The BBC reporters covering Israeli and the Palestinians ordinarily devote almost all of their attention to the supposed mistreatment of the Palestinians by those terrible Israelis. A series of BBC reporters — Robert Fisk, Jeremy Bowen, Barbara Plett, Lyse Doucet, and now Yolande Knell — have for decades been poisoning the minds of their vast worldwide audience with reports about how Israel can do no right, and Palestinians can do no wrong; all the woes of the latter are attributed to the former. Almost never do those reporters examine the ways that the Palestinian Authority (PA) mistreats its own. But recently the BBC World Service examined something other than the sins of “apartheid Israel.” In one recent report, it dared to focus on the PA’s despotic rule. More on this unexpected explosion of candor can be found here: “BBC Finally Focuses On Despotic Palestinian Leadership… But Still Manages to Whitewash Terrorism,” by Rachel O’Donoghue, Honest Reporting, June 13, 2023:
In a rare and surprising move, the BBC has decided to turn its reproving gaze away from Israel for a change and focus on the oft-ignored tyrannical rule of the Palestinian Authority, which hasn’t held a single election in the West Bank since 2006.
The piece by the broadcaster’s World Service, “‘As Palestinian youths, the political process has failed us,”‘ highlights how younger Palestinians have “little faith in the Palestinian leadership” after never being given the opportunity to vote, as well as how many reject the idea of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The young Palestinians have not yet reconciled themselves, as their elders have, to the despotism that rules them. They are keenly aware that Mahmoud Abbas is now entering the nineteenth year of his four-year-term, which began in 2005. They know there is no way to get rid of Abbas; they will just have to wait until he dies, and hope that he is not replaced by another despot. They have no faith that the mismanagement and colossal corruption in the PA will come to an end. They have seen what happens to those who dare to dissent: beatings and threats, imprisonment, even death for those who criticize the PA and its leader. The most effective of Mahmoud Abbas’ recent critics was Nizam Banat, so effective, indeed, that he was beaten to death by Abbas’ goons.
And they reject the “two-state solution” because they fear that any future Palestinian state will condemn them to permanent rule by a group of geriatric thieves; some want to be part of a single state with the Jews, which would be – precisely because of its Jewish element – better run, less corrupt, and more responsive to its people, both Arabs and Jews.
Based on data that was exclusively shared with the BBC by the West Bank-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, the article quotes several Palestinians aged under 30 — including a terrorist in the Jenin Battalion that the BBC’s Yousef Eldin apparently met during the group’s nightly “training exercises” — who talk of their distrust in the Palestinian political process.
While the piece rightly draws attention to Palestinian Authority’s authoritarianism, Eldin’s subtle whitewashing of the activities of several Palestinian terrorist groups leaves a bitter taste:
In the past year, numerous new militant groups have sprung up in the northern West Bank towns of Nablus and Jenin, challenging the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority’s security forces.
Both Hamas and the PIJ, the rivals for power with the PA’s Fatah, and have operatives in the West Bank, where they are constantly trying to lure new recruits away from Fatah (the largest faction in the PA, headed by Mahmoud Abbas), claiming that the PA is illegitimate because of its security cooperation with Israel.
The most well-known are the Lions’ Den and the Jenin Brigades, which have carried out attacks in the West Bank against Israeli forces and settlers.”
Although it is true that the majority of the Lions’ Den and Jenin Battalion’s terrorism has been confined to the West Bank, Eldin ignores the fact that both groups have actually targeted civilians in Israel proper, including a planned pipe bomb and gun attack by the Lions’ Den in southern Tel Aviv that was thwarted by Israeli police….
There is also the subtle dehumanizing of Israeli civilians who are labeled “settlers” in the piece, which tacitly suggests they are legitimate targets for Palestinian violence. For obvious reasons, Eldin fails to name any of these “settler” victims, like the innocent Israeli taxi driver who was injured when terrorists opened fire on his vehicle.
The word “settler” has been made into a pejorative term, and is affixed by reporters to any Israeli civilians they wish to denigrate; it’s meant to suggest that these are wild-eyed far-right crazy Jews in their settler-colonial state, living on land they stole from the Palestinians.
One of the Israeli Arabs interviewed is Majd, who lives in Ramallah and claims to feel excluded from Palestinian society…
“I’m not recognised as part of the Palestinian system in the West Bank,” Majd continues. ‘I’m not supposed to vote [in Palestinian elections]. Actually, according to Israeli law, I’m not even supposed to be here [in Ramallah].’
Israeli law prohibits citizens from travelling to Palestinian areas in the West Bank for security reasons.
This is a law on the books that plenty of Israeli Arabs violate every day, to do business, or visit relatives, in Judea and Samaria. If Majd feels “excluded from Palestinian society,” it’s hardly Israel’s fault; it’s the Palestinians – some, not all — who treat Israeli Arabs with some suspicion, uncertain of their loyalty.
Without a voice in the Palestinian political process, Majd also has no faith in the two-state solution.
He sees that the PA is a despotism that hasn’t held an election since 2004. Why would he think things would be any different if the PA turned into a real state? The same despotism, the same corrupt leaders, would remain in place.
What Eldin fails to tell readers, however, is that as an Israeli citizen, Majd does have a say in elections — Israel’s elections — where he can also vote for Arab politicians, some of whom have previously been in the government. That’s because Israel is actually a democracy that holds elections and gives every citizen the right to vote.
Majd is an Israeli Arab, and thus does have a say in how he has ruled: he has the right to participate as fully as any Israeli Jew in Israel’s democracy. He can vote for Arab candidates, if he wishes. He can run for office. He has the right of free speech and free assembly, both of which are absent in the PA-run parts of Judea and Samaria. It would have been wonderful if Eldin’s BBC report had emphasized the difference between Israeli Arabs enjoying democracy and Palestinian Arabs suffering under a despotism. But let’s be grateful for its small steps in that direction. Now the BBC has at long last described the disaffection of Palestinian young people with the despotism they must endure, and that cannot be blamed on Israel.
Who knows? Perhaps the BBC will now devote a program to the fantastic corruption in both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. It could include the $400 million fortune the Abbas and his two sons Tarek and Yasser have amassed, and the $2.5 billion fortunes that two Hamas leaders, Khaled Meshaal and Moussa ibn Marzouk, have each acquired from funds stolen from the aid provided by foreign donors. Were the BBC to take on that subject — Palestinian corruption, which has been largely suppressed worldwide, it would set heads reeling.