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September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘censorship’

The West Ignores Abbas, Hamas Silencing of Critics

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

In another story the Western media apparently refuses to cover, any Palestinian who dares to criticize Hamas or the Palestinian Authority risks being arrested or summoned for interrogation.

Palestinian journalists are now hoping to bring this to the attention of President Barack Obama when he meets with President Mahmoud Abbas next month.

The journalists say they want United States and the rest of the world to know that the crackdown on freedom of expression in both West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and Gaza Strip is designed to hide the fact that Palestinians are governed by two repressive regimes that have no respect for human rights and democracy.

Over the past few weeks, several Palestinian journalists have been arrested in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for reportedly criticizing the policies and leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

But this most recent assault on freedom of expression does not seem to bother the Western countries that fund the Palestinian Authority or Hamas supporters from all around the world.

As far as many Western governments and journalists are concerned, physical assaults on Palestinian reporters in the Gaza Strip are fine as long as they are not perpetrated by Israel.

The Palestinian Authority crackdown on Palestinian journalists in the West Bank is also fine as long as Israel is not involved.

Most of the assaults against journalists took place in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas continues to display zero tolerance towards critics or anyone who dares to say something “controversial.”

In the past few weeks, at least 16 journalists from the Gaza Strip were arrested or summoned for interrogation by Hamas authorities in the context of a campaign aimed at intimidating the local media.

Some of the journalists were released only after Hamas forced them to sign a document stating that they would refrain from attending press conferences or covering various activities unless they obtained permission in advance.

The Hamas authorities have also raided the homes of several journalists, confiscating their computers and notebooks.

In some instances, Hamas’s security forces have forced journalists to provide them with their passwords and usernames in order to check their emails.

Following is a list of the names of journalists from the Gaza Strip who have been arrested or interrogated by Hamas in recent weeks: Ashraf Abu Khwaisan, Ala Dawaheed, Amru Dawaheed, Munir al-Munairawi, Mustafa Migdad, Majdi Islim, Juma’ah Abu Shomar, Hisham al-Ju’ub, Muayad Assali, Shadi Shaheen, Muhanad al-Kahlout, Esam Madi, Hussein Abdel Jawwad, Abdel Karim Hijji and Yusef Hammad.

Three other journalists, Khaled Thabet, Mohamed Za’anin and Muthana al-Najjar, were beaten by Hamas policemen and thugs while covering various activities in the Gaza Strip.

In the West Bank, the situation has not been any better for Palestinian journalists and political activists.

Just last week, a Palestinian Authority court sentenced 26-year-old Anas Said Awwad to one year in prison for “insulting” President Mahmoud Abbas on Facebook.

Awwad was found guilty of depicting Abbas as a member of the Real Madrid soccer team.

The man was convicted on the basis of a 50-year-old Jordanian law that bans “extending one’s tongue” against the Jordanian monarch.

The Palestinian Authority often uses this law to punish anyone who posts comments against Abbas or other leaders in Ramallah.

This was not the first time that the Palestinian Authority goes after Palestinians who use Facebook to express their views.

At least three other Palestinians, Nizar Banat, Mamdouh Hamamreh and Jihad Harb have been targeted by Abbas’s security forces for posting critical comments on Facebook.

Over the past week, Palestinian Authority security forces also arrested two journalists, Ala al-Titi and Mohamed Awad.

Safad Nazzal, a Palestinian female activist who criticized the Palestinian Authority for failing to pay more attention to the case of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, has also been arrested by Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank.

It now remains to be seen whether Obama and other Western leaders and government officials, as well as human rights groups, will pay attention to the ongoing attempt to silence Palestinian journalists and political activists. Failure to do so will only encourage Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to continue their assaults on freedom of expression.‭‮

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

Censoring Sexual Abuse

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Numerous Orthodox-Jewish websites censor the word “sexual” in the context of discussing sexual abuse. Such censorship sends the message to young people that body parts, sexuality and sexual abuse are so shameful, that adults can’t even mention them in public.

By refraining from using words such as “sex” and “sexual,” Orthodox Jewish websites are unwittingly sending the message that sexual abuse is not something that should be discussed. This only perpetuates the existing shame, secrecy, stigma and fear surrounding the issue of sexual abuse.

Parents of pre-adolescent children certainly have a right to determine the age-appropriate language when discussing sexual abuse with their children, but that is no excuse for websites censoring terms necessary to define abuse.

If children are old enough to be on the Internet, they should be mature enough to hear the word “sex” or “sexual” in the context of discussing abuse.

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, recommends “[t]alking openly and directly about sexuality” in order to teach “children that it is okay to talk to you when they have questions.” In a sexual abuse awareness seminar held in Crown Heights, experts explained that a lack of education makes adolescents more vulnerable to abuse.

The lack of discussion around the human body, intimacy and sexual issues, in essence, robs children of the ability to speak because they are not provided with the proper language.

Maintaining Halachic standards of Tzniut (modesty) does not conflict with the necessity of discussing sexual abuse openly and candidly. Tzniut concerns laws related to modesty of both dress and behavior—when dealing with normal, healthy interactions—not when educating the public on the dangers of sexual abuse.

The Talmud relays a story of a student that hid under his teacher’s bed to learn how his teacher was being intimate with his wife. The student commented on the inappropriate language of his teacher to which his teacher exclaimed, “Get out! It’s not proper (for you to be here)!” To which the student replied, “It is Torah—and study it I must.”

In contemporary society, the student might be accused of voyeurism—but this story illustrates the need to rise above the taboos of discussing sexuality. There is nothing shameful, sinful or obscene about having candid conversations about the subject – particularly in the context of educating the public on sexual abuse.

When the language center is shut down, the abuse survivor is less likely to speak, because they are fearful of voicing what is perceived as shameful, and so, sometime, they can’t even articulate their trauma.

Censoring the use of accurate language around sexual abuse perpetuates the notion that such discussions should be secret and such language is shameful. Living in secrecy is painful and damaging to an abuse survivor. We need to empower potential victims to talk openly and candidly about their experience.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/censoring-sexual-abuse/2013/02/04/

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