columnIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Palestinians assault women journalists … and the world yawns

Everybody who says that a Palestinian state should be set up next to Israel needs to answer these questions: Do you really want to establish another dictatorship where women will be savagely mistreated? And how likely is it that such a barbaric regime will live in peace with its neighbors?

File photo: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is greeted by Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority in the eventually collapsed American-brokered Israel-Palestinian peace talks, before a meeting in Amman, Jordan, on June 28, 2013.
File photo: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is greeted by Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority in the eventually collapsed American-brokered Israel-Palestinian peace talks, before a meeting in Amman, Jordan, on June 28, 2013.
Stephen M. Flatow. Credit: Courtesy.
Stephen M. Flatow
Stephen M. Flatow is president of the Religious Zionists of America. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995, and author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror. (The RZA is not affiliated with any American or Israeli political party.)

Nothing exposes the incredible hypocrisy of Israel’s critics more than their response to the treatment of Palestinian Arab women.

All the human-rights organizations and Jewish “peace” activists who claim to care about women’s rights howl in outrage if an Israeli policeman so much as raises his voice at a Palestinian woman protester. But when a Palestinian Authority security officer raises his baton and brutally beats a Palestinian women protester, they remain silent.

Now take it a step further. If an Israeli policeman is rude to a Palestinian journalist, all the critics erupt in fury. But if a Palestinian policeman assaults a Palestinian journalist, not a word.

And that brings us to the latest burst of two-facedness: Palestinian security men savagely beating Palestinian women journalists in recent days, and all the international women’s groups and peace groups sitting in silence.

Thanks to the courageous reporting of Israeli Arab journalist Bassam Tawil for the Gatestone Institute, we know what happened when the two Palestinian women journalists, Lara Kan’an and Majdoleen Hassona, tried to report on rallies by Palestinians demanding that P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas cancel the economic sanctions that he imposed last year on Gaza.

Videos of the first rally, held on June 28 in P.A.-ruled Tulkarm, show Palestinian security officers attacking Ms. Hassona, a freelance investigative journalist, as she tried to film the protest. She later told a Palestinian interviewer: “A police officer in civilian clothes walked up to me and told me to stop filming. I told him I’m a journalist and I continued to film. Then another man came up to me and tried to snatch the camera from my hands. He then started beating me and threatening me.”

Two days later, in P.A.-ruled Shechem (Nablus), Ms. Kan’an suffered similar treatment. When a security officer spotted her taking photos of a rally with her cell phone, he demanded that she hand it over. She refused. The officer struck her on the arm and pulled the phone away. Two other officers then jumped her from behind, pulling her by the hair and slamming her shoulder. She had to be hospitalized. Her phone was later returned to her—with the video and photos of the rally deleted.

Sadly, this is just the latest in a long list of instances in which the P.A. has mistreated women, both verbally and physically, and the peace camp has remained hypocritically silent.

A senior P.A. official, Saeb Erekat, recently declared that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations “Nikki Haley needs to shut up.” That followed another misogynistic remark, made by P.A. head Abbas himself to the Palestinian Central Council—that Haley “wears high heels not for elegance, but to use to hit anyone who attacks Israel.”

Other women in senior U.S. government positions have endured similar derision at the hands of P.A. representatives and publications over the years. The P.A.’s official newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, once blasted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for “her loose way of sitting, when she puts one leg on top of the other.” The newspaper’s editor once wrote that he “would have sung love songs” to then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright “were it not for her advanced age and the fact that she has passed her prime.”

Of course, these ugly remarks are nothing compared to what Palestinian women endure at the hands of the P.A. While the world looked away, female candidates in the last Palestinian Authority municipal elections were prevented from putting their own names on the ballots. The P.A. authorities listed them only as “sister of” or “the wife of.”

Nor was there an outcry following the report by the Palestinian women’s rights group TAM that 18 Palestinian Arab women were murdered as a result of “honor killings” in 2016. (“Honor killings” are homicides in which men murder female relatives whom they suspect of violating Islamic fundamentalist morals, such as premarital relations, dressing “provocatively,” or being seen in the company of an unauthorized boyfriend.)

Everybody who says that a Palestinian state should be set up next to Israel needs to answer these questions: Do you really want to establish another dictatorship where women will be savagely mistreated? Is that the kind of world you want for our children? And how likely is it that such a barbaric regime will live in peace with its neighbors?

Slogans are easy to mouth; it’s the details that are hard to navigate. “Two-state solution” is a slogan that people, including some well-meaning friends of Israel, lazily repeat as if it’s the 11th commandment. Perhaps if they thought about what those two states would actually be like, they might reconsider.

One of those two states, Israel, would continue to be the democratic, tolerant, pluralistic state that it is right now. And the other state, “Palestine,” would continue to be governed by the brutal, authoritarian and deeply misogynistic regime that is today known as the Palestinian Authority. How, exactly, would that be a “solution” to any of the problems in the Middle East?

Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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