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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Khaled Abu Toameh’

Khaled Abu Toameh: Where Are the Moderate Arabs and Palestinians?

Monday, June 4th, 2012

In Israel, there are dozens of organizations and parties that openly advocate peace with the Palestinians and the Arab world.

Some even go as far as calling on the Israeli government to comply with 100% of the Palestinians’ demands by fully withdrawing to the pre-1967 lines.

Many of these organizations and parties have also been active in launching protests against Israel’s actions in the Palestinian territories, especially the construction of the security barrier and new houses in settlements.

Israeli human rights groups and other organizations are usually the first to condemn the Israel Defense Forces or the government when something with the Palestinians goes wrong. Some Israelis have decided to expand their protest by participating in Palestinian street demonstrations against the Israeli Defense Forces in the West Bank or the Police in east Jerusalem.

The Israeli media is also full of articles — by Jewish writers — who are extremely critical of the Israeli establishment and who openly back Palestinian demands for statehood and independence. Hence it is no surprise that Palestinian media newspapers devote entire pages to publish translated [pro-Palestinian] articles and news stories that originally appeared in the Israeli media.

Some Israeli politicians, especially Arab Knesset members, have used the parliamentary podium to advance and defend the causes of Palestinians. Israeli policies and actions are condemned in the Knesset more than they are denounced in the Palestinian or any Arab parliament. The Palestinian parliament, incidentally, has been paralyzed since 2007 because of the dispute between Hamas and Fatah.

In most parliaments throughout the Arab world, representatives do not enjoy the same freedom of speech as their counterparts in Israel. Members of parliament in the Arab world can not stand up and openly demand peace with Israel. When was the last time an Arab parliament or prominent politician or columnist called for peace and compromise with Israel?

Can anyone in the Palestinian territories or the Arab world form a party that advocates peace, coexistence and harmony with Israel? On the contrary, the only voices that are being heard among Palestinians and other Arabs are those who seek to boycott and delegitimize Israel.

Any Palestinian or Arab who dares to talk to Israelis or visit Israel is accused of being a traitor for promoting “normalization” with the “Zionist enemy.”

In Israel, hundreds of thousands of people once took to the streets to protest against the Israeli war in Lebanon and the killing of innocent civilians in refugee camps. The mass protest resulted in the resignation of then Defense Minister Ariel Sharon.

During the last war in the Gaza Strip, more protests took place inside Israel than inside most Arab capitals or in the West Bank — where the Palestinians worked hard to suppress protests.

In Israel, there is a large movement called Peace Now that effectively endorses most of the Palestinians’ demands. Has anyone ever heard of a Palestinian or Arab “Peace Now” group?

Over the past two decades, Israeli Jews have been marching toward pragmatism and moderation. A majority now supports the two-state solution and, according to public opinion polls, is even willing to make compromises on settlements and Jerusalem. By contrast, the Palestinians seem to be marching backward.

The Palestinians have been radicalized to a point where it is almost impossible to talk about peace and coexistence with Israel. For Palestinians, the true heroes are suicide bombers who blew themselves up in cafes and buses, killing innocent civilians. Peace activists, human rights advocates, moderates, journalists and reformers have almost no say and are often denounced as “traitors” and a “fifth column.”

Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Muslim Brotherhood Plotting To Take Over Jordan?

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Jordanian government officials say there are growing signs that the kingdom’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood organization has plans to overthrow the regime. The organization, according to the officials, has succeeded in hijacking the anti-corruption and pro-democracy protests that have swept Jordan over the past year.

Today, most of the anti-regime demonstrations throughout the kingdom are being initiated and led by Muslim Brotherhood supporters whose goal is to turn Jordan into an Islamic republic.

Many Arabs feel that President Barack Obama’s endorsement of the Muslim Brotherhood has emboldened the Islamists and increased their appetite to drive moderate and secular rulers out of the Arab world.

King Abdullah has good reason to be worried about the Muslim Brotherhood’s efforts to hijack the pro-reform drive in the kingdom. This concern was reportedly one of the main reasons that the monarch replaced Prime Minister Awn Khasawna — a staunch supporter of rapprochement with Muslim Brotherhood and its Palestinian sister-movement, Hamas — a few weeks ago.

In a bid to appease the anti-corruption and pro-democracy campaigners, King Abdullah has also taken a number of unprecedented measures against a number of senior government officials suspected of embezzling public funds and abusing their powers. The king has replaced three prime ministers since the “Arab Spring” began and has thrown a number of former officials into prison, but all this has not satisfied the Muslim Brotherhood.

What is clear by now is that no matter how much the king does to fight corruption and implement reforms, the Muslim Brotherhood will continue to argue that this is not enough.

“They have learned from the Egyptian experience, where Muslim Brotherhood also hijacked the anti-regime protests that were triggered by secular and genuine reformists,” explained a senior Jordanian government official in Amman.

Another Jordanian official said that his government has proof that “outside forces” were backing Muslim Brotherhood’s scheme to “spread chaos and anarchy in the kingdom” by exploiting demands for reform and democracy.

The official pointed out that some representatives of Muslim Brotherhood recently visited Turkey, where they reportedly met with former CIA deputy director Steven Kappes and former British MI5 chief Eliza Manningham-Buller.

Osama Rantisi, a prominent Jordanian journalist and political analyst, claimed that Kappes and Manningham-Buller pledged in the meeting that “the US government and its intelligence services will support the Muslim Brotherhood goals of reaching power.”

The claim has been vehemently denied by both the US government and Muslim Brotherhood.

Muslim Brotherhood leaders say the report about a conspiracy backed by the US and Britain to help the group topple King Abdullah’s regime is part of a smear campaign waged by Jordan’s General Intelligence Department.

Some Jordanians have also pointed to Iran and its proxy Hizbullah militia in Lebanon as being behind a Muslim Brotherhood scheme to stage a coup in the kingdom.

But while these efforts have persuaded many Jordanians to stop their street protests, Muslim Brotherhood supporters continue to stage protests and incite Jordanians against the regime.

What has particularly worried King Abdullah is that the Muslim Brotherhood has managed to “infiltrate” many powerful Jordanian tribes, which have always been known as traditional and staunch supporters of the monarchy.

Unless the US Administration stops flirting with Muslim Brotherhood, Jordan will be turned into a radical Islamic republic and a source of further instability in the Middle East.

Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Fatah and Hamas Can Only Agree on Deceiving Their People

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Over the past five years, Hamas and Fatah have lied to their people many times about ending their power struggle, which has resulted in the creation of two separate Palestinian entities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Fatah and Hamas have been killing, torturing, and imprisoning each other’s supporters since 2007, when the Islamist movement seized full control over the Gaza Strip and forced Fatah out.

Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Qatar and the Tunisia have tried over the past few years to persuade Fatah and Hamas to end the war, but all efforts have thus far been unsuccessful.

Leaders of Hamas and Fatah keep talking about the need to end the power struggle and achieve “national unity,” saying this would serve the interests of the Palestinians.

Almost every few weeks, these leaders meet in one of the Arab capitals and announce that they have struck a “unity deal” that would bring peace and unity to the Palestinians.

But the Palestinians seem to have lost confidence in both Fatah and Hamas and are no longer taking the talk about reconciliation and unity seriously.

Each time Fatah and Hamas announce a new unity agreement, Palestinians react with skepticism and indifference.

Earlier this year, the two parties announced a unity agreement in Doha, Qatar, but never managed to implement it on the ground.

This week, representatives of Fatah and Hamas met in Cairo and announced another agreement — this one to implement the previous Doha agreement.

Many Palestinian scoffed at the latest agreement, which was reached under pressure from the Egyptian authorities.

It now remains to be seen whether Fatah and Hamas would be able to carry out the new agreement to implement the previous one. Most Palestinians believe they already know the answer.

In many ways, the status quo seems convenient for Fatah and Hamas. Fatah has a mini-state in the West Bank and is benefiting from hundreds of millions of dollars that are poured by international donors on Salam Fayyad’s government.

Hamas, for its part, is happy that it has exclusive control over the entire Gaza Strip, which has been turned into an independent Islamic emirate. The last thing that Hamas wants is to bring Fatah back to the Gaza Strip. Similarly, Fatah is not keen on seeing Hamas gain power in the West Bank.

Any unity agreement signed between Fatah and Hamas will be cosmetic and is intended only to appease the Palestinian public and deflect criticism. It is much easier for Mahmoud Abbas to reach a deal with Israel than with Hamas, whose ultimate goal is to get rid of both Fatah and Israel.

Instead of wasting his time on meaningless efforts to achieve unity with Hamas, it would be better for Abbas to devote his energies and time to making peace with Israel.

Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Khaled Abu Toameh: How Much Is Mahmoud Abbas Worth?

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has just discovered what every Palestinian child knows — that hundreds of millions of dollars had been embezzled during the era of Yasser Arafat.

The “discovery”, however, was not the result of a thorough and long investigation ordered by Palestinian leaders in Ramallah with the hope of restoring public funds.

Instead, it came after one of Arafat’s most trusted aides, Mohammed Rashid, threatened to expose corruption scandals in the Palestinian Authority.

For many years, Rashid served as Arafat’s financial advisor and was given a free hand to handle hundreds of millions of dollars that were poured on the Palestinian Authority and the PLO by US, EU, and Arab donors.

A former journalist who used to earn less than $1,000 a month by working for a PLO newspaper, Rashid is now considered one of the wealthiest Palestinians anywhere. Palestinian Authority officials have estimated his fortune at more than half a billion dollars.

Rashid left the Palestinian territories almost immediately after his boss, Arafat, died in late 2004. Since then, the Palestinian Authority has done almost nothing to bring him to trial or return at least some of the missing funds.

This week, however, the Palestinian Authority finally woke up and remembered that Rashid was suspected of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Palestinian Authority’s Anti-Corruption Commission in Ramallah announced that it has issued an arrest warrant against the former Arafat advisor and asked Interpol for help in bringing him to trial.

The announcement came a day after Rashid appeared on a Saudi-owned TV station and threatened to expose corruption scandals in the Palestinian Authority leadership.

Palestinian leaders in Ramallah, including President Mahmoud Abbas, are deeply concerned that Rashid’s revelations could seriously embarrass them and expose their role in the embezzlement of public funds.

They are also worried that Rashid’s revelations could prompt some Americans and Europeans to reconsider their decision to pour millions of dollars into the Palestinian Authority’s coffers.

Rashid, after all, was not a junior official in the Palestinian Authority. He was an insider, someone who was very close to Arafat and probably the only official who knows where hundreds of millions of dollars ended up.

The Palestinian Authority’s decision to issue an arrest warrant against him does not seem to worry Rashid, who this week demanded a probe into Abbas’s personal fortune, which he estimated at more than $100 million.

So Abbas is saying that Rashid stole hundreds of millions of dollars, while Rashid is accusing the president of embezzling “only” $100 million. This is happening at a time when international donors are continuing to channel more funds every month to the Palestinian Authority, often without holding its leaders accountable or demanding to know how the money is being spent.

What is needed is an independent commission of inquiry to restore the public funds belonging to the Palestinian people. The Palestinians have many Mohammed Rashids who turned into wealthy businessmen during the peace process with Israel — thanks to the naivety of Americans and Europeans.

Originally published by http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Khaled Abu Toameh: The Main Goal of the Palestinian Government

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

At a time when many Western governments, the World Bank and various international organizations are continuing to heap praise on the Palestinian Authority for implementing reforms, the deputy speaker of the Palestinian parliament, Hasan Khreishah, announced that financial and administrative corruption was now more widespread than ever.

Khreishah, who is an independent parliamentarian, made it clear that the Palestinian government of Salam Fayyad, which has been hailed for combating corruption and implementing major reforms, was continuing to squander public funds.

One of the charges the deputy parliament speaker makes relates to the Palestinian government’s claim that it is facing severe financial crisis.

Khreishah says that the Palestinian government is in fact lying when it talks about a financial crisis; its main goal is to get Western and Arab donors to channel more funds to Ramallah: “Corruption in the Palestinian Authority is more widespread than in the past,” he said. “We hear about the suffering and hunger of the poor and the difficulties facing the unemployed, farmers, villagers and civil servants,” Khreishah said. “At the same time, we hear about the luxurious life of senior and influential officials and the involvement of some in money laundering.”

What Khreishah is saying is that Western donors, specifically the US and EU, are continuing to pour billions of dollars into the Palestinian Authority without holding its leaders fully accountable.

He revealed, for example, that the chairman of the Palestine Investment Fund, a company that was established by the PLO, was receiving a salary of $35,000 a month, or $420,000 a year, while the average salary of a civil servant in the Palestinian Authority ranges from $500 to $1,000 a month.

Khreishah also disclosed that senior members of the PLO and Fatah have not only awarded themselves huge salaries, but also other privileges such as luxurious vehicles.

A senior Palestinian official, he said, spends an average of five days abroad together with aides, advisors and secretaries — all at the expense of the Palestinians.

“Since the signing of the Oslo Accords, we have had 228 ministers, in addition to advisers,” Khreishah said in an interview with the London-based Al- Quds Al-Arabi newspaper.” All receive high salaries and luxurious vehicles,” he continued. “In light of the financial expenses [of the PA leadership], the talk about a financial crisis is repugnant and baseless,” he charged. “This talk has become a sort of political statement.”

Khreishah also lashed out at the two Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for violations of human rights and freedom of expression. Journalists have become a target for anyone who wants to violate human rights,” Khreishah added. “Palestinians are being held hostages by the two parties.”

Despite his senior status in the Palestinian Authority, including the fact that he is an elected parliament member, the international media chose to ignore his statements. Instead, some journalists rushed to seek denials from Palestinian government officials, who tried to discredit the whistle-blower by claiming that he was a Hamas supporter — a charge that sounds ridiculous, especially to all those who have known Khreishah for many years.

The Palestinian government — with the help of mainstream media in the West — does not want such statements to appear in the international media lest they affect financial aid to the Palestinians. The next time the Palestinian government complains about a financial crisis, it would be advisable for Western donors to translate Khreishah’s statements into English and read them before channeling additional funds to the Palestinian government’s coffers…Unless the Western donors enjoy being deceived and stripped of their money.

Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinian Journalists Union Fights Palestinian Journalists

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

As journalists worldwide celebrated World Free Press Day on May 3, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in the West Bank chose to wage a campaign of intimidation against Palestinian reporters who commit the “crime” of meeting with Israeli counterparts.

The decision to punish Palestinian journalists who hold meetings with Israeli colleagues began after a series of joint seminars that were held in Norway, Germany, and France. At these seminars, Israeli and Palestinian journalists discussed joint cooperation and ways of promoting freedom of expression.

The syndicate, dominated by Fatah and affiliated with the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah, threatened sanctions against any Palestinian journalist who engages in “normalization” with Israel.

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate functions more as a political body than a union that is supposed to defend the rights of its members.

The syndicate wants Palestinian journalists to serve as soldiers on behalf of the Palestinian cause. Journalists, according to the syndicate, should first and foremost be loyal to their president, prime minister, government, homeland, and cause. As for the truth, it appears at the bottom of the syndicate’s list of priorities.

The syndicate’s main task should be to defend freedom of media in the Palestinian territories. But instead of fighting for the rights of Palestinian journalists, who are facing a campaign of intimidation under the two Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the syndicate has also decided to join the clampdown on freedom of expression.

A syndicate that reports directly to the office of the president in Ramallah can never serve the interests of Palestinian journalists.

Cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian journalists has never been a new or unique phenomenon. Long before the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, representatives of the two sides maintained close ties, often exchanging information and helping each other cover stories both inside Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

But the Palestinian Authority’s syndicate is now trying to put an end to this cooperation under the pretext of combating normalization with Israel.

Sanctions include expulsion from the syndicate and a boycott by Palestinian newspapers and other media outlets belonging to the Palestinian Authority.

If anyone stands to lose from the ban on holding contacts with Israeli media representatives, it is the Palestinian journalists themselves. Over the past few decades, Palestinian journalists have helped Israeli newspapers and TV stations cover the story on the Palestinian side. Thanks to this cooperation, the Israeli public learned a lot about what was happening in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In recent weeks, Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank arrested at least nine Palestinian journalists and bloggers for exposing corruption scandals and posting comments critical of Palestinian leaders on Facebook. The affected journalists complained that the syndicate did not make a serious effort on their behalf, limiting its response to issuing laconic statements demanding the release of some of the detainees.

The Palestinian Authority and its media group clearly do not want the Israeli public and the outside world to receive information about the situation in the Palestinian territories.

This is why they are now waging the new campaign of intimidation against journalists who are found guilty of meeting with Israeli counterparts.

Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Khaled Abu Toameh: How Journalists Allowed the Palestinian Authority to Fool Them

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

The Palestinian Authority has been boasting over the past four years of its success in restoring law and order to the West Bank city of Jenin.

Journalists from all around the world were invited to Jenin, once notorious for dispatching suicide bombers to Israel, to report on the Palestinian government’s successful efforts.

Palestinian leaders and government officials told the journalists how their security forces have managed to end the state of chaos and lawlessness that used to prevail in Jenin.

They talked about how Fatah gangsters and thugs who used to roam the streets, imposing an atmosphere of intimidation and terror on the population, have vanished.

Most of the gangsters, the Palestinian government officials noted, had been recruited to various branches of the Western-funded Palestinian security forces and were indirectly receiving salaries from American and European taxpayers’ money.

Many Western correspondents rushed to Jenin to cover the story about the success of the Palestinian Authority in restoring law and order.

One of the most popular stories was the fact that Zakaria Zubeidi, the former commander of Fatah’s armed militia, Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which was behind dozens of terror attacks against Israel, was now running a local theater and promoting coexistence and peace. But while the international, and Israeli, media were breaking the “good news” about Jenin, the journalists failed to understand what was really going on in Jenin and its surrounding villages. Some journalists, in fact, chose to turn a blind eye to the grim reality on the ground.

The murder of Israeli Arab actor and film producer Julian Mar-Khamis in Jenin last year should have sounded an alarm bell among the media representatives. His killers have never been caught, sparking a wave of unconfirmed reports about the involvement of influential Fatah gangsters and Palestinian security officers in the case.

A Western journalist who wanted to do an investigative report into the case was warned by senior Palestinian security officers that she would be putting her life at risk if she insisted on carrying out this mission.

Last week, the truth about the situation in Jenin finally exploded in the faces of everyone: the local governor died of a fatal heart attack following an unsuccessful assassination attempt. For the Palestinian Authority leadership, the assassination attempt was what lifted the veil: Palestinian leaders in Ramallah realized that they could no longer continue to hide the truth about what was really happening in Jenin.

Palestinian security forces have since arrested dozens of Fatah “outlaws” and police officers for various crimes — including murder, extortion, abductions, sexual harassment, and armed robberies.

Radi Asideh, the security commander of the Jenin area, admitted that it was the Palestinian security establishment that was responsible for the anarchy and lawlessness. “There is a defect inside the security establishment and officers were responsible for this,” he revealed.

The biggest mistake, Asideh added, was that the Palestinian leadership had turned its back to the defect, allowing the situation to deteriorate at the expense of the people’s security.

Palestinians say that anarchy and lawlessness are to be found also in other areas in the West Bank where the Palestinian Authority claims to have imposed law and order. And, they add, in most cases it is the Palestinian Authority’s security forces that are responsible for the chaos and corruption.

If the Western journalists and donors continue to ignore the reality on the ground, the West Bank could soon fall into the hands of gangsters and armed clans, as has been the case in Jenin — among the main reasons the Palestinian Authority collapsed in the Gaza Strip in 2007, speeding the rise of Hamas to power.
Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/khaled-abu-toameh-how-journalists-allowed-the-palestinian-authority-to-fool-them/2012/05/09/

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