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When journalists and professors and students were arrested during protest, NYT treated it as good news

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Twice now I have knocked Ethan Bronner of the New York Times for using a horrifying piece of Israeli military jargon, "cutting the grass," to describe nighttime raids on Palestinians in the West Bank. Readers of this site know that I am slow to learn truths; but his casual use of such an ugly statement woke me up. It seems to me clear evidence of bias, of promoting the Israeli rationalizations for denying people rights or freedom. 
 
Well, Adam Shoop passed along this piece by Bronner earlier this year, praising the training of Palestinian forces at a $21m US financed campus and operations camp in Jordan. From "U.S. Helps Palestinians Build Force For Security," New York Times, Feb. 27, 2009:
 

. . . Some 1,600 have been through American-financed courses in Jordan. In coordination with Israeli defense officials, Palestinian troops and police officers have taken over much of the patrolling in the West Bank cities of Jenin, Nablus, Bethlehem and parts of Hebron.

 

Last month, as Israel carried out a war in Hamas-ruled Gaza, some in the Muslim world called on the West Bank to stage a violent uprising in protest. But while there were demonstrations, no such uprising occurred, partly because the Palestinian Authority troops maintained tight order.

 
At about the same time Bronner gave that positive spin, the Jerusalem Post was reporting on the Palestinian security forces’ crackdown on protest in the West Bank during and after Gaza. As you read this, remember the crackdown in Iran a few months later, and whose side the New York Times was on then.

. . . Alarmed by the increased sympathy for Hamas in the aftermath of the war, Abbas and his prime minister, Salaam Fayad, have instructed their various security forces to step up their crackdown on the Islamic movement in the West Bank.

In the past three weeks, more than 135 Hamas supporters and members have been rounded up. Among the detainees are journalists, university professors and students and preachers. In some cases, Hamas supporters who were released by the IDF were arrested hours later by the PA security forces.

The crackdown has also included intimidation of reporters and critics. Several Palestinian reporters have been "advised" by Abbas’s top aides not to report on the massive anti-Hamas crackdown. Samir Khawireh, a journalist from Nablus, found himself in a prison cell earlier this week for reporting about the torching of a car belonging to Prof. Abdel Sattar Kassam, a long-time outspoken critic of financial corruption in the PA. 

Kassam has blamed Fatah militiamen of being behind the torching of his car. A Fatah leaflet distributed in the city later took credit for the attack. Kassam was recently arrested by PA policemen in Nablus on charges of "incitement" against the PA leadership.

Another reporter, Khaled Amayreh of Hebron, was arrested for 55 hours by PA security agents shortly after he appeared on a TV talk show where he allegedly expressed sympathy with Hamas.

[Khaled Abu Toameh, "Palestinian Affairs: Clamping down on critics," Jerusalem Post, Jan. 29, 2009.]

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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