It is ironic that the apparent increase in number and breadth of intimidation and harassment is taking place at the same time that the Palestinian Authority has been criticizing Israel for reviewing emails of those seeking to enter Israel to determine whether the travelers may pose security threats. The ubiquitous complaints about the Israeli arrest and detention of Arab journalists rarely reveals that while those detained may be, at least incidentally, journalists, the reason for the detentions are threats to security, not the expressions of opinion, and certainly not criticism of Israeli government officials. After all, it’s not like the muzzling of Arab “truthtellers” would prevent bad press for the Israeli government – you can buy a copy of Haaretz for that any day of the week, or subscribe to the endless press releases issued by the many NGOs funded by European governments, all of which are uniformly hostile to the Jewish state.
So thirty years on, Khaled abu Toameh finds that the path he took away from censorship seems to have doubled back on itself. Rather than walking firmly on the precious path of western iconic freedoms of an unfettered press and uncensored speech, abu Toameh is finding that that road is rotting out beneath his feet. This rare truth-telling journalist is finding it increasingly harder to report the corruption and lack of freedoms in the PA, and as a result our news world is becoming a quieter, but certainly not a better, place. On his own Facebook Page abu Toameh posted this silent cri de coeur: “A campaign of intimidation, harassment, pressure, threats and boycotts has made it impossible for an Arab journalist to work in the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories.”