If you pay any attention to advocates and supporters of the Palestinians who live outside the Middle East, you would think that the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are mostly interested in settlements, boycotts, “occupation,” savaging Israel and achieving a two-state solution. You have to wonder if these activists ever speak to Palestinians who live in the territories — because when pollsters ask for their opinion, it becomes clear that their actual views are quite different.
The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) conduced its latest poll this month, and found that “an overwhelming majority of the Palestinian public is worried about the future of liberties in Palestine.” Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, and Hamas in Gaza, both deny Palestinians their basic civil rights: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly. Women’s rights are virtually nonexistent, and there is zero tolerance of LGBTQ Palestinians.
As I’ve written before, advocates who claim to care deeply about the welfare of the Palestinians never stand up for the Palestinians’ rights when they’re abused by the Palestinian Authority (PA), or criticize the authoritarian rule of Abbas. When was the last time that the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Arab American Institute, Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, CAIR or any other pro-Palestinian group spoke out against the abuses? They only find their voices if they can find some way to blame the Jews — because they prefer anti-Israel propaganda to aiding the Palestinians.
But the Palestinians oppressed by their leaders know better. While advocates abroad are free to speak out — but do not, journalists and activists in the territories are routinely arrested. More than 80% of respondents said that the PA does not have the right to detain activists such as Issa Amro, who was arrested and reportedly beaten for criticizing the PA’s detention of Palestinian journalist Ayman al-Qawasmi. Most Palestinians admit, however, that they are afraid to criticize the Palestinian Authority.
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