The Palestinian Authority, like many authoritarian dictatorships, has gone out of its way to prevent the world from learning critical facts that reflect negatively upon the Palestinian Authority leadership, such as the PA’s atrocious human rights record. This is why the Palestinian Authority has had no qualms about threatening western journalists into reporting the political situation in Judea and Samaria as they would like it to be reported. For example, a western journalist who wanted to do an investigative report on the murder of Israeli Arab actor Julian Mar Khamis was warned by Palestinian security officials that she would be putting her life at risk if she proceeded with the story.
Furthermore, unlike the press within democratic countries like Israel, the Palestinian media does not feel beholden to tell the truth, instead serving as a mouthpiece for the regime. Indeed, one of the first things that the Palestinian Authority did after it was established was to torch Palestinian media offices and to arrest and beat up Palestinian journalists. The PA then proceeded to select editors who agreed solely with their ideology and to shut down opposing newspapers. The PA has continued to date to arrest bloggers and journalists who are critical of corruption within the Palestinian Authority. As Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, who works for the Jerusalem Post, asserted; “The irony is that, as an Arab Muslim, I feel freer to write for this Jewish paper than I do for any Arab newspaper.”
Israeli attorney Caleb Meyers has asserted, “The greatest abusers of Palestinian human rights are not the Israeli government or the soldiers at the checkpoints or the Israeli settlers in the disputed territories. But it’s the Palestinian Authority itself.” Aside from mentioning the persecution of Palestinian dissidents, he declared that Palestinian women have been slaughtered in honor crimes, which have been on the upsurge in recent years, and Palestinian Christians are persecuted for their faith.
Indeed, despite recent amendments to the laws in the PA related to honor crimes, attorney Salwa Banura claimed that the new law encouraged rather than decreased honor crimes since mitigating circumstances are still accepted by the courts. She claimed that as a result, men who murder relatives in honor crimes can end up only serving three months in prison. Furthermore, according to the Arab Organization for Human Rights, the PA also systematically tortures Palestinians. Their report on the subject claims that 60% of the people detained by the Palestinian Authority now suffer from chronic diseases due to the torture and poor conditions under which they were detained.
However, the plight of Palestinian Christians is especially dire. Out of 600 Palestinian Christians from Gaza who had arrived in Judea and Samaria to celebrate Christmas, dozens have requested to relocate to Israel because living under either Hamas or the Palestinian Authority is unbearable for them. Dozens of Christian families in East Jerusalem have also relocated to Jewish neighborhoods, preferring not to live nextdoor to Palestinian Muslims. These sentiments are understandable if one examines the plight of Christians who are currently living under Palestinian Authority control.
According to a study conducted by Dr. Justus Reid Weiner of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, violence against Christian women living in Judea and Samaria and Gaza was rare before the Palestinian Authority took over, but the situation has drastically changed since Oslo. According to Weiner, “The abuse of Palestinian Christian women extends well beyond verbal harassment and intimidation. The widespread occurrence of rape by Muslim men against Christian women exemplifies perhaps the most blatant denial of basic human rights as a result of religious identity.” He spoke with one Palestinian Christian girl, who claimed that Muslim Palestinian men often rape Christian girls in order to make them undesirable for Christian men. She asserted, “She can’t get married at all, after that.”
Rev. Bill Harter, who visited areas under Palestinian Authority control in order to investigate the plight of Palestinian Christians, reported that the Christians who are presently living under Palestinian control expressed many fears. In addition to being raped, Palestinian Christians can be murdered, robbed, physically assaulted, and have their women abducted and forcefully converted to Islam, without the PA doing much to help them. Thus, it is quite telling that Bethlehem, which used to be a Christian city, now has a Muslim majority since many Palestinian Christians are fleeing from their ancestral homeland in droves due to the PA’s inability or lack of desire to protect them from such abuses. In fact, Israel is the one place in the Middle East where the Christian community isn’t dying off.
By Rachel Avraham