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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The fallen hope for Palestinian press freedom

Jerusalem Post reporter Khaled Abu Toameh reflects on the lack of freedom of the press in the Palestinian Authority.

Why was there a crackdown? Because those who came with Arafat from Tunis came with a different mentality. They did not live here. Most of them had never spoken to an Israeli Jew in their lives. As such, they came with what could be called an "Arab regime" mentality, like that of Arab dictators. They wanted to make sure that the Palestinian media was 100-percent under control. They secured that control by appointing editors, closing down newspapers and funding competing ones.


THREE YEARS ago I began reporting daily for The Jerusalem Post. The irony is that as an Arab Muslim I feel freer to write for this Jewish paper than I do for any Arab newspaper. I have no problem writing for any Arab newspaper if it will provide me with a free platform and not censor my writing. My Post editors do not interfere with my writing.


Unfortunately, many of my foreign colleagues have tended to ignore the voice of the man in the street, contenting themselves with interviews of this or that official. To understand what Palestinians are really thinking, you need to sit in the cafes and talk to the man on the street. There were days when I would go to Nablus, for example, and hear Palestinians telling me: "You know what? We really hope the Jews will come back and reoccupy Nablus. It's not because we love Israel, but because we're fed up with the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian corruption."

As Charles Johnson says, read it all.


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