravans from remote and isolated hilltops in the West Bank.

The Palestinians do not need a dictatorship that harasses and terrorizes journalists, and that is responsible for the death of detainees in its prisons. In the Arab world we already have enough dictatorships.

The Palestinians do not need additional security forces, militias and armed gangs. In fact, there are too many of them, both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

American and European taxpayers’ money should be invested in building hospitals, schools and housing projects. Investing billions of dollars in training thousands of policemen and establishing new security forces and prisons will not advance the cause of peace and coexistence.

There is no doubt that many Palestinians would love to abandon the culture of uniform and weapons in favor of improved infrastructure and medical care.

As for the international media, it’s time to abandon the policy of double standards in covering the Israeli-Arab conflict. For many years, the mainstream media in the US and Europe turned a blind eye to stories about financial corruption under Yasser Arafat. The result was that Arafat and his cronies got away with stealing billions of dollars that had been donated to the Palestinians by the Americans and Europeans.

Back then, many foreign journalists said they believed that the stories about financial corruption in the Palestinian areas were “Zionist propaganda.” Other journalists said they would rather file an anti-Israel story because this way they would become more popular with their editors and publishers.

Recently, a Palestinian TV crew was stopped at a checkpoint in the West Bank, where soldiers confiscated a tape and erased its content.

This incident, hardly received any coverage in the mainstream media in the US and Europe.

The reason? The perpetrators were not IDF soldiers, but Palestinian Authority security officers. And the checkpoint did not belong to the IDF; it was, in fact, a Palestinian checkpoint.

The story of the detention of the TV crew — which, by the way, belonged to Al-Jazeera and the erasure of the footage did not make it to the mainstream media even after Reporters Without Borders, an organization that defends journalists worldwide, issued a statement strongly condemning the assault on the freedom of the media.

“Journalists must be able to work freely,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The erasure of this video footage proves that the Palestinian security forces try to cover up their human rights violations. This incident should be the subject of an enquiry by the Palestinian Authority.”

Walid Omari, the head of the Qatar-based satellite TV station’s operations in the West Bank, told Reporters Without Borders that his crew was preparing a report on the death of a detainee at the Palestinian Authority detention center in Hebron that might have been the result of torture.

“We were the only ones to investigate this case and we did it despite strong pressure from the Palestinian Authority,” Omari said.

Al Jazeera’s Hebron correspondent went with a cameraman to the victim’s home in the village of Dura, where they interviewed the family and filmed the body.

As they were returning to Hebron in a vehicle displaying the word “Press,” they were detained by Palestinian Authority security forces at a checkpoint and taken to a police station, where the video footage they had just recorded was erased. They were allowed to go after an hour.

One can only imagine the international media’s reaction had the TV crew been detained by Israeli security forces. Anti-Israel groups and individuals would have cited the incident as further proof of the “occupation’s brutal measures” against the freedom of the media.

Moreover, it is highly likely that Israeli human rights organizations like Betselem would have dispatched researchers to the field to investigate the incident had IDF soldiers been involved.

Yet foreign journalists and human rights activists working in Israel and the Palestinian territories either chose to ignore the story or never heard about it simply because it was lacking in an anti-Israel angle.

One can also imagine how the media and human rights organizations would have reacted had a Palestinian died in Israeli prison after allegedly being tortured.

RELATED
Pro-Palestinian vs. anti-Israel
Pro-Palestinian vs. anti-Israel (US campus redux)

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June 26, 2009 Posted by | Palestinians | , , | Leave a comment

Pro-Palestinian vs. anti-Israel (US campus redux)

On Campus: The Pro-Palestinians’ Real Agenda

Khaled Abu Toameh, a brilliant Palestinian journalist, was surprised at the intensity of anti-Israel feelings on some US campuses: “Listening to some students and professors on these campuses, for a moment I thought I was sitting opposite a Hamas spokesman or a would-be-suicide bomber.”

I was told, for instance, that Israel has no right to exist, that Israel’s “apartheid system” is worse than the one that existed in South Africa and that Operation Cast Lead was launched only because Hamas was beginning to show signs that it was interested in making peace and not because of the rockets that the Islamic movement was launching at Israeli communities.

I was also told that top Fatah operative Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life terms in prison for masterminding terror attacks against Israeli civilians, was thrown behind bars simply because he was trying to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

What struck me more than anything else was the fact that many of the people I met on the campuses supported Hamas and believed that it had the right to “resist the occupation” even if that meant blowing up children and women on a bus in downtown Jerusalem.

Here’s the personality type, sounds familiar?

The good news is that these remarks were made only by a minority of people on the campuses who describe themselves as “pro-Palestinian,” although the overwhelming majority of them are not Palestinians or even Arabs or Muslims.

The bad news is that these groups of hard-line activists/thugs are trying to intimidate anyone who dares to say something that they don’t like to hear.

When the self-designated “pro-Palestinian” lobbyists are unable to challenge the facts presented by a speaker, they resort to verbal abuse.

He definitely has a point, my emphasis here:

The so-called pro-Palestinian “junta” on the campuses has nothing to offer other than hatred and de-legitimization of Israel. If these folks really cared about the Palestinians, they would be campaigning for good government and for the promotion of values of democracy and freedom in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Their hatred for Israel and what it stands for has blinded them to a point where they no longer care about the real interests of the Palestinians, namely the need to end the anarchy and lawlessness, and to dismantle all the armed gangs that are responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent Palestinians over the past few years.

The majority of these activists openly admit that they have never visited Israel or the Palestinian territories. They don’t know -and don’t want to know – that Jews and Arabs here are still doing business together and studying together and meeting with each other on a daily basis because they are destined to live together in this part of the world. They don’t want to hear that despite all the problems life continues and that ordinary Arab and Jewish parents who wake up in the morning just want to send their children to school and go to work before returning home safely and happily.

What is happening on the U.S. campuses is not about supporting the Palestinians as much as it is about promoting hatred for the Jewish state. It is not really about ending the “occupation” as much as it is about ending the existence of Israel.

March 25, 2009 Posted by | Anti-Zionism, Education, US | , , , , | 1 Comment