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June 30, 2016 4:39 am

Are Democrats Finally Getting Tough on the Palestinian Authority?

avatar by Stephen M. Flatow /

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The US Congress. Photo: Wikipedia.

The US Congress. Photo: Wikipedia. – In a remarkable turnaround, Democratic Party activists who are known to be pro-Palestinian are calling on their party’s platform committee to condemn the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Or am I misreading something?

Two pro-Palestinian members of Congress, Reps. Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, issued their call last week on the blog of J Street. It happens that Ellison and Gutierrez are members of that same platform committee, so it may seem strange that they are taking a public position before the committee has finished its deliberations. But apparently they made up their minds on the Palestinian issue before being appointed to the committee, and no testimony by witnesses or discussions with their fellow committee members will change their minds.

Here’s the key sentence in the Ellison-Gutierrez proposal: “Palestinians struggle under an unjust occupation that deprives them of the rights, opportunities and independence that they deserve.”

Three cheers for Ellison and Gutierrez, for courageously speaking out against the PA’s unjust occupation and denial of rights!

That must be what they mean, right?

After all, 99 percent of the Palestinians live under the rule of the PA (in Judea and Samaria) or Hamas (in Gaza). So if the “occupation” is “unjust,” then it is the PA and Hamas that are committing the injustice.

And if the Palestinians are being “deprived of the rights that they deserve,” then it must be the regimes under which they live that are doing the denying.

The right to democratic elections is surely the most basic of rights. Mahmoud Abbas was elected head of the PA in January 2005 for a four-year term. Yet somehow he is still in office, seven and a half years since his term expired. And Hamas, of course, has not held a democratic election since taking over Gaza nine years ago.

So yes, the honorable members of Congress are absolutely correct. The PA and Hamas are depriving Palestinians of their right to free elections.

The Palestinians are also being deprived of their right to freedom of speech. Najat Abu Baker, a member of the Palestinian parliament, recently hid out in the parliament building for 17 days to avoid being arrested by the PA police. The warrant for arrest was issued because — as the New York Times put it — “Ms. Abu Baker said Mr. Abbas should resign and suggested that there would be money to pay educators if ministers were not so corrupt.”

Another right of which the Palestinians are being deprived — by the PA — is the right to free assembly. Earlier this year, 20,000 Palestinian public school teachers went on strike because they had not been paid (those were the unpaid educators to whom Abu Baker was referring). When some dissidents tried to hold a rally in support of the strikers, “the PA security services set up rings of checkpoints to prevent the teachers from attending the demonstration,” according to Haaretz. Twenty teachers and two school principals who did manage to reach the rally were arrested for doing so.

But don’t take my word for it. Look at the US State Department’s most recent report on human rights around the world. It states that the PA is guilty of “abuse and mistreatment of detainees, poor and overcrowded detention facilities, prolonged detention, and infringements on privacy rights;” “restrictions on freedom of speech, press, and assembly;” “limits on freedom of association and movement;” “discrimination against persons with disabilities” and “discrimination based on sexual orientation and HIV/AIDS status;” and “limits on worker rights,” including “forced labor.”

The list of the PA’s violations of its citizens’ right is so long that one wonders if there are any rights at all that the Palestinians enjoy under the PA occupation.

So, hats off to Reps. Ellison and Gutierrez, for speaking out against the PA’s occupation and mistreatment of the Palestinians. It’s about time somebody raise their voices against this injustice.

That must be what they meant, right?

Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.

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  • Esther Noodelman

    Dear Steven,

    Marc Handelsman explains it perfectly and very simply….The Arab-Israel conflict persists because Arabs deliberately refuse to recognize Israel as the Jewish nation.He also says that the Arab conflict will therefore not end if a new Arab nation is born.Excellent article supporting this by Arcanone! We salute you!

  • Errol Daniels

    This article is incredibly enlightening. We will never read of this in the mainstream media anywhere except in Israel. Thank you, Mr. Flatow for writing this. I’m so sorry for your loss. Never Again.

  • Theodore Crawford

    Hats off to your astute tweakage, Mr. Flatow! The blame shift lever has a reverse.

  • arcaneone

    Before retiring several years ago, I was one of the most prominent Zionist activists in northern New Jersey for
    some 20 years. This was, at times, a somewhat lonely position, but eventually enough other people who saw the value of activism got involved that we were able to keep
    the anti-Israel side generally on the defensive.

    This was good, but it was not enough. Too many people,
    especially young Jews, are still being bamboozled by false
    accounts of international legal obligations that Israel
    is supposedly violating. Too many people, especially young
    and Leftist Jews, Have become weary of having to deal with
    highly propagandized “news” accounts that only have the effect of driving the younger generation away from the religion. There are too many Jews being raised with the
    most minimal connection to and respect for their heritage.

    Sad to say, a lot of this is due to the deliberate acts of
    individuals who, nominally Jewish, seem to be justifying
    their own breaks with “yiddishkeit” via the development of highly distorted political opinions. This is not necessarily deliberate; much of the erosion is due to a
    level of propagandization that the next generation–Judaism’s and Zionism’s future, is not remotely capable
    of withstanding even if it wanted to.

    In 2006, during the Hezbollah War at that time–I represented the Israeli side in an internet debate before
    an audience of some 1,500 computer freaks, and was able to
    gain an unequivocal win against a representative from the
    International Solidarity Movement(a Jew), so I know this can be done. But knowing this and doing it often enough and prominently enough to make a lasting difference are
    two different things. I myself was surprised to learn that there is an entire internet encyclopedia being disseminated written from the standpoint of supporting
    racism and anti-Semitism, so clearly the other side is putting a lot of effort into this.


  • Do not ‘condem’ the PA – cut them off from everything and do not send them money as the stupid Democrats do. Condemnation is just so much talk – action is needed and Political Correctness is political stupidity that only helps Islam that is the enemy of the entire world. The time for change is now and commonsense must prevail as the lives of all of us are at stake. Abbas is a dictator and a murderer as he is the CIC of the terrorists.

  • These Democrats are just too ignorant, by choice rather than by default, to acquiesce in the veracity of Flatow’s evidence for his claim. For ideologues, knowledge is nothing if not supportive of their cognitive foundations. Nothing like Festinger’s theory of Cognitive Dissonance to explain this.

  • Is Israel endly getting tough on the palestinian authority????????

  • Hillel

    This is brilliantly written piece. My hat off to you.

  • stevenl

    Are we certain about your interpretation?

  • This article is so contrived, it reminds one of the song “I’m too sexy for this _______.” It ends abruptly when the singer sings “I’m too sexy for this song”.
    Everything said here is true. but the author neglects to mention that when one country deprives ANOTHER country of freedom and rights my means of militaryu force, it is a different issue than when these rights are an internal matter, at the hands of their own government.
    What is LEGITIMATELY protested is Israel’s enforcing its will on another people, and depriving THEM of rights.
    The problem here is that supporters of Israel’s current unsuportable desire for a greater Israel try to ignore the problems with Israel’s wrongdoing by pointing out the wrongdoing of the victim.
    (“So what if I am twisting his arm and kicking him – he has bad breath”)

    • Okey

      You seem to believe that attempting to destroy Jewish rights of national self-determination and life are an Arab prerogative, and that therefore Israel should just submit to Arab bloodlust.

      • Esther Noodelman

        Dear Okey,
        Thank you for having clarity of mind and courage to tell the truth,which is no easy task these days when it is obvious that the Arabs are counting on the world’s hatred of the Jews and therefore support for them no matter how many of our people are knifed or have cars rammed into them.Abbas and their followers pay the Arabs to kill us and reward them $$$$ when they murder us.Then the leaders are ready to meet with us as though we are all on the same page.They have never kept any agreements with us and until now,they are not trustworthy.

    • art

      The PA has controlled 98% of the arab community for 20+ yrs now as well as most of the disputed territory. Borders were to be subject to negotiations, Israel was allowed to build communities,pa incitement was to be ended and relations normalized under Oslo. The pa has NEVER met a single obligation of Oslo.

  • Ephraim

    Good one!

  • Here is what they meant:

    The Arab-Israeli conflict will not end, if a new Arab nation is born. The conflict persists because Arabs deliberately refuse to recognize Israel as the Jewish nation.

  • ART

    I would NOT trust the democrats. They were silent against Obamas attacks on Israel. This is just a campaign tactic