As elections are delayed, Palestinian leaders suppresses free speech

On September 8, the Palestinian high court in Ramallah postponed the Palestinian local elections due for October.

Against the backdrop of Israel’s ludicrous arrest of a Mohammed el-Halabi, a director of the multibillion dollar World Vision charity, finger-pointing immediately ensued. Both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority accused one another of foiling the election for political reasons. With their arbitrary arrest of journalists, West Bank and Gaza have joined Israel as they politicize their judicial system to demonize inconvenient actors and suppress criticism.

Just as the Israeli military has tried tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians in their courts and beaten arrested children, the PA has repeatedly tried and sentenced Palestinian journalists in military courts. Several prisoners have reported being beaten and starved repeatedly.

The PA’s concern for a forecasted Hamas victory in the local elections has led to continued harassment of journalists in the civilian court system. Charges of libel are regularly leveled against the PA’s critics, and while those arrested may never be sentenced, recurring court adjournments extend the burden of trials disproportionately.

In Gaza, Hamas’s record of violating rights of speech and the press has likewise been long and distinguished. This past week, Hamas police arrested and assaulted Muhammad Othman, a Palestinian journalist. For the first half of this year, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms has reported 22 violations of press freedoms by Hamas in 2015, 43 by the Palestinian Authority, and 133 by Israel. Beatings of prisoners seen in West Bank repeatedly occur in Gaza as well.

Because of how Israel’s political leaders have oftentimes stigmatized UN-affiliated NGOs and critics promoting Palestinian human rights as anti-Semitic, media coverage has frequently characterized the challenges faced by human rights organizations in Israel and Palestine as a conflict between NGOs (who are at times alleged to be anti-Semitic) and Israel. Since neither Hamas’s nor the PA’s rhetoric against human rights organizations has taken the center stage, these two governments appear to be apathetic, but not violently reactive, to NGOs’ criticism.

But Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have discarded the rights of the press too often to hold the moral high ground on human rights. Their relationships with NGOs and the press are forged out of political convenience, rather than genuine respect for democratic governance. While Hamas’s 2011 laws restricting NGO activity may have been forgotten, Hamas and the PA have continued to silence their critics to compete in the local elections.

Political leaders like Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein are just as guilty of attacking basic civil liberties as those who support Israeli airstrikes without question when they condemn Israeli rights violations while ignoring Palestinian censorship. This sort of identity politics breeds intolerance, violence, illiberalism, and tyranny that is antithetical to the values that BDS and pro-Palestine rights activists claim to espouse.

The movement against Israel’s illegal settlements, the assassination of journalists tied to Hamas, and the blockade that starves economic development cannot maintain its legitimacy if it fails to fight for reform in the very governments it seeks to empower. Only by standing against all rights violations equally can pro-Palestinian activists keep a Palestinian flavor of tyranny from replacing Israel’s human rights violations in the next decade.

Anhvinh Doanvo is an MSPPM candidate at Carnegie Mellon University. He has written for numerous publications including The Hill, Georgetown Public Policy Review, and Baltimore Sun. He is one of forty 2016 finalists for the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship, which funds twenty US citizens' graduate education annually and places them in the American Foreign Service of the Department of State. You can follow him on Twitter at or Facebook at

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14 Responses to “As elections are delayed, Palestinian leaders suppresses free speech”

  1. mary_martinez_92 says:

    I make something like 6000-8000 bucks every month with my internet task. For those of you who are ready to finish simple online tasks for some h /day from your house and get good income while doing it… This is a work for you…

  2. Moderator3 says:

    He can’t answer you, because he went to the place where bad commenters go.

  3. goulo says:

    Are you thinking that this blog post was by John Aravosis instead of by Anhvinh Doanvo?

    Or are you saying that Anhvinh Doanvo IS John Aravosis?

  4. DoverBill says:

    I thought we were the only ones who…

  5. Moderator3 says:


  6. Do Something Nice says:

    lol! Ethically challenged and boasting about it too.

    And since you, Moderator3, haven’t stated an opinion, there’s nothing to prove right or wrong.

    But this type of provocation is good for page hits, and that will help to provide this blog with the appearance of relevance.

  7. Moderator3 says:

    I can see enough of your history to form an opinion. I’m watching. Prove my opinion wrong.

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  9. Do Something Nice says:

    You know nobody held a gun to your head and forced you to read my comment.

    And my opinion about John’s trajectory seems to be validated by the decline in the number of people who choose to comment here.

    As for the red herring of having a private commenting history, maybe if people like you didn’t go snooping, I’d keep it open.

  10. Zorba says:

    You know, nobody is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to read this blog.
    It’s also interesting that your commenting history is private. Just what are you trying to hide, hmmm?

  11. Bill_Perdue says:

    The current, quisling misleadership of the Palestinian is the result of successful waves of assassination aimed at beheading the Palestinian revolution by the zionist bunkerstat and US spy agencies.

    H Clinton and Trump and their respective parties remain racist supporters of the zionist colonial administration as part of their unending wars of aggression against Arab and muslim states aimed at stealing their oil and other resources.

    The solution to these questions will come from the Palestinian revolutionary movement, aided by the ongoing growth of the Arab/muslim insurgency often call the ‘Arab Spring”.

  12. Do Something Nice says:

    Your path to becoming the Greek-American version of David Horowitz is difficult to witness. But the trajectory is clear.

  13. A.S.F. says:

    TRANSLATION: “I don’t take sides. Everybody is corrupt and stupid and morally sub-par except for me. I am the only individual on the entire planet who knows what is right, true and just. But that is just my humble (and impeachably 100% correct) opinion.” Americablog can’t find a commentators who can enlighten its readers about anything besides the astounding depth and breadth of their own Narcissism?

  14. emjayay says:

    I appreciate your apparent expertise in Middle Eastern (East Asia now?) affairs in two posts here. I’m also sure these are condensations of what could be multiple books, or maybe actually living there for a few years at least to begin to really understand what goes on there.

    Meanwhile Donald Trump, who knows far less than I do about the area (and I don’t know much) has all the answers. He thinks so and the deplorables believe him.

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