Predator vs. Alien: Who’s Worse on Press Freedom — Hamas or Fatah?

A couple of years ago, Debbie Schlussel has compared Hamas vs. Fatah to Predator vs. Alien. Now we see each side competing for the worst record in treatment of the media. Here’s a complaint by a West-Bank Palestinian journalist who, if I read correctly between the lines, is pro-Hamas, indignant at his treatment by the PA. But if I’m correct, he only got detained — without coffee — for a couple of days. No knee-capping, no showing up at the hospital dying from torture. The article appears at a site called Menasset [Platforms], dedicated to uncensored, professional journalism in the Arab world. To be fair to them, they do not hesitate to report on Hamas mistreatment of the media.

I have already analyzed the demopathic discourse of the journalist in question here, Khalid Amayreh. So little of his denunciations of Fatah and implicit approval of Hamas surprises me. It’s like Western liberals for whom Gitmo is worse than the Gulag (or, for Amayreh, Israeli prisons are like Gitmo): they get to keep saying it.

Reporting under a police state in the West Bank
By TANIA TABAR
Posted January 29th, 2009

One day after being interviewed on Beirut-based Al-Quds TV, journalist Khalid Amayreh found himself in a Palestinian Authority detention center. He was jailed for two days and scolded for “sowing discontent” and “distorting the PA image.” The veteran Palestinian reporter tells MENASSAT that the situation for human rights and civil liberties in the West Bank is likely at its worst since the PA was established in 1993.

Note the classic honor-based concerns of the PA: “distorting the PA image” is honor-shame speak for public criticism, which is taken as blackening the PA’s public face. That, apparently, is a perfectly legitimate reason to intimidate a journalist. Again the classic difference between honor and integrity: for the former, appearance is all that counts.

wb protests of israel in gaza
Palestinian security officers guarded a protest by Hamas supporters in the West Bank town of Nablus. The demonstrators opposed Israel’s army operations in the Gaza Strip. © AP

BEIRUT, January 29, 2009 (MENASSAT) — Veteran Palestinian journalist Khalid Amayreh has never been shy to criticize the de facto government in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority.

But Amareyh’s arrest on January 18 for “stirring discontent,” after criticizing the PA’s suppression of Gaza protests in the West Bank in an interview with Beirut-based Al Quds TV, has put all PA-critical journalists on notice: tow the party line or risk jail.

Some 15 journalists have been arrested by PA security forces over the last three months for similar offenses. Most had been highly critical of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party, rival to Hamas which was voted to power during 2006 parliamentary elections.

Amayreh, who was been jailed four times by the PA since taking up journalism in the late 1990s, said he was invited “for coffee” by the Palestinian Security Forces (PSF) on January 18.

After arriving at the police station, he was charged with “defamation” and transfered to PA police headquarters until his release on January 20.

amaryeh
Journalist Khalid Amayreh (right) commenting on his release from a Palestinian Authority jail 2 days after the PA invited him in for a “cup of coffee.”

In an article in Islamonline, Amayreh recounted his arrest as a 55-hour “nightmarish experience.”

Amayreh said he was not physically or verbally abused during six-hours of interrogation, but his family was denied access to him during his detention.

“I was held for two days in a small, semi-dark, rancid-smelling room with two other inmates, one a political prisoner and the other a common law prisoner,” he wrote.

“And I never even got my cup of coffee.”

And he’s alive to quip.

Given what he’s claimed about Israeli abuse — claims with large problems of supporting evidence — this should be a piece of cake.

Virtual police state

The 52-year-old journalist and father of nine works for several media outlets including Al-Ahram in Egypt and Aljazeera.net, and is based in the village of Dura, southwest of Hebron in the West Bank.

“Working in the West Bank as an independent journalist has not been this difficult for the last 15 years,” Amayreh said.

Amayreh told MENASSAT in an email interview that his arrest was an attempt to silence anyone who challenges the current state of Palestinian affairs.

“Well, it happened (my arrest) because we are living under a virtual police state, and it is a police state without a real state. Under such circumstances, the ‘government’ and the ‘security agencies’ would make sure, as they do, that non-conformist views are suppressed, freedom of speech muzzled, and freedom of expression silenced.

“As to my particular case, the PA didn’t want journalists to speak up and tell the truth. For the PA, the truth is too bitter a bill to be swallowed. It is so because the PA has many things to hide from the people.”

Asked why Fatah was not allowing large protests in solidarity with the Gaza Strip, Amayreh said during his interview with Al-Quds TV on January 17 that he felt he was stating the obvious.

“It is well known to everyone that the PA is subservient to Israel and that PA civilian and security officials routinely collaborate with the Israeli occupiers. Some Palestinian intellectuals have been referring to the PA as a Palestinian Judenrat.”

So this is how he handles the idea that the PA is not in favor of pro-Hamas demonstrations. The Palestinian Judenrat (let no one say they don’t know the detailed history of the Holocaust).

My impression is that Amayreh is not a religious zealot, and that his support for Hamas, like many Muslims support for Osama after 9-11, is not based on their desire to see the Caliphate return (which would be a disaster for them), but on their pleasure in seeing someone — anyone! — take on Israel or the USA.

This is about Hamas as a source of Arab honor, not as a religious ideology. It’s about the unquenchable Palestinian desire to destroy Israel, no matter what the costs to Palestinians.

PA arrests 3 journalists this week

Its no secret that Amayreh has been targeted by both the Palestinian Security Forces and Israel, including an incident in December when the Israeli army detained him at a Hebron checkpoint for his work on Israeli human rights abuse in Palestine.

Last year, Amayreh was summoned for an investigation by the PA intelligence for his reporting. In 1998, he was arrested and jailed for a brief period for his investigation into torture inside some PA detention centers. Both the PA and Israel have interrogated him over an article he wrote about the Palestinian right to return, and how it plays a central role in the conflict.

After his latest arrest, emails were circulated from media and human rights groups calling for his immediate release.

“I think they released me because of the media and public pressure,” Amayreh said.

Despite being targeted by both Israel and the PA throughout his career, Amayreh says he has been more fortunate than other dissident journalists in the West Bank.

And why hasn’t he been targeted by Hamas? Nothing negative to report? Or is his anti-Zionism just too useful?

“I know some colleagues who have languished in PA jails and solitary confinement cells for several weeks and months. Even as I speak with you now, three correspondents of Al-Quds TV are in jail for reporting things the PA doesn’t like. In short, the PA is a real enemy of press freedom.”

This week, three journalists, Ahmad Dikkawi, a correspondent for the London-based al-Quds TV station in Jenin; Samer Khuaira, the Nablus correspondent for the same station, and Issam al-Rimawi, a cameraman with the PA-aligned Palestinian News Agency, Wafa; were all detained by PA security forces, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported.

The PA security forces have kept them in jail without charges.

Political tug of war

Meanwhile, Amayreh’s arrest has also become the fodder for the factional war between Hamas and Fatah.

Following mutual accusations by both the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Hamas about the arrests of journalists in the Gaza strip, the Hamas government of Gaza brought up the case of Amayreh, claiming that the IFJ never condemned or even mentioned his arrest by the PA.

When asked about the situation of journalists in the Gaza Strip, Amayreh told MENASSAT, “I live in the West Bank, and my information about Gaza comes from the media and some friends there.”

He added, “I can’t speak with certitude about the status of press freedom in Gaza. But I do think it is not as draconian as it is here. Here the assault on press freedom is systematic as the rule of law is virtually paralyzed.”

The man strikes me as of a piece with Diana Buttu, “independent” analyst based in Ramallah: they dislike the Palestinian Authority because it is insufficiently hostile to Israel; they shill for Hamas because it is; and they present themselves as courageous. These are the folks that give moderation a bad name in Palestinian culture — pawns of the lying Jews; and they’re lionized by the West. More tragedy for the Palestinians, who can’t hope to find a way out of the maze as long as demopaths like this preen as courageous and heroic fighters for freedom.

18 Responses to Predator vs. Alien: Who’s Worse on Press Freedom — Hamas or Fatah?

  1. Conspirama says:

    Augean Stables » Predator vs. Alien: Who’s Worse on Press Freedom ……

    Alien. Now we see each side competing for the worst record in treatment of the media. Here’s a complaint by a West-Bank Palestinian journalist who, if I read correctly between the lines, is pro-Hamas, indignant at his treatment by the ……

  2. Ak Khazar says:

    A common mistake, also among supposedly literate academics, alas. A literate reporter would of course know that the idiomatic expression is” TOE” (not TOW) the line.” Although there is some debate as to the etymology, it is clear that it is derived from an expression meaning to adopt a proper or party position (in the sense of: stand on that line)– not to, say, engage in strenuous physical activity in the 19th-century USA. It’s about politics, not the old South or the Erie Canal (tote that bale, pull that barge).

  3. E.G. says:

    Being a “father of nine” is a perfectly relevant feature of an honest-to-Allah journalist.

    This guy should do anything he can in order to get a working permit in Israel: he’ll publish his grand pieces there with no problem. Eventually given a seat on a few TV talk shows, to tell the Israeli public that the occupation is an obstacle to freedom of speech.

  4. Lorenz Gude says:

    RL: I’ve have been a bit puzzled by the opposition of honor and integrity recently as you use it in this sentence from above: “Again the classic difference between honor and integrity: for the former, appearance is all that counts.” To me genuine honor and integrity are closely linked. So I re-read your Said and Honor-Shame and found this: “Similarly, no sane honour culture would kill their daughters for being raped; they would kill the rapists.” Exactly. I just want to add in this context that the Anbar Awakening, which was both the precursor and prerequisite of the Surge, can be seen as an Arab honor-shame culture deciding to become saner. I don’t see the Palestinians becoming saner any time soon, but it is worth noting the Anbar Awakening was in significant part triggered by al qaeda members demanding sisters and daughters in ‘marriage’ and abusing them. I doubt, the recent reported murderous behavior of Hamas in Gaza is enough cause a Palestinian Awakening, but they have to be aware that they are being used as cats paws by Sunni and Shiite alike.

  5. Lorenz, you said I doubt, the recent reported murderous behavior of Hamas in Gaza is enough [to] cause a Palestinian Awakening, but they have to be aware that they are being used as cats paws by Sunni and Shiite alike.

    “Being aware” is a cognitive process. It is my belief that when strong emotions flood the brain, cognition is harnessed to reinforce those emotions, not to question their source. Certainly, despite that, there are probably many Palestinians who are aware at some level that they are being used. However, I suspect that they are also aware of how thoroughly their culture embraced death and war images in their public discourse, and acts on them. These folks are even more “aware” that their lives and their families’ lives depend on how they are perceived by others.

    Palestinian cognition is probably working full time and in high gear – either to justify the emotions of their Jew hatred or for those who don’t, to appear to share those emotions. For the latter group, I doubt they are indignant or angry that they are being used. Instead, I suspect they treat it like the weather – something that comes with geography that is not subject to human intervention.

  6. Lorenz, Also, stories like this . .

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3664302,00.html

    . . indicate that many Pals are pissed off that their houses were destroyed. They think that killing Jews is all fine and good, as long as they don’t personally suffer for it.

    And there you have it. The reason why in war, nations are seldom as careful as Israel has been to prevent enemy civilian suffering – because regimes, even despotic ones, depend on some level of public support.

    Democratic states seldom outright attack civilians in war but when making target decisions they will do what is necessary to destroy the legal target, seldom calling off a mission unless really high civilian casualties can be expected. Just look at the high NATO civilian casualties in Kosovo (which no-one cared that much about, BTW).

    I think Israel has figured out through leafleting, robo-calls and dropping smaller bombs first near the target in some cases, that they can reduce public support for Hamas while causing a lot of dead terrorists too. I think Hamas now realizes how serious was their real loss (in public support) and they are spending millions of their own money in direct payments to Gazans to offset it.

    Perhaps Israel has just created a means by which asymmetrical warfare can be waged and won. Hopefully the rest of the free world can stop demonizing Israel long enough to see what has just happened.

  7. Lorenz, One last thought. Hamas (Iran) must realize at this point (based on these successful IDF tactics) that their only hope to succeed now is to bring in to Gaza large numbers of high quality ground to air missiles capable of taking out an F16. I’m sure they realize it will take at least 18 months to do that in Gaza – or even more if Egypt and others can put up sufficient barriers. They need that quiet time to focus on that difficult task. The blocked Iranian ship is there to facilitate this task.

    Egypt also realizes that their Muslim Brotherhood will be vastly strengthened and probably ready to attempt a coup – if the Egyptian Air Force ever loses the ability to repel rockets being fired into Egypt perhaps along with a major border breech of civilians from Gaza.

  8. E.G. says:

    Lorenz Gude,

    I wish such an awakening happens asap. I doubt it will. Why/how come it didn’t happen before, on tragic occasions such as “Black September” or during the time they were in daily interaction with the Israeli civil society?
    They seem to follow a path of getting bracketed in a regressive culture, rather than opening up to insights.

    From what I figure, everything is brought down to the bottom-line: the other shames me and prevents me from gaining my honour. Most often the other is the Zionists/juice but recently it’s also the corrupt Fatah.

  9. E.G. says:

    Oh, and let’s not forget we’re talking about people who are assisted from A to Z and who have, for 4 generations, been raised on the notion that assistance is due to them (rather than that owe their existence to the assistance).

  10. oao says:

    However, I suspect that they are also aware of how thoroughly their culture embraced death and war images in their public discourse, and acts on them. These folks are even more “aware” that their lives and their families’ lives depend on how they are perceived by others.

    yes. plus their hatred of israel and dreams of plundering israel — with which they have been indoctrinated since childhood — are much more powerful than their doubts about hamas. as long as hamas is killing jews and fighting to ultimately get what they own, it’s worth accepting and supporting.

    as to hamas–the muslim supremacism and the 72 virgins override everything else.

    Perhaps Israel has just created a means by which asymmetrical warfare can be waged and won.

    if hamas were on their own, perhaps. with the world and the west in their corner, no. the world has not and will not allow hamas to fall and the conflict to be resolved, no matter what israel does.

    Egypt also realizes that their Muslim Brotherhood will be vastly strengthened and probably ready to attempt a coup – if the Egyptian Air Force ever loses the ability to repel rockets being fired into Egypt perhaps along with a major border breech of civilians from Gaza.

    they realize it, but I doubt they will do something about it. and I dk what happens if and when the guard changes in egypt. his son is unlikely to be able to hold the fort.

    I wish such an awakening happens asap. I doubt it will. Why/how come it didn’t happen before, on tragic occasions such as “Black September” or during the time they were in daily interaction with the Israeli civil society? They seem to follow a path of getting bracketed in a regressive culture, rather than opening up to insights.

    they are hoisted on their own petards. it is they who used the pals as a festering weapon against israel. they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, but with the cost of the stability of their own regimes.

    if they don’t do something against it (and it may be too late), their streets and the other arabs will do them in. and if they don’t, hamas and iran will do them in.

    it’s too bad for israel, but if it has to go, let egypt, jordan and saudia go with them.

  11. oao says:

    for 4 generations, been raised on the notion that assistance is due to them (rather than that owe their existence to the assistance).

    hey, infidels must pay jiziya — don’t you know that?

  12. E.G. says:

    They learned the Jiziya Shtick at about the same time you did. And that’s not very long ago. Beforehand it was something akin to learned helplessness. Something that never crossed the minds of your parents or mine.

  13. Alouette says:

    Khalid Amayreh also used to leave shrill, hysterical anti-Semitic messages in the “talkbacks” at Haaretz. Maybe he still does, but there are so many shrill, hysterical anti-Semitic messages on Haaretz (including their “news” articles) that it’s just drowned out by all the rest of the noise.

  14. oao says:

    They learned the Jiziya Shtick at about the same time you did. And that’s not very long ago. Beforehand it was something akin to learned helplessness. Something that never crossed the minds of your parents or mine.

    really? so they don’t learn the quran?

    take a look at pierre rehov movie: the helplessness is instilled in them and the jiziya is funding it.

  15. E.G. says:

    oao,

    I feel like Monsieur Jourdain: saw the Rehov clip about a week ago but didn’t know it was Rehov’s… Still, where do you see the helplessness instilled?

  16. oao says:

    has to do with several factors:

    1. everything is the will of allah, why bother?
    2. life here is nothing, only in paradise
    3. only purpose in life is to kill jews and get their stuff which they stole from you
    4. if you do that, you’ll go to paradise and get virgins
    5. you’ll get their stuff so don’t build yours
    6. you’re muslims, you’re superior, you should subjugte others and live off them
    7. the jiziyah is constant, you don’t need to do anything to survive, just focus on terror

    and so on. it’s a mixture of helplessness in building a life for yourself with inducement on the alternative terror career. it is in the latter that you do the work of allah and will be rewarded, not in building a life here.

  17. oao says:

    of course, if you’re a victim of the kuffar and they acknowledge it by pumping you full of jiziyah and keep appeasing and apologizing — like arabama — then isn’t it clear that there is nothing you can or should do for yourself, that the infidels owe you and that your function is to subjugate them and live off them?

  18. E.G. says:

    oao,

    This analysis makes a lot of sense. I still don’t see much helplessness in there. The notion that there’s nothing one can do for oneself by oneself (i.e. helplessness) is confused with the sense of “I only have rights” and “all is due to me” – the supremacy of the official poor.

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