Free Palestine? What Harriet Sherwood won’t report about absence of democratic rights in PA

Freedom House Map (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

H/T Garry

As we approach the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to unilaterally declare statehood, the question you almost never hear asked is, precisely what kind of state will “Palestine” be?

Will it be democratic, respect the rights of minorities, the LGBT community, and the rights of citizens to peacefully dissent and criticize the government?

Well, per Freedom House, the case is pretty clear that the human rights record of “Palestine” is abysmal and currently mirrors the similar dearth of political freedom in the Arab world.

“The Palestinian Authority–administered territories’ political rights rating declined from 5 to 6 [the lowest possible rating] due to the expiration of President Mahmoud Abbas’s four-year term in January 2009, the ongoing lack of a functioning elected legislature, and an edict allowing the removal of elected municipal governments in the West Bank.”

Further, notes Freedom House:

“The judicial system is not independent.”

And:

“Personal status law, derived in part from Sharia, puts women at a disadvantage in matters of marriage, divorce, and inheritance. Rape, domestic abuse, and “honor killings,” in which women are murdered by relatives for perceived sexual or moral transgressions, are not uncommon. These murders often go unpunished.”

Finally:

“The media are not free in the West Bank and Gaza. Under a 1995 press law, journalists may be fined and jailed…Journalists who criticize the PA or the dominant factions face arbitrary arrests, threats, and physical abuse.”

This last report certainly puts today’s story in the Jerusalem Post, PA arrests professor who criticized Nablus University, in perspective, and should give those pause who live on the borders of this future Palestinian state.

A prominent Palestinian professor who wrote an article criticizing the universityadministration where he works was arrested on Thursday by Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank.

Palestinian sources said that Abdel Sattar Qassem, who works at An-Najah Universityin Nablus, was ordered to be held in custody for 48 hours following a complaint from theuniversity president, Rami Hamdallah.

Because of his public criticism of the PA, Qassem was targeted in the past by PA security forces. At one point he was shot and wounded shortly after launching a scathing verbal attack on PA chairman Yasser Arafat.

Qassem said that the problem was not only with this case…“but with the people who see the corruption and don’t do anything. Many officials see themselves as being above the law and justice. Perhaps they want to appoint themselves as gods or emperors, as they see that the educated are keeping silent and the youth movement is largely absent.”

Recently in Israel, a left-wing columnist for the Jerusalem Post, Larry Derfner, penned an essay in his personal blog (which he’s since removed) explicitly justifying Palestinian terrorist attacks against his fellow citizens.  While there has been, of course, much justifiable criticism of Derfner, and his employer is currently looking into the matter, Derfner wasn’t beaten up by a mob for his apostasy nor arrested by Israeli security personnel.  

The fact that the PA, who clearly has a lot to learn from their bitter Zionist enemies, doesn’t even meagerly respect the value of free expression and basic democratic norms should provide an entirely new meaning to the chant, “FREE PALESTINE”!

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