HRC Comment in Huffington Post Québec: The Real Obstacle to Peace in the Middle East (August 16, 2012)

By Mike Fegelman

August 29, 2012

Why does a man spitting on a girl at a bus stop in Israel prompt international headlines and stir passionate criticisms of Israel’s democracy but the unconscionable act of sentencing a Palestinian man to death for selling property to a Jew inspires the media’s detached neutrality?


HRC Comment in Huffington Post Québec:
The Real Obstacle to Peace in the Middle East

By: Michelle Whiteman Quebec Regional Director August 16 2012
Recently a senior Palestinian Authority official fell to his death from the third floor window of a Palestinian Authority (PA) Military Intelligence building in Ramallah. Mansour Oussama Hussein was in custody to face charges of treason for taking part in land transactions to Israelis. PalestinianAuthority officials assert he committed suicide a claim his family disputes. While the circumstances surrounding Mr. Hussein’s death are unclear Palestinian Authority law is unequivocal. The sale of land by Palestinians to Israelis whether in Israel or the West Bank is an offence punishable by death. Indeed this past April the PA sentenced Muhammad Shahala a former intelligence official to death for the crime of selling property to Jews. Shahala was reportedly tortured into confessing after several Jewish families moved into a house across from the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. An urgent international appeal on Shahala’s behalf was issued by leaders of the Jewish community in Hebron who in a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated: “It is incumbent on the entire international community which views Mahmood Abbas and the PA as a viable Middle East peace partner to publicly reject such acts of legal murder when the crime is nothing more than property sales. What would be the reaction to a law in the US England France or Switzerland forbidding property sales to Jews”?


In describing the crime of selling land to Jews a law enacted by the Palestinian Authority the Associated Press and The Canadian Press reported that “Palestinian society views such acts as treason because it weakens their quest for an independent state”. Really? How does the sale of real estate by a Palestinian inside Israel proper compromise the quest for an independent Palestinian state? And how do Jewish settlements which comprise less than 2% of the entire territory of the West Bank compromise a future Palestinian state?

It is hard to know which is more scandalous: the idea that Palestinians can be sentenced to death for selling property to Jews or the Press’ justification of this law.

Rather this capital offence has one inexorable purpose which is the rejection of co-existence with Jews. Does it follow that Jews inside the borders of a future Palestine will be asked to leave? “Absolutely” was the answer Palestinian Envoy to the United States Maen Rashid Areikat gave in an interview last year to Tablet Magazine thus reiterating that while a full twenty percent of Israel’s population is comprised of Arabs no Jews will be tolerated in a future Palestinian state.

This hostility is echoed by recent polls which reveal widespread support in Palestinian society for terrorist attacks against Israelis. Asked by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research a European-funded nonpartisan think tank based in Ramallah whether they support “armed attacks against Israeli civilians inside Israel ” 30 percent of West Bank Palestinians and 66 percent of Gaza Palestinians answered in the affirmative. This same poll found that Hamas’s popularity suffers when refrains from firing rockets into Israel.

These statistics do not occur in a vacuum. Glorification of terrorism and rejectionism by the Palestinian Authority explicitly proscribed by the Road Map still continues unabated. Thus the PA recently named another public institution this time a children’s summer camp after the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi who hijacked an Israeli bus in 1978 and murdered 37 israelis including 12 children. Abbas’ Minister of Social Affairs Majida Al-Masri recently called for a unity deal with Hamas in order to focus Palestinian efforts on destroying Israel and liberating “all of Palestine”. And in Qatar in February Abbas vehemently denied any Jewish connection to the land of Israel.

It is little surprise that two-thirds of Jewish Israelis believe most Palestinians have “not accepted Israel’s existence” and deem the obstacle to peace a Palestinian society unprepared to live in peace with Israel.

Former secretary of state Condoleeza Rice and journalist Jackson Diehl’s recent revelations of Abbas’ rejection of generous peace offers by former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert sheds light on Abbas’ predicament: how to negotiate with Israel on the one hand while teaching Palestinian children that “Our enemy Zion is Satan with a tail” on the other? (courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch)

And yet such stark examples of Palestinian repudiation of peace and co-existence with Israel are routinely discounted or altogether omitted in mainstream media discourse which instead focuses an obsessive lens on Israel. Thus a man spitting on a girl at a bus stop in Israel prompted international headlines and stirred passionate criticisms of Israel’s democracy but the unconscionable act of sentencing a Palestinian man to death for selling property to a Jew inspired the media’s detached neutrality.

This is all one really needs to know about the current state of Mideast reporting in the mainstream media.




Office: P.O. Box 6 Station Q Toronto Ontario M4T 2L7
Phone: (416) 915-9157 E-mail: Web:


You may also like