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August 23, 2017

The Media Misses the Palestinian Crackdown on Palestinian ‘Journalists’

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Majid Faraj, the director of the PA's General Intelligence Service


The Palestinian Authority (PA) has been imprisoning and harassing Palestinian journalists. And many major U.S. outlets have failed to cover the repression.

The PA’s General Intelligence Service arrested five Palestinian journalists on Aug. 8, 2017. They were held on suspicion of “leaking sensitive information to hostile authorities,” according to a Jerusalem Post report (“Palestinian Authority arrests five journalists for ‘leaking’ sensitive information,” August 9). All five were arrested on the same night. Two of the “journalists,” Tariq Abu Zayd and Ahmad Halaika, work for al-Aqsa TV, a propaganda outlet for Hamas, a rival of the Fatah movement that dominates the PA. The other three were Qutaiba Kasem of the Asdaa website, Amer Abu Arafa of the Shebab news agency, and Mamdouh Hamamreh of the pro-Hamas al-Quds television.

The Jerusalem Post quoted an anonymous who Palestinian journalist who speculated, “The arrests might be aimed at pressuring Hamas to release Fouad Jaradah, a reporter for the PA’s Palestine TV, who was arrested in Gaza on June 8 and was later accused of collaborating with the authority.” The paper also highlighted that the arrests came on the heel of increased PA repression of journalists, including the June 2017 decision to block access to websites that support Hamas or Muhammad Dahlan, a rival who was exiled by PA President Mahmoud Abbas several years ago.

The families of those arrested by the PA characterized the detention as Abbas’ “revenge,” Ha’aretz noted.

Several organizations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), decried the crackdown. On Aug. 15, 2017, the PA released the journalists and required them to pay bail—but did not offer any formal indictments.

Many major U.S. news outlets, including USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times and others, failed to detail any of the above arrests or the repression of information by the PA. In contrast to their blackout of PA autocracy, The Washington Post has instead run recent dispatches detailing Palestinian pigeon ownership (“An old pastime thrives in a Palestinian enclave,” August 13) and Gazan Arab school children on a field trip to Jerusalem (“Children from Gaza visit Jerusalem for the first time,” August 20).

The Post also offered a report on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s calls to close the Israel offices of Al Jazeera, the Qatari-funded propaganda outlet. As CAMERA has highlighted, Al Jazeera frequently broadcasts sermons of clerics linked to terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda and Hamas. One Al Jazeera “journalist” named Elias Karram openly described his job as “resistance” against Israel.

However, The Post’s report on Netanyahu’s comments on Al Jazeera omitted crucial information and was implicitly—and unprofessionally—critical of the decision of the Israeli government (for more details see “Can The Washington Post Google Anti-Jewish Incitement?” CAMERA, Aug. 8, 2017).

Yet, the PA’s decision to imprison journalists without charge—and to effectively impose fines on them for their criticisms—elicited little to no attention from their nominal colleagues in the Western press.

Posted by SD at August 23, 2017 02:53 PM

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