Do you note anything out-of-place in this snapshot of the Guardian’s Palestinian Territories page from Dec. 18th?
Well, if you looked askew at the lead story (‘Most Palestinians Accuse Abbas of Silencing Dissent’), that’s because it wasn’t really published at the Guardian.
We photoshopped out the real lead story (Palestinians open door to negotiation after submitting draft UN resolution) and added a Dec. 17th AP story that you might see if the Guardian took Palestinians seriously as agents of their own fate, and devoted space to critical investigations into Palestinian government.
Here are some excerpts from the AP story demonstrating that most Palestinians accuse President Mahmoud Abbas of silencing dissent.
Two-thirds of Palestinians say they are afraid to criticize Mahmoud Abbas, according to a poll, and some of the Palestinian president’s recent actions only seem to confirm claims that dissent comes at a price.
Last month, Abbas outlawed the West Bank’s largest labor union and briefly jailed its two leaders for organizing strikes. Security agents routinely monitor social media and send threats or complaints to some of those criticizing Abbas. Meanwhile, the Palestinian leader’s Fatah movement continues to purge supporters of an exiled rival.
Critics say that after a decade in power, Abbas is overseeing a largely authoritarian system with shrinking room for dissent — a claim denied by Abbas supporters who say Palestinians enjoy more political freedoms than most in the Arab world.
We face an autocratic regime that doesn’t believe in any freedoms, in freedom of unions or freedom of speech,” said Jihad Harb, a writer and Fatah member. “The people are now terrified. They don’t speak up, fearing reprisal.”
…according to a poll published last week by the independent Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. Sixty-six percent said they believe they cannot criticize Abbas without fear, according to the survey among 1,270 respondents, with an error margin of 3 percentage points.
One recent controversy centered on the largest Palestinian union, which represents about 40,000 employees of the Palestinian Authority.
Last month, Abbas outlawed the union and had two top officials jailed for a week. The decision followed strikes by the union demanding more benefits.
Guardian editors won’t publish this AP story, and their Jerusalem correspondent, Peter Beaumont, will not investigate the broader problem of human rights violations by the PA because, as Matti Friedman noted in his groundbreaking essay at Tablet Magazine, reporters “working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel”.
If you follow mainstream coverage”, Friedman added, “you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society…”.
As the Israeli elections move closer, we can likely expect Guardian “expert analyses” on the Jewish state’s putative dangerous lurch to the right, but nothing on the continuing violations of basic political freedoms under the authoritarian government of the Palestinian “President” currently serving his tenth year of a four year term.