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Thursday, June 07, 2012

Abu Toameh: An Arab journalist cannot work in the 'Palestinian' territories

Lori Lowenthal Marcus reports on the state of news reporting in the 'Palestinian'-controlled territories. It's not pretty. The motto seems to be 'all the news we want reported.' And Khaled Abu Toameh, the Arab reporter who left the 'Palestinian'-controlled territories thirty years ago so that he could report freely says that Arab-speaking journalists can no longer work there.
But just as frightening as Arab Palestinian bloggers and journalists being arrested for posting on their Facebook pages is the steady drumbeat of pressure that is leading to a decrease in coverage by western journalists who, presumably, are not as vulnerable to the capricious selections for punishment designed to suppress criticism of the ruling regime.

In addition to whispered discussions being heard in Ramallah about the “Facebook Police” are the directives issued to western journalists to focus their reporting on “Israel’s ‘occupation’” and refrain from prying into alleged corruption committed by PA officials, because “nothing else is newsworthy and nothing else should be reported.”

Some western journalists have been warned not to work with Arabic speaking reporters who fail to toe the “All-Occupation, All The Time” reporting. This is how the PA controls not only their own media outlets, but those western outlets. All too many simply play along rather than stand up for press and speech freedoms and possibly risk losing access. For those journalists who behave and report primarily about the occupation, the rewards are access to senior officials. Senior PA officials told Arab Israeli journalist abu Toameh, “Even the Jews at Haaretz behave themselves and for that they are rewarded with interviews of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.”

It is not only individual journalists who are being intimidated, but entire news sites critical of the PA have been blocked on the internet. A report in late April revealed that several websites which had reported on corruption within the PA were blocked, including Inlight Press, which had revealed that the PA had been monitoring the phones of Mahmoud Abbas’s opponents.


So thirty years on, Khaled abu Toameh finds that the path he took away from censorship seems to have doubled back on itself. Rather than walking firmly on the precious path of western iconic freedoms of an unfettered press and uncensored speech, abu Toameh is finding that that road is rotting out beneath his feet. This rare truth-telling journalist is finding it increasingly harder to report the corruption and lack of freedoms in the PA, and as a result our news world is becoming a quieter, but certainly not a better, place. On his own Facebook Page abu Toameh posted this silent cri de coeur: “A campaign of intimidation, harassment, pressure, threats and boycotts has made it impossible for an Arab journalist to work in the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories.”
Read the whole thing.

It's not surprising that the 'Palestinian Authority' treats journalists the way Lori describes. What's at least somewhat surprising is the fact that the so-called 'free' western media - the US, Europe and even Israel - is complicit in this false reporting and is allowing the 'Palestinian Authority' to create a false narrative. Does Jew hatred know no bounds? That's a rhetorical question. I know the answer.

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