Guardian op-ed by Diana Buttu claims Palestinians are arrested for ‘criticising Israel’

Buttu's allegations in the Guardian, characterising Israel's crackdown on incitement to terror as an 'assault on Palestinian dissent', are both context-free and counter-factual - essentially everything you'd expect from a PLO propagandist with such well-documented record of lying about the Jewish state.

Former PLO adviser Diana Buttu has a history of not telling the truth about Israel.

During interviews in the early to mid 2000s, Buttu claimed (on several media outlets) that “between the period of 1997 until the year 2000 there wasn’t a single Israeli who died of a suicide bombing inside Israel”.  However, as CAMERA revealed at the time, 24 Israeli civilians were killed in six separate Palestinian suicide attacks during that period.

During the 2009-09 Israeli war with Hamas, Buttu bizarrely alleged, during interviews on CNN and Fox News, that rockets fired from Gaza “do not have explosive heads.” In fact, Palestinian rockets carried between 9-18 kilograms of explosives.  

At a Harvard conference in 2012, she repeated the lie about ‘rockets without explosive heads’ and added another one, claiming that “there weren’t any grad rockets fired in 2008 and 2009.” Actually, as CAMERA revealed, dozens were fired.

More recently, CAMERA caught Buttu in another lie, complaining to journalist David Remnick (in a Sept. New Yorker article) that the Israeli hit show Fauda never mentions the word “occupation”, and that the series doesn’t show “a single checkpoint”.  However, contrary to Buttu’s claim, the word “occupation” is heard in “Fauda” and checkpoints do appear.  

Her latest smear against Israel was published in the Guardian.  

Her op-ed (Issa Amro is merely the latest casualty of Palestine’s war on free speech, Sept. 20th) primarily focuses on the arrest of a Palestinian named Issa Amro for the ‘crime’ of using Facebook to call for the release of a journalist detained by the PA for criticising Mahmoud Abbas.  The arrest was based on a new law which allows for imprisonment of Palestinians who use social media to criticize Abbas or other PA officials.  Buttu pivots to Israel by suggesting that Jerusalem has similarly enacted laws to “quash dissent”.  

Here’s the sentence in question:

As part of Israel’s tactics to quash dissent, it has arrested Palestinians, including Palestinian citizens of Israel, for writing poems, for criticising Israel on Facebook and for broadcasting stories critical of Israel, its occupation or leadership.

Once again, Buttu is being dishonest.  

Whilst incitement to violence on social media is against the law, police do not arrest Palestinians (or anyone for that matter) merely for criticising Israel, its leaders or policies, or for broadcasting stories critical of the state.  As the human rights organisation Freedom House reports, there are no Israeli restrictions on criticising government policy. 

Further, the woman likely alluded to by Buttu, allegedly arrested for “writing a poem”, is Dareen Tatour. Tatour was indicted in 2016 for several acts of incitement, including a poem she posted on Facebook imploring Palestinians to “Resist, my people, resist them”, calling on Palestinians to join the “caravan of martyrs”, and accompanied by the following video:

The indictment also cites a Facebook post by Tatour suggesting she’d become the next shahid (martyr), and another post in which she shared the following message by the terror group Islamic Jihad:

The Islamic Jihad movement hereby declares the continuation of the intifada throughout the West Bank… Continuation means expansion… which means all of Palestine… And we must begin within the Green Line… for the victory of Al-Aqsa, and we shall declare a general intifada.”

Whilst reasonable people can argue whether or not the totality of the Facebook messages posted by Tatour amount to incitement, the suggestion that she was imprisoned merely for a poem criticising the Israeli government is absurd.  

Moreover, it’s instructive to note that the UK has online hate and incitement laws which are arguably harsher than in Israel. Under British law, you can be imprisoned for sending social media messages that are “indecent or grossly offensive, or which conveys a threat, or which is false, provided there is an intent to cause distress or anxiety to the recipient.”  For instance, British courts in 2014 sentenced a 21-year-old man to six weeks in prison for a Facebook post praising the fatal stabbing a 61-year-old teacher at a college in Leeds.  That same year, a man was arrested for posting anti-Muslim material following the jihadist murder of Lee Rigby. And, in 2012, a British Muslim was prosecuted for a Facebook post in which he wrote that “all [British] soldiers should die and go to hell”.   

Buttu’s allegations in the Guardian, characterising Israel’s crackdown on incitement to terror as an ‘assault on Palestinian dissent’, are both context-free and counter-factual – essentially everything you’d expect from a PLO propagandist with such well-documented record of lying about the Jewish state.

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