Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ziosweat meets prominent Israeli-Arab/Palestinian journalist working for The Jerusalem Post

I had the great pleasure of meeting Khaled Abu Toameh, a journalist writing for The Jerusalem Post and formerly for the PLO. He is one of the first journalists international media contacts about a story from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Mr Abu Toameh is a very courageous, intelligent and soft-spoken man, claiming to be a journalist above all. He says he is not pro-Israel, pro-Palestine, pro-America or pro-Russia, but believes in reporting the facts. After meeting him I looked up some of his articles published in worldwide media, and I can confirm that what he says in the interviews is exactly what he told me. Selected quotes from sources at the bottom of the page: Abu Toameh on being objective and his views: "People say, 'You work for a Jewish paper, why should we believe you?' If I worked for a Hamas paper, you'd believe me more?" he says, adding, "I said all the same things when I worked for a PLO newspaper." Abu Toameh on living in Israel as an Israeli-Arab: "Israel can be a Jewish state for all its citizens . . . I would choose to be a third-class citizen in Israel than a first class citizen in Cairo or Amman."On the security barrier Israel built to keep out suicide bombers, a fence which has stirred ugly cries of "apartheid" among Canadian protesters: "I don't believe in walls. I wish it weren't there. But if I were Israel, I'd go write on it, 'Made By Hamas and Yasser Arafat.' Jews didn't wake up one morning and say, 'We're bored. Let's spend billions of dollars and build a wall' . . . For three years I was scared to take my children to the mall, afraid to stop at a red light next to an Israeli bus. More than 50 Arabs have died in suicide bombings in Israel. They (the suicide bombers) don't care (who they kill)." "I meet many Palestinians in Ramallah who say they wish the occupation would come back; it was better under the Jews. Some want the Jordanians back," he says.

Palestinians have "always admired the freedom of expression in Israel" and they say "we hope we'll have a free media like the Jews have."

Abu Toameh on democracy and Israel: This yearning for democracy is a theme that runs through Abu Toameh's revelations about what ordinary Palestinians want. They envy Israel and they "want to build something like what the Jews have." Under the occupation, the Palestinians got a taste of "democracy, prosperity and stability. We were exposed under Israel to all these things."He adds: "We Arabs are trying to become like the Jews. We see how much they've achieved. The Jews are moving forward and we're moving backward." Moreover, the ordinary Palestinians know who's responsible for their miseries: "They know the Jews did not prevent Arafat from establishing good government."

Abu Toameh on Fatah and Hamas: Fatah, of course, is considered the “moderate” Palestinian force, as opposed to radical Hamas. Abu Toameh thinks neither of them could be called moderate by any sensible Arabic speaker. Fatah makes moderate sounds in English but in Arabic sounds as anti-Semitic and anti-American as Hamas. Abu Toameh sees no moderates on either side. Both factions suppress moderate opinion wherever it raises its head, which is apparently not often.

“This is not a power struggle between good guys and bad guys,” he said in a recent speech. “It is a struggle between bad guys and bad guys.” He wishes they were fighting over what would be best for Palestinians. “But they’re only fighting over money and power.”

Abu Toameh on Jewish Settlements: Most of the world believes, often with passionate intensity, that Jewish settlements on land claimed by Arabs limits the chances for peace. Abu Toameh disagrees. “I wish the settlements were the problem,” he says, because it can be solved by the Israelis. If settlements were the problem, he argues, then Gaza would now be at peace. After all, the Israelis pulled out in 2005. But the result has been war — war among the Palestinians, war with Israel. “The real obstacle to peace is not a Jew building a settlement but the failure of the Palestinians to have a government. Is there a partner on the Palestinian side for peace talks? No.”

What is to be done? He thinks Israel should simply wait until the Palestinians stop killing each other and create a credible political entity that can make a deal. Peace will then become possible.

Below you will find several interesting articles regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the eyes of someone who has interests on both sides: "Palestinian sheds light on who's right in Middle East," Calgary Herald, By Naomi Lakritz (27/5/2009) "A Palestinian struggle between bad guys and bad guys," National Post, By Robert Fulford (11/7/2009) "Arab Writer: Obama Focus on Settlements Benefits Hamas," Arutz Sheva, By Hillel Fendel (7/9/2009) "Telling the Truth about the Palestinians," Middle East Forum, A briefing by Khaled Abu Toameh (27/4/2004) Khaled Abu Toameh Wikipedia Entry