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The kind of “heroes” that the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian society seem to celebrate are murderers who cold-bloodedly stab an Israeli family in their sleep or blow up a bus full of Israeli high school students.

Real Palestinian heroes are few and far between.  It takes a great deal of courage to speak out against dictatorship and go against the standard tropes.  Bassem Tawil, Bassam Eid and Khaled Abu Toameh are three such individuals.
Khaled Abu Toameh, who is no doubt somewhat well known for his reporting, which is often critical of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, is a long time reporter for The Jerusalem Post. He was recently named  the recipient of the 2014 Daniel Pearl Award. The Daniel Pearl Awards for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting are unique among journalism prizes worldwide in that they were created specifically to honor cross-border investigative reporting. Formerly the ICIJ Awards, the prizes were renamed in 2008 in honor of Wall Street Journal reporter Pearl, who was  murdered  by Pakistani Muslim extremists in 2002.
The two $5,000 first-place prizes and five $1,000 finalist awards recognize, reward, and foster excellence in cross-border investigative journalism. The award recognizes courage and integrity in journalism. “Khaled Abu Toameh has been telling us, with courage and objectivity, what life is like in the West Bank and Gaza,” Judea Pearl, father of the dead journalist, is quoted as  saying in après realse that accompanied the announcement. “Rarely has a reporter been so successful in penetrating a conflict so complex and remaining consistently and definitively on the side of truth.” Abu Toameh, an Arab Israeli, studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In addition to the Post he has worked for many media outlets, including the BBC, Voice of America, Wall Street Journal and US News & World Report. He also serves as a distinguished fellow with the New York-based Gatestone Institute.
Abu Toameh’s latest piece written for the Gatestone Institute is a commentary on the Palestinian Authority’s effort to seek a United Nations Security Council resolution that sets a timeline for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
“What the Palestinians did not tell the Security Council,” he wrote, “is that the state they seek to establish is one that does not respect public freedoms, first and foremost freedom of expression. This would be a state where people are detained and intimidated for using social media to express their views. It will also be a state where the president or any of his senior officials could order the arrest of anyone who dares to speak out against lack of democracy and reforms.” (Not that that would disturb many members of the United Nations.)
Abu Toameh spoke about the PA’s recent “war on women”.  Over the past few weeks, he wrote, security forces belonging to the Palestinian Authority summoned three Palestinian women for interrogation for postings they put on Facebook that were critical of PA President (for life) Mahmud Abbas and other remarks critical of the PA.
(I don’t expect to hear of any reaction from the American administration about this “war on women”.)
“In the male-dominated Arab culture,” Abu Toameh pointed out, “an insult from a woman is considered far more offensive than one that comes from a man. That is the main reason why the Palestinian Authority has been quick to take action against women who dare to speak out or make critical remarks.
“The Palestinians also know that women are more vulnerable than men. By targeting women, the PA is not only trying to intimidate and silence them, but also deter others from speaking out. The PA is hoping to send a message that no one is immune to arrest or harassment, even if it is a woman.”
 Nor does the PA want the international community to know that the year 2014 witnessed the worst assaults on public freedoms since its establishment two decades ago, he added.  He quoted one Esam Arouri, member of the Coordinating Committee of Non-Governmental Organizations, who reported that the assaults on public freedoms in the West Bank are a “dangerous sign of the deterioration of human rights in Palestine.” He said that the year 2014 was the worst regarding human rights violations since the inception of the Palestinian Authority.
Because of space constraints, I will delve into recent posts by Bassem Reid and Bassam Tawil in future editions of the paper.

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